Monday, July 19, 2010

Top Secret America

I highly recommend everyone keep up with this Washington Post series

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Was Focused On 5 Other Things This Morning...

...until I ran across a newspiece announcing Social D's fall tour. And guess who they're taking out? Lucero. Between these two, you have every possible dynamite combo of rock, country, and blues spanning both coasts and three decades. Stellar.

9:30, Philly Electric Factory, Boston HOB, Roseland, Rams Head...all on the list of stops.

I'm not sure I'll be around for any dates, but you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be making it to every one I can. And I'm bringing you along for the ride.

Great, great news.

Lucero - What Else Would You Have Me Be?
Social Distortion - When The Angels Sing

Sunday, July 4, 2010

More Lovin...

From the past three days...

Yeahsayer - Ambling Amp
Miike Snow - anything/everything
Classic Crime - Vagabonds
Gaslight - Bring It On (worthy of repeat mention)

...and for throwback's sake,

The Academy - Almost Here

...AND if McCulley Jarcho has his way

Rip 'em up, tear 'em up, happy happy cuatro

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Select Summer Tracks

It's summer. Like you, I'm indulging in my fair doses of all things pop. It's what the season calls for. Yet, somewhere in between all the sugar and vibrancy, a choice few melodies seem to be working their way into my playlists on a regular basis. Spanning several forms of classification, here is what's served as my soul fuel across the last two weeks. Pop? Not exactly. Delightful? Every damn one.

Lucero - What Else Would You Have Me Be?
Jon McLaughlin - Indiana
Beatles - And Your Bird Can Sing
Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
Ryan Adams - So Alive

No Use For A Name - Feels Like Home/International You Day
Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever
Hold Steady - Hurricane J
Manchester Orchestra - Wolves At Night
Bad Religion - You
Johnny Cash - Ain't No Grave
Gaslight Anthem - Bring It On

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Big Week

In honor of Brian Jarcho. Brian. Jarcho

Get to know this cat

Saturday, June 19, 2010

American Slang

Review from the Washington Post. Couldn't put it better myself. Brilliant title track. Great album.

Gaslight Anthem, "American Slang"

By Patrick Foster

Though many have tried, Gaslight Anthem might be the first millennial band to truly crack the Dad Rock market. "American Slang," the Jersey quartet's third salvo, grinds their Petty, Springsteen, Strummer and Westerberg-isms to a wickedly fine edge, while leader Brian Fallon heaps on enough grandiose blue-collar poetry to fill a hundred skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets. The 10-track album radiates a sweaty, radio-ready rock vibrancy that could easily sweep across demographic boundaries.

Gaslight Anthem began as an earnest, Warped Tour-style punk troupe, but gained widespread notice with 2008's "The '59 Sound," which pundits lauded for its tactile emotionalism and brawny singalong moments. "American Slang" continues that approach, but trims the bluster, steaming by in 34 minutes.

Keyed by the title track - a sharp reworking of "Damn the Torpedoes"-era Petty - Fallon's husky lead vocals are beefed up with fist-pump harmonies and punkish backbeats. "Stay Lucky," "Boxer" and the tightly wound "Orphans" all pump like well-lubed pistons, aided by production that strikes an adroit balance between gritty and sensitive. Fallon does sensitive pretty good, though, as "The Queen of Lower Chelsea" and the we-ain't-as-young-as-we-used- to-be ballad "We Did It When We Were Young" prove. (The hint of Tom Waits wistfulness that appears in the latter bodes well for the Anthem's long-term prospects.)

The album's linchpin, though, is "The Diamond Church Street Choir," a slick ditty with just enough finger-snapping Motown swing to have Fallon's supporters rhapsodizing over his artistic growth. That point's debatable; that "American Slang" will considerably raise the Gaslight Anthem's profile is not.

Recommended tracks: "American Slang," "Orphans," "The Diamond Church Street Choir"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bonnaroo In Ten Words

Kidding. But here’s my take on the whole shebang. You already know we camped and got dirty.

Manchester Orchestra. Forget my natural bias towards what is arguably my favorite band at the moment. These guys owned up to every last bit of hype they’ve built up over the past year +. Period. No click, super tight, in the pocket, faster jams than on record, dual drumming. No gimmicks, just honest, straightforward rock infused with more Wilco-esque breakdowns than I saw coming. And they played Wolves, which they’ve apparently cut out of recent sets.
Temper Trap. Generally hit or miss but when they were on, they were ON. They broke out of the gates with a nasty up tempo jam in 5/4 time, at which point I decided I’d stay for the hour and a half set. I’m not convinced their frontman’s vocal styling complements their sound 100% of the time, though I was usually too distracted by their bassist’s mean fret runs and captivating stage presence to care.
Wale. Who said he’s putting DC hip hop back on the map? Garbage. Couldn’t have been more disappointed. He went on far past his time, was presumptuous and defensive about the crowd not being into hip hop, talked too much, all of the above. Blame it on the goose, blame it on whatever, I’d have been more content watching his backing band sound check.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. Caught my attention, I stopped and watched the whole set. Couldn’t stop. Prototypical horn-driven, NOLA roots raditude for the feel-good spirit in all of us. You wanna dance? Let’s dance.
Gaslight Anthem. I can get down with Brian Fallon and company any day of the week. One of the more genuine, stripped down, rock-soul revival acts whose massive buzz I gladly support. They looked like they were enjoying themselves and Fallon possesses the rare intangible quality of your everyday man who’s comfortable displaying his flaws. That IS his star power. Opened with American Slang. Look what you started, I seem to be coming out of my skin…
The Gossip – unbelievable. Groovy, high-energy, commanding, flawless. That’s a woman. That’s a FRONTwoman. Contender for best live show, bar none.
Kings of Leon – if someone had told me I’d ever see the men behind Aha Shake Heartbreak play to 80,000 people when I first heard that record, I’d have stuffed cotton balls in their mouth. Then I’d go listen to the record again….and again….and again. I still separate my raw musical sensibilities from my pop inclinations, but what I saw gives me hope that even the former can cut its teeth for the masses while preserving credibility. Minus a majority of the crowd being unfamiliar with, ahem, a familiar Pixies cover, this set was a huge highlight. For their size, they still maintain a believable sense of authenticity and substance. Charmer was on the set list, so we’re cool.
Daryl Hall and Chromeo. Fun. Heavily favored towards Hall & Oates classics early on. Probably because they were afraid the fan on Daryl’s hair would die out before he got done with those beauties. Liked the big number of musicians on stage – 8? 10? Either way, contributed to the full sense of ‘party’. I hope to sing Bonafied Lovin with that many people again.
Flaming Lips – I missed the memo that alcohol-only consumers wouldn’t enjoy this. Sign me out.
LCD Soundsystem – they’ve cornered their sound. Nobody does it better. Total groovin rager. Upbeat, bass heavy, complete crowd participation, enough glowsticks to rival the Vegas lights. This is a band at the top of their heap, not a loner or two behind tracks. Sometimes thought this is what the Talking Heads might have been had a market for the sound been as prominent in their prime. And had David Byrne picked up a synth before guitar. Stop making sense.
B.O.B – cool, but bring the band out first. Five intro songs on tracks?? Lost some interest when I didn’t want to. Surprised by number of people catching your set. Wait, you do that song Aeroplanes, yeah? Word.
Jay-Z. Biggest regret was only catching the last 40 minutes of his two hour set. Don’t ask. That said, he’s Jay-Z. And he owned shit.
Weezer. Most complete, balanced, and arguably one of the most entertaining sets I saw. Kudos to Rivers for being one of the most awkwardly engaging and energetic frontman I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it was the World Cup. Or his birthday the next day. Homeboy’s 40. Anyone who involves Josh Freeze in their music gets might vote and having him behind the skins for all but two songs was one of the better surprises of the whole experience. Pat was on guitar, freeing up Mr. Cuomo to exercise his full frontman potential. Hey Brian, want to play something off Pinkerton? Why bother, it’s gonna hurt me.
Against Me! Still one of the best live bands around, but nowadays, I’ll stay a little further back from the madness. I’ve seen them play to 200, and now, 8,000. Very cool seeing about half of those bring the pain like we’re still on the Axl Rose touring cycle. A welcome and fresh new vibe with five stage members, new album, and a new drummer in tow. You know we’ve entered a new stage when they’re not closing on Danger, but a couple thousand die hards telling you they’re Molotov cocktails and you’re a Dom Perignon can’t be a bad thing.
Dropkick Murphys. You love Boston and you get rowdy. Love it, but unless I’m catching one of your Beantown St. Patty’s gigs, I’m assuming I’m seeing the same shenanigans every time. Caught Sunshine Highway and dipped.
Phoenix. Floored by their live show. Imagine 30,000 or 40,000 people dancing and bopping through dusk to these guys. Came out with Lizstomania. Closed with 1901. Old and new scattered in between. Light show on point. Talented, tasteful musicians. Drummer is wack and I eat it up. Filled a two hour set to the brim. They don’t need to be in your face to kill it.
DMB. Yes, it was my first time seeing Dave. Yes, he was ridiculous. Need I state the obvious in that they’re all nasty on their instruments? How about the fact that Carter’s feet are enormous? Probably a little more interesting. They have their jams and more impressively, all the madness in between them, down to a calculated science. That’s what it is – madness. It’s silly how on time they are. Silly. Suppose that’s what twenty years will do to you. Play on.

Monday, June 7, 2010

England is Good, Brazil is Good, Italy is Good...

I was sent this this morning as an explanation for a friend's temporary interest in the World Cup. Priceless.


#133 The World Cup

Every four years the planet comes together to celebrate the World Cup and since white people make up a portion the world, they are not immune to the excitement.

However, before you start planning out long watching sessions with white people you should be aware of exactly why white people get so excited about the World Cup. Though you may be waiting on baited breath for your favorite sport on a global scale, white people like the World Cup because it allows them to pretend they are European for a few weeks, and more importantly, it allows them to get drunk at odd hours.

Virtually every white person you speak to about the World Cup is incapable of remembering any actual event that took place during a game but can, with near total recall, remember how they got very drunk on Sangria during a Spain-Paraguay match at five in the morning.

From reading the above paragraph, the sharper ones among you have likely noticed that clever white people also adore the World Cup because it allows them to pair countries with their respective alcoholic drink.

“England is playing Argentina? Dude we gotta get some Newcastle then like, I don’t know, like some wine I guess?”

This plan will be consummated with a high five, a trip to Trader Joes, and the purchase of a soccer jersey that will be worn, on average, twice a decade.

It’s also worth noting the amazing interest shown by white women in the World Cup. While they generally find most professional sporting events to be boring, the atmosphere at a World Cup match is much more amenable. Mostly because they don’t have to drink light beer and there is a good chance that they might meet a European man, or, at least someone who might be planning a trip there. This is far superior to a hockey game where, at best, they might meet a Canadian. It goes without saying that for white women, the World Cup can’t come soon enough.

Of course, hosting a themed party around one of the games is a sure fire way to increase your popularity with white people, but at the end of the day it does not increase your bottom line. No, during the World Cup, the most profit to be made will come from betting on the games with white people. Not only will they have plenty of disposable income, they will follow the following betting patterns:

* England is good
* Brazil is good
* Italy is good
* Teams from Africa are cute underdogs and thus always worth a bet.

When it comes to talking about the event, it goes without saying that you should probably avoid trying to talk to white people about any of the actual players in the World Cup aside from the biggest stars. Most white people cobble their soccer knowledge together from UK celebrity gossip and a few games of FIFA on the Wii.

But if you do find yourself talking to a white person who actually knows a lot about soccer you are probably talking to a European, or worse, a white guy who tries too hard.

The latter is especially dangerous, as they have likely been waiting for years to meet someone to converse with about “football” and with soccer’s year round schedule, they will never leave you alone.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Adapations of the word 'bro':







and what I, for some unexplainable reason, found unbelievably hysterical today...


And we move on...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

That PB Is So Good, Right?

When you’re young, it’s the cookie jar. Steal when you’re not supposed to, and fear being castigated.

That’s what the age old children’s song tells us, at least.

And when you’re old (or a hungry young adult too preoccupied to make an actual meal), it’s the peanut butter jar. Dip into it when you shouldn’t and, well, the jar will be empty in no time and you’ll soon feel like an unhealthy, overweight glutton.

But that PB is sooooo good, right?

Yeah, just when I thought the habit was a thing of the past, I just grabbed a spoon and full jar of the creamy goodness only to finish half of it in a sitting. Bad, but not close to the obscenity of inhaling wholesale sized portions of Skippy the way I did even four years ago. As if I didn’t already have a portion control problem with the majority of food I consume, peanut butter always seems to grab me at my weakest. It’s my culinary Achilles heel, as I’m sure it is to countless others.

For ages now, I’ve said I’m actually going to watch what I eat…if for any other reason, to be healthy. You’d think with a set of newly inked ribs, I would have already started. But alas, I haven’t…and chances are, unless I suddenly catch myself gaining 30 pounds and developing a set of cankles, I probably won’t.

I love food. This country loves food. So when the politicos speak of an epidemic plaguing our children, and once you’ve acknowledged the truth of their case, toast to the one commonality we all share. It’s something politics, race, and religion will never accomplish.

C’mon everybody, glass half full.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NASCARolina Raise Up

There’s coffee in my bloodstream

Ribs are sore

Unbelievably gorgeous day in Charlotte

They say Switchfoot brings the rock

I bet I’ll see mullets tonight

NASCARolina raise up

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Gem In White Crosses

Against Me! has never been hard to embrace. As a consummate sucker for fiery, driving, honest material, their early work was a fitting anthem to my formative teenage years. Unlike a number of other bare-bones acts whose sound and message grew stale following that phase, each Against Me! record captivated me enough to follow them through the next. If it wasn't their evolving sound, which up until 2007's New Wave remained largely consistent, it was something else: a new label, a lineup change, and most certainly, their unparalleled live show.

I have to admit, I was concerned following the release of their aforementioned major label debut. Behind all the hype and public praise, what I heard was the sound of a band at odds with the newfound demands of mainstream exposure. Writing for the masses was not in their blood, and they (or the powers that be) weren't yet ready to part with their angsty, anti-establishment identity. Not by a long shot.

Enter White Crosses, the band's fifth full length studio release and second for the Warner imprint, Sire. Though my initial impressions of the lead single, "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", weren't approving, neither arrangement-wise nor lyrically, I have since been floored by the album in its entirety. In White Crosses, we have a bloody gem on our hands.

Let me be clear. This is not an album for the elitist street scene who failed to accept the band beyond their unadulterated, rebel rousing anthems of Axl Rose and Cowboy. This is not the mere product of four fire starters in their teens and early twenties with a blue collar ethic and a few power chords to their credit.

This is a thematically forward and unapologetic ode to growth, wrapped in familiar Against Me! cadences and Tom Gabel's most wholesome songwriting to date. This is a lean, 10-song effort that, opposite of New Wave, spares filler. With White Crosses, the band has largely ditched the man to touch on personal politics - love, loss, courage, etc; a natural result, one might argue, of their time in the commercial limelight, ascent to 30, and for some, fatherhood. With alternative mastermind Butch Vig on the boards for a second go around, they're favoring big choruses and big harmonies to minimalist production. Look no further than the emotionally moving "Because of the Shame" and album-closer "Bamboo Bones" as stellar examples. On melody and storytelling alone, I'd push the former as one of their best works to date.

Sure, White Crosses isn't groundbreaking. I wasn't expecting it to be. But it sure is a necessary, and even more so, worthy, next step for a band striving to push themselves and their careers forward. I'm telling you now, you'd be silly not to pick this up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There Are Footprints On My Ceiling

The mighty Social D just signed to Epitaph. Wow. Monster news from one of my all time favorite rock bands/frontmen in Mike Ness.

Not that this strikes me completely out of left field. If anything, it's exciting to know that after three decades and six years sans new material, the band is resurging with a vengeance. Very, very cool.

I could write pages about Social Distortion's general relevance to modern rock n' roll (and the southern california punk rock movement of the 80's/90's), their signifiance to me personally, why the new label partnership makes sense, blah blah blah. But I'm at a show. And I won't. And you should invest the time to understand Mike Ness and company anyhow.

Suffice it to say this news reinforces Epitaph's business character as much as it speaks to Social D's fabric as an iconic west coast rock unit. Your melding two of the most respected names in the alternative/independent music landscape, while bolstering the label with a source of revenue in these times of mega financial hardship (especially for this industry). Contrary to some of their indie contemporaries hopping onto every short-lived trend for a quick buck, Epitaph's been adding some formidable, proven names to their roster for the past two years. To sign Social Distortion is to fortify both their business strategy AND the identity they've maintained since day one.

In celebration of this news, I'll be spinning my Social D records nonstop this week. I suggest you follow suit. And for those unfamiliar with these OC juggernauts, here's some intro tunes to wet your appetite:

When The Angels Sing
Reach For The Sky
Dear Lover
Angel's Wings
Cold Feelings

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Punk Rock and Other Shenanigans

About a week ago, I took my computer in to get fixed. It was the third episode in as many years that it had failed me (this time with a busted USB drive and cracked screen), and time was winding down to cash in on my all-coverage warranty. Needless to say, the piece was on its last legs.

Yesterday, I received an email from the good folks at Geek Squad requesting more information regarding the damages. Immediately, I couldn't help but think i'd be paying out-of-pocket for repairs. Tight. So tight.

In actuality, what they meant to say was I'd be getting a new laptop, free of charge. It simply wouldn't be cost effective to fix the old one. So in I go to Best Buy half an hour later, the PC world my playground. Their message upfront: pick any computer you want, except a Mac. Slight bummer, considering I was planning to get a Mac next, but I can't argue with free. I walked out after twenty minutes with a Sony.

Now the bad news is I lost my old hard drive. The good news is everything I actually need is readily available in some form or another. Having recently lost all 800 or so pictures on my iPhone (which I was unable to save due to aforementioned USB drive) and almost losing all my contacts (all recovered), I suppose I'd been conditioned for this sort of experience.

So today, as we down tequila in celebration of my Mexican brethren's victory over the French at Puebla, I find myself restoring my music library onto iTunes. And in the process, I've surfaced some old school gems of records that defined my formative teen years and have me in a massive state of 90's punk rock nostalgia. Here's a sampling:

Strike Anywhere - Change Is A Sound
The Nerve Agents - Self Titled/Days of the White Owl
Guttermouth - Friendly People
Alkaline Trio - Goddamnit
Good Riddance - A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Rebellion
No Use For A Name - Live in a Dive
The Distillers - Sing Sing Death House
Against Me! - The Disco Before the Breakdown EP
Dropkick Murphy's - Do or Die
Everclear - So Much For the Afterglow (unrelated, but stellar throwback)
Coolio - Gangsters Paradise (unrelated, but too awesome not to mention)

On that note, I need new music recommendations. Otherwise, I'll have Manchester Orchestra on repeat for the next five years.

Lastly, my thoughts and prayers go out to the Love Family and UVA community right now. Go hug a loved one, say hey to a stranger, and smile like you mean it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I Ran. I Ran So Far Away

Count it - another marathon in the books. By what I can only explain through divine intervention, I logged a three hour and twenty seven minute time in what turned out to be my most enjoyable, albeit physically punishing, race to date. Some highlights:

- Nonstop rain from mile four onwards. I had heard about the possibility of thunder showers the day prior, but as with the aches I was feeling in my knees then, I didn't think twice about it. If it were to happen, it'd happen, and I'd find a way to deal. Fortunately, it was a mega blessing in disguise. As humid as it was, we were kept cool by the constant downpour, which probably spared a good chunk of runners from throwing in the towel. At some point late in the race, the rain stopped temporarily, making those few minutes some of the most excruciating of the trek.

- Stretches upon stretches of mammoth-like hills starting at mile 11. Yeah, I thought I knew what a hilly course felt like before. I was wrong. Fittingly enough, I was midway through a long one at mile 15 when I passed a band covering Bohemian Rhapsody, appropriately belting "I don't want to die, sometimes wish I'd never been born at all".

- Gatorade, water, gu packs, power bars, oranges, bananas, icy hot, vasoline!!! Major major major kudos to the race's organizers for offering all these products in abundance throughout the course. This is the first marathon I've completed where I didn't once worry (even slightly) that there may not be a source of energy or hydration if I needed it. And I needed it more frequently in this race than in any other. Generally speaking, an A+ job from these people not just in this effort, but in streamlining the event altogether.

- The finish line. The staff here was more concerned with putting water in my hands and carbs in my mouth than taking my picture against a finishers wall....all good things. As depleted as I was, my immediate priority upon crossing the line was to replenish...and replenish I did. If my memory serves me correctly, I had six cups of gatorade, three cups of water, 20 ounces of a a new muscle restoration drink, a power bar, half a bagel, a banana, a giant cookie, and a handful of pretzels, within 10 minutes of finishing.

- The wall, also known as the occurrence in your last six miles where your body says "STOP!" and your mind decides whether or not to obey. I tend to brand these moments more vividly in my memory than any other in-race experience. Why? Two reasons. One - they're typically the only time in a race where I question my ability to finish strong. Two - they're what define running in my book; that's to say, if you want to feel the truest sense of accomplishment doing this, you have to win the mind game and fight through those moments of hell. Running is mental. Period. For me, I hit the wall at mile 23 this time. We were in a residential area, my right quad cramped and for five minutes, I was convinced I'd have to walk. But I didn't, and eventually my mind took flight as my legs trucked on...and on and on and on and on and on...

I owe Pittsburgh an apology for my not-so-kind words last week. Sure, it has a grit and rugged feel to it in various areas, but that also means it carries personality. As with Chicago, Boston, and countless other cities, I respect that. It's what this melting pot I call home lacks.

I also want to publicly congratulate Alexis McDowell for PRing at this race and send an ENORMOUS thanks to Krystal and Ryan Brooks for making this possible and putting me up. Quality people, those two.

I'm out.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Reluctanly Crouched At The Starting Line...

I’m running a marathon on Sunday. Some time in the early hours of the morning, I’ll be joining 16,000 other people in a 26.2 mile race around the not-so-sexy city of Pittsburgh. For this, you can credit my dear friend whose name rhymes with Texas McVowel.

Under most normal pre-race circumstances, I’d be bursting at the seams with energy and competitive fire. I’d be tapered down, ready to explode, preaching my plans to finish in under three hours. And while I’m still all sorts of pumped this time around, things are a tad different.

For starters, I haven’t necessarily trained. Unlike my past three marathons, where I followed some semblance of a regimen and actually planned to compete months out, I jumped on this one with two week’s notice and have yet to run over ten miles straight in almost two year’s time. Joe Doctor would probably tell me I’m out of my mind. But that’s only half accurate. Yes, I understand there is an enormous difference between 26 and ten miles. Yes, I understand I’m more prone to injury. Yes, I understand Pittsburgh’s a shit hole.

I also understand that I wouldn’t be doing this if it were easy.

My confidence and enthusiasm are upheld by a few things. First is the weekly mileage I’ve managed to track over the last four to five months (30-40 miles per week), which is roughly equivalent to what I’d be doing if I was following a proper schedule. So while I may not be saving any uber long runs for weekends like I have in the past, I’m running mid to longer distances more consistently throughout the week and accumulating the same total across a training span as I otherwise would. My muscles still feel beat up during the week, so they’re at least moderately conditioned to pounding and pain.

More importantly, I know what I’m getting into and nothing, I mean nothing, trumps experience as an advantage in taking on a new task. I don’t care if it’s filing papers or throwing darts. In my case, I’ve successfully prepared for and completed three marathons of various types….crap weather, nice weather, small participant pool, large participant pool, hilly, flat, unlimited Gatorade at the end, unlimited Yeungling at the end. In fact, for the last one I finished in October 2008, I was convinced a week out that I had over-trained, an idea I would have never thought possible when I started running four years ago. All of this is to say I feel good about tackling Sunday’s race under the circumstances, even if it means not going for a PR. Frankly, that’s the tough part.

It’ll be nice to get back out there and see where I stand after an absence from the race circuit. It won’t be ideal going out less competitively than in times past, but after a crushing back out of Boston last year due to injury, I’ve learned to be thankful for the opportunity to run in and of itself. Well, that and coffee. I can’t wait to have my first cup of joe again.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dude Walked The Moon

It's been a while since I wrote here. Unfortunately, I've spent the better part of the last week preoccupied with other things. Some after thoughts: Go tell your loved ones you love them. Enjoy your time with those closest to you. Say hi to a stranger. Take care of yourself.

Not cool when you see the affects of aging start to take their toll on your parents. There reaches a point where Robitussin won't do the trick...

On a somewhat related (but equally unrelated) note, has anyone seen Buzz Aldrin lately? I hope I'm holding it together as well as he is at age 80. I turned on the tube yesterday to see him dancing his face off with some hottie that could have passed as his granddaughter. What a badass. Dude walked the moon.

You know what else is badass? These bands. Just a small snippet of what's fueling me these days. Gotta jet.

Mando Diago
Neon Trees
Titus Andronicus
Four Year Strong
She & Him
Florence and the mothafuckin Machine for global domination

Monday, March 22, 2010

Obamacare. Oh No

Show me a young conservative, and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains. Winston Churchill

Well, folks, it looks like Obama has validated the latter half of the statement once and for all. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that our country's lawmakers just passed a hallmark bill on health care reform, one that's bound to plunge us further into bankruptcy, strain our path to economic recovery, discourage our lower to middle classes from pursuing financial prosperity, and ultimately, deteriorate the quality of care its supposedly extending to the 32 million uninsured people in this country.

Now I'm not a politico by any stretch of the imagination, and frankly, I'm unlikely to feel the affects of this legislation in the short term, but in looking past my immediate interests, it's clear we're headed for the worst. Let's face it - when you put the government in charge of running public interests of this magnitude, it spells disaster. I grew up within the military health care system, where bureaucratic processes and inefficiencies eventually led me to seek private care. It's not fun, it's not tolerable, and I can't imagine extending such a system for the greater good.

Here's the deal - over the next few years, Obama will be widening Medicaid eligibility and increasing tax credits to help others participate in public insurance exchanges. If you don't have insurance, then you better hop on board here or buy a private plan. Otherwise, you'll be fined. Sounds ok, right? Unfortunately, this isn't free.

Forget how much more we're going to have to borrow to make this a reality (thus putting us further at the mercy of foreign banks, weakening the dollar, and stimying economic growth domestically). Funding for these new programs will come out of the pockets of people like you and I - maybe not right now, but at some point in the foreseeable future when my hard-earned income level meets some minimum threshold requiring me to pay more than what's currently in law. In short, we're going to get the shit taxed out of us. Higher capital gains taxes, higher medicare payroll taxes, even our own health care BENEFITS are slated to get taxed. At least McCain had the cojones to state this last point up front in his campaign for the presidency.

More Medicaid and government sponsored options also means lower reimbursement rates for the docs tending to their participants. Without getting into the age-old argument of care cost vs. quality, the fact is that money talks, even in this setting. Naturally, when the best docs see their paychecks go down, they'll set up shop outside of the hospital setting, privatize their businesses, and seek partnership with private insurers, leaving the public system with its pants down. But it's ok because as long as everyone's insured, it won't matter that their treatment sucks a fat one. And you thought your ER wait times were long now...

I could go on, but I'll stop there. As much as I agree with some of the quick-fix policies in this bill (i.e. barring insurers from denying coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions), we need to keep the big picture in mind and understand the broader ramifications of Obamacare before we let our indignant, young adult energy make up our minds for us.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

No Cup For Becks

As if England's soccer team wasn't already mired in enough scandal and bad luck heading into this summer's world cup, David Beckham recently suffered a tear to his achilles tendon, ending his plans to represent his country on the world's biggest stage one last time. Bummer. And not because his talents are the anchoring cornerstone of his team's success the way they were circa 2000, but because for being one of the sport's most dynamic, decorated, and competitive icons, you can't help but want to see him leave his strongest, most lasting impression at the highest level. Believe me, I was the first to dismiss him as a has-been fashionista and Hollywood playboy when he brought his athletic pursuits to this side of the pond three years ago, but in recent months, he's proven he still has the character and skill to command respect even amongst the international community.

Injuries are the worst nightmare for just about any elite and competitive athlete. I went through far too many in my teenage years. They're like being robbed. Violated, almost. First, there's those feelings of questioning - "why me?" Then frustration, as you watch your sport pass you by, knowing there is nothing you can physically contribute. And in true fairytale fashion, by the end of those prolonged, psychologically crippling moments, you're fueled for the come back of a lifetime.

Unfortunately, in this case, the world cup happens every four years, and at age 34, I suspect we won't be seeing Sir Studley in the next go around.

I'm not sure how the Brits will fare this summer amidst all the drama surrounding their camp: a new captain (put Gerrard in charge!), the Terry/Bridge clash over one's spousal infidelity, Ashley Cole's split with his high-profile wife, and everything else. I can tell you one thing though - I'll miss seeing good ol' Becks out there. Here's to hoping he doesn't end his career in an Herbalife jersey.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Irwin R Sheister

...please note that i have accounted for the sale of all securities listed in both your line by line explanation and my 2007 Smith Barney 1099, both attached. In addition, I have accounted for the cost basis of all these securities, which was not accounted for in your calculation of the xxxx...according to the line by line explanation, this figure was based on gross proceeds...

Tax season.

Fun? No. Manageable? Yes. That's if you've spent months anticipating all its calamities.

For each of the past four years, I've been adequately braced for the misfortunes that accompany this time of year. But when my return home from the road greets me with a fat letter caked with Uncle Sam's own errors, only to leave me cleaning up the mess, my tolerance for the clown lessens. "I want you"?. No, you want my green.

Where's my rittersport?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Look What Happened

March 13th, 2010...

St. Patty's day weekend is in full bloom, daylight savings time is around the corner, Duke's on its way to another ACC tourney title, and I'm blogging. What?

Yes. Soon enough, my rambling will be the stuff of public domain. Til then, I must make like an Irishman, digest this fine Florence/Machine record, and brace myself for the frenzy of tomorrow's Selection Sunday.

Pretending I'm in Boston for the Murphy's show tonight...