Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Concert Review--The (International) Noise Conpiracy w/ crappy opening acts

Opening Acts

something Hotel
Their name doesn't actually start with "something,' but instead something pretentiously fake-artistic like "starlight" or some such nonsense. The set could best be described as high-school garage band, but without rehearsals. Not that I have anything against high schoolers or garage bands, but too many people these days hear the frenetic chaos of good bands and assume that they can just pick up instruments and do that. But the cranky old man in me would like to point out that it actually takes a great deal of talent to make chaotic music that sounds good. These people did not make music that sounded good...they made music that sounded like they've never rehearsed, which for their sake, I hope is true. The kind of band that makes you angrily shout "I paid 12 goddamned dollars for this ticket and 3 fucking dollars for a can of PBR for this?!?"
Final opinion: Avoid at all costs.

The Fever
A great improvement from the previous act, but that's really not saying much of anything. Although they had some high points, they seem to have confused having a well-defined sound and making every song sound the same. You know, like the way the Red Hot Chili Peppers always have a ballad about California on every record that could be interchanged with their ballad about California from any other record without anyone noticing. Is it laziness or lack of talent? The world may never know. But despite the fact that it was difficult to discern one song from the next, they were high energy and inventive enough to warrant an opening slot.
Final Opinion: If it's less than $5 to see them, there are worse ways to spend an evening.

The (International) Noise Conspiracy

These guys are so rediculously high-energy live, that I'm convinced you would love their show even if you don't enjoy their music. A good mix of old favorites and cuts from the new-ish LP. But most spectacular is the way the band grooves. Dennis is such a trip dancing and singing all over the place, he can only be described as the James Brown of neo-pre-punk. The only downside were the several dozen times Inge nearly hit me in the face with his bass, but such are the hazrads of crowding as close to the stage as possible. Highlights include an angry rant about Subway's expansion into Sweeden, and Dennis giving me his water bottle after the show. Talk about swag--the posession of that will certainely impress anywhere between 2 and 3 of my friends.

As for the music itself, (I)NC is one of the few bands (such as the Mars Volta) that actually sounds much better live. For instance, with the purchase of their latest LP they gave a 5 song EP recorded live in L.A. at a suprise show they did. Any friend of mine can tell you of my reactionary hatred for all live albulms, but they manage to pull it off without sounding too rediculous. Their music has progressed from a bit on the dour side to much more upbeat and happy, reflecting their commitment to making a revolution of culture as well as politics . What other band can sing a love song about making "revolutionary babies" without sounding stupid? Not too many.

However, my personal highlight of the eve would have to be during the encore when they came back out and blazed through a scorching version of "Capitalism Stole My Virginity." I was freaking out to a pretty rediculous degree, because it's not only my favorite song of theirs, but also because I used to spend my free time in college running around campus late at night wheat-pasting up posters with that slogan on them. Anyway, Dennis must have noted my love for the song, because he bent down, handed me the mic, and let me sing the chorus. Now, I have to explain that I come from the middle of nowhere, where nothing even resembling a band ever comes through. As such, it's a big thing for people like me when we get near someone famous. (I kid you not; once Harrison Ford's private jet had to make an emergency landing in my hometown over a weekend. Banner headline on saturday's paper: Harrison Ford in Fort Dodge. Sunday's headline: Harrison Ford still in Fort Dodge. So you can see how much this kind of thing means to people like us). On second thought, you probably have to be me to understand, but there really is nothing better than getting to hop on the mic at a show of one of your most favorite bands.
Final Opinion: Even if you have to go to Sweeden to see them, it's worth it.

So that's it for now. The Coup with I Self Divine this friday night...and big city life just keeps on getting better.

Friday, May 26, 2006

It'll be easy, it won't be a quagmire, no innocent lives will be lost, you're crazy for comparing it to Vietnam

So it turns out that not-Vietnam now has its own not-My Lai. CNN has reported that the investigators of an incident last November strongly believe the Marines were unprovoked in their murder of dozens of Iraqi citizens. Furthermore, the New York Times has found that the report notes that the Marines in question carried out "extensive" killings for 3-5 hours. Yes, three to five fucking hours! it also appears that the story of the Iraqis being killed by an IED (as reported by the Pentagon) turns out to be a total lie that had absolutely no basis in reality and there was no way these people could have been mistaken for having been killed by an IED and not gun fire in the first place.

This is not a time for gloating or "I told you so," but I would like to point out that many, many of us knew this would happen before we even went to war, but we were all called anti-American for even thinking that our brave men and women were capable of such atrocities, despite the fact they they've committed them in every previous war.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Busy Jesse--F.A.Q.

Keepin' you posted on what he's up to:

1) Anything new?

Oh, way too much is new in life to recount. Feel free to peruse the following questions to fill yourself in on what's happening in the wide world of Jesse.

2) See any good movies lately?

Indeed. Notably, The Squid and the Whale. Can't recommend it highly enough. Daniels in top form...Dumb and Dumber form. Also, I finally got around to Brokeback Mountain. Frankly, I always think movies with this much buzz are going to suck and only get buzz because they're focused on "hot button" issues (what self-respecting gay can not see Brokeback?), but it was a pretty damn good movie. The true rorchach? Make it about straight people and it works. Make it about interracial relationships and it works. Make it about any type of relationship and it still works. Speaks well of the script-writer that it's an actual story, not just an excuse to show men being gay to throw it in the establishment's face, though it does that pretty well, too.

3) Any fantastic news from best friends?

Yep, best friend since the snot-nose days Howie is getting married. Great for him, I got nothing but congratulations. And fortunately, due to the advice of Young MC, I know to say "neato", followed by a quick libido check and tuxedo rental, and follow through by busting a move with a winking-bridesmaid, as he's honored me with co-best man status. I can honestly say this is probably the biggest honor I've ever received in my short existance.

4) How long has it been since you've showered or changed clothes?

4 days full of sweating from moving, going to ball games, running, and even lifting weights. It's become a pride thing by now, but with the baby cousin's graduation party saturday, I'll probably have to at least put on some cologne and/or deoderant. Right now, my smell can only be described as "an enchanting musk."

5) Loving the big city more than ever?

Have to be, as I'm going to see the International (Noise) Conspiracy tommorow. Would they ever play in Iowa? Nope. Do I have to travel more than 3 blocks to see them? Nope. What's not to love?

6) Had fun connecting with your only sibling for the first time in your life?

Yeah, Patricio and his wife are now living but a 10-miute drive/half-hour bike ride away. For the first time in my life, I finally feel like we're becoming friends instead of just people who are forced to love each other because we're the only relations we have. It's pretty fantastic.

7) Heard any great music lately?

The Coup's new release, Pick a Bigger Weapon, is kinda hit and miss (it's not quite "Party Music") but it's best parts are sublime. I think "My Favorite Mutiny" (with Blackthought and Talib Kweli--Boots is really doing well for himself) is possibly the best anti-war song I've heard, and I can garauntee I've heard at least 95% of all anti-war songs. See for yourself:

"Ring the alarm and form the troops
Send 'em out into the world, go to war in a fluke
Eye to eye with the enemy you sworn to shoot
Now comin' at ya neck sick ya hand...something wrong with me?
Motherfucker--somethin's wrong with you
When the chief just way to smart to question
The enemy the brothers of a dark complexion
The governments of the world is shark infested
They heavy on weaponry like Charelton Heston
Man yeah it gets low here"

8) Best website you had forgotten about but are extremely happy to remember exists?

9) Liberated any good mass-manufactured products lately?

Indubitably, my good friend. Been reading "Steal This Book" by Abbie Hoffman lately, and it's amazing how well nearly-40-year-old tricks can still work to get you many things free. "Stealing" (or "economic redistributive justice" as it could be called) is both fun and cheap, and I must say I reccomend it highly to all. But as always, the caveat has to be that you never, ever steal from people.

10) Any good parting life advice, as if the word of a 23 year old malcontent means anything to anyone?

Never forget your friends, they make the world go 'round.

Also, there's nothing better than being paid to what you love. While writing about how the poice use what Stark (1968) termed "police riots" (in which the police are the instigators and perpetrators of mass violence, not the citizenry) to deny basic democratic rights to large swaths of people, I realized I was being paid to do it. That, my friends, is true happiness.

11) Aware you ripped off the self-questioning tactic fron Donald Rumsfeld?

Yes, but I've also ripped off his callous disregard for human life, so I think he'd be proud.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lookie what you can find on the internet...

Whenever you're feeling bored/angry/depressed, just stop on by and watch the clock tick down.

Monday, May 22, 2006

In light of recent events...

Best Break Up Songs Ever:

1) Don't Think Twice, It's Alright--Bob Dylan

"I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul"
"I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind/ you just kinda wasted my precious time"

The best bitter-sweet break-up song ever. You're not happy about it, but you recognize nuttin' can change it, so you're moving on.

2) The Break Up Song--Ben Folds Five

What can one say in response to the reasonable, but obviously false, explanation of wanting to take a break, slow it down some, and have some space? Only with

"Fuck you, too"

And who cannot agree with the deep desire to get back all of the money you wasted on a broken relationship?

3) Red Rubber Ball--Paul Simon

"Now I know you're not the only starfish in the sea/ if I never hear your name again, it's all the same to me"

You may have broken Paul Simon's heart (shame on you), but he realizes the relationship was meaningless from the get-go, and he was only in it because of his poor self-esteem. But now he's a little older and wiser, and he's moving on to better things.

4) Cry Me a River--Justin Timberlake

Did I include it because it's a good song, or because I don't want to look like a music snob? Or because I'm the only person alive who doesn't think Pharell is a sell-out/overexposed? All I know is that everyone has at one point in time angrily made out with someone to get back at their ex, and would it not theoretically be much cooler if one were to do it in said ex's domocile? Or maybe it's just a contrived and hackneyed corporate song. But either way, it's fun to do for karaoke.

5) Flowers on the Wall--The Statler Brothers

"Smokin cigarettes, watching Captain Kangaroo/ don't tell me I got nothing to do"

Kurt Vonnegut called it the greatest song ever written. This may be the most depressed and heartbroken man alive, but not if she's asking.

6) Forget About It--Alison Krauss and Union Station

"Because after all/ I'll see you sometime maybe/ when I can't recall/ how you drove me crazy"
"Forget about all those starlight nights/ Layin' by the fireside, holdin' you tight/ I can't remember when it felt so right/ Just forget about it"

Nothing soothes the pain like sweet vocals and a mean-ass dobro. Heart breakingly honest, with just a bit of a vendetta. Like after your 5th Summmit when she's told you it's over.

7) I Would Do Anything For Love--Meatloaf

He never says what it is. What was she asking him to do? What wouldn't he do for love? Kill someone? Forsake his God? Move in together after a short courtship? Lord only knows, but nothing helps a body more than a dramatic rock-opera-esque song with no clear meaning or musical talent. But at least there's a bad-ass piano solo.

8) The Dirty Glass-Dropkick Murphys

"You weren't the first to call me boy, and you won't be the last/ Oh, I'm sure I wasn't honey, I know all about your past"
"It's all in the past, bitch/ 'Cause now I've got it beat"

She drew a sadistic pleasure from his longing and suffering, and he put up with it all because of his love. But finally, it was time to move on and he did it dramatically. Best to sing along to at a live show when dealing with a bad break up and the Guiness has been kind.

9) I Saw the Sign--Ace of Base

"How could a person like you bring me joy?"

The perfect song for when your girlfriend breaks up with you in the 6th grade. Plus, it's a terrible song from a by-gone era, so all the hipsters will think you're all ironically cool for knowing the lyrics to it, so...uh...there's a feather in the ol' cap.

Hands on the Wheel--Willie Nelson

"I looked to the stars/ Tried all of the bars"

The master of the break up song. Hell, pretty much half his catalogue could be on this list, but I include this one because it's hopeful. He's put the pieces back together with someone new. Not all break up songs have to be depressing.

11) Positively Fourth Street--Bob Dylan

"You've got a lot of nerve/ To say you are my friend"
"Yes, I wish for just one time/
You could stand inside my shoes/
You'd know what a drag it is/
To see you"

Fucking ouch. Can you imagine what she must have done to him? The only man to make the list twice, he sure must've had a ton of heartbreak for a Midwestern boy. This is hands down the best let's-cut-the-bullshit-you-need-to-fuck-off break up song ever. Play it while yelling at a photo of your ex-girlfreind when you run into her at the bar with her new boyfriend and she acts so non-chalant about it all, when you know she was really there only because she knew you'd be there.

So that's it. I'm sure this list is pretty specfic to my life and the songs and people that helped me through the tough times, but I'm hitting yet another rough patch in life right now, so I'm reflecting on what got me through it before. Gonna have to start listening to some new shit to get something to help me through this one.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Blah, blah, blah, politics, blah, blah, blah

Not feeling too creative this morning (it is 9:30 on a saturday morning after all) but I caught this little gem over on the CNN website and had to pass it along. In a nationally representative poll, it appears that Americans favor Clinton over Bush by a margin of 2 to 1. Now, I'm not a particularly huge fan of Bill Clinton (I tend to agree with Michael Moore that he was the best Republican prez we've ever had), but for a sitting "war president" to be ranked rediculously lower than a man who was impeached on issues such as "who does more to divide the country" and "who does a better job with foreign affairs" is pretty damn sad, if you ask me. Not even to mention the fact that on questions of the economy and who does more for the average American, Bush was favored by only 26% and 25%, respectively. Now, we know that about a little over 30% of registered voters proclaim themselves Republicans, meaning that even self-identified Republicans are beginning to notice what a fuck up he is.

But if you're like me and you likes the visuals, then I think that this says it all:

Friday, May 12, 2006

My how things change...

The L.A. Clippers, voted worst sports franchise in history by Sports Illustrated, known as "the Simpsons of major league basketball"(a bit of a stretched refference), and all-around blackhole of number one draft picks has not only made it to the playoffs, but won an entire series! Not only that, but they've won a game into their next series! Some people think they could actually win this series as well, putting them well past any point they've ever been to.

Think about this--this means that the Clippers are better than all of these teams:
New York
New Orleans/Oklahoma City (Best location ever?)
Golden State
and the Lakers

All of you, hang your heads in shame, for you can no longer at the end of a terrible and disappointing season shrug your shoulders and say "Well, at least we're not the Clippers."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Lifestyles of the rich and the...Jesse?!? (Part II of an ongoing series)


Out to Vegas this past weekend for a conference. On the way there, possibly the most magical thing that has ever happened in my life took place. I, Jesse Scott Genesius Wozniak, simple graduate student, friend of man, woman, and child alike, was bumped up to first class.

First fucking class!

And let me tell you, it is everything I ever dreamed it would be and oh-so-much more. First of all, you get to board before all the riff-raff. Hell, I'd already finished a (free) beer by the time the peasants were even allowed on board. So I let loose my elbows (because I had elbow room) and enjoyed free drink after free drink. When the lady came by with the big basket of (free) snacks and I only took a banana, she confusedly looked at me and asked "Is that all?" and I probably betrayed my class origins by saying "I can have all I want?" and then piling snacks into my lap.

Ahh, but nothing wonderful lasts forever, and soon my ride was over, and I was shuttled away to the very, very shitty hotel I was staying at.

The conference went quite well, but that's an entirely different story, and I don't even know how much of it I'm a liberty to say here, so I'll leave that for later.

Then, the gambling. Oh, the gambling. You see, I've never been to Vegas before. In fact, the only previous time I've ever been gambling was when I once played a dollar at the quarter slots at Mystic Lake to kill time before a wedding of a cousin of mine taking place in nearby Prior Lake. So needless to say, I've had little experience.

But this did not stop me from saddling up at a 3-6 Hold 'Em table and trying my luck. I had some great luck initially (first-class luck, you could say) and there was an older dude, probably in his late 50s/early 60s, who was trying to knock me off my game with snarky little commens like "I didn't know they let 18 years olds in casinos now" and such things. But here's where it gets good, because the story makes me look cool, and nothing, I mean nothing, ever makes me look cool. Anyhoo, I get pocket Sigfried and Roy (wchich is two Queens, for those of you outside the Vegas loop), so I play it. I flop a full boat, Queens full of Nines, and he ends up eventually with two pair. Anyway, I know I've got him beat, so I sucker him in with some slow play, making him think he's got me. Finally he calls me and lays down his two pair, confidently eyeing me and saying:

"How old are you, anyway?" with a luagh and a snort.

So I throw down my full house, showing him and everyone else at the table that I've beat him, and simply reply

"Old enough to take your money" as the dealer hands me all of his chips.

Even though the free casino drinks started to catch up with me and I eventually lost all of my money, nothing can sour that moment.

Except, of course, a loss of money in the three digits. And catching a cold. And being tired as hell because of jet lag the whole weekend.

So finally, our hero is forced to slink back home, penniless, sick, and in coach.

But all in all, it was a damn good time.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Report from N.Y.C.

Things learned in big-city New York this weekend:

A) If you want anything in the world, you can find it on the street in New York. Seriously. You want a Che Guevara belt buckle? Done. You want a framed picture of a poodle that has been dyed pink? Easy. You want a shirt that makes little gramatical sense but advocates the use of marijuana? You've got 1,000s of choices.

B) Major demonstrations are always fun.
I've been to more than a few in my day, and even though this one was for research, I was still glad I was there. Good times.

C) The police are semi-biased.
Yeah, predictable coming form me. But here's an instance for you: 5 guys walk into the middle of the demonstration, threatening people and challenging them to fights. Those demonstrating call over police officers and tell them to arrest these guys because they're trying to start fights. The police walk over, exchange pleasantries with the jerks, and then let them go right back into the crowd to try to pick more fights. Compare to one demonstrator tells someone on the street to fuck off, and the cops immediately swoop in an detain him. One could argue that this makes them not the neutral arbitraters of law and order that we're told they are.

D. Sociologists are nerds.
New York City--possibly the greatest city in the world. I'm there on a saturday night, and what am I doing? Sitting holed up in a little coffee shop intensely pouring over and revising my fields notes because time is of the essence when you might forget things. Then going to be bed at 11 because you're tird form all that writing.

And most importantly...

E) New York has the coolest things to see in the world

Four words: The Museum of Sex.

Convienently located next door to the hotel I was staying in. Well, well worth the admission price.