Breaking Bad, Bidding Farewell

As we all recover from the end of Breaking Bad, I find myself still trying to figure out how to process the show’s meaning and somehow to conceptualize the show’s greatness in comparison to others. When I sit down to think about it, I am a little surprised but not exactly embarrassed by how much I like television. When it comes down to it, what I really love is narrative and we certainly live in the waning period of the golden age of long-form television drama.

It is simple, I like when people tell me a story. Tell it with “Swamp”.

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The Notorious B.I.G. – Hypnotize

Ah, “Hypnotize”. I used to hear this song every day when I worked in the dishroom at college. The only two CDs my wife brought to college when I first met her were by Bon Jovi and the Notorious B.I.G. This is a great song by a hip-hop iconoclast. My brother has even argued that it is his unique talent and special background that makes him appealing across lines of race and class.

Thanks for brightening my day with this one.

We Are Number Ones

First Hit #1: May 3, 1997

Two deaths hang heavy over the charts in 1997, and this is the first. The first of The Notorious B.I.G.’s posthumous #1s, it’s quite upbeat, and provides a pretty good example of the talent that was lost when he was killed. He’s still controlling an image, and this is as much about myth-making as it is about making a song – especially the video, which is incredibly annoying if you just want to hear a song, given that it interrupts itself for various over the top heist shenanigans. What B.I.G. was doing is almost akin to what has happened to the Fast and the Furious films – he’s making himself into kind of a cartoon. It’s a good kind of cartoon, with lots of flash and spectacle. Almost as if guided by his own larger than life presence, he was committed to making a…

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Yes. And why you should say the same to Prog rock.

I don’t believe this song has anything to do with that crappy science fiction movie which is a good thing. I think the outro riff, those three chords, is one of the coolest yet simple licks in rock and roll. Its been used countless amount of times in as many songs, but perhaps it is most useful here. Steve Howe’s guitar licks continually amaze me and I’ve been a hardcore Yes fan for years at this point.

I’ve talked of my love for progressive rock numerous times and have kept making the threat of writing a whole post on it. Here it is. I got into hard rock as a young man when Led Zeppelin was my first real love in the genre. The Mighty Zep was a blues rock cover band at its onset and always had that tinge to their music. Many bands did, from Cream to Ten Years After to The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Therein is the big difference between what I’d call standard English Rock of the late 60’s and early 70’s and Progressive rock. Prog rock comes from Europe and owes more to the classical music tradition of that continent than that of the blues from the Mississippi delta.

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Written Elsewhere: An interview with Sigur Ros’ drummer ahead of the band’s first Miami show

Check out this interview with a drummer from one of the most unique bands in music today (Sigur Ros). I haven’t talked enough about how much I like this band, but maybe now I’ll get around to it. (And I owe the band a debt of gratitude, along with The Dirty Three they provided the soundtrack that made my dissertation possible…)

Independent Ethos

One of the concerts of this year we’re most looking forward to is Sigur Rós’ overdue visit to Miami. It’s scheduled to cap the Icelandic band’s current U.S. tour, which kicked off on Sept. 14 in Detroit. Last Friday, I suddenly learned I had the chance to chat for 10 minutes with the band’s longtime drummer/percussionist Orri Páll Dýrason, thanks to Live Nation and the “Miami New Times” pushing their agent for an interview.

The group was in Philadelphia and Dýrason was about to head in to rehearsal. I had many questions, but could only go superficial with such limited time— a bit sacrilegious for a band I have been following from the start, but it was a nice opportunity, so pardon if this post jumps from one topic to another. There is a link to a more cohesive piece at the bottom of this post, which gets into much…

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Being Bad and Breaking Bad: Songs for the end of the Series

Breaking Bad is ending next week. It won an Emmy for Best Drama last night. My brother and I have both loved the show for a while and will be sad to see it go. This week I am taking the easy way out by listing songs that have to do with being bad (in the title or chorus) along with the hard task of trying to figure out what makes the show tick: Walter White is part Odysseus, part Faust, and part our father.

Michael Jackson wasn’t “Bad” back then. But things didn’t turn out great for him. Like the King of Pop, we all like to play at being bad.

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Sunday Morning Coming Down

Note: This entry was originally written in October of 2011 but I’d like to share it again. My life has changed considerably since then but I still often feel like this Sunday mornings.

There’s something about Sunday morning. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s a certain feeling of the weekend being about over while still having a whole day to get done what you need getting done and/or to do absolutely nothing. And I always feel like I need to get something done before I  waste the rest of the day.

I’m in an odd position as of late because I basically work six days a week so Sunday is truly my only day off most weeks. I often have to do things like go to the bank and mow the lawn, two necessary evils but not the top of my leisure time list. This is life.

Let’s look at this particular Sunday morning in early fall: I worked until one last night and am not impressed with the fact that I am now awake at 9:30. My roommate, who doesn’t do shit, is still in bed while her dog pesters me for love and attention, which I of course give because I cannot refuse needy animals or women. I am thinking of multiple reasons to procrastinate on going grocery shopping and to the bank.

So, what am I listening to?

1.“Sunday Morning Coming Down”- written by Kris Kristofferson, performed by Johnny Cash:

This is kind of a no brainer really and the first song I thought of for two reasons. The first the very obvious reference to the day in question and how I feel this particular morning after working a nine hour shift last night.

The song depicts a junkie waking up “without a way to hold his head that doesn’t hurt”. My fucking feet hurt after bartending at a wedding where the attendees drank literally over a thousand Bud Lights and a solid dozen bottles of Captain Morgan’s, among many other things like Jack and Malibu mixed with Diet Coke. They were country people, my people, and, generally, I had zero issues except for the massive clean-up because they were all so shit faced. Hence the hurt feet and aching back.

The second reason is I took a trip up the coast last Sunday and got to spend some time with an authentic Maine country legend by the name of Everard. He played in Nashville and toured for much of his adult life so when I got the chance to sit down in his living room while telling stories and picking tunes, I was pretty stoked. It being Sunday and he being on the wagon for at least two decades, he very naturally played this song while quizzing me on my old country knowledge. I guess I passed and I cherish the experience. I also saw Sheryl Crow walking around that night, but barely noticed as I was still singing those old country songs in my head. “Everyday is a winding road” doesn’t have shit on “Sunday Morning Coming down”.

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Radio XXV, side B, track 7: “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” by New Kids On The Block

Thanks, Mixed Tape Masterpiece, this will be in my head all day now. My brother, sister and I all loved this song at one point. The important thing? We loved it together. It was one of the first songs we loved independent of our parents’ tastes. I still think of Tony’s Pizzas and the Disney channel when I hear it.

Mixed Tape Masterpiece

New Kids On The Block - The Right StuffOh, New Kids On The Block, there are some people out there who get mighty riled if you intimate that humans are descendants of apes.  Well, New Kids On The Block, clearly those people have never been a teenage boy or been around them.  Particularly when those teenage boys are around teenage girls, and ESPECIALLY when those teenage girls are talking about you, New Kids On The Block.  Oh, sure, we didn’t beat our chests and throw feces or anything like that, but that’s called evolution.  What we did do was hoot and grimace and make fun of you guys and preen and make fun of you guys and sneer and did I mention that we made fun of you guys?  Obviously we were jealous of you guys, New Kids On The Block, but if a girl that we were bad-mouthing you to would suggest such a thing, we…

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Target(ing) Profitability: Corporate (T-Shirt) Rock Whores

A few months back I was shopping for clothing for my toddler son at Target and I was immediately taken by a pint-sized Pink Floyd t-shirt. I know: I recognized immediately that this was a simple but effective ploy to play upon a combination of adult nostalgia and a parental desire to make children look ‘cool‘ (especially for those Gen Xers and younger who were always too cool to want to appear to try to be cool.)

Welcome to the corporate jungle, Axl. Is this what you were afraid of when you spent a decade working on Chinese Democracy?

My wife mocked me a little. I felt both less and more self-critical when I saw not one but two little boys at day care wearing the same t-shirt. I over-compensated by getting a science officer Star Trek (original series) shirt for my son and trying to squeeze him into a one-year old’s shirt emblazoned with Carthago Delenda Est.

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Waiting is the Hardest part


I thought this connected well to my brother’s post about “November Rain”. Guns and Roses are great, but this song is far better in my book now then the former. I did love Slash‘s guitar solo in the desert in the “November Rain” video though and the cinematic sequences were cool.

We have written on this blog before about the love we have for our pets and how much of this love comes from our father who seemed to have gotten along better with creatures of the four legged variety.  We have always had pets and when our father passed away, I inherited both his cat and dog, Henry and Remy respectively. Last Sunday, Henry the cat disappeared and has not been seen or heard from since. Using his past behavior as a clue, my gut feeling is that he has gone on to the great big litter box in the sky by way of a coyote, fisher cat or some other critter. He’s not one to wander off for days at a time and I just get the feeling he’s not coming back.

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