Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Playboys of the World Unite
So on the unfortunate days when I have to sort mail, I'm supposed to separate the shit from the good. And within the shit, I'm supposed to rate its shittiness (just throwing it away would be much too easy and time-saving). Anyway, yesterday I came across this catalogue and really couldn't believe it was still selling. I have distinct memories of walking through the mall and being confused by the store back in fifth grade. So with all its crazy yet sophisticated brightness, I thought it'd been shut down by law at 12:01 a.m., January 1, 1990. Then I noticed the catalogue was addressed to a short round fellow with a brief case. So take that mental image and picture him in this. (Make sure you read the caption).

I mean, what the shit? When I first saw the price, I laughed. Then I cried. Is $300 really worth one's dignity? I suspect the guy who wrote the caption had to jiz (sp?) all over the product 'cause he wants to hide how awful it is. So this is what rich, worldly people ware? Or is this just a stupid American interpretation? Hard to say. The Germans do love their David Hasslehoff.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Tis The Season
So it's not a birthday for the blog necessarily, but I feel like there should be some pseudo holiday/Cinco de Mayo-esque/ excuse-for-drinking celebration, since it is spring break season after all. In college, I never did the typical shit. Seattle for the 'rents one year, stayed in SD another. Went to Joshua Tree when I was a Junior (a trip ultimately marked by Chachi's Bingeathon -- a story for another post perhaps, or rather, an itemized list of food), and Senior year it was NYC. But when I was a Sophomore in high school -- still a fairly uncorrupted lad applauded by DARE -- I had the quintessential Spring Break.

Somehow my band, Loophole, was scheduled to play SDSU's Greek Fucknpuke Fest in Lake Havasu. We arrived around 6am after driving all night through the desert. There was a long patch of beach to which 10 houseboats were docked. The bros and sorores had recently gone to bed, but some dude who'd passed out in the sand woke up when we walked up with armloads of equipment. Miraculously, he knew where to go. It was an 8 by 8 on the top of a houseboat that allowed just enough space to sit, as long you zigzagged your body around amplifiers and drums.

Around 11, people woke up and started partying. The lack of sleep, coffee/Skittle diet, and 90 degree heat made me lightheaded and a little nauseous. Then the kegs rolled out and I got to witness my first keg stand -- a special, coming-of-age moment in any boy's life. Somehow a plastic cup of Keystone Light wound up in my hand. Then another, and so on. I remember it tasting like pee. This wasn't due so much to my inexperience as it was to the fact that it was Keystone Light.

12pm - our first set. We played in our 8 by 8 to nary a glance. The temperature broke 100. A bro in board shorts started waving his arms frantically for us to stop. From his wild, PCP eyes, I assumed the cops had shown up or aliens were invading or he was having a heart attack. But no. He needed the microphone to emcee the wet t shirt contest. Well, that's how it started. Somewhere the contestants decided to buck the system (it was Spring Break after all) and make it an all-out Best Body competition. There was a vaguely homo-erotic moment when the bros fell over themselves cheering on their boy, Matt Harder ("Har-der, Har-der, Har-der!"). I drum-rolled the tense silence following "and the winner is...". Harder pulled out a victory. An all-male orgy ensued (but not in a gay way).

A couple hours later the boats set sail for the canyons in the middle of the lake. I could harldy sit upright at this point, but they wanted us to play again. We made it through half a set -- quite an accomplishment for drunk teenagers on a moving boat. We tried to stop but people from other boats demanded requests. We played "Loser" and the commaraderie of drunk people singing rallied me a little. But only a little. After a few minutes even the promise of naked chicks couldn't keep me awake. I crawled into a cubby hole about 3 feet high, curled up with luggage, and passed out.

When I woke up my mouth was a desert, but luckily everything stood still; the boats, docked. I looked out the small window and saw a chick gyrating topless to Nirvana's "Polly" (a quiet song about rape). She was alone, which made it even weirder. I got up and went to find Terry, but had to sit and settle my stomach. Drunk sorores thought I was really cute for being "that drummer who passed out" and petted me. I milked that for a while until I couldn't hold the puke down any longer. Tried to be modest and make my deposit in the bathroom, but nearly lost it in the hall when I saw that the toilet had overflowed all the way down the walkway. I barfed off the side of the boat (it was Spring Break after all).

The boats returned to shore, people mellowed out, I napped. Then around 9 the drinking picked up as if there had been no down time. They wanted us to play again. After our set (the set we'd played three times already), we started drinking again. I wanted to keep going long into the night to prove I could hang. I heard stories of Eero slipping off the deck into the water, John winning a dance contest, and Terry making out. But I must've said or did something to indicate I was done, 'cause after a few beers they stuffed me back in the cubby hole to pass out.

Some time in the middle of the night I woke up to Matt Harder pulling my blanket away: "I'm just gonna borrow this for a few minutes". Before I knew what was going on, he had cocooned himself in it. Out of fear of STDs, I let him keep it.

It had been the last day, so when we awoke we packed up our stuff. John found a used condom on his amp. We said some goodbyes to our new friends, loaded the van, and took off. A few miles out we hit up a greasy diner. Over pancakes and coffee, we talked excitedly about how we were definitely coming back next year.

DARE's sent me hate mail ever since.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Crap Jobs Make Us Nature F'ers
I'm walking back from the bank a few minutes ago (personal errands for lazy attorneys are my favorite), and there's this dude a few paces in front of me. One of many harmless Century City khaki-bot types I've seen struttin' around Century Park East. Then suddenly, as he's passing one of those trees that grow out of the cement, he reaches over and yanks off a piece of bark. It wasn't, like, hanging and about to drop on its own. He had to struggle with that shit until it cracked. I caught myself cheering him on. Is that wrong?

Monday, March 01, 2004

I Love it When a Band Comes Together
So I'm in this band. We're a trio called Muso ("moose, oh"... which would be a cooler name, come to think of it). We're official now because we have a basement-esque practice space in Los Feliz. It's made of concrete and dry wall and scored by the low buzz of a device you mount to keep rodents and bugs away. Until we perform some makeshift soundproofing surgery, we're doing our best to play light so as not to piss off the neighbors whose only expression seems to be a disapproving furrowed brow. I don't really know how to describe our sound, but if I wrote for Rolling Stone I'd say something like "quirky indie pop".

Anyway, I'm excited. Yesterday, when I suggested that "the song should start with drums for 2 measures, and then the bass should come in after 2 instead of 4", and we all shared an "exactly!" look, I knew we'd clicked as a group. Our set's coming together, the music's tighter, and there's talk of a first show in late March. It's kinda like when you start dating someone you really like and can foresee taking roadtrips and vacations with her/him, or how I imagine it is for Stacey and Lisa when they see the Robinsons-May Christmas trim-a-home go up in August -- a sense that good times are comin'.

So I'm suddenly nostalgic for being in a band. The shows, practices, traveling, putting CDs out, etc. And to prep you for the up-coming box set, I present you with

Soikatron: A Complete Discography

Group: Sound Virus
Sound: Loud and bad
Year: '91 (8th grade)
The Dillio: We sucked hard. I mean, we were called Sound Virus. None of us knew how to play very well (I bought my drum set -- an all white thing called The Warrior -- a week before we ever got together). But that didn't stop us from looping "Smells Like Teen Spirit" over and over to the best of our abilities, and the great dismay of my neighbors.
Best/Worst/Only Memory: We entered Air Band, a contest that consisted of otherwise lip synched performances. We thought we were a shoe in for first place, 'cause like, we were live. We lost to a group of girls who dressed in pajamas and danced to "It's my Party And I'll Cry if I Want To", among others.

Group: Quickdumb
Sound: Punk Rock
Year: 91 - 92 (8th and 9th grade)
The Dillio: We kicked out a guitarist and the other singer from Sound Virus. We still sucked, but we played really fast so it didn't matter as much. Our new front man, Arnold Graham, howled about social inustices. His egomania was only outdone by our guitarist, Matt Harrison, who kept his hair long specifically to swing it around while we played.
Best Memory: Entering a real recording studio for the first time to make a demo.

Group: Loophole
Sound: Started as pop punk, ended as indie rock
Year: 92 - 97 (9th grade through freshman year at USD)
The Dillio: We started as a foursome but then our staunchly anti drugs/alcohol singer left (he later became an acid freak and is now a hare kirshna). The three of us (me, Terry, John) celebrated and fought like a family. Played countless shows in countless venues, including
-a 24 Hour Fitness parking lot
-Terry's VW bus
-Adobe Bluffs Elementary
-A hippie desert get-away called Mental Physics
Traveled all over the state (and to Lake Havasu for a stint as the house band for an SDSU, Greek-exclusive spring break), and generally hung out as best friends. But John became an increasingly depressed stoner and moved to Humbolt. He also grew to loathe Terry (who also suffered a severe swollen head syndrome).
Worst Memory: So many empty shows, it's hard to choose. I mean, it might've been that shitty coffee shop 45 minutes out in Lemon Grove where we played to one of our friends. But who's to say the show at the Largo in which we drove 20 people away and short-circuited the south side of the bar (after driving to LA from San Diego), wasn't the lowest point?
Best Memory: Unwrapping our CD after picking it up from the mastering place/Opening a show at The Soul Kitchen with Blink that was so crowded people had to come up on stage with us. They seemed to love it, despite the disapproval of Fire Marshals everywhere.

Group: Engagement
Sound: Mopey emo
Year: 97
Dillio: Terry and I were on the rebound from Loophole. Hooked up with these dudes who slicked their hair and had tattoos ("sensitive" tough guys). Wrote some intricate songs, but in the end they were just too gay.

Group: Juniper
Sound: Stereolab meets The Smiths
Year: 98
Dillio: We practiced for months, but only played out twice. Our life was cut short when the singer bolted 'cause her boyfriend picked a fight with Terry during band practice for looking at her wrong.

Group: Soika
Sound: Indie Rock
Year: 99 - 2000
Dillio: Terry and I wrote some great songs. His girlfriend, Candace, was in the band, too. Their relationship was less than perfect. Tension. Lots and lots of tension. We faded away.
Best Memory: Spending almost two consecutive days in our garage/studio writing music just 'cause.

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