Random Thoughts About Post #50

Cinquenta! Wuh Shzz! Oh Ship! Funf Sein! Fitty! That’s 50 spelled poorly in five languages. It doesn’t seem like that much until looking back and realizing I’ve been doing this since February. If you think about it, I couldn’t have just come up with fifty posts overnight and made them this awesome.

It reminds me of a sociology class I had to take in college where we had to find a newspaper article each week and write a page summarizing how it related to the class. I neglected to do this until the night before the final and then realized I had absolutely no desire to go back through ten weeks of newspapers, find articles, and write about them. After consulting the course guide, I figured with the “A” I received on the midterm, if I got another “A” on the final, I would make up for the “0” on the project side and still be able to pass the class. When I received my grades, I was disappointed to find that I instead received a “D”, despite getting an “A” of a high enough percentage to work with my calculations. I only miscalculated the professor’s disgust in my slacker underachieverness that swung me from C- to D+. Is there really any such thing as a D+? It’s all D for dumbass.

Do I regret being a bad student? No, I was just purposeless. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Not all my classes turned out that poorly, but that’s a good example of my feelings of busywork. I understand practice and preparation. And I have extreme confidence in my ability to perform. Game time. On stage. In case of Emergency. I feel the rush of a pressure situation and can keep a level head when everything around me is falling apart. It’s the slow times I apparently don’t deal with so well. But I’m dealing with the persistence of blogging and I’m proud that I made it this far.

Back in 2007 I made a three week trip to China on my own, able to speak maybe 50 words of Chinese. I intended to try and import products to start a business. Eventually I settled on buying about 100 guitars that I sold individually though ebay and other channels. The most fun part of the trip was chronicling my experiences in China as I sent group emails back to friends and family. Apparently, people were entertained by my misadventures and enjoyed the updates. One friend even told me I should be blogging. I had heard of blogging, but I didn’t really understand it. Actually, I’m not sure if I do now. But I got home and thought, yeah I’ll start blogging. And then I sat there with nothing to write about. Honestly, life in Portland was, well, boring. I had nothing to differentiate the days that I spent there. Nothing of significance. No crazy encounters with massive burn victim beggars, or Philipino tranny hookers like I had seen in China. Life was safe, vanilla, and rainy and I had nothing to write about. I would put myself more fully into the whirlwind of the past five years by heading off to Alaska, but that is a tale for another time.

My point is I have had the persistence to put up 50 posts. Definitely being in New York City has been much of the inspiration for what I have put down here. The good, the bad, the decadent, even if you only know a fraction. If anything, this blog has been a way for me to celebrate three great loves of my life. Travel, writing, and music. They have all been vehicles for inspiring and reinvigorating me. As I said earlier, I was slightly purposeless when I was younger, but it has slowly begun to come together. To steal a line from Tolkien or the back of some hippie’s VW bus, Not All Who Wander Are Lost. Not forever at least. I’ve been feeling a change in the air. Or maybe I was just listening to David Bowie.





Clubbin’ NYC 2: Electric Guitar Boogaloo

What’s this? Another post already? That’s right I’m goin’ classic rock with a Two Fer Tuesday edition posting.

First off. I would like to address the previous post and say that I am not opposed to rap music. I think there has been groundbreaking music from the hip hop genre over the last 30+ years, and I am a fan of the music of NWA, Public Enemy, Outkast, and the Wu Tang Clan. Yeah I know they aren’t cutting edge anymore, but I like some new stuff like Rocky ASAP and Shabazz Palaces too.

What I detest is the stuff that is Pop music, which is slightly hard to define. Just like New Wave, Alternative, Indie, and Classic Rock; they are stupid names invented by music journalists, or THE ENEMY if you’ve seen the movie Almost Famous. New Wave was just a new wave of rock music, because they were still playing guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards, but they had cut their hair and the sound was evolving. Alternative was an alternative to the heavier rock sounds of the ’80s and was originally bands like They Might Be Giants, New Order, The Smiths, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, until Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden showed up and they were Alternative too, but they were also Grunge because they wore sleeveless flannel and Doc Martens, had a heavy Black Sabbath influence and looked like they needed a shower. I hate the term Grunge. Anyone who grew up in the Pacific Northwest knows that you could always find used Pendleton flannels at secondhand stores. They are logger shirts. And for a poor, unsigned musician, they were cheap.

Black Sabbath were considered the Godfathers of Heavy Metal. And what’s Heavy Metal? Not only is it a funny old cartoon movie with a very un-Metal soundtrack, it’s a line from Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild. As in “Heavy Metal Thunder.” Which is in reference to racing a car or motorcycle down the road. Classic Rock was invented in 1985, right after the failure of New Coke brought about Classic Coke and suddenly music made by bands in the ’60s and ’70s had shown some staying power. Rock N’ Roll was invented by a Cleveland DJ referring to what you wanted to do with your girlfriend in the backseat of your Chevy. What’s weird is how bands who emerged in the ’80s and weren’t a part of Classic Rock are now on those stations. Do you think Ludwig Von Beethoven set out to write Classical Music? What do you think he called his music when he hit on girls at bars? And most importantly, where did teenagers of the day go to have sex since it was at least a few hundred years before the invention of the automobile?

Of course Pop music just means it’s popular and sells singles, and makes hits, and next year it’s so uncool. But at the moment the coolest of the cool is to be Indie, which started out as independently produced music that avoided major labels yet somehow became “Pop”ular and tended towards whiny songs by guys in skinny jeans with ironic facial hair.

The point of my rant is that I love music from all of these genres, and have taken different things from these different influences. The best bands and musicians in my opinion have this attitude. Nothing more boring than a band that never listened to music outside of the genre they chose to play. Much of this is the fault of the industry itself, because it’s purely about making money. If you look at much of the entertainment business today, the CEOs all have a background as accountants. It all about the bottom line. Quality and originality are secondary to finding ignorant people to buy, buy, buy. Generally its kids because they just don’t know any better through lack of exposure. And the media sells them on the attitude that you’re young and nobody’s ever done it like you before. All your parent’s music that came before was nothing. Yeah, The Beatles never really did much.

I’ve been around long enough to see bands come and go, and it’s interesting to see their legacies. Time gives an interesting perspective. Remember when Creed was popular?

Last night I dropped in on a Blues Jam in the East Village because I want to get my guitar playing chops up. I didn’t play, I felt more like scouting the competition, this being New York and all. Now when I say competition it’s in a friendly way, because I don’t want to “beat” the other musicians, but yeah, I want to look good. Guitar players especially seem to have fragile egos when it comes to their craft, and may not always be friendly. Back in college I would go to the Monday night Blues Jam at Good Times, and it was a lot of fun with a mix of old and young but as always there was a little bit of that, “I’m better than you” attitude.

Last night had a few impressive performers, Black, White, Asian, old, young. There were also more than a few dogs as well. There was the Heavy Metal guy who didn’t know how to play rhythm and his leads didn’t say much either; the white kid who was up there only to sing, but had bad pitch, sung too quiet, and had no stage presence; and the old guy who got up to sing and play and really couldn’t do much of either. He bore a striking resemblance to Skeletor from the He Man cartoons and when he stiffly sang “I’m gonna rock you baby all night long” or some sexual reference I nearly snorted beer out my nose.

But it wasn’t all bad. There was an older black guy in a fedora that sang soulfully and played some great guitar, and a few young black kids that were impressive on the guitar. One of which was paired up with Skeletor, and I later heard Fedora tell him he needed to be louder, at which point he said Skeletor told him to turn down. Which goes to show you how in the fragile world of guitar player egos, the worst skilled will always try and find a way to sabotage you. Right Ian?

In all fairness, there were some good white guitar players, and an Asian kid that was good on the drums. And this Puerto Rican guy in all leather was playing some great saxophone, I’d even seen him playing earlier in the day in the subway. In all it seemed a decent blues jam, and one I could definitely keep up with, because I’ll admit it, more than a few times I thought, “I’m waaaay better than that guy. At singing too.” And while far from the oldest, I certainly wouldn’t be the youngest person there either. The crowd was a good mix too, with NYU nearby there was also good talent from a visual standpoint. So I’ll make my way back to be a part of the music and hopefully like in college, have some Good Times.

Thanks for listening, this is Stevie Tre Pay signing off the digital airwaves with a Two Fer from the guy that first inspired me to pick up the electric guitar. James Marshall Hendrix.

I’m back!

It’s been a long hiatus and I don’t know if I can ever cover the posts that I wanted to do while I was away, but let’s see what I can remember in the next few days. The reason for my delay was the all important move into my new apartment. It took place on April 1st, and honestly that day felt like one big cosmic joke from the universe. Everything that could go wrong did, took way longer than it should have, and ended up with me being late for work. Did I mention the apartment was being remodeled, and no work happened for about a week before I moved in? The stove wasn’t connected to the gas line, the closet had nowhere to hang clothes, there was no hot water, or toilet seats. Yep, you heard me. Let’s just say the time I spent traveling in Asia prepared me for these third world conditions.

Yes, New York, the city that never sleeps, the people who rush around like chickens with their heads cut off, drive like a bunch of immigrants with their first car, and work still gets accomplished very, very slowly. It took a week of living here, but those issues have finally been resolved.

I now live in the Bushwick neighborhood, which is populated with Domincans, Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and weird white kids. I went to the closest bars to me to check out some music on Saturday night. It was a weird contrast of stuff from a guy in a tutu singing Twin Peaks songs and busting out wicked and wild Ornette Coleman style saxophone at one place, to crazy noise punk with a guy on bass with an octave booster and him and the drummer with microphones taped to their faces, and a Japanese guy with an acoustic guitar blasting through a Marshall half stack and a drummer that was amazing. Here’s some crappy iphone clips of it. The Japanese guy’s band is called Ken South Rocks, you can see him when he jumps on on stage at the end of the clip. I highly recommend you at least skip ahead to this if you don’t watch the full clip.