Empty – I consider empty to be: literally empty, filled with contact info, just an emoji, nothing I can start a conversation with.
Fun – I consider fun as a loose term for a picture which I can use as a conversation starter, such as if there’s an elephant in the background or you’re on top of a mountain or you’re just flashing a really cool tattoo.
I want to believe in the American peoples’ ability to make well informed decisions and to have important conversations which frequently include conflicting opinions without resorting to name calling and violence. My country is breaking my heart, but it’s okay, because it’s my fault for giving my heart to my home.
This is where punk rock comes in and makes everything okay, even if for a few minutes at a time.
So far I’ve listened to the hobo-blues/anarchy-punk album “Love Songs for the Apocalypse” by Johnny Hobo and the Freight trains and “Burn the Earth! Leave it Behind!” by his next band Wingnut Dishwashers Union.
Johnny Hobo is more punk/ska with harmonica and horns and a rough-around-the-edges voice that is so dirty and beautiful. Wingnut is more rock and punk with more electric guitar and an accordion I cannot get enough of.
Anyway, I’m trying out a new format for music. I’m making a public playlist on the offbeat onpoint youtube channel. I may try and make a SoundCloud playlist too, time and availability permitting, but that will be for future posts.
I apologize for the late post, I had a midterm paper due yesterday and I was sweating all weekend and yesterday morning finishing it. Also, lectures started again yesterday after spring holiday and uggh it’s a mess over here. I’m ready for summer.
There are some changes coming down the tubes, I’m not quite at liberty to talk about them yet but it’s all good news. However I am EXCITED to announce that I have a new writer coming on board to write poetry, short stories, and more on Tuesdays.
If you want to submit pieces of poetry, short fiction, fan art, or if you’re a band who wants to do a press release for your new music video or album, or a young author looking for a new reader, or whatever feel free to get in touch with me. Here’s a link to my contact page.
I’ll tell you more when I have more details worked out.
Spoiler Free Summary and Review:
The Fault in Our Stars is a book by the wonderful John Green, well known for the YouTube series Crash Course (Crash Course Literature being one of my favourtes, tied with Crash Course Philosophy with his equally wonderful brother Hank Green). If you’re as late to the party as I am on this one, published in 2012 and movie adaptation released in 2014, you are in luck, my friend, because this is probably the best romance story you’ve missed. (1)
After some awkward teenage conversation, Hazel and Augustus exchange favourite books to read. They bond over the cliff hanger end to Hazel’s beloved book The Price of Dawn. Augustus gets in touch with the author of Hazel’s favourite book and puts the two in touch (for those taking notes, this is an EXCELLENT move; get me a personal meeting with Mark Z. Danielewski and I think that might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.)
The story goes on develop the arc of young love, but what sets it apart from other teenage love is that going into this story we have a game of Russian Roulette being played with Chekhov’s Revolver. The three main characters, Hazel, Augustus, and their mutual-friend Isaac, have advanced stages of cancer. The whole time I was, sometimes literally, in tears with anticipation of seeing who was going to die, and wishing the whole time that somehow no one would and that they could all go into remission and live long, wonderful lives together. However, as per the rules of great fiction: characters have to get hurt. In this case for me, the pain was worth the pay off.
If you’re into that kind of thing, romance stories that is. See me? I may have a cold black heart but I’m a sappy sod for a good love story. Speaking of I’m a HUGE pumping-blood-bleeding-heart for a good real life love story, so if you have a good story about how you met your lovely partner or former partner and want to share, send me a message.
I was talking with a friend the other day and she told me “Why is it all the music you listen to either morbid, kinda angry, or just…strange? Do you ever listen to anything, I don’t know, fun?” Of course, I think all my music is fun which is why I like it so much.
However her tastes, like most peoples’ (at least compared to mine), are much closer to main-stream and this did get me thinking that maybe my music tastes make me seem snobby.
I will admit to snobbery in my consumption of media in general but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a few songs that I hate that I love that I’m fairly sure everyone knows. In an effort to forward my (fairly) radical honesty agenda, I’ve decided to share with you a playlist of songs that I rarely admit to really loving.
I never really got into “break up” songs because like I always felt like that would kind of ruin the song for me because of the association however when I was working in a catering kitchen they’d play this one song on the radio. A lot.
The kitchen was really loud with over 70 employees all chopping vegetables and clanging pots and chef’s yelling across the yawning expanse of the biggest kitchen I have ever worked in. This amalgamation of noises plus my generally failing hearing (I listen to music too loud, I go to shows and hug the giant bass speakers, I am aging gracefully but my ears are compensating) I could ever only catch one lyric which captured the spirit of my wonder-lust, which is frequently fueled by a certain sense of discomfort.
“This guy decides to quit his job and heads to New York City
This cowboy’s running from himself”
“Riptide”, Vance Joy
In that same chaotic kitchen I heard another song that I liked but similarly could only catch one line of.
“we don’t talk about it”
“Stolen Dance”, Milky chance
That lyric paired with the upbeat positive melody gave me the most wonderful mental image of a guy in real emotional turmoil but dancing along with a big smile on his face, not wanting to talk about it.
I liked the guy’s strange rough voice and the acoustic guitar so much that when I finally figured out what song I was hearing, I found that he has one other song I liked too.
It was this music video that kept me coming back. I like the colours. And his hair. Like that mane is glorious.
Years before finding all these songs I lived in this literally haunted house in South City St Louis off Compton St(1) with four other guys. We used to have this game where we would take turns putting things on youtube, from songs to mechanical videos, and when you wanted to have the wireless keyboard passed to you, you’d ask “Can I drive for a moment?”
The two brothers who I got on best with fucking LOATHED this song so naturally I couldn’t admit to liking it but it wormed it’s way into my heart. It hit’s too many buttons not to. The horns, San Francisco, being in love with the concept of love, it melted my cold black heart (that’s been torn apart).
There was a time when I was working in a grocery store deli(2) and they had this radio that had a stagnant playlist: the same 15 songs for the 18 hours of operation 7 days a week. It was brutal. However in the back of house, we had our own radio which was usually set to something like Z107.7, the St Louis pop station, and this one song would come one and it had this like pop ska sound to it which that I just could not get enough of.
The song reminds me of the game Shadow of the Colossus.
Year’s later I was working in Jimmy John’s, an American sandwich shop, and Jimmy Radio(3) would consistently surprise me with music good music from all over the spectrum plus some really obscure songs that I have never heard before or since outside of that place. This is one of those songs:
I know it’s one of those hipster chorus songs but it has this strange sound that I can’t identify but I really like. That “ewooo ewoo” synth sound like an electric kazoo or something.
I’ll leave you with one last song. This song, like the rest in this list, takes me back to a time when things were different. A time when I could drink reasonably (sometimes), a time when the world still felt small enough for me to conquer but big enough that if given free roam I would never get bored, a time before all my friends went to the angry winds. It was a time when I was deep in a bro-mance with my best friend of 15 years and we were had “our songs”, something I’ve never shared with a lover for the same reason why I avoid break up songs, and this was one of those songs. I listen to this song when I miss that guy, that time, that time-feel.
I have more than enough of these cringe songs to make another Cringe List but I’ve spent way too much time in the past today.
I still joke sometimes “I ain’t scared. I’m straight outta Compton.” Before I left St Louis for England, I wanted to get a jumper that read “Straight Outta St Louis” because I read this story once that a St Louis native in Oregon actually fended off a would-be mugger because he said “Man, I ain’t scared of you. I’m from St Louis.” Being effective due to our city’s reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities in America and #15 Most Dangerous City in the World.
I ate so many cheese scraps, they were literally scraps that we could not sell so I don’t feel bad, that when I left I was placed on the “Do not rehire” list but I don’t want to meet the monster who can throw away collective kilos of Havariti and Extra Sharp Cheddar and Provel among others. I love cheese, probably more than some people in my life, which is also one reason why I suspect I have a hard time meeting a partner.
I’m serious, the official name for the corporate approved radio station was called “Jimmy Radio”.
Normally I try to ignore these sort of things but I do have an opinion on the issue and I think that it’s worth talking about because I believe it talks to a deeper systematic issue of rising intolerance.
Now I can guess anyone reading this might think “But Fin, what do you know about cooking? You’re a self-described microwave chef!”(1)
I deny nothing. However I am a guy who knows how to eat and I’ve watched a lot of Good Eats over the years and I’ve learned a thing or two.
“Sweet and Salty” is a very legitimate flavour combination. Think chocolate covered pretzels, or maple candied bacon, or a personal favourite: salted caramel(2). Fruit jam and cheese parings are a well established thing.
If my opinion isn’t enough, Alton Brown (host of Good Eats) has my back:
“I don’t want people saying what should or should not be on a pizza,” Brown told People. “You put anything on a pizza you damn well feel like.”
However as much as a label can help classify a person’s identity, political/social stance, or a relationship status, it has the equal power to inhibit truly deep understanding of what is being labeled by simplifying the subject in question into a word with it’s own denotation(s) and connotation(s) that may or may not at all aid in deep understanding of the subject.
In an effort to help “resolve” mis-labeling, an expert might be consulted or have their words used as a source of authority such as Gordon Ramsay’s or Alton Brown and as definitive as their opinion may seem on a subject what is best to be kept in mind is: these are opinions about preferences.
As I’ve outlined above there is scientific evidence for pineapple being a legitimate choice for a pizza just as there is scientific evidence for gender being a spectrum rather than a binary classification. Just as I’ve outlined above some people prefer to have pineapple on their pizza and some people don’t just like some people prefer to use labels as some people don’t. At the end of the day, it is not up to us to decided on who gets to do what with their pizza just as it is not up to us to decide how people identify.
Here’s my take away from this whole “pineapple pizza” debacle: Pizza is like love. You can put what you like on your pie and I can put what I like on mine. If you don’t like what I have on my pizza, good. More for me. Don’t worry, I won’t force you to eat my pie. Besides I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in most places. You do you mate and I’ll do me.
What I like on my pizza-pie? Pineapples and Anchovies. Do I have a label for it? Naw, I don’t feel like it needs one. I like it just as it is.
“Vintage interview tapes. New Animations. We transform journalists’ unheard interviews with cultural icons. The future of journalism is remixing the past.”
I ran across the Hunter S. Thompson interview.
Which prompted me to rewatch the documentary “Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride” which was about HST and his life.
As a young writer, I like many admired the work of Thompson and likely I’m not the only one who he inspired to want to get into journalism. Hunter had a fearless, fucking crazy, ferocious attitude towards life and applied that to his journalism. Hunter rode with the Hell’s Angles(1) as a topic for one of his earlier books of the same name “Hell’s Angles”, he developed a antagonist bordering-on “super hero v super villain” arch-nemesis type relationship with then usa president Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing — a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.”
I have had my own bloody relationship with Nixon for many years, but I am not worried about it landing me in hell with him. I have already been there with that bastard, and I am a better person for it. Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together.
Nixon laughed when I told him this. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I, too, am a family man, and we feel the same way about you.”
USA journalism today could use a hero like Hunter S Thompson. With his death, journalism lost it’s hunger for the bloody raw truth and razor sharp teeth which to rip it from the layers of BS covering it.
As Hunter once described his artist friend, Ralph Steadmen, “Too weird to live, too rare to die.” Which can just as easily be applied to Hunter him self. The world we live in full of rising nationalism, sinking empathy, and ubiquitous confusion needs now more than ever a shining beacon of light that radiates from cultural folk heroes like Thompson.
However if we keep waiting for superman, we might live long enough to learn that “Today a stampede killed superman.”
Even though Hunter was a self described rebel, I think this lyric encompasses his philosophy about freedom: “Tonight I burn my bookshelf to be free
Because even a rebel tradition is slavery”.
The world still misses you, Hunter. You might be gone but your hellish spirit will never die in the hearts of the truly free.
A usa motorcylce gang, quite violent and very scary lot. I actually have a personal story about the Hell’s Angles but that’s for another time maybe.
I recently bought a harmonica because I used to play many instruments when I was young, all strings (guitar, violin, cello, piano), however since I grew up into a
professional hobo I never had room or money to travel/move frequently with a big expensive instrument. I had considered the harmonica for years but never pulled the trigger on it despite being small and inexpensive until now.
It wasn’t until it arrived in the mail until I realised: I only really listen to one song with harmonica in it.
This might me be my favourite song by my favourite band. It’s such a hard call, they have so many good songs (which is one reason why I can’tstopwriting about them).
Don’t get me wrong, I like Bob Dylan and Blues traveler but they’re not in my usual roster of music and so I had no imagination for what I wanted to really play. I had faith though because if the The Creepshow can kill it, then there had to be other punk/rockabilly/ska bands to love on the Tin Sandwich.
New Mexico song opens up with a nice harmonica which plays as a part of the hook.
“We aren’t revolutionaries,
But we are the revolution.
And sometimes I think that the whole movement is just me and you
And then maybe we’d all be better off, if that were true
Cuz then at least we’d know where we stand
And we could tell our comrades apart from the man
But if the world isn’t that simple
Maybe this town is at least
And if I’m not marching with them for war
I’m sure not marching with you for peace”
“Well if I found god anywhere, it would be by the tracks
Face down in a box car, forty in both hands
And when I find god there, we’ll just sit and roll some top
Cause he’ll be just as confused as anyone else on this rock”
The next one I found was by an more traditional punk band, Pinhead Gunpowder (don’t you just love these names? It’s like a part of the appeal for me), with their song “Kathleen”
The harmonica kicks in around 20s.
The last song today comes from an old-school punk band from Germany called Die Toten Hosen (which hilariously translates to “The Dead Pants”, see aren’t the names fun?) with their song Grossalarm.
The harmonica comes in at the climax around 2m40s.
If you have any more harmonica songs that are not blues (I like the blues but boy do I have to be in a mood for them), feel free to leave a comment below.
Last week I reviewed a non-fiction war novel about the Vietnam war. This week I’m writing review about a meta-fiction war novel about World War II. That’s about where the similarities begin and end.
Spoiler Free Summary & Review:
Billy Pilgrim is a WWII vet who has, as he describes, has become unstuck in time. This is both an allegory for his state mind and the device for which Vonnegut tells his story which is somewhat based on Vonnegut’s own experience in the war including being in Dresden during the fire bombing. The story jumps around between episodes occurring during his time in the war, a time while he was working as an optometrist, and later life when he’s living with his daughter. His getting “unstuck in time” was a side effect of being abducted by aliens. As Tim O’brien says, “In many cases a true war story cannot be believed. If you believe it, be skeptical…In other cases you can’t even tell a true war story. Sometimes it’s just beyond telling.”(1) and I believe when he wrote that maybe he had Slaughterhouse Five in mind.