Influential Albums – Day 5

The Stone Roses – Stone Roses

These guys. Talk about burning bright and burning out. That is what The Stone Roses did. I guess I saw the video for Fools Gold (Full version) on 120 Minutes then read about them in one of GQ’s Sassy magazines, The article started off talking about the lead off song, “I Wanna Be Adored”. That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

One of my college roommates, the elusive and not-heard-from-again-Tim Smith must have had the CD. It might have been a cassette, because that’s what I had it on. It was in my car and Panasonic Walkman knock off A LOT. The whole Madchester scene was big, but Stone Roses were the very, very top of the crop.

Their album cover art was inspired by Jackson Pollock and even name drop him on one of their b-sides. More on those next. “Going Down“. They are, in turn, name dropped by one of my favorite current bands, The Fratellis, on “For the Girl” – ‘she was into the Stones when I was into the Roses’

When I got to UGA and worked at WUOG I was amazed by all the b-sides I didn’t know about. B-sides in general, I think, are much more of a British band thing than American artists. I may be wrong about that, but it seems like all the best b-side songs I’ve heard are from British bands.

Anyway, The Stone Roses never took off like I think they deserved to and I think that has a lot to do with their self-destructive habits and behavior. The stories are all out there and you can read up on it if you’re interested. Needless to say, they needed to keep the ball rolling, but instead it was stopped and their career suffered for it.

Atmospheric, groove heavy, and transcendent. Those are the words/phrase I would use to describe this album. Anytime I can find something like this first album I dive in. It has not happened very often. It definitely did not happen with Second Coming. I’m not even putting a link to it.

I turned a few people onto Stone Roses, but not that many. Whatever. They must have fallen into that category of being too British. Some people can’t take that, but not me. That just makes me love them more.

They were hugely influential to other British bands as they documentary I watched on them made clear. Too bad they burned too brightly. I’m not sure they could have outdid this first album. They definitely fit into the category of “Debut Albums So Good the Band Did Not Ever Have To Release Anything Else and They Would Still Be Considered Pivotal”.

Stand out tracks for me, well, all of them. Top five from the album, in no order, “I Wanna Be Adored”, “I Am the Resurrection”, “Elephant Stone” “She Bangs the Drum”, and “This is the One”.

I got a Stone Roses collection and it’s great, but I recently went back and listened to this album, and besides “Don’t Stop” it’s an album that needs to be heard as a whole. I guess, if you’re so inclined, you could consider, “Don’t Stop” like “Within Without You” from Sgt. Peppers’. I am not a fan of it. I understand its importance and its place, but I’m not a fan.

Last thing, extended mixes. The Stone Roses had a thing of taking songs and going with them. Extended versions, not dance remixes, but just extended jams that were, I’m guessing, a BIG part of the Madchester thing. Extended dances to get your groove on with whatever was turning your groove up. I’m not sure what those kids were into. I just dug the jams. So, here’s “I Am the Resurrection” (Full version)

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30-Day Writing Challenge, Day 4 – 10 Interesting Facts About Me

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  1. I am left-handed – No one else is in my family. No grandparents that I know of, neither of my parents, not my brother, and neither of my daughters are. I’ve always enjoyed that I’m the only one; although, in elementary school my teachers did not show me the correct way to hold my paper and pencil so my handwriting was pretty bad. Not to worry, though, because when you become a teacher you have to learn to write neatly on a board so students can read it!
  2. I am Very Particular about loading the dishwasher – There is a right way to do it. It’s logical, it’s orderly, and it’s the most efficient way to get the dishes clean. That’s funny because I am neither logical nor orderly. Efficient? Sometimes on Tuesdays. I think it might be an area that I can control, so I like it the right way. My mother; however, probably thinks my way is absolutely ridiculous. If we’re in the kitchen together I cede the dishwasher to her. I’ve been bodychecked by her before, and well, that’s not something I want to repeat.
  3. I have rewired and replumbed and entire house – The first house GQ and I lived in had been renovated for us, but to save money we decided to do the renovations ourselves on the second house. I met a man about my father’s age at a neighborhood association meeting and mentioned that I was going to call an electrician to come out the next day to see about rewiring. He said, “Don’t do that. I’ll show you how to do it.” I didn’t take him seriously, but at the end of the meeting, he got my phone number and gave me his and told me that he was serious. The next day I called him up and sure enough, he came over and he showed me how to rewire a house. Before that the most I had done with electricity was change a switchplate cover and get a slight shock from an exposed wire on an extension cord in high school drama class. I pulled out all the old, scary wires and replaced them with grounded wires and plugs throughout the house. Up in the attic, down in the basement, and in the creepy crawlspace. There wasn’t a part of that house that I hadn’t run wire. After finishing the wiring he looked at my plumbing and told me that he could show how to do that also. I jumped at the opportunity. I spent countless hours, both really hot and really cold down in our basement and crawlspace pulling out old pipes and putting in new ones. It’s crazy to think about now, but I did it 15 years back.
  4. I stop and pick things up from the side of the road – I have found all kinds of neat things. I have a hard time passing things by, and often when I do pass it by I regret not stopping. Sometimes, of course, it’s not practical to stop. I have had to refine my compulsion to do this some because there’s only so much stuff you can get. I am trying to get to a point where if I get something I give myself two weeks to do something with it or I have to put it back out on the road. Just between you and me, I haven’t gotten there yet. Currently, I’m constructing a whirlygig from a big rig wheel cover I found on a Spaghetti Junction overpass. I passed it three or four times, and I finally had to have it.  It’s so big and shiny. I’ll post a pic of it once I’m done. I am trying to figure out if it will be weather vane type whirlygig of just a basic spinning one.
  5. Currently, ska is my go-to music – It’s not reggae, it’s ska. It’s from the same place, though; Jamacia. It’s more lively than reggae. It has some of its roots in 50’s and 60’s soul and doo-wop music. It drives GQ a little crazy. Maybe more than a little crazy. I can’t really explain it, but it’s what moves me. I was introduced to it back in the early 80’s by a band named Madness. They were heavily influenced by an early ska pioneer, Prince Buster. Their music stuck with me through all the different styles that I have encountered, and more often than not, my Classic Ska station is what my Pandora is usually tuned to. This song, Swing Easy, is what I would be my theme music.
  6. I can write with my toes – I have strong, monkey toes. I can hold and manipulate markers and other things. I could open the doors of the car that I drove in high school and college. I performed this toe-writing feat for a Trinity TV, Culture Shock, segment last year.
  7. I used to write and perform original songs on guitar – I wanted to be a rock star in college. I was not willing to give up going to school or my girlfriend (now my wife) in order to fulfill the demands of that particular calling. I started writing songs my senior year of high school and continued for about six or seven years.  I found it pretty easy to do, so I’d just do it. I performed them by myself or with a friend in some places in Athens and Atlanta, but it never really went anywhere.
  8. I love comic book conventions – Dragon Con here in Atlanta, isn’t really a comic book convention, but there are many comic book elements there, and I LOVE it. I have been to San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) twice and New York Comic-Con once. I would definitely go back to New York, but I would not go back to SDCC unless I had some serious special passes to avoid the absolutely insane lines.
  9. I have a collection of Joker cards from over 40 decks of cards – Being a teacher, decks of cards are something that I sometimes ask for at the beginning of the year. If you’ve worked with children, or even if you have children, you know that decks of cards rarely stay together. So, one year I just started pulling all the Joker cards out of the incomplete deck. I now have enough to be the border around my teacher bulletin board in my classroom.
  10. I really, really want to surf – I have gotten to surf twice, both times in Hawaii. The first time, GQ bought us surf lessons for Christmas when we were in Maui with my whole family. The second time was when we were on Oahu visiting my brother, who was stationed there in the Army. Right? Before I actually had surfed I had always felt that I was meant to surf. Now that I have surfed I want to do it more. I love the ocean and I really just want to get out there and (pardon my surfer lingo) shred some waves.

Well, those are 10 things about me. I’m not sure how interesting you’ll find them, but hopefully, there are a few things that you didn’t know before.

A Reluctant Hipster


I have recently come to accept something about myself that I have denied for a long time. Something that makes me fall into a category. Fit a label. I am…a hipster. To those of you who know me this probably doesn’t seem like a revelation to you. I still have a hard time saying it.

Why have I resisted? What’s wrong with being a hipster? I like the clothes from Urban Outfitters. I wear cool hats – Sharp Cats Wear Cool Hats. Honestly, I’ve only known about the current use of the word for a few years now. I associate it closely with another label. It rhymes with “smoosh rag”. Ugh. I actually had to take a three minute break after writing that. A Get Up and Walk Around break. I’m going to have to learn to separate these two terms in my mind.

Historically hipsters have been those on the edge of knowing about and being into what’s cool before it becomes Cool. Jazz guys, beatniks. I thought it was just recently that the term has taken such a negative slant, but apparently people have been deriding hipsters since the mid 90s.

It became clear to me over Halloween what I was when my costume was a Hipster. I was so excited because I think of hipsters as easily mock-able characters. I mean, there’s a Web Site, www.latfh.com, there’s a Facebook page dedicated to people mocking them. I would get the perfect costume and be totally in character; jaded, detached, pretentious. I had the costume part, but I couldn’t pull off the attitude convincingly. I thought that was bad, but I was wrong.

“Hey Thomas, what’s your costume?” friends asked.

“I’m a hipster!”

“…”

“How is this different from normal?”

“I don’t see a difference.”

/blank stares/

{Great.}

So instead of it being funny that I was mocking hipsters it became ironic that I was dressed as a hipster, but not actually in a costume, at least according to all present at the party.

In my mind hipsters are those guys that grow fuzzy beards, wear thrift store pants and t-shirts. They work hard at their image of Not Caring. Their attitudes suck. They’re indie record store employees as exemplified in the movie adaptation of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. It’s nothing I want to have associated to me. It’s like I told Daughter One when she asked me what a hipster was. I told her it was someone who thinks they’re cooler than they really are.

So I guess since I’ve decided to accept this label then what I need to do is reclaim it from those people I’ve been talking about. The bearded, PBR swilling, fixed-gear riding thugs. They’re not hipsters. They’re pseudsters.

But then again, doing that makes me just like them, and that was the problem initially. I don’t want to be like them. As Robert Lanham points out in his The Morning News piece, “The rage and self-loathing associated with hipsters has become more annoying, more naive, and more artificial than hipsters could ever hope to be.” That’s not what I want. So what now?

I’ll tell you what. I’m going to kick up my pretentiousness level about four notches. Not really. I’ve never thought of myself pretentious; although, I’m sure I have seemed that way to some. Dear Wife would probably say I am about The Beatles. I suppose I wouldn’t necessarily argue that. Also, I’m going to use my newly accepted label as an excuse to get more of my pants tapered and buy me some skinny jeans. Not the super skinny ones though. They don’t give a guy a lot of room to breathe or move around.

Here’s a link to Lanham’s article – http://www.themorningnews.org/article/look-at-this-fucking-hipster-basher