whether or not you buy into the whole “it’s a new year, i’m gonna make wholesale changes” narrative that comes with flipping the calendar or not, there’s some to be said for striving to make the next year better than the last. it does kind of suck that you have to motivate change in the middle of the damned winter though. i mean really, it’s 7 degrees and i’m supposed to feel some form of renewal? grade me on a curve, please.
sunny day at the St. Louis arch.
as the holiday is upon us the end of the year is nigh. as the Counting Crows once churtled, “maybe this year will be better than the last.” it’s safe to say we can say that every year. here’s to you and yours if i don’t talk at you before Christmas and New Year’s.
i remember when there used to be debate about whether Christmas was “becoming” too commercialized. that argument sounds quaint now. don’t get me wrong, i am as materialistic and shallow as the next guy, (although i have better shoes than that guy) but wow, we have turned gift buying into something that drives a whole economy, hell, a couple or three of them from China to Japan, to the U.S. to all points in between where cheap labor can be traded for corporate profits for the manufacturers and sellers of these goods. people seemed outraged that stores would open for Christmas shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, only to see the nightly news featuring insane amounts of people camping out, storming the doors and fist-fighting over cheap, large-screen televisions. shopping has become competitive, buying has become sport, saving has become a blood lust and it all leaves me wondering whether any of this is really about giving in the any sort of real spirit of the so-called season. i think we all enjoy the getting part of the giving just a little more than we like to admit. we ‘Mericans we love a game, pretending we beat a retailer at theirs for 25% of list price is something we “win” at every time we see a mail circular touting a bargain and a limited quantity. i can’t believe the sucker-society we have become. and i’m no better.
a boy blames everyone and everything but himself when he loses, a man takes responsibility for what happened. lessons you learn in competition. if you lose, you do it with some dignity, some grace and you learn what to do to lessen the likelihood of similar outcomes. so the fall soccer comes to an end great victories, stinging defeats. now, rest, regroup and work on the things that make you a better player, a better person and work on that man you are becoming.
“It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.
i think i once heard this line attributed to Lou Reed, it went something like, “my bullshit is worth more than other people’s diamonds.” without wasting a bunch of time googling the phrase, i will guess it was during one of his contentious back and forths with Lester Bangs. this sort of sums up the Lou Reed I love. self-important, self-effacing and selfish in his music. selfish in the sense that it is overindulgent, off-putting, and at times pure noise. wonderful, nasty, pure noise. that noise that splattered the paint that formed picture that his words described. to some weird kid from Kentucky, his work exemplified everything i ever attributed to New York City. before the Ramones, before Patti Smith, Blondie, Television, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground had me longingly wondering about the filth of the city, it’s alleyways of junkies, cocksuckers, cookers, lovers, artists and mainliners. that city sounded like the most frighteningly fantastic place on the earth. i knew it was hard being a man, living in a garbage pail. Lou told me that, but if some girl would just show up, Shelly, Candy, Stephanie, Jane, Jackie or Sister Ray, hell, it’d be alright.
the city, at some point, mainly due to pukes like Rudy Giuliani deciding that it needed scrubbing and sanitizing and turned into Disney world, changed shape from the wild decades of the 60s, 70s, 80s and lost some of that sleaze that the V.U. seemed to not-so-subtly hint at. but that being said when i step foot on the sidewalk there, in my head, it’s always contrasty black and white, i’m wearing wrap-around black shades, my collar is turned up and i searching for something, anything somewhere between white light and white heat. Lou Reed is New York City, his words, doo wop riffs and feedback are the haze that hangs over the island. everyone should have an Elvis and i’ve had more than one, including Elvis, i guess, Lou Reed you are one. now, i’m gonna do something that i do at least once every week, i am going to put on Foggy Notion and when I hear Lou chuckle, i am going to smile, ‘cept this time i will swallow the lump in my throat as i do it.
as October wanes and the temperatures get more full of bite, there’s still a rash of good soccer to play. the weekend means The Adidas Blue Chip Invitational, then we there’s a couple of league games left to assure that we win the MRL and we wind up in Raleigh in November at the CASL Boy’s Shootout to finish up the most hectic soccer season that boy has ever been a privy to. here’s to finishing out with a ton of effort, some balls in the net and and a trophy or two. #lfc #8 #bringthenoise
september 11 is an indelible smudge on the calendar. tragedy, horror, death, dirt, anger and the start of a slow, lingering move towards a new now. one of paranoia, fighting straw men and security, oh, yes, the security. we all wept for the dead and dying on that day, but little did we know that small parts of all of us were being laid to rubble, as well. metaphorically, for sure, and i surely know that is nothing compared to losing one you loved or knew–but our actual freedoms were given a bit of a sentence to die a much more slow and agonizing death. and the terrorists didn’t do that, we did it willingly. you know, for our own good.
but i am not going to use this day to grumble or to do more than remember those who passed on planes and in buildings and streets and leave it at that. oh, and recognize this as the day after the USA defeated Mexico to capture a trip to the World Cup. so maybe for at least a little while today, 9/11/13 can symbolize accomplishment not something more sinister.
i have to tell you, big festivals are really no way to enjoy bands, music, beer, food, soil, water or casual sex. maybe i am just old but i find myself staring at the damn video screens instead of the stage, i just cannot connect to the bands. spoiled by a youth of booking bands, playing in a band, eating with bands, and generally being bored with bands before being blown away by bands who were literally sharing my sweat, spit and spite the whole festival thing ultimately leaves me a little cold. not that i don’t appreciate the whole overpriced flea market appeal of it all but $10 Sierra Nevada’s and taco truck lines sure ain’t for old punks. give me a draft, a chair and a band i’ve never heard of within throwing distance, in a room of a couple dozen enthusiastic know-it-alls and i’d be more tickled…you know, just how we used to see The Black Keys. i’m guessing, inside, the boys in the band feel the same way.
Patrick Carney @patrickcarney of The Black Keys on a video screen at Forecastle Festival.