Not What I Needed

I was lurking on Twitter this morning and saw the names Ric Ocasek and Tony Bennett trending and thought uh-oh. Turns out there’s some college basketball coach named Tony Bennett who turned down a raise because he wanted more for his staff. But who cares, college coaches are obscenely overpaid and that seems like the least he could do.

Unfortunately, Ric Ocasek was trending for the very last time. He died after having an unspecified surgery. My first thought was I never saw him live, only once in concert with The Cars. If you ever saw them, you’d know what I mean.

I saw them in 1984 in Indianapolis at Market Square Arena. Lionel Richie cracked the ceiling of that stadium earlier that year. He wasn’t dancing on it either, he played too loud apparently.

They opened with “Hello Again” and just played one song after the other. There was no banter or connection with the audience. In hindsight, it was kind of dull, but I remember thinking it was a pretty good at the time. I’d only been to one other concert before, and that was Rick Springfield, in Springfield, Illinois.

Over the years, I have seen a lot of bands live, and The Cars have sunk way down the list in terms of performers. At least they weren’t as bad as Ray LaMontagne.

He was more than a great songwriter, musician, and producer. He made it socially acceptable for people like Julia Roberts and Katy Perry to marry ugly, and yet stay together.

All joking aside, I loved The Cars, they were my favorite band for a while. My brother gave me “Shake it Up” for my birthday and I played it to death. Before that, the only album I owned was “Spirits Having Flown” by the Bee Gees. I only bought it for the first two tracks on side one; “Tragedy” and “Too Much Heaven.” I never even flipped it over to side two. By the time I was 11, I was sooo over disco anyhow.

“Shake it Up” was the first album I could listen to from beginning to end. I didn’t care that every track wasn’t on the radio. I’ll always remember the way “Since Your Gone” opened up with the heal clicks, guitar strum and then the bass and drum.

A couple years later, we were in Winnipeg, Manitoba – of all places – where I bought The Cars first three albums. It was like discovering a new band for me. They were all solid, but it took me a little while to warm up to “Panorama” because it didn’t have any songs I recognized.

The Cars were always pegged as New Wave, probably because of the ham-fisted keyboards. But they were the only band in that genre who weren’t afraid to have great guitar riffs and solos. Which is why they still hold up better than a lot of other acts from that era.

As a young hipster wannabe living in cultural wastelands like rural North Dakota and Central Illinois (long story, boring story), The Cars were a great gateway band. They were popular and accessible, yet weird enough, that I could still call them my favorite band and maintain some street cred.

Falsestart

The only thing I hate more than a Kickstarter project promo video is seeing a product on Instagram and finding out, it’s not real, and just a Kickstarter project. You see something useful and go hmmmm. Click. Then…ah shit.

On another note, this has got to be one of the funniest Kickstarter images I’ve seen in a long time. They’re so sad in their lack of self-awareness, but this one takes the cake.

Get me The President of the United States of America on the phone. I have something very important to tell him.

I guess this is what happens when an entrepreneur art directs their own product.

Maybe I wasn’t so far off

I did this parody of Dilbert about 15 years ago after reading a couple interviews with Scott Adams. I figured he was just some cube-dwelling geek who loved making the same 3 observations about office life over and over again. Turns out, he’s something of a nihilistic prick whose disdain for pretty much everyone less cynical than him has no bounds.

I personally don’t find office shootings funny. I just envision Scott Adams as the kind of guy who’d make light of them, and tell everyone they should lighten up and stop being so sensitive. I also imagine, he’s incredibly thin-skinned and would most likely threaten to sue me for creating this strip.

Fabletics

I was at the mall to drop off something at the Apple Store and noticed they were finally putting something new in where the Gap used to be. There was a huge sign with the words “Fabletics coming soon” covering the space.

Later, I started seeing Fabletic ads with Kate Hudson on my phone, my iPad, and my laptop. And not just general ads, but all of them featuring her in yoga pants. Before that day, I had no idea this brand even existed, let alone seen one of their ads. It was like…magic.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not stupid. I know brands use geo and spatial location through public wifi and other means to retarget ads. What I still don’t know is how did they finally figure out how to show me something I actually gave a shit about?

Same Clothes

I have heard that Mark Zuckerberg wears essentially the same thing everyday. Supposedly he got the idea from Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein. They did it to avoid wasting brainpower on deciding what to wear everyday.

I’m the opposite. Deciding what to wear feels like the only win I can get on any given day.

I ❤️ Radio

I saw a bumpersticker for “Relevant Radio AM 1280”. I looked it up and it’s a Catholic radio station. In this modern age of websites and apps, what better metaphor for the Catholic Church than an AM radio station. On the far right end of the dial.

What’s their pitch? Tune in mornings during your daily guilt trip to find out nothing has changed in 831 years.

Stranger Things

Now that Game of Thrones is over, I can spend more of my energy hating on Stranger Things. I used to feel badly that this kid annoyed the shit out of me. But now I feel vindicated. What a little asshole.

“…people everywhere should be on the lookout for Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo, who has just begun production on an eight-episode Netflix prank series targeting our most laugh-ready of societal victims: People just trying to find a damn job.”

The AV Club

https://news.avclub.com/gaten-matarazzos-cool-new-netflix-prank-show-is-all-abo-1835529125

I tried watching Stranger Things in the beginning, and couldn’t stand it. Never mind the blatant smarminess of 80s era Speilberg. It’s the hype around how accurately it captures the times that I think is bullshit.

I lived in the Midwest during the early 80s and so my credentials to nitpick this show are impeccable.

No one under 19 listened to the Clash in Indianapolis, let alone any of the podunk towns outside of it. They still don’t for that matter.

Second, the slang. No one EVER said “chill”. They didn’t even use that word in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” We didn’t call each other “douchebag” or “mouth breather” (no one Tweeted either). In those parts, being a douchebag and mouth breather are socially acceptable. So they’re not insults. If anything, you were a pussy, a fucker, or a dick. Or a butthole, if your parents were in earshot.

Lastly, kids with BMX bikes wouldn’t be caught dead riding with kids on Schwinns and Huffys. You can fight me on this one.

You Will

Remember those AT&T commercials back in the early ’90s that predicted a techno nirvana just around the corner? They were narrated by Tom Selleck who asked a question like, “have you ever renewed your license…from an ATM?” Then he’d answer his question with, “You will.”

They showed everyday situations in the not-too-distance. There weren’t any flying cars or people in jumpsuits. See, nothing to fear here. If anything, their vision of the future was…mundane.

In hindsight, that’s why those commercials were so sinister. It’s 26 years later, and many of their predictions came true, though they missed the one about AT&T going out of business.

One of the commercials asked “have you ever had a meeting…at the beach?” They show a guy in linen pants joining a video call. In 1993, that seemed like an awesome idea. Today, it is a horrible reality. I have had plenty of trips ruined by some asshole insisting on having a meeting despite knowing I was on vacation.

What if they had dialed up the realism in those ads just a little bit more? It might go something like this…

“Have you ever gotten into a pissing match…with the president of the United States? You will.”

“Have you ever sent your mom flowers…from the toilet? You will.”

“Have you ever seen…a goatse? You will.”

If only we knew then, what we know now. I don’t think any of us would have gone so willingly into the abyss that is the hellscape we live in now.

Thanks AT&T. You did.

Dead to Me

This week’s theme seems to be watching shows with “dead” in the title. We just finished binging Netflix’s “Dead to Me”. It was recommended to me by a friend whose taste I trust.

I loved the show. It’s the best thing Netflix has put out, besides the John Mulaney specials. The story reminds me of “A Simple Plan,” with Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda. Both stories are about covering your ass, only to have it blow up in your face later.

“A Simpel Plan” is one of my favorite movies and books and yet it makes me really uneasy. Most of the time, when you see a flawed protagonists, you think, “ah, those are extraordinary circumstances, I’d do things differently.” But with “Dead to Me” and “A Simple Plan”, I can’t say with any certainty that I would have done anything differently than the main characters. A lot of the bad choices make sense in the heat of the moment.

“Dead to Me” is a dark dark comedy. There are no jokes in it, all the laughs come from the stark reality of watching Jen, Christina Applegate, go through one fresh hell after another. Linda Cardellini’s Judy character is an interesting twist because she always plays someone serious and thoughtful (even in “Scooby Doo”).

It’s so well written and full of plausible plot twists. They wrapped up season 1 really well, so waiting a year doesn’t feel so bad, unlike “Barry” on HBO.

Lastly, I love the cast choice for Jen’s mother in law played by the actress on Seinfeld George calls pretentious. It is one of the all-time greatest moments of that series. It’s from the episode “The Truth” from season 3. Who hasn’t wanted to do exactly this at some point in their life?

The Lemonheads with Tommy Stinson at Slim’s

Last night we saw The Lemonheads at Slim’s in San Francisco. Tommy Stinson opened doing a solo acoustic act. I tried taking pictures, but they turned out horribly, so the best I can do are these shots of posters that are hanging at the DNA Lounge down the street.

The first act was a trio called the Restless Age. They’re from upstate New York and do a lot of session work. They’re like an updated version of The Band. They had a very early 80s sound about them, think Marshall Crenshaw doing Yacht Rock.

Tommy Stinson put a personable set. He was chatty with the audience, telling us about 11 year old daughter. This was the first time I’ve seen him as a solo act. I’ve seen him a couple times with The Replacements and Bash N’ Pop.

The last time I saw The Lemonheads, they were just “Lemonheads” and it was at Treto’s Uptown in Champaign around 1988 or ’89 around the same time I saw Dinosaur Jr. in their original line up. Coincidentally, I saw the latter a couple years ago at the Regency Theater. So I’ve been digging some GenX Fossils a lot lately.

Evan Dando sounded great, despite looking a little fried. It was great to see a rock star again, and not some clear eyed just happy to be famous newbie up there singing. I don’t think he was clean, but he also wasn’t incoherent.

1993’s “Come on Feel The Lemonheads” still holds up as a decent power pop album. I bought a copy of it in the cutout section in 1995, and still give it a listen a couple times a year. I was hoping to hear some stuff from it, and they did about 5 or 6 songs from it. So I left happy.