Saturday, April 29, 2006

On my turntable: Donny & Marie - Goin' Coconuts

I remember buying this album at Northtown mall when it first came out. Goin' Coconuts (1978) is the soundtrack to the disastrous Donny & Marie movie of the same name. Although there are some cute moments in the film, overall it's plain horrible. Luckily the album fares better than the movie, featuring one of the duo's best singles, "On The Shelf".

The summer before
Goin' Coconuts came out I saw the Osmonds (D&M, the Osmond Brothers, & Jimmy) perform at the Minnesota State Fair, which was pretty exciting. It was the first concert my parents would let my brother and I attend, seeing as our mom had this idea that rock shows were nothing but drug infested orgies. Because of this, we were not allowed to go to a legit "rock concert" until three years later, when we saw ELO and Hall & Oates at the St. Paul Civic Center.

Watch for the Donny & Marie show on DVD later this year. You can read more about it at Donny's official website.

Friday, April 28, 2006

On my turntable: We Are Scientists - "It's A Hit"/"Surprise"

This is one of the more handsome 7" releases that I've seen in a while. The vinyl is sky blue, in a gatefold sleeve that also includes a poster. Oh yeah, and the song is pretty tasty too. The We Are Scientists full-length, With Love and Squalor, is also available on vinyl and can be ordered now at sites such as


Thursday, April 27, 2006

A blast from the past

Nicky O'Steen and I used to be really tight friends as kids, along with another guy named John Gump. For a few years the three of us were pretty much inseparable. We used to do the stupidest shit together -- I remember laughing with them a lot. Junior high would have been pretty unbearable without them. Every once in a while I wonder how these guys are doing, as I've not been in touch with either of them since the early 80's. It's interesting to me how we've all been in various bands over the years. I learned this morning that Nicky is now playing in a band called Big Daddy Chrome in Baltimore. It's great to see that he's still musically active. Nicky was the guy that really got me into Kiss and the Stones.

I found the above photo earlier today by browsing at an online local music forum. It was taken at First Avenue at a 1986 show by one of Nicky's bands. Anyway, it's a cool photo, and if you see this, Nicky - I hope you don't mind me posting it!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April 26, 1984

Twenty-two years ago on this day my friend Randy Matthes and I were in a tornado at Apache Plaza Shopping Center. You can read my story here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Energy crisis: food for thought

Here's a little something I just learned from taking the Energy Quiz at

The U.S. could cease importing oil from the Persian Gulf if the American automobile fleet improved its miles-per-gallon efficiency by just 3 mpg.

Something to think about.

Monday, April 24, 2006

New Cheap Trick album!

Street date:

On my turntable: Various Artists - Caroline Now!

The CD version of this Brian Wilson/Beach Boys tribute came out in 2000, but the lovely gatefold white double LP pressing was just released in March 2006. I'm glad I never bought the CD! There are some great songs & artists on this album, including Alex Chilton, High Llamas, Aluminum Group, and (best of all) a reunited Free Design! Some obscure tracks on here too, like Dennis Wilson's "Lady", "Almost Summer", "Big Sur", and a French version of "Girl Don't Tell Me". I plan to play this album a lot this spring. Good stuff.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Top 10 albums I wish were on LP (but aren't)

The truth is, the majority of the albums that I want eventually get released on vinyl. Once in a while a new release comes out, and I wait...and wait...and wait for a vinyl version that never comes. Oh so sad. Here's a list of some of my favorite CDs that have yet to be released on the superior format of the vinyl LP:

10. Ringo Starr - Choose Love9. George Michael - Patience8. The Curse of Blondie7. Permanent Green Light - Against Nature6. Jupiter Affect - Instructions For the Two Ways of Becoming Alice5. Monkees - Justus4. The Bangles - Doll Revolution3. Cree Summer - Street Fairie2. God Bless The Go-Go's1. Tears For Fears - Everybody Loves A Happy Ending

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Who am I

Sometimes when I journal I will make a list of descriptives that summarize who I am, or how I see myself. It's self-indulgent, I know. So is this blog. Here's a list for today, off the top of my head:

Mankato State alum
U of M alum
PhD student
vinyl enthusiast
Apache Plaza historian
coffee freak
salt addict
parent (of two super sweet rabbits)
mutt (Swedish, Norwegian, Swiss, German, Irish)
home owner
Crohnie (person living with Crohn's disease)
child of the 70's (see pic)

Earth Day 2006

Earth Day is April 22!

Earth Day is a special day, an annual reminder for each of us to look at what we are doing to contribute either to the planet's health or its destruction. Making changes isn't always easy, but it's always good to know what we can do to help make things better.

Earth Day 1990 was the start of my life as a vegetarian. I fondly remember the process as a time when I was becoming increasingly aware of my role in many global problems. It was also the time when I became a royal pain in the ass to many of my friends and family. Yeah, uh, sorry about that friends.

This year, take a little time to see what you can do to make a difference in the life of our planet. It might be as simple as learning about recycling. The truth is, if we all make even small changes we can have a big impact.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Arthur Lee sick with Leukemia

This is pretty sad news. According to an article at, Arthur Lee has undergone chemotherapy for acute Leukemia, and is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Since he currently does not have health insurance, there are plans for an all-star benefit concert to help him with expenses.

I had the fortune of seeing Love perform with Arthur Lee at First Avenue twice. The first time (in 2002) Arthur had horrible laryngitis, and could hardly sing or even speak. The second time was on the great Zombies/Love tour, which also featured original Love guitarist Johnny Echols. This band (which also features members of Baby Lemonade) has since stopped performing with Arthur, saying that his deteriorating physical and mental health have negatively impacted the quality of the shows.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A very Catholic Easter

It's official: I'm Catholic.

For the past eight months I've been attending class at the Basilica of St. Mary, leading up to today's Easter vigil where I received my first Communion. It was a very nice service, and it was great being there with some of my dear old friends who showed up to support me, along with the new friends I've made in the church. I feel fortunate to be a part of this community which has been very accepting of me and my partner Leo.

I'm as surprised as anyone that I have made the choice to join a Christian church. As a child I was baptised Lutheran and confirmed as a teen, but basically stopped attending church because I really didn't feel like I gained anything from it. Over the past 10-12 years I studied Hinduism, finally deciding that it was as flawed as most religions. Perhaps it was the understanding that religions are not perfect that eventually lead me back to the church.

Much of what attracted me to the Basilica in particular is its almost activist stance on political and social issues. Catholicism is not a passive faith; as a Catholic it is my responsibility to always try to do what my conscience tells me is right. For me this includes vegetarianism and speaking out on issues that are important to me, such as civil rights. I know that I still have a lot to learn, but after eight months of studying what it means to be Catholic, I feel like I'm off to a decent start.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

NEW Wacky Packages Series 3!!

I just learned about the all-new 3rd series of Wackys. I don't yet know if they're in stores, but they are available on eBay. I love me my Wacky Packs!

University of Cumberlands student expelled for being gay


The headlines have come fast and furious in recent months about kids being busted for everything from threatening teachers to plotting to burn down churches on their MySpace and Facebook pages. But at a small Christian liberal arts university in Williamsburg, Kentucky, last week, 20-year-old Jason Johnson was expelled not for a threat, but for admitting he is gay.

University of the Cumberlands spokesperson Larry Cockrum said he wasn't allowed to discuss matters pertaining to students or faculty, but the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper confirmed that the expulsion happened recently.

Cockrum said the 117-year-old school has a policy that allows administrators to expel a student who "promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Donny & Marie go Hawaiian

I TOTALLY remember this commercial!

On my turntable: Beastie Boys - Solid Gold Hits

I never thought I'd actually say this, but listening to the new Beastie Boys collection reminds me of simpler times. I guess this officially means that I'm old, but I don't care because this album kicks ass. Solid Gold Hits (2005) is packed with 15 fantastic tracks from the past 20 years. That's right -- TWENTY YEARS. That's a long time.

Almost every track on this album evokes a memory from different periods in my life, which I'm sure is part of why I love this record so much. The double LP version of
SGH comes in a sturdy gatefold sleeve, but without many extras like photos or liner notes. Regardless, it's worth the somewhat steep price (I found it for $26, but have seen it priced locally for as much as $29.99), if just for the Fat Boy Slim remix of "Body Movin", one of my favorite songs of all time.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Today's turntable spins

R.E.M. - Document
Go-Go's - Vacation
Michael Jackson - Off The Wall
Jackson 5ive - Anthology
Osmonds - The Plan
Jefferson Starship - Gold
- The Game
Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac (1975)
Pat Benatar - In The Heat Of The Night
Journey - Evolution
Tears For Fears - "Closest Thing To Heaven" 12"
Incredible String Band - The 5000 Spirits
David Cassidy - Dreams Are Nuthin' More Than Wishes

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In today's Star Tribune

An excellent letter from a reader:

Pride and shame

My wife and son went to the Minnesota Senate hearing on the amendment that would ban same-sex unions to support my wife's sister Helen, who is gay.

I want to say how proud I am of them and how proud I am of Helen and her life partner, Nia.

I also want to say how embarrassed I am about their stepsister -- Sen. Michele Bachmann.


On my turntable: High Llamas - Beet, Maize & Corn

I first learned of the High Llamas when I got their Hawaii (1997) CD, after hearing it was an homage to the Beach Boys' Smile. I loved a lot of the music on Hawaii, enough to continue keeping tabs on the band's releases. Beet, Maize & Corn (2003) is a gorgeous album filled with lush arrangements, although less memorable than Hawaii in my opinion. This LP release on Drag City is great, on heavyweight vinyl with custom labels.

In early 2004 I had a rare chance to see the High Llamas play at the local Triple Rock club, which is a great intimate venue for indie & local bands. Unfortunately for me I was horribly sick that night, and only managed to stay for 3 or 4 songs. I was pretty bummed to have to leave, but there was no way I was going to be able to stay. The few songs I did hear them play were really nice, including "Leaf and Lime" from BMC. Hopefully the Llamas will come to town again in the future.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Current mood: malaise

I have to admit that I just like the word "malaise", but I think it actually applies right now. I've been feeling like shit today, mentally, physically, and spiritually. There are dishes in the sink and laundry is piled up, but I don't have the ambition to clean. Oh the drama.

malaise: 1) A vague feeling of bodily discomfort, as at the beginning of an illness.

2) A general sense of depression or unease: “One year after the crash, the markets remain mired in a deep malaise”

So I've got T.Rex on the turntable and I'm trying to just stay mellow. I am confident that the malaise shall pass. If I am indeed getting sick, then that too shall pass. I think I'll take a couple of Tylenol pm and hit the sack.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Today's LPs

Records I listened to around the house today:

Eurythmics - Savage
T-Rex - Electric Warrior
Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart
Three O'Clock - Baroque Hoedown
A Tribe Called Quest - The Anthology

John Lennon - Imagine
Beach Boys - American Summer
Kiss - Hotter Than Hell
Baby Lemonade - The Wonderful EP
Quasi - When The Going Gets Dark
Wings - London Town