Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2011 Best of Qtr III

What an incredible batch of tunes this time around!

One thing I realized a few days ago is that the #1 song ("Forward to Love" by Ziggy Marley) is one of only three songs on the list that are not available on vinyl. The last time a non-vinyl track made it to #1 on one of my lists was Qtr I, 2008, "Lollipop" by Mika.  This current list's non-vinyl tracks are marked by an asterisk (*).

Long live vinyl!!

So here are my favorite tunes from July, August & September, 2011:
20."Repulsion" - Quasi (2010)
19."Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win" - Beastie Boys (featuring Santigold)
18."Teenage Love Made Me Insane" - The High Dials (2010)
17."Driver Education" - Indigo Girls (2009)
16."Listen to Me" - Brian Wilson*
15."You Hung the Moon" - Elvis Costello (2010)
14."From Here On It Got Rough" - Hildegard Knef (2005)
13."Tell Me What I Did" - Ben Folds Five
12."God Makes No Mistakes"/"Mrs. Leroy Brown" - Loretta Lynn (2004, first vinyl pressing released 8/2011)
11."Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter" - REM (w/Patti Smith)
10."We Can Fly" - Yes
9."Breathe Out, Breathe In" - The Zombies*
8."Follow the Leader" - Sloan
7."Sanctified (strawberrius mix)" - fDeluxe
6."Cold Feet" - Liam Finn
5."Return to Now"/"Mediterranea" - Duran Duran
4."Babyfather" - Sade (2010)
3."A Better Place"/"Ghost on the Canvas" - Glen Campbell
2."Stand" - Lenny Kravitz
1."Forward to Love" - Ziggy Marley* 
Note: I've provided links to many of the songs in case you want to give them a listen over at my Fancy Tumblr blog.

Some observations of note:
  • I'm pretty certain this is the first time the Indigo Girls have made their way into my Top 20. I purchased their 2009 album, Poseidon and the Bitter Bug (2009) last month for $6. The album is masterfully produced by big shot Mitch Easter and I like it quite a bit.
  • I know this is the first time Sade has made my list. I've never been a fan, but when I found her 2010 Soldier of Love LP on sale for $4 last month (I've typically seen it priced at a ridiculous $30) I figured it was worth the risk. It's a lovely record, and "Babyfather" is downright sexy.
  • Three of the list's entries are composites of two songs that I mixed into one mp3. In each case I was taking a considerably short song and using it as a lead-in to a longer song. You may be thinking "hey - that's cheating", but I call it getting more bang for my buck. :)
  • Hildegard Knef makes her fancy debut on on my list with "From Here On It Got Rough". The song is from an outstanding 2LP compilation, The In-Kraut: Hip Shaking Grooves Made in Germany 1966-1974 (2005). I expect that this is the only time you'll read about Hildegard here, but never say never I suppose. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

fDeluxe @ Loring Theater, 9.16.2011

Before the show
Quite the evening was had here in Minneapolis last night. fDeluxe, comprised of four original members of Prince protégé band The Family, performed their official debut gig at the Loring Theater. My brother and I had been tossing around whether or not to go, but when I checked the venue's website earlier in the week and saw 2 aisle seats available in the center front row of the balcony I nabbed 'em up real quick-like.

Before the show we hung out for a while in the lobby, checking out the merchandise table while listening to a live DJ mixing up some tunes. We spotted a couple of local celebs, notably MN Vikings hall-of-famer Carl Eller and Revolution drummer Bobby Z., who looked terrific.

When we headed up to our seats at around 7:50 it was clear that  the rest of the audience was taking their own sweet damn time, which made me wonder if the show was a sell out. By 8:30, however, the place was packed and rarin' to go. From my balcony seat I recognized a longtime blog friend Kyle in the VIP section on the floor. After the show we saw each other in the lobby and chatted for a little, but there was so much energy around the band's whereabouts that it was easy to get distracted (It was great to finally meet you in person, Kyle!).

The stage
The stage was set-up to resemble a living room, complete with a couch, vintage vacuum cleaner, infant high-chair, a bass, six guitars...you get the idea (see pic, left). The band came out and gave a nicely paced, loose, and often hot & funky performance in front of a friendly hometown audience. St. Paul, Susannah, Eric, and Jellybean looked great and put in 100%+. One of the biggest surprises for me was seeing Jellybean upfront playing guitar for most of the show. The man ain't no slouch!  During the final encore he ripped into a wicked guitar solo that could have given both Jesse Johnson and Prince a run for their money. 

And might I just say a word about Mr. Eric Leeds. In fact, one word is enough: LEGEND.  Leeds played keys, flute, and sax throughout last night's show, but it was his signature sax playing that put the fDeluxe stamp on the whole shindig. When Leeds plays you KNOW who's saxophone it is, and he was simply on top of his game last night. I gots myself the chills a couple of times. 

Ticket
St. Paul Peterson appeared genuinely proud and happy to be performing with his bandmates, chatting it up with the audience, coming off as your every day Minnesotan, not some big-headed rockstar. He seemed clearly his element. 

Then there was Miss Susannah. Oh my goodness. First of all, the lady's got some pipes.  She put her heart into last night's gig and seemed to be having a blast the whole time. During a post-show meet & greet I mentioned to her how much she commanded the stage, and she acknowledged that she does tend to go crazy when she's up there doing her thing. She looked fantastic in a black long-sleeved fitted dress and very high heels. Personally, I couldn't keep my eyes off of her.  
fDeluxe setlist, 9.16.2011:
  • Screams of Passion
  • Gaslight
  • Sanctified
  • Over the Canyon
  • Nothing Compares 2 U
  • Leeds Line
  • Desire
  • Beautiful You
  • Lover
  • River Run Dry (first verse & chorus only, with props to Bobby Z. who stood up from the audience)
  • @8
  • -snippet of Earth Wind & Fire's "That's The Way of The World"-
  • High Fashion
  • Mutiny (!)
  • Encore:
    • When You Go (lovely Paul/Susannah piano duet + Eric on sax)
    • Drummers and Healers
Promo card distributed 'round town
After the show my bro and I were waiting for the band to arrive at the autograph table in the lobby (which was developing a certain funk of its own, on account of all the bodies lingering around), when Kyle alerted me that the band was hanging out down by the stage (Thanks again Kyle!!). I got to Eric first, who was interested in the 12" EP I handed him, saying it was the first time he'd seen it (St. Paul told me that the EPs were German imports that had arrived just prior to the show). It was surreal to stand next to Eric Leeds watching him take the vinyl out of its sleeve - he actually held it horizontally at eye level like he was inspecting it to make sure it met his personal standards. He didn't have a Sharpie on him (it was at the autograph table out in the lobby!), but he pulled out a standard pen to autograph the sleeve for me. He was very friendly and easy-going, just as I would have expected. 

Next was Mr. Johnson. Very cordial, with Sharpie in hand.  As he was signing my record I asked if the upcoming Original 7ven (aka The TIME) album was going to be available on vinyl, and he seemed quite certain that it would be. Side note: The man has a million dollar smile, and appears very comfortable with who and where he is at this point in his life. A very positive individual. 

St. Paul was just as friendly, happy to hear that we enjoyed the show. I asked him when the upcoming L.A. show(s) were happening (I think he said "22-23").  For those of you in and around Los Angeles I highly recommend that you GO to see this band. Wendy and Lisa are going to be performing with them, just in case you needed a little extra incentive. 

Autographed 12" vinyl EP
The last to sign my EP was Susannah, who was so gracious, laid back, and beautiful in her post-show jeans and flip-flops.  She asked me if the show was what I had expected, and I told her it was exactly what I expected and more - especially the last 8 minutes of the show when the band went into a free-form jam that was funky as hell. When my brother got to Susannah she said "So nobody's asked you your name before signing this?", as if to say "how rude of them!". So she wrote Jay's name in the top left corner before autographing it herself (see pic of Jay's signed EP, above left). 

Thanks to Eric, Jellybean, Susannah & Paul for an incredible night. If we weren't already devoted lifelong fans we certainly would be now.  I'm looking forward to seeing where this new chapter of the band's history takes you next!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

MEME: "30 things about my invisible illness"

Monday 9/12 is day one of "Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness" week.

Here is my contribution for the day:

1. The illness I live with is: Crohn's Disease
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1982
3. But I had symptoms since: Wow. Hard to remember. At least a few years before my diagnosis.
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Learning to not take on too much at one time. Sometimes I fear that people think I am lying when I say I'm sick, because I may look perfectly fine, which makes it tough for me to say "no".
5. Most people assume: I am not sick unless I look sick.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: Depends on the day/week/month. If I'm not feeling well in the morning it's usually due to nausea and/or diarrhea. 
7. My favorite medical TV show is: I don't watch any medical shows, although I do have fond memories of Diahann Carroll in the 60's sitcom Julia.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My turntable. I'm a vinyl music geek, and I often turn to my records to get through tough times.
9. The hardest part about nights are: Dealing with pain from something I ate (which sometimes can be ANY solid food).
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. Let's just say I takes a lotta pills.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: Think everyone has a right to explore all of their options until they find what works best for them. Different treatments work differently for different people.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Fantastic question! One good thing about invisible illnesses is that I have control over deciding when/who/how I disclose my illness.
13. Regarding working and career: This is a challenge sometimes for sure. The worst symptom for me to deal with at work is probably fatigue. It's been a while since I've dealt with horrific cramps from my Crohn's, since I'm currently in remission. I still deal with occasional bad days, and sometimes I may have a bad week. So yes, my illness has its impact on my work life.
14. People would be surprised to know: I'm a pretty open book, so there's not much I could share that would surprise anyone!
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: Well, my new reality isn't quite so "new" - I have lived with my illness longer than without. Crohn's has been my reality for most of my life, so that's my reality.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Run a 5K. I was the 2nd to the last runner to finish, and the last dude was on crutches, but I finished!
17. The commercials about my illness: I like to see commercials about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It puts Crohn's in the public eye and can help reduce how much I have to explain to people.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Living life without a chronic illness!
19. It was really hard to have to give up: Not having to worry about my health and/or impending flare-ups or relapse.  Since Crohn's is so unpredictable, there are some things over which I simply have no control.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Meditation. 
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: I do have some days of feeling "normal", although I must question what "normal" is, since my normal has been 'Crohnie normal' for most of my life.
22. My illness has taught me: The value in slowing down. Peace can be found in solitude and down-time, even if you feel like shit at the time.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: "I wish I had Crohn's so I could be skinny like you!"  SERIOUSLY?  Yes people have said this to me.
24. But I love it when people: Politely acknowledge when I'm having a rough day. A simple "Sorry you're feeling so shitty" goes a long way.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: "All Things Must Pass" ~George Harrison
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Learn everything you can about the disease and all of the treatment options. Make use of online communities. Trust your instincts -- you know your body better than your doctor does! If a Dr's recommendation doesn't seem right, go get a 2nd opinion!
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: There are hidden rewards such as resilience, a strong spirit, and increased self-knowledge. I am proud to identify as a Crohn's survivor - it is part of who I am. 
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: I had work colleagues, fellow teachers, that took on extra work for me when I was out sick.  They did this not because they had to, but because they cared and wanted to help.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: It is an opportunity, if just for a week, to give some visibility to my illness.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Thankful.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten years on...

I'm sure I am just one of a zillion bloggers who is writing about 9/11 this weekend.  I thought about this as a reason not to write my own thoughts on the topic, but then I said "screw that".  I think everyone who felt personally affected by 9/11/01 should take some time to talk or write or draw -- whatever means of expression or reflection works best for you. For me personally, writing can often be part of the healing process.

It's hard to put into words just how much life changed after 9/11.  In some respects I believe the changes started with the 2000 election.  Had Al Gore taken office instead of GW Bush, the last ten years would have looked very different.  Instead we had an administration that used post-9/11 fear and outright lies on the American people to coax us into an illegal war on Iraq. Meanwhile, Muslim Americans became enemies in their own country, while religious "christian" extremists gained more power and influence.

For me personally, 9/11 triggered what became a troubling condition called Nightmare Disorder. It didn't happen immediately, but eventually I was dealing with truly terrifying dreams every night, waking in a pool of sweat with my heart racing, feeling as if I was literally fighting for my life. When I finally felt broken enough I sought therapy; I thought some form of PTSD must be the root of my nightmares.

Therapy turned out to be a tremendous triumph, as I was able to finally forgive bullies from my pre-teen years all the way to more recent workplace bullies I knew as an adult.  It was an amazing feeling to realize I no longer harbored hatred and resentment I had been carrying around for decades.  In some cases I even felt compassion. By forgiving and letting go I also took back the power that these bullies stole from me: The power to love and accept myself as a beautiful and worthy human being in the eyes of God. The power to not go through life in fear.  The power to live my fucking life. I'm still being treated for my Nightmare Disorder as well as anxiety, but things are continuing to improve.

For me, 9/11 sparked the beginning of a profound life transition. My post-9/11 fear soon turned to anger, which I was able (with the help of others) to channel in some positive ways. Much of who I am now is the result of changes that I made, or initiated, in order to survive my anxiety and fear. I didn't want to live the rest of my life with feelings of powerlessness, or playing the role of victim.  While I consider myself a "work in progress",  I am proud of who I am today, and 9/11 served as the impetus for at least some of that.

I want to finish by thanking my husband. That's right - not my "partner", not my "lover", not my "special friend" - my HUSBAND. Leo and I may not see eye to eye on everything (most of the time we do), but his input and perspective are thoughtful and always taken to heart. Leo has a great capacity for compassion, and his actions tend to remind me that we could use more kindness in this world. So thank you, Leo. I love you.

Thanks also to my Higher Power (Jesus, Krishna, Allah, God), and to all of my friends, supporters, and those of you who frequent my blog.  We are a community, and as such we have the great fortune to lean on each other once in a while. Fuck the haters - we can choose to love instead.

Peace 2 U.

Jeff
9/10/2011

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

6ix Fancy Years!!

This month marks the sixth year of my life as a blogger. In keeping with tradition, I've created a new banner for the top of the blog, which was fun to do. Here's to another fancy year! Thanks to everyone who reads all this bloggity stuff I post here. Y'all rock!

xxxooo
Jeff

Sunday, September 04, 2011

25ive of my favorite psychedelic LPs of all-time

So here's the deal. I've spent some good quality time listening to Begin by The Millennium over the past few days. It's such a great piece of psychedelia that it got me thinking about the greatest psych albums ever made, and what such a list might look like. So without thinking too much I started typing out my favorite trippy albums as they came to me, stopping once I got to 25. I have listed them here by year of release because it would be too hard to rank them according to some type of criteria. Also, I know once I started ranking them I would feel compelled to actually look through all of my records to see which great LPs I overlooked (and I just know I'll find those once I publish this list!).

So with that out of the way, here are 25ive of my favorite psychedelic LPs of all-time. I've included links to past writings where they exist:
  1. Sunshine Superman (1966) - Donovan
  2. Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme (1966) - Simon & Garfunkel
  3. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, ltd. 
    (1967) - The Monkees
  4. Gandalf (1967)
  5. Flowers (1967) - The Rolling Stones
  6. Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967) - The Rolling Stones
  7. Younger Than Yesterday (1967) - The Byrds
  8. Magical Mystery Tour (1967) - The Beatles
  9. Surrealistic Pillow (1967) - Jefferson Airplane
  10. Smiley Smile (1967) - The Beach Boys
  11. Forever Changes (1967) - Love
  12. Once Upon a Dream (1968) - The Rascals
  13. Begin (1968) - The Millennium
  14. Odessey and Oracle (1968) - The Zombies
  15. HEAD (1968) - The Monkees
  16. Afterglow (1968)
  17. The Magic Garden (1968) - The 5th Dimension
  18. Idea (1968) - The Bee Gees
  19. Sixteen Tambourines (1983) - The Three O'Clock
  20. Arrive Without Traveling (1985)- The Three O'Clock
  21. Parade (1986) - Prince & The Revolution
  22. Psonic Psunspot (1987) - The Dukes of Stratosphear
  23. Paul's Boutique (1989) - Beastie Boys
  24. Bellybutton (1990) - Jellyfish

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Weezer @ MN State Fair 9.3.2011

 Tonight my brother and I saw Weezer for the first time and they so ROCKED.  The opening act (a local band), Motion City Soundtrack, was just OK. We were surprised by the number of fans they had in the audience.  Soon it was time for Weezer, but before they took the stage the speakers started playing "Our Prayer" by the Beach Boys.  Sweet.

Weezer 9.3.2011 Setlist:
  • Surf Wax America
  • We Are All On Drugs
  • Troublemaker
  • El Scorcho
  • Say It Ain't So
  • Hash Pipe
  • My Name Is Jonas
  • Dope Nose
  • Pumped Up Kicks (Foster the People cover)
  • Island In the Sun
  • Perfect Situation
  • (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
  • Sweater Song
  • Pork and Beans
  • Beverly Hills
  • Encore:
    • Paranoid Android (Radiohead cover)
    • Buddy Holly
Weezer rocks the MN State Fair Grandstand