Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On my turntable: Paul & Linda McCartney - RAM (ltd ed MONO mix)

One of the most sought after Beatle-related items was commercially released last week, 41 years after it was first made available to radio stations only. The RAM mono mix is true mono (as opposed to 'collapsed stereo', or the combining of 2 stereo channels into one). For this numbered limited edition the mono mix has been beautifully remastered. I know I am biased as a fan of mono sound, but honestly, this record sounds fantastic.

From what I've heard, the record is already becoming hard to find (I got my copy from an online shop called The Jazz Loft). Whether this is true or just hype I don't know, but I do know that none of my local shops have copies. If you are a fan of RAM I highly recommend finding a copy before they all go to eBay. It's a pretty special listening experience.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Robin Gibb 1949-2012

My obsession with the Bee Gees started much like the one I had with The Beach Boys, with one song on the car's AM radio.  With the Beach Boys the day was summery, and the song was "Dance, Dance, Dance". In contrast, my first big Bee Gees moment was a gloomy and grey day in 1986, and the song was "Holiday".  The tune was so gorgeous and Beatlesque (beautiful even through a crappy AM car radio), yet the lyrics were very unlike an actual holiday, sung with a haunting sadness and yearning by a young Barry and Robin Gibb.

I tested the depths of the Bee Gee waters slowly, starting with Cucumber Castle and Bee Gees 1st. When the group had their late 80s comeback I was fully on board, even seeing their summer of '89 One tour. I graduated college in the midst of an unfortunate job market in 1991 and moved into my parents' attic the following year. I was working jobs in record stores - a great fit for a music lover, but not for someone with student loan debt. My saving grace was access to yet more Bee Gees discs at work, breathtaking 60s gems including Idea, Horizontal, Odessa, continuing up to the 70's pre-disco Mr. Natural. As my life grew increasingly directionless the music of the Bee Gees became a bit of an anchor for me, until 1994 when I started graduate school and got back on track.

It's not surprising to me that the passing of Robin Gibb feels like the death of a longtime friend. Of course it's no help that the sting of his death came so shortly after the loss of Donna Summer and Adam "MCA" Yauch (both of whom also died from cancer). Like so many other fans I feel like I'm just beginning to heal from one death before another makes the headlines.

My prayers and deepest sympathies go out to the Gibb family and all those who were close to Robin. The world has lost a rare talent and a true original. Thank you, Robin, for all that you gave through your songwriting and your incredible voice. May your journey be peaceful.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

*NEW* Shonen Knife - Pop Tune

Street date: 7/2/2012 (subject to change)

Redd Kross @ Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, 5.18.2012

kickass setlist:
  • Switchblade Sister (!)
  • Stoned
  • Lady in the Front Row
  • Jimmy's Fantasy
  • Uglier (new song!)
  • Cover Band
  • Annette's Got the Hits
  • I Hate my School
  • Pretty Please Me
  • Blow You a Kiss in the Wind
  • Frosted Flake
  • Burnout
  • Kill Someone You Hate
  • Crazy World
  • Annie's Gone
  • Linda Blair
  • Clorox Girls
  • S&M Party
  • Standing in Front of Poseur
Redd Kross rocks Minneapolis!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


Street date: August 7, 2012 on Merge Records
Researching the Blues tracklist:
  1.  Researching the Blues
  2.  Stay Away From Downtown
  3.  Uglier
  4.  Dracula's Daughters
  5.  Meet Frankenstein
  6.  One of the Good Ones
  7.  The Nu Temptations
  8.  Choose to Play
  9.  Winter Blues
  10.  Hazel Eyes

Sunday, May 06, 2012

In the middle

Middle age is an interesting place to be. For starters, it's tough to imagine that I actually fall into the category of "middle aged". If I'm going to be truthful with myself, I'm mostly likely beyond middle age at this point. Sure, I live a clean life: mostly vegan, no drugs (aside from the ones that keep me alive), virtually no booze, and my relationship status is married and monogamous. Will any of this help me live beyond 90 years old? Probably not, but I think I'm OK with that.

So what DO I get from this self-proclaimed "clean living"?  I suppose I get the gratification of living according to my values & principles. Integrity is something that I care about. One of the benefits of middle age is years of acquired self-knowledge, which comes in handy if you happen to care about living according to your principles. If you don't happen to care about principles that's just fine. My guess is you'll probably live longer and happier because of it.

A couple of months ago I decided that there was something to be said for the blind & often misinformed idealism of my 20's. I had my causes that I cared and fought about, and little else seemed to get into my sheltered, white-privileged world. I didn't watch the news or pay attention to national affairs. In hindsight it seems that I was sometimes happier that way, but would I do it again?  No thanks - once was enough.

I've decided that I'm an "informed idealist" -- I can choose to pay attention to world events, but I can also believe in things like world peace on a simplistic level, even though I know it's not likely to happen. I can choose not to stress out too much over the craziness in this world. In fact, to stress myself out over anything is arguably unwise, on account of the autoimmune, inflammatory bowel albatross around my neck.

I knew when I started this blog entry that it was likely to be chaotic and hard to follow, but I chose to start typing anyway. Middle age, I figure, is chaotic and all over the place. It's living between the youth that you see (and feel) slipping away, and the hopes you have for the future. Middle age is an opportunity to use what we've learned in the first half of life and hopefully put it to good use.  At the moment I am in a place of wondering exactly HOW I am going to make good use of the next chapter of my life.  Even though I have plenty of self-knowledge, I still feel like I've got less answers than questions.  Perhaps finding the answers to those questions is my purpose for the next half of my life. If so, I think I'd be OK with that.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Obligatory Crohn's commentary

One of the beauties of having a blog is having a public space to bitch about stuff. If it happens to resonate with others who stumble upon it, all the better.

It's no secret that I have Crohn's Disease. I've had it for most of my life (diagnosed in my teens). It's taught me a lot of useful lessons about life and about myself. It has also been a bitch to live with sometimes, and there's not a whole lot I can do about it most of the time.

Crohn's is not caused by stress, but it can most definitely be exacerbated by it.  Herein lies one of Crohn's most nasty ironies -- who doesn't feel more stress when they are sick?  A lot of Crohnies, understandably, experience stress as soon as they feel the onset of symptoms, which often worsen because of the onset of stress over the onset of symptoms.  And so on and so on.  Thus, many Crohnies live with a mix of anxiety and depression over concern about what symptoms may be lingering around the corner.

So I've had a couple of rough months. Of course I'm always trying to figure out "why".  I don't know if that's a Crohn's thing or a Jeff thing, but context is something I tend to look for. I'm inquisitive like that.  My quest for "why" lately has led me to think this all started with my most recent colonoscopy. Although the procedure itself was fine, I do think the prep and related razzmatazz jarred my body a bit, from which I may still be recovering.

The toll on my body has been noticeable. My appetite has all but disappeared, so I'm drinking what a friend of mine calls "old people beverages" - Ensure, Boost, etc.  (actually my favorite is generic Walgreens chocolate).  The calories help me remain relatively stable throughout the day, but they aren't enough to sustain my weight. I can typically tell how active my Crohn's is by how pronounced my pelvic bones are. We don't have a scale in our house, but my guess is that I'm down about 10 pounds.

I have an Infliximab (Remicade) infusion scheduled this week, which should help get me back on track. In the meantime the best things for me to do are those that bring me joy. It's interesting how I struggle to find the motivation for FUN things when I am sick. Today I plan to listen to records, and if the sun comes out Leo and I will probably check out some of the neighborhood garage sales.  A simple day is what's on deck.

Thx for reading. Hope you are all in good health. If so, maybe take a moment to be grateful. :)


R.I.P. MCA 1964-2012