Friday, October 11, 2013

Banning the Air you Exhale

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock hasn't exactly been friendly to legalized marijuana. And while his opposition is antithetical to the whole crazy idea of democracy, it has somehow managed to steer clear of comical ridiculousness. Until today, that is. According to the Denver Post, our brave mayor is proposing a new ordinance that will ban the smell of marijuana should it emanate from your backyard or car. In essence, he's attempting to ban the air you exhale, should said air contain the smoke of marijuana. In the mayor's wise words, (and by wise, I mean fucking idiotic), "Your activities should not pervade others' peace and ability to enjoy. Marijuana is one of those elements that can be quite pervasive and invasive. I shouldn't have to smell your activities from your backyard."

In keeping with this bizarre logic, I hereby propose a list of other odors that severely pervade my peace and ability to enjoy, and should therefore be criminalized...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ken Arkind and Denver

When I first started doing readings with Ken Arkind, I had to get used to the concept of being upstaged. Of course, I wasn’t the least bit surprised by this — after a decade of winning national competitions, becoming executive director of Denver Minor Disturbance Youth Poetry Project, and touring throughout the nation and world, Arkind has become an institution in the Denver poetry scene. So it just makes sense that his spoken word performances are less of clumsy readings through material and more of events to behold. Recently he teamed up with another venerable Mile High City poet, Charlie Fasano, to release Denver, a book including a longer poem by Arkind with linocut block print illustrations by Fasano. Arkind and I got to sit down and hash things out for the better part of an hour. Below is a transcript of this momentous conference.

Embracing my Inner Contradictions

As any number of rock and roll lyrics can attest, we are flawed beings rife with endless contradictions. On “Talking Shit About a PrettySunset,” Isaac Brock encapsulates this phenomenon perfectly when he sings, “I changed my mind so much I can’t even trust it. My mind changed me so much I can’t even trust myself.” But since no one likes a hypocrite, it’s all the more difficult to accommodate the myriad discrepancies that constantly duke it out in the mind. We like to present ourselves as a substantive, unified front of cemented opinions and personality. Of course, we’re imperfect beings who can easily be influenced by any number of factors from weather and sickness to a lack of sleep and alterations in serotonin levels. With this constant state of flux in mind, I realized that since attempting to be a perfect person is pointless, I might as well accept my inconsistencies. Some might accuse me of giving up, but I tend to think of it as maturing. Whatever the case may be, I have compiled a few of the inner contradictions that I have come to welcome in my life.

1) Driving. There are so many ways in which I am a hypocrite when it comes to maneuvering my automobile, that it’s almost painful to list them all. That’s why I’m only admitting to a few, such as driving as fast and inconsiderate as possible even when I have ample time to reach my destination, getting upset about people driving while on their cell phones only to answer a call of my own a few minutes later, not letting people into my lane when they signal and then getting mad when people won’t let me in when I signal, and hating people for tailgating me when I’m driving at a speed I deemed fast enough even though I do the same thing when others drive at a speed that I deemed too slow. 

2) Television. When other people watch TV, they’re wasting their lives in front of the idiot box. When I watch it, I’m just trying to get my mind off things.

3) Mistakes. I have no patience when it comes to the mistakes that others make in my presence, yet if I ever make a mistake in your presence, I expect you to cut me some slack. I’m only human, you know.

4) Music. Throughout my life, music has played an integral part of my day-to-day existence. My love for music manifested itself as a very young child when I would ask my mom to leave the keys in the car after we got home so that I could finish listening to a particular song. I started playing drums at 10, formed a band at 16, and have been playing in one form or another since then. The first record I remember owning was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I began collecting cassette tapes in third grade. And currently, I own over 1,000 records. It goes without saying that I spend hours upon hours every week listening to music — and that’s because it means so much to me. And if you ever want to put your record on the turntable or play a CD in the car, you can fuck right off because your music sucks.

Review: Land Lines

Cash Cow Production

Have you wondered what the genre of captivating cello rock has to offer? Apparently the Denver trio Land Lines has it pretty well figured out — at least if the group’s self-titled debut is any indication. A few years after the breakup of Matson Jones, cellists Martina Grbac and Anna Mascorella started crafting songs together. And after reuniting with drummer Ross Harada, they recording a batch of tunes that depart from the more rock and roll influences of their former group. The song, “Boards Over Walls,” for example, abandons bowed cello parts and incorporates plucking in its stead, giving the song a succinct background over which Grbac and Mascorella harmonize the chorus, “I’m a stern worman.” Of course, the bowed dueling cello approach isn’t deserted completely, as demonstrated by the brooding, “Vegas,” a track lyrically penned by Charlie “The City Mouse” Fasano. Still, while this lineup boasts a similar roster to Matson Jones, it’s enough of a divergence to necessitate a completely fresh approach, which benefits Land Lines in the most graceful of ways. More information.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: A.M. Pleasure Assassins

A.M. Pleasure Assassins
Basement Pharmacy

A.M. Pleasure Assassins is one of those bands that was originally conceived as a recording project — most likely when one of the band’s members figured out how to operate recording software. The outfit has since morphed into a functioning band that routinely plays throughout the Metro Area, including its hometown of Fort Collins. On Basement Pharmacy, the group combines an array of lo-fi punk and indie that demonstrate the band’s ability to incorporate influences from Modest Mouse and a bit of the Strokes (with songs like “Media Mammals” and “Ferns”) to Gang of Four and maybe even some Husker Du and Descendents (with the songs, “Little Green Yarn” and “Shiny Metal Grey”) without sounding too derivative. With enough variation to keep the album interesting, the songs are filled with hooks that might verge on saccharine if they weren’t recorded with such lo-fi charm. It’s a band that sounds like it didn’t leave the practice space to record Basement Pharmacy. And that’s what makes it so good. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Review: The Coup

The Coup
Sorry to Bother You (Anti)

I was fortunate enough to stumble upon The Coup at the perfect time. I had just started playing in another punk rock band and I asked the older, more open-minded members of the group if there were any hip hop outfits that didn’t sing songs degrading women and praising money. They suggested The Coup, which was convenient because it was immediately following the release of Party Music, which I proceeded to buy from Wax Trax. The album directly resonated with my radical sensibilities, bestowing upon me the knowledge that non-punks could also create ingenious protest music. 

But with the release of the new album, I had no idea what to expect — especially since the group released the underwhelming Pick A Bigger Weapon and Boots Riley formed Street Sweeper Social Club with Tom Morello in the meantime.

Of course, now I realize I had nothing to worry about, since Sorry To Bother You is a masterpiece of an album from beginning to end. Opting to pretty much eschew Pam the Funktress altogether (though she makes an appearance or two throughout the record), Boots raps over a backing band that utilizes bass, drums, and guitar, but also doesn’t shy away from less traditional instruments like accordions, kazoos, and violins. And of course, the lyrical content is as focused and biting as ever, with references to the Occupy Movement, the plight of folks on welfare, and dancing on the bar nude after a rousing protest.

At first I was reluctant to say that this is The Coup’s finest work — especially since Party Music had such a profound effect on me. But after listening to this record dozens and dozens of times, I can confidently proclaim this to be the group’s best. And after seeing them on this tour, I think that I may be in love with Boots and Silk-E.