Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The past is gone, it went by like dust to dawn

The official OGFP stance re: birthdays, especially of a personal nature, is decidedly anti. Your birthday is fine. Whatever you want to do, big nuts. Go get your frosty mug plastered and your brain trauma on.

About 32 years ago, at this very hour, our mother was in labor, so we should at least celebrate her efforts. Applause, Mom! Thanks for pushing back in '74. But we hate birthdays. We aren't too fond of being older and someone told us the other night that we don't dress our age, which we suppose is true somewhat, but we still see Wesley Kimmler at the bar, and he's like 85 or something and wearing weird-assed garb. We are still culitivating the Dark Stranger Look, circa summer 2005, if you must know. Heavy beard, bandana around the neck in kind-of mock ascot fashion, grey sportcoat, Sweet Cobra and Thin Lizzy buttons on the lapels. Relatively tight black pants. Sometimes our Steady B t-shirt. Often white shoes. Al Burian called us majestic a few months ago. Other Watergate babies weigh in.

Speaking of weight, tonight at the rare book distillery we had a mad Pizza Hut feast with Crazy Eddie and Jonathan. A large pie with onions, mushrooms and bacon, an order of out-bone buffalo wings (sorta huge chicken nuggets slathered in hot sauce) and these weird potatoe chompers with cheese and jalapano that resemble bastard cousins of tater tots but with yummy ranch dipping sauce. It sounds terrible, but you weren't there, so don't judge. You are the one who sees shadow rodents! Bookstore friend Laura also brought us a fancy basket of meatloaf with mashed taters and a cupcake that we are saving for tomorrow's shift. It is a thing of beauty, but we are already anticipating tearing into it.

It is in the forties and pissing drizzle outside, which is typical March in CHILL. Almost baseball time. This has been a salty spring for the White Sox, no other way to say it. Their Cactus League record has been noxiously below .500, the bullpen has more gaping holes than the orgy scene in Please Stop My Ass Is On Fire 9: The Next Penetration, Jim Thome is only just getting healthy and Scotty Pods keeps fritzing out and getting yanked from games with groin problems and shoulder boo-boos and he is the engine that makes the offense run. Bobby Jenks is pitching cheeseburgers out there and getting consistently rocked. 2005's glorious campaign will sustain our sense of Pale Hose devotion for years to come, don't get us wrong. But there is a slight feeling, just a twinge really, that all those nationally televised games on FOX this summer are going to have us scrambling for a cold compress and wishing for a sixer of Miller Lite.

Fuck the Yankees!

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Where does an animal sleep when the ground is wet? Cows in the ballroom, chicken in the farmer's Corvette.

Snow, goddamned snow. All in our eyes on the bikeride home from work. Lincoln hates the snow. Hates any weather, actually. An $8.50 pack of cigarettes. A $1 ginger ale at the Rainbo. Princess and Cocoa chasing each other around Casa Borracho in circles like some fucking endless Warner Brothers cartoon. The annoying ones about the Woodchucks.

Last night, some bozo got anxious on us 'cause we were smoking in the Myopic basement, while we were sheliving some Sci-Fi. By the way, how many fucking books did Michael Moorcock write? Jesus on a telephone pole and monkeys with typewriters: science fiction novelists. Also guilty? Poul Anderson. Guilty? Robert Jordan. Harry Turtledove, god love him, writes too much. We feel like we've shelved 200 Moorcocks in the last week or so. Anyway, back to the bozo.

Him: "You guys allow smoking here, but not cell phones? Jesus, that's insane. I thought they passed some big law against that."

Us: "You know what the great thing is about America is? Two things, actually. One, there are literally hundreds of thousands of bookstores you can can choose to shop at, many of them selling used merchandise. Two, laws are much harder to enforce than they are to create. I love America."

Him: "Harump."

Needless to say, we finished our Marlboro Light 100. Don't know about you, but who goes to where some other poor chooch is working for cheezwhiz and honor and some cash out of the drawer and starts giving orders or mouthing off? No wonder Mark Eitzel wrote a song about us. We ARE dicks. But still. At Myopic we do things a little differently. Yes, Crazy Eddie is asleep on top of the ladder by the Anne Rice overstock. You ever seen "Grizzly Man"? Go ahead and wake him up. If you don't have a Jarritos in your hand, preferrably Strawberry or Tamirand, you are liable to draw back a stump. We have seen Crazy Eddie literally pick up by the scruffs of their necks two annoying drunken Dave Matthews-style fratboys and toss them onto Milwaukee like sacks of Russian potatoes. This man goes back for FOURTHS at the Red Apple Polish buffet when one plate has made your stomach feel like you swallowed a fully inflated kickball and forty shot glasses of jizz. Uh huh? Know that you let the man sleep.

Another grand Myopic tradition is Closing Music. When Jon works the skinny guy shift with us (AKA the Missed Connection Express, AKA Sunday Night Triage Unit AKA Guy Montag Society bro-down), we bring in some harsh tuneage to fleece out the last of the lollygaggers. And there are always a few. For instance:

--Frank Sinatra, AKA the Worst of the Bookstore Shitters. This is one of the chess guys, a Wed. night regular. He eats three or four bags of the really lousy Chex mix while he plays, and at 12:45 AM when we go clean out the upstairs and tell remaining shoppers to hit the damn bricks already, he goes and locks himself in the bathroom underneath the fiction balcony til we literally cajole him out. And that always sucks, because he turns the entire back half of the store into a Hiroshima-esque death zone with his, as Eddie likes to call it, trucker spray. We call him Frank Sinatra because he talks fast and with a kind of broken NYC accent and tries to charm us with kindness because he thinks it distracts us from the fact that he has just laid down a half gallon of chemical waste and we have to work for ten minutes in his, uh, effusive mushroom cloud of ass raunch. Thanks Ol' Brown Eye. You motherfucking ring-a-ding-ding.

--Mr. Macrame, AKA Batty Dread, AKA Dr. Shift Killer. We have arrived at the bookstore at 5:45 PM to begin our chores and seen him perched, already, on the couch by Cooking and Nature. He will stay for seven hours and not leave until we make it painfully obvious (physically running into him with the vaccum cleaner repeatedly, handing him his bookbag and silently pointing at the door, turning off all the lights wherever he is, shouting "All praises be to the savior that we are closed, Jon! I can't wait to the get the fuck out of here, go home, and beat off to my rare Dave Van Ronk records!") that we are way passed closed, the drawer has been counted, and our patience is being sorely tested. Does he ever buy a damn thing? No. He's not really creepy, but the bitch of it is that no matter how many times over the years these tiresome scenarios involving Mr. Macrame have occurred, he ALWAYS looks surprised when we ask him to leave. "Oh, you mean you are closed now?" No, douchebag. We turn all the lights out because we're worried about Iraqi airstrikes.

These are just the worst two offenders. Normal citizens realize that when we turn up VERY LOUD, say, Napalm Death's Complete BBC Sessions, or Eazy-E's early solo material, it's prolly scootin' time. Hopper knows some of these records, because we have used them to help her get out of bad rent/employment situations by usage of the old loud volume/speakers laid on the floor cones down technique. Aube, Childskin Breakfast, various Brotzmann combos (Machine Gun is a annoyance factor classic), Incapacitants (a Japanese band whose entire recorded output, several long-players and myriad comp tracks, mind you, all sound like you are ten feet from a 757 jet engine as it attempts takeoff...check out 1996's classic Ministry of Foolishness first) and many others have had the desired effect. Oh, and how could we have forgotten Voice Crack? An entire record that sounds like a donkey giving birth to a shopping cart which ten Nazis then attack with power tools for an hour or so. For shame!

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

When boys were boys, girls were girls, and faces were hard to find

Photo update soon! We have some great RAZR snaps to share with you. Some over-hyped bands you'll want to see that have come through Chi-town in the wake of SXSW that feature danish girls in bad hats (and we mean girls from Daneland, not with bodies made out of pastry). Some fellow bookstore peeps holding mad crilla chedda at the end of a busy weekend shift. A real portrait of "Customer Service". A weird van we saw on a morning walk. Stuff like that. When we get some technological advancement on our side, we'll let you know what up and get all Ansel Adams in this piece. We would say Nan Goldin, but she's a talentless fat junky turd with no business being up in here. Ansel had a king hell beard and liked to snap the big Mashed Potatoe tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, so he's more in our tandem. Did you know S. Spielberg fucked aliens with President Reagan AND blew up 7 World Trade Center for MOSSAD? I have learned both these things in the last few days.

Finished Herzog's Wheel of Time. Pretty affecting, although we still have only the merest hint of what Buddhism actually entails after viewing 90 minutes of Werner-ian slow camera pans and lens-don't-blink close-up crowd baiting. 400,000 people praying at some huge ceremony where they make tea for each other and fight over boxes of goodies and wait for the Dali Lama (SP?) to lead them in prayers, but then he doesn't cause he gets sick but they've already made this crazy map of the inner mind with sand on a big table and it has over 700 representations of the Buddha deity and millions of colors of tiny sand shavings but it's all for naught cause the big DL himself has the flu or whatevs. Then they go up to this mountain (not Mount Hood; but I have been thinking hoods lately 'cause I'm crazy about the clitoris) that is the physical center of the Buddhist world and prostate themselves and get all crazy where some of them walk all the way some 45 miles around the whole mountain clockwise but others go counter-clockwise because their sect of the religion is older and therefore slightly crazier and they have to kneel and do a fancy push-up every third step for purposes of prayer and saving the next 12 generations of their soul from bad karma. Then they come back to their little fires made out of burning Yak dung and drink some kind of rancid butter tea, cause it's all they can carry for so long. No wonder American Christian "radicals" want to go to MegaMall churches where they go bowling and let their kids play St. Peter Orally Frustrates Donkey Kong The Video Game. Just go rent it, dick-pringle.

Herzog doesn't feel the need to talk as much here as he does in some of his other docs, which is a nice break, but also a bummer because he's so fucking loopy that even when he's deadly serious you are one inch from getting the giggles because the righteousness of what he sees as his artistic mission is so transparent, naked and needy that it just defies reason. Which is the kind of the reason he is our favorite filmmaker right now. The whole shebang also facilitated a very nice night of sleep last night. From 4:10 AM to the other side of 1:30 PM, bitch! Tuvan thorat singing will do that to you.

All right, OGFP special reader prize of the day: In order to use the Chase Bank Credit Card at Rich's Deli today, we had to buy two packages of Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolate things to make it over the $10 limit, since all we bought was skim milk, two 2 liters of diet soda, and some cheese/potato perogis. Since OGFP is on a massive diet program, we don't really want these chocolates tempting us with their hundreds of empty calories. We are on the two meal a day system. So, we are going to leave them in Wicker Park, on one of the park benches by the waterless fountain in the middle of the park itself, somewhere between 5:35 and 5:45 PM tonight, just a few hours from now. This is not a trick! Don't be late or you will miss out on the goodness freebies!

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

You're the devil, you're half empty now, my marmalade

Dirtbombs and especially Black Lips were tre bitchin' at the Bottle last night. Sold out, natch. Mick Collins had a t-shirt on that said Single Coil, and he can sure rip some leads on that geeetar. He didn't take off his Ray-Bans the entire time, which lets you know he was serious. Noone peed on our door, either. Black Lips are four messy looking kids from ATL GA who had an off-tune half-British Invasion half noise-punk puke thing going on. They also had plates for sale that said "Black Lips beach party". We're not sure if this was some sort of Locust "compact mirror" cocaine accessory or what, but it seemed like a cool way to spice up the merch table. Couldn't afford any of their records, though. Especially since we don't really have a record player that exactly works around here. Functional Blackouts opened, and they were somehow less than the dangerous banned from every club in town roustabouts that were advertised to us. Our friend Brian was playing good drums, though, and they had some jams for the people. But for a Dirtbombs/St. Paddy's day combo meal, all seemed pretty tame.

We wore a new outfit that was almost all white, made up of old stuff in the OGFP wardrobe that we haven't been able to fit into for a while. It's funny how much weight you can lose from the belly/thigh regions without the booze. It's almost as funny as how little difference what clothes we wear seems to make to the opposite sex right now. Just kidding. We wouldn't want this blog to turn into one of those mopey affairs where we gripe about not getting action on an even semi-regular basis, even though various members of the editorial board are threatening to do so as we speak.

So, what else is going on? Since we get pestered constantly for updates and our lives lately have been soul-crushingly boring, this makes for a complicated state of affairs. We could remark about the movies we have been watching lately. We could tell you that we are very upset that Antonioni's The Passenger keeps getting pushed back further and further and that out Maria Schneider fetish is therefore truly suffering. If you've seen Last Tango In Paris (and how could you not) you know of what we speak. Tonight at North Coast we got Domino, a Tony Scott vehicle which looks truly dreadful and a Herzog doc about praying Buddhists, or something. We'll let you know.

Speaking of fetish, we know one or two readers who have one for Hedi Silmane. There is a very dishy article in the new New Yorker fashion issue, with the all the trend info about how he finds his boy models on street corners, makes bands famous, and requisite quotes from associates of his that he "really eats a lot", which is in every "in-depth" article we have ever read about a fashion insider, be it model, designer, DJ, light booth dude, 2nd associate basement stitcher at American Apparel, cameraman on the Style Network, etc. Have fun with your new knowledge!

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Watch out where the huskies go

To the dickstalk who used our front door as a urinal last night during or after the show at the Bottle: thanks for getting it right into the mail slot, too! We really didn't need that electric bill or issue of the New Yorker we had been wating for. It must be reassuring to know that no matter how drunk you are your aim is still impeccible!

And if we catch you doing it again, we will follow you home and leave a flaming paper bag of our feces on your porch. Thanks.

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Steamroller action crushing all, Victim is your name and you shall fall

Monday nights at the bookstore are Jazz Night. Every Monday some jazz or improv folk come in and lay some noise smoke for a few 'hood toe-tappers and ring-a-ding-dings with bad dreads and some facial scuzz. Usually we can deal. We are doing fiction overstock in the stacks with Edward Francis Esq. (otherwise known as the proprietor of Crazyman Records on Division near the Cut-Throat and Wendy's) and as he constantly falls asleep on his ladder we are yelling at him to wake up damnit and tell us which Dickens paperbacks we need every five minutes and are too busy to notice what is happening with their rooty-tooty little art forms. But tonight was a night for asshole jazzbos to get all up in our grills.

First of all, one of the nerdy boobs came downstairs and asked us to turn off the music we were playing, which was a very unobtrusive and pretty darn quiet Boards of Canada album, because they were "recording" up in the main room. Now, if it was Sonny Rollins laying down the cheddar cheese with Art Blakey, Moonshorts Mulligan, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Rance Mulliniks and Eric Dolphy on the skin flute, that might be one bag of trail mix. But these dudes were eating some fresh gorilla balls and farting out something much less than the Well-Tempered Clavier, know what we're saying? Nothing too goddamn earthshatteringly special, even to our novice and easily impressed ears.

We went up for a smoke at about 8:30 PM and Fred Longberg-Holm, usually one of the organizers of jazz night (not tonight natch, nor was he playing), was in the house, and we made pained smiles at each other through the vivid aural squalor of their poo-bop cliches. Later, he came down to apologize to us that dudes were being so pretentiouzoid. F.L.H. is a freaking serious musical muscleman. That he has to come apologize for some douches from Western Illinois University (!?) put us right into the red zone. Our only small victory was that because Myopic is right behind the EL platform, trains were rumbling by and the conductors kept making announcements about trains running late, track problems between Damen and Grand, their Grannys' gall stones, erectile dysfunction, etc. in very loud sqwauky and unceaseless prattles, which we really hope ruined their, um, album or whatever. We were also seriously wishing we had brought some of our stack of epic black metal (DarkThrone? Krisiun?) that we could have blasted from the stereo near the register every ten seconds or so at premium volume just to fuck things up for the wretched dogs. But, we withheld our rage for the remainder of their "set".

Then, after they were finished, we went up to put some books away and caught snippets of their "post-sesh" conversation about how Myopic isn't as good as Powells, one of them called our 1.00$ reshelving fee for books carelessly left on tables "fascist", and they all were basically being dickweeds because they knew we were in the room and we were working. To top it off, they took off when we were in the back room, leaving all the tables and chairs out of place, an empty bag of Bugler tobacco (of course), several empty coffee cups and just general trashed mayhem every which place. And there was barely an audience so they did all of it! The poetry folks always pick up a bit, at least, and are swell about things. The jazzbos do too. We PAY them out of the drawer to grace us with their musical flimmerflam or poetical noodling for chrissakes! This is not a nightclub, bitches. This is not 1954 at the motherfucking Plugged Nickel.

One of the great bookstore powers, passed down from generation from Joe to Emmy to Adrienne to Fat Bald Jeff to Nate to Cat to Jon and on to us is the power to ban. Banned for life! Like Peter at the gates we mete out our will without pause, mercy or rejoinder! Well, you know what happens if these creepy crawlies try to frost us in our house again. First we whip out Customer Service (a late 50's model Sears and Roebuck Ted Williams model baseball bat made of beautifully honed ash) for extra emphasis, wave it around menacingly, and we tell them to get the fuck out and never come back, with our bony fingers pointing out the door toward hard, cold Milwaukee Ave. Then we put them in the big book, and eternity alone shall know their names. Selah.

In other news, like, day 25 or 26?

Coast to Coast AM has a lady who is a specialist in Angel Visitation on, and George is kind of flirting with her, which is rather gross. We have an angel visitation story we could tell, and have tried to, but couldn't get through on the lines. Maybe we'll tell all of you sometime, but maybe not. It's kind of personal. Now the lady's phone is acting crazy and auto-dialing and making strange noises, and George and the lady are attributing it to....you guessed it. Angels. Cheesy, yes it is. But we love Coast to Coast AM. Bye.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

With my two fists of iron and I'm going nowhere

Like a piece of driftwood, we feel unmoored and anchorless on the weekend nights. It's not a bad feeling to see the stumbling St. Paddy's drunks, or four people on a scooter dangerously weaving down Division like a deadly screaming missle of toussled skirts and cowboy boots, or the art school couple all in white leaving their last party of the night, leaning into each other like old people walking the deck on a Carribean cruise. And some dude just called the Razr asking for Debra. It's 3:09 in the morning, pal, and it looks like you ain't getting no cookie. Another cosmic booty call missed. We feel your pain, mook. If Art Bell wasn't raging right now about the Phoenix lights we might try and take your night in a very interesting direction. Just kidding!

The weather tonight was fabulous, a glorious blast of spring, which helps things. You think we weren't going to dwell on sobriety? Uh, wrong blog, friends. It's still boring. And Diet Rite is starting to taste like liquid inspidness. But kind of reassuring is the feeling of doing without and being separate. Our favorite bartenders know to start pouring the Ginger Ale or cranberry seltzer at the sight of us, and they still don't charge us a thing. Working up the nerve to flirt is a real bitch, though. Our social skills in toto seem to have taken a rather graceless swan dive. Any advice? We still see the honies making money (rather, spending it), but our feet are leaden and adjustments we make in our mind towards conversational inroads come too slow and we just talk about how we're 23 days sober, which most partying at the bar types don't really want to talk about. Or more accurately, we're like that big turtle at the Shedd Aquarium that just swims in a circle staring at the families on the other side of the glass opening and closing it's mouth silently. Talking to drunk people when you are living on the regular can be like speaking a foreign tounge.

Speaking of foreign tounges, the Bottle was host tonight to a rather nice ensemble of Norweigan shoegazers called Serena Maneesh, who were doing the rocking in their absurdely tight clothing, and spoke perfect english. Kind of Velvets, kind of MBV, and we can still hear their bus humming loudly on Western Ave. below loading out, like their amps are never going to stop feeding back. Holy cow was their bass player a looker. Nico has been reborn in red Chuck Taylor hightops. Anyway, then we went to the Rainbo, started at a few walls and had some very curious interactions, moseyed on down to Rodan while spotting a bevvy of friends along the way, and had some "drinks" and then walked around the hood for an hour or so just kind of enjoying the benefits of early spring. Our minds are turning to late night bike rides to the lakefront, or down to the Loop just to look at all the big buildings in the early morning moonlight haze. We aren't too far away. In fact we could do it right now, but Myopic beckons at 4 PM tomorrow. Responsible! What we really feel like right now is a big bologna sandwich. The fridge is empty.

The highlights of most of our nights these days, walking home from the bar or the bookstore at 1AM, is stopping by the Music Church. The Music Church is right off Division and Leavitt, just down the street from the Louis Sullivan Russian Orthodox (otherwise known as OGFP's choice as Chicago's most beautiful place of worship), and they have a speaker that pumps gospel tuneage 24/7, rain or shine. We think we know most of the Kirk Franklin and Hezekiah Walker backcatalogs now with no little authority. Maybe we need some churchin' up? Nah. Leave it to the believers.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Days just wave goodbye as they ride in tonight

Wow! We've never seen the level of critical/intellectual engagement at OGFP as we did yesterday re: our post about Victory Records and the Smoking Popes and our teenhood wasteoid years. The OGFP editorial board has decided we are not done drudging after all, so we've invited the Army Corps of Engineers, Northern Illinois Suburban Division, to help us pull up a little bit more muck from the valley below. How else to prepare to build our earthen brige towards stultifying adulthood?

A little clarification about yesterday's post and maybe a little back peddaling: Our intent was not to crucify the Popes (ba-dum-cha!) for crimes against humanity or for somehow ruining music. Seriously. Before yesterday's post we actually went back and listened to Got Fired, and realized what a clever, touching and really genius piece of wax that was. Those songs stay with you, and can you really say the same for bands like, say, Face to Face or NOFX (insert hundreds of other bands here at your pleasure)? Do you know how many times we sang those songs with old friends and new, on car rides down every suburban highway, over two or three summers and falls and springs? How many girls we longed to smooch to that record on the Ferris Wheel, how many people we tried to convert to Pope-dom by repeated playings of "Writing A Letter", how many King Cobra 40s we plotted to drink, how many parties we plotted to crash, how many excuses we conjured up because we were going to get home late again and maybe the Moms in their bathrobes would let us use the Popes as an excuse again? More new bands SHOULD be ripping them off, because punk seems to have lost so goddamn much of it's heart over the years in the hunt for the almighty $ buck-o-la. Which is a testament to the Popes' legacy, whether said legacy should ultimately be kept in a tight bottle on a tall shelf, or tossed about Johnny Appleseed-style for the youngin's. It's such a fragile idea these days. Can it bear fruit in 2006? Do people release their own 45s anymore? Does punk have a heart? Or are we too old to hear the beating?

Our description of that final show we saw them play at the Empty Bottle was a little harsh perhaps, or maybe our writing haste yesterday made for some misleading conclusions for writer and readers alike. We weren't really snickering and being snarky AT the band, apart from the mild heckling (an old Popes show tradition, for those who care to remember). Honestly, we all thought they deserved better than they got, and that night was kind of a reckoning for us probably as much as for them. Or maybe it was just another show? It really isn't a crime against humanity to bland yourself a tad or make a shuffle towards the mediocre to sell records, which we think they did eventually do over the years. Plenty of bands have, and our dislike of that tactic didn't really have to do with scene politics or spheres or anything like that other than the songs just weren't as good as they had been, or at least the energy didn't seem as potent (ummm, Liz Phair?). And the band didn't really get very much, in the end, for their trouble. But, considering what the marketplace of music has built up to mean as "quality" and "success" over the years (and yes, Victory Records, we are looking your way as we type this), the final Popes recordings seem very convincing and earnest, at the very least, and there is something to be said for that.

In the most cold subjective terms, the Popes were a failure. And that is sometimes the greatest rock story of all; that the true believers are the only ones there left to notice your fall, and assure you that you haven't, in fact, failed or fallen at all. The real believers are the ones to whom the band gave voice, a voice that truly spoke to and for them. We should know, because we were real believers once upon a time. We lost that, but so what? Who can deny the true that privilege? It is the final redeeming power of music. Ask the Boss what he's been up to for the last 35 years. What we WERE snickering at that night, probably, is that we had lost some of that privilege for ourselves, and that it probably had more to do with us, in the end, than it had to do with the Smoking Popes. And we weren't grown up yet enough to admit it. Instead, we spent the next few years projecting on the Locust and VSS rip-off bands. Ha ha!

So a few adjustments in our attitude are in order. We hereby bid the Smoking Popes much success, even if Victory continues to give us the hives. Next time we see Josh C. or Eli or Matt on the train, maybe we'll try and say hello, and ask them about the old days, even though they won't remember us from the front row of so many Saturday nights. We'll try and remind them about that time at Scraps when they went into "Breakin", and the band was throwing off serious sparks and one of the half-pipes nearly collapsed from all the excited kids jumping up and down, everywhere, a tremendous sound of crashing and sweetest violence and how the world, our world, was impossibly big that night, perhaps never bigger or more beautiful or more true in our heart of hearts, and how we are now a few weeks from 32 years old, and life has taken us to some places dark and dismal since, but how that night always, always shines a light.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Getting her mail In an old bathrobe Without any makeup Without any shoes

So due to Hopper's ongoing and v. dilligent Victory Records streetteam expose, we started to tool around the ol' Victory website today, just taking a peep around. And what to our wondering eyes should appear? A new Smoking Popes live DVD and CD? Gawd. We heard about them playing the Flower Booking anniversary show at the Metro a few months back and fervently hoped that sleeping dog would lie. Should have known better. It's utterly confounding that these two entities from different parts of our past should get together and start brewing up some steaming mutual mediocrity, and we feel it neccessary to issue a OGFP missive to this effect. Step into our time machine, bitches. Let's get Marty McFly up in hizzle.

Victory was basically a Chicago label for many years, and it still might be. We haven't exactly "kept up" with their "product". They used to have an actual storefront on Milwaukee that we used to haunt, called Bulldog Records. The main label dude, Tony, used to have all his old Dischord 45's (Minor Threat! Untouchables! The Faith! Void!) and Necros 45's and Negative Approach and Misfits and all that early shit hanging up on the wall behind the register, and we totally coveted that shit like it was some Bruce Nauman neon sculpture and used to rap with him about shit on the regular. But since we couldn't nearly afford these trinkets (heck, we couldn't even afford the "Inki's Butt Crack/Song Number One" Rapeman Sub Pop singles club ltd ed. 45 down the street at the Quaker Goes Deaf for $65), we'd do stupid things like buy the By The Grace of God EP cause the singer dude "retired from the scene" in Punk Planet or in a Heartattack column somewhere and that was at least somewhat compelling or some skate-rat douche convinced us to nab the Gorilla Biscuits re-issue...becuase yo, dude. Walter went on to be in Quicksand, dude. Ugh. I still HAVE most of those records. Isn't that sad? Moved them from place to place for a decade now. No wonder our friends all hate us. Now I couldn't trade all those records for a baker's dozen of Felix Von Havoc's soiled prophylactics and a signed Radio Flyer LP. Pull out your Sky Corvair buttons and white belts 'cause my balls hurt! (You have no idea what I'm talking about.)

One time, at this dumpy venue in Chicago called the Odum, there was a punk/hardcore festival where all the big bands at the time were playing. It was where we bought our Get Up Kids/Braid Posted Stamps split 45, if you get my reference frame. Merch tables galore, short pants, wallet chains, dyed black hair. Lots of big bands and people lined around the block to see Metroshifter or some wack shit. Anyway, I was eight spots from the door or so, and Tony Victory walked by me and said hi, gave me the head nod and two handed Bill Clinton fist-pump, the works. In front of the entire line. Just 'cause I had gone into his store so much. People looked at me like I had just been blessed by Cardinal Bernadin. We must have bought eighty bazillion records at that fest, like one from every table.

We were stupid, and had extra money to blow, you know? Don't be too hard on that 22 year old. He just wanted to belong to SOMETHING. That's why he went to see Earth Crisis at the Metro with his best friend, and, while he liked some of the blast beats, thought the crowd was totally out to lunch and ultimate lame-o-ville. Hatebreed? No wonder it was such a fucking sausage party! E-gads! Pussy was like a rumor to the 22 yr old OGFP in 1996. We were working at the record store, wearing an old and very smelly pair of Simple skate shoes, and had no control over our wardrobe. We would check out girls on the CTA in the morning and we probably looked at them so needily and longingly that we are lucky we didn't get pepper-sprayed on the Division platform at least once a week.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. We need to go back farther. The Smoking Popes were, simply, our hometown band. The Bros. Caterer lived in Lake In The Hills, but went to Crystal Lake Central, where there were tons of punks and kids in bands. We, on the other hand, went to Crystal Lake South, where there were no bands at all apart from a prog band that we sometimes wrote Ayn Rand-inspired lyrics for, called Condition:Red (this is no joke, btw; we wrote a song for them called "Atlas Shrugged" which IS committed to 4-track somewhere in this fair land), and only one even remotely punk girl, who had a Screeching Weasel tattoo and treated us and most everyone else at C.L. South with ultimate disdain. Of course we had a little thing for her. High School for us was a blur of baseball fandom, Metallica, Malcolm X hats, Public Enemy...we thought we were so smart. We developed hourly crushes, we thought Gentle Giant was one of the greatest bands of all time, and then we stumbled across the Smoking Popes.

The timeline here is so fuzzy. You go back to 1991 or 1992 and see what shows up in the full ashtray of your cerebellum (is that a word?). Did Mike get us into this band first when he was working at Eagle Foods? Did Sean introduce us to the Popes at summer camp? No, it was more like some kind of hive-mind coincidence. Did we wrangle Mike's copy of the Innoculator 45 in some kind of flim flam deal involving a Will Clark rookie card, or did we buy our own? We remember it sitting there on the shelf of the C.L. outpost of Rose Records, in the Locals section. Smoking Popes Innoculator 45, for $2.50. We still have it to this day. We also remember the huge cut-out bin of LPs at Rose, in the back corner, including a copy of "This Is Our Music" that we nabbed for a buck! What were we thinking? What did we pass up in those bins so that we could buy U2's Achtung Baby and the Twin Peaks soundtrack??? That was around the same time Ellen Guss worked at Rose Records. We were so in love with Ellen Guss that when she talked to us we immmediately became unhuman. We were a throbbing gland system with our brain stems melting like wax until the end of the conversation (and we had yet to encounter Mr. William Burroughs, so you can tell how intense that was). Her co-worker at Rose was, of course, Josh Caterer of the Smokng Popes. So we probably bought the 45 from him. Embarrasing! At shows and over the course of the next few years, we bought all their homemade 45's. We still have them to this day (the theme sentence of this post, if you haven't noticed).

Over the course of the next few years, we followed the Popes hither and yon around Chicagoland to see them live. With Gauge at the skatepark in Hoffman Estates. With Groovy Love Vibes and Apocalypse Hoboken at some shit hole in Elgin. With No Empathy at another shit hole in the south burbs. Off The Alley, maybe? At the C.L. bandshell during 4th of July week. People said Josh Caterer was an amazing guitarist, which we now know is not true and never was true. Anyway, those brothers used to hang out at Around the Clock and around C.L. and they put out a full-length on Johann's Face called Get Fired that was the ultimate summer jam for a few years. We would see them with their really hot suburban mall girlfriends and wonder how they wrote such dazzlingly sad love songs when they were getting more hoo-hoo than toilet seats (or at least a lot more than we were in our falling-apart Vans covered in Replacements lyrics and "I hate the Grateful Dead tie-dye shirts), but we didn't wonder for too long.

The Popes signed to a major label for a heap of money and then our Moms knew who they were and they did four movie soundtracks (always during the credits, never the film itself), then Morrissey said he liked them, and NME big-upped them but noone really cared in the USA and eventually they took the major label swan dive into brutal obscurity, despite the protests of a handful of dumb rock critics, us not included. We saw them at the Bottle around this time, when their irrelevence was becoming inescapable, and actually snickered with our old friends who had once loved them when they mashed their way throught the "hits". We think we got a dirty stare from everyone in the band for yelling out a request for "Writing A Letter". It was a sad night, especially for the band. After that here were a few articles, mostly about Josh's religious conversion due to some kind of bad pot experience (!?). There was the time a few years later we rode the Metra from downtown CHILL to C.L. sitting behind Josh Caterer as he read the King James Bible the ENTIRE WAY HOME without raising his head once. Then Josh resurrected (no pun intended) another band with a name we can't recall that noone cared about, and we saw them maybe open for the Go-Go's? They sucked. But now people do care again? Creepy. The past is creepy and we are drudging like the Army Corps of Engineers. Maybe more on this later, maybe we'll drop it.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

All dressed up like a well-kept grave

Alcohol never seems funnier than when you are having absolutely nothing to do with it. (Yes, this is one of those posts.)

In our weekly bout of thrifting we found a hilarious book of scenes and lines from W.C. Fields movies. Now, we've never even seen a W.C. Fields movie, although we hear the Bank Dick is a roarer. But cultural syntax can tell us basically what they are all about. W.C. is an unrepentant and drunken fool with a big, red nose who gets into adventures with damsels (who he loves), children (who he loathes) and money (which he can't keep). For the next few posts, the titles will probably be lines from W.C. Fields flicks, in honor of this amazing book. You know, not to be all next level bragging like Kanye, but our post titles are almost always song lyrics, and they are almost always some kind of secret meta-code as to what is going on in our life. We could point to examples of our lyric/real-life synchronicity genius, but that would void out all the fun.

We might have a contest, though, in the future, where if you can guess the song and artist the lyric is from before anyone else, we might give you a prize. Like our good luck yellow rubber bouncy ball, or a CD by Sabalon Glitz or a Don Mattingly baseball card or an Early Man jet-black condom courtesy of our friends at Matador Records. You know, something tacky and very OGFP. Does this prospect interest you?

So, it's Friday night, trad. going out time. What are you up to? Why don't you give us a holler every now and again, assfact? Obviously we aren't doing a whole lot ourselves, sitting here pecking away about W.C. and jet-black man sheaths. Do you know how pathetic it feels to ask your blog friends to call you to hang out because your social skills have atrophied to the point where picking up the phone is like trying to earn the President's Physical Fitness Challenge patch? We need to get off the reservation. Maybe we'll go to the Bottle for Psychedelic Steve's Plastic Crimewave or check Beau spinning at Tumans. We know he'll play some Italo-horror movie soundtrack music that will make our little square buttocks twitch. Bye.

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And as he staggered through the gate A lassie came just one day too late

Day 15 of the great stone sober experiment. To answer your question, no. We have not been on a bender. Keep up the faith! Sometimes our current technological situation gets a bit screwy around Casa Borracho and it's hard for us to post to Blogger. For instance, no photos from the Razr can we put up on this blog.

We have lots of photo updates coming real soon, though:

-Bookstore puppies. We don't remember what their names are or what breed they represent, but cuteness abounds. When they make their public debut, people are going to be flooding Myopic like we gots those Panda babies from the D.C. Zoo. They're that cute. We'll keep you updated. If we can get photos of the winter baby Ethan Tohma and the puppies TOGETHER, the world might fold in on itself and implode from quantum inter-dimensional cuteness. We'll get on that.

-Bands from the past few weeks of note: Macronympha/Kevin Drumm/Wolf Eyes show was a bit of a let down. Mr. Drumm doesn't play often, so it was peachy keen to see him lay down 15 minutes of hideous airport runway blast. Apparently he's a big deal in the Chicago financial world, too? Strange. Google for the facts on that, you kibbutz sluts!

Wolf Eyes were okay, not as good as the Reo Speedwagon meets Suicide-ish glam-doom of, say '99 or '00, but there was lots of gong-hitting and tribal stuff with guitar dash and crowd-interactive shouting. Dece. They have a LOT of merch. Do they put out a record every hour? We have a Wolf Eyes w/ Spykes CD/art-junk combo pack that we bought in 2002 that we still haven't listened to more than once. What can we say? We're that type of record collector. Someday we'll sell it on Ebay for a $1.25 and two packets of Taco Bell Mild Sauce to some Flock of Seagulls from Maryland who thinks Nurse With Wound and Current 93 are real "in" and has a problem with "melody" and "western trappings".

Macronympha were the real cause celeb for the night, as they augmented their entirely average noise workout with a stage show consisting of two identically corseted goth chicks making out for the duration of their set. We felt bad for the goth chicks. It's hard to look interested making out and dishwater bland over the clothes boob and butt groping and through her tight as nature allows leather skirt butt sniffing with another woman for over a half hour, especially on a stage in front of a bunch of noise music losers on a night when Animal Collective is playing across town, and you are doing your best to entertain but are so obviously not a lesbian. And the band sucked horribly. Every bad noise cliche you could think up. We're sure that the Logan Auditorium was where all the hotties were that night, and why the Bottle was a epic sausage factory of conversations about how "unconfrontational" the last Whitehouse gig was. Those poor girls. All those noise music losers (present company excluded, natch). If you laid all the boners in the Bottle that night end on end, you'd have a monorail to Neptune.

Does anyone over the age of, say, 25 make out, really? Like just kissing and over the clothes fondling for more than ten minutes anymore? Maybe on the second or third date, or whenever the first time things get a bit steamy, sure. But after that? Hmm. Maybe the OGFP board is not as romantically inclined as it should be. Or maybe inspiration is flagging a bit?

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