Jul 6 2014

MY Texas

So back in 2011, a couple of fellow Red Raiders of mine, who also happen to be Texas country musicians, Josh Abbott and Pat Green, released a hit single called “My Texas.” I first became aware of the song walking out of a Texas Rangers game, probably last summer. As is the case with most Texas country songs, the music is unremarkable in terms of strong hooks or memorable melody, while the lyrics are generally the focus. From the beginning, the song’s intention is clear; this is designed to be a crowd-pleaser at Red Dirt concerts and fests. Abbott and Green take turns naming parts and activities associated with our large, glorious state. Take a listen for yourself. You’ll get the idea pretty quickly.

As you can ascertain, the lyrical structure is the same throughout the entire song, even the chorus. Three things are named recognized as Texas activities, with the final repeated coda that, if you haven’t done these things, then “you ain’t met my Texas yet.” Pretty straightforward, immediately familiar, and, especially if you’re a Texan, ultimately very fun to hear for the first time.

The chorus changes every time, but with a basic structure repeated – rodeos, fellow Texas country artists, and random Texas cities and areas are name-dropped. Some of the recommendations make sense (eating Cooper’s in Llano, hiking through Big Bend) and some feel like they were fishing for ideas (an Abilene sunset? Having your hair blown back by Lubbock winds? Really?)

Overall, this song has an ideaology built into it that makes it such a hit for the Texas country crowd – it’s a celebration of our state’s diversity in geography, it hearkens back to that timeless Texas pride and feeling of exclusivity, and it recalls things most of its listeners have actually done.

As a whole, I LOVE the idea of this song. As a born-and-raised Texan, in theory the premise is novel. In practice, however, there was very little of the song I related to, which was a disappointment, though not a surprising one. I’m not, I suppose, what one would describe as a typical Texan, and definitely not a Texas country music fan. These guys know their audience, and I’m not a member of that club.

I suppose, when I first heard the song, it irked me there was absolutely no mention of Austin whatsoever. Again, this wasn’t surprising, as Austin isn’t really a hotspot for Texas country fandom or the cliche good ol’ boy culture surrounding it. But there are so many iconic things about this city that are overlooked by this culture. And in reality, it’s very arguable Austin is the city Texans should be MOST proud of.

So I immediately wanted to write my own version. A parody, if you will. And initially, I wanted it to be all about Austin. And it turned out that way, mostly. But while working on it, I started to realize there were parts of my life that weren’t about Austin at all, but were absolutely about Texas. I’ve traveled all across this state, and lived in three different areas of it, and I have no intention of ever leaving it. I firmly believe this state should be celebrated. And I admire that celebration in this Josh Abbott/Pat Green song, even if I don’t necessarily identify with 100% of it.

So eventually my version evolved into a song about my personal experience with Texas, Austin and beyond. There are references to Amarillo, Lubbock, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Marfa, even my hometown of Gruver. I strongly encourage other proud Texans to take this song and make it their own; what started as a fun little activity on a day off from work morphed into a personal, nostalgic, proud experience. And it ultimately made me like the song more, even if I’m still not in love with the melody.

Below are my lyrics to my personal version of the song “My Texas.” Compare them to the original ones, if you’re so inclined. Why I decided to spend an afternoon and do this, I don’t really know. It’s 100 degrees outside, and this seemed more exciting than going out and sweating at a bar or a pool or whatever. People who have known me for an extended amount of time might enjoy some references, while others might not recognize those references at all, and vice versa. Such is the celebration of a diverse life lived in many places, but all in one wonderful state. Enjoy, and thanks for humoring me.

If you never took a dip in Barton Springs

Went to Cadillac Ranch and painted things

Watched Tim Duncan get five rings

Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

 

If you’ve never gotten drunk on Rainey Street

Had a Live Oak Hef, man it tastes so sweet

Stopped at El Vaquero for a bite to eat

Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

 

If you haven’t crowd surfed down at Emo’s

Sang “Backyard” at a One Wolf show

Kissed a girl at SX you just met

Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

 

Never been to Hope Gallery and made your mark

Saw the Marfa lights right at dark

Smoked a bowl down at Zilker Park

Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

 

If you’ve never been to Buddy Holly’s grave

Got Buzzed from 512 IPA

Caught a foul ball at a Rangers game

Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

 

Never heard Pantera on your radio

Sang “Tyler” at a Toadies show

If you never been to Fun Fun Fun Fest

You ain’t met my Texas yet.

 

Never hung with KTXT folks

Learned to two-step at Broken Spoke

Had a Lonestar Beer and didn’t choke,

Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

 

Never had a Democrat at Torchy’s Tacos,

Gotten throwed at a Bun B show,

Didn’t know Franklin BBQ’s the best

Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

No, you ain’t met my Texas yet!

 


Feb 23 2014

Five Albums That Changed My Life – Pork Soda

primus pork soda

And so continues a series of posts I started back in May, and while the first entry is probably more culturally significant, this addition still has a special place in my heart, if only for its musical impact. Most people know me as an avid appreciator of music of all kinds, but particularly indie and alternative styles. I keep that as general and vague as I can, because honestly that has been the only constant description dealing with my evolution into studying, criticizing, and even enjoying (!) pop culture and its music counterpart. There are bands and artists I’ve remained loyal to, regardless of output, kind of like a sports team fandom, really. Most of these come from my adolescence, and of course Les Claypool and Primus fit that bill. These are bands that are admittedly, just a bit before my time, but I nevertheless identify with what someone my age would deem “older brother” music. I was into the sounds of grunge, 90’s punk, stuff that was wearing off on the masses by the time I became cognizant of what year it was and what was popular. And this is primarily because of my cousin Joe.

Joe is now married and has a kid, which in my mind makes him much older than I am because I don’t have those things, even though he’s my senior by merely six years. So yeah, he essentially served as the older brother I didn’t have. But he was only around at Christmas, so that was when I got a taste of what it was like to be a teenager and like teenager stuff and watch PG-13 movies and hear his stories about going to concerts and kissing girls and seeing Tool like 7 times in Mesa and all that jazz. It was an exciting growth period for me. It probably had already begun to formulate, as I had discovered Z93, the local Top 40 station, the summer before, much to the chagrin of my mother, who always wanted me to like only country music (sorry, Mom). But it reached its apex during December 1996, and eventually progressed into listening to FM90, the college station, and sneaking views of MTV and South Park, and going to loud rock concerts on my own, and becoming the unjustified music snob I am today. It’s all Joe’s, and Les Claypool’s, fault.

Joe would sleep in my room on the top of my blue (or was it red?) bunk bed over the holidays, and one day while playing Super Nintendo I began listening to whatever Joe was blaring from the top bunk through his headphones utilizing a Sony Walkmen that was way more hi-tech than mine. It sounded….well, strange. Joe eagerly let me put the headphones on, started the track over, and this is what I heard.

And this was my first taste of alternative rock. Ever. Before that, I was all about Dwight Yoakam and Coolio. This opened a whole new dimension of music I only vaguely knew about, and I wanted more. Now, admittedly, Primus is a weird, weird band, so my first exposure to modern rock was probably outside the box (I remember watching an awards show a few months later and witnessing Live and Collective Soul win awards and wondering why they sounded so….safe). So Joe let me listen to Rage Against the Machine, and Weezer, and Tool, and the Deftones, and Toadies, and all these bands I still love today because they have a special place in my heart and were honestly bands that changed my life. And they’re all pretty different in their own way, but they all had something I had never experienced before. We spent hours in my bedroom that Christmas playing video games and listening to rock music, and it was glorious. And then I went out and bought Pork Soda, and Evil Empire, and Adrenaline, and Undertow, and Rubberneck, and the Blue Album, with my Christmas money. Within two years, I had every album from all those bands, and a whole lot more. By next Christmas, I was talking Primus trivia with Joe like I was a veteran who had seen them at Lollapalooza in ’94.

The albums I’ve named are mainly time capsules now, including Pork Soda; some have claimed their place in Important 90’s Albums lists, some are merely footnotes in a memorable rock band’s catalogue. But these albums, and this time period, are timeless to me. Nowadays, we see a sweeping abundance of love for the 90’s, everything adoring the decade I already knew was cool. Culture has a tendency to love things that turn twenty years old, but by the time they’re thirty, they might as well be forgotten. And some of these acts are going strong after hiatuses, some are doing one-off reunions, some are long gone, never to return. But I still love them all, whether inactive or a different incarnation or producing comparable mediocrity. Because of Christmas 1996 and my cousin Joe. Because that time was a huge musical transformation for me, which in my world means a huge transformation in general. And it all began sitting on a bunk bed in my childhood bedroom, wearing oversized headphones and hearing a bass guitar make sounds I’d never heard before from any contraption, musical or otherwise. And even today, when my taste has progressed, along with most people’s, into heavy electronics and hip-hop, this music from a decade I’m blissfully stuck in still sounds new.  Music I still adore, and blare just as loudly.


Jan 6 2014

Year In Review: 2013

Who says 13 is unlucky?

This year, culturally speaking, was a major improvement upon the last year overall. This usually happens after a year containing a dearth of quality music, television, and movies. Not that 2012 was abysmal, by all means, but let’s just say this year’s lists were A LOT harder to make. As a whole, a large bulk of content you’ll find on this year’s best-of will likely stand the test of time a bit better than the material we were fed last year.

Also, I graduated from grad school, got a job at Facebook, made new friends, and things are swell more or less. There were ups and downs, and there is a long list of resolutions, and you know, things happened. 2013 was a moderate success. If it was a failure, I’d probably have more to write about, frankly.

So, without further ado, I welcome you to Culture Greyhound’s Year in Review for 2013, a year of very high highs and very low lows, a year of mediocrity and boring disappointment, a year of mind-blowing excellence. You know, a year.

Schedule:

Tuesday: Quarterly Review
Wednesday: Top 20 Remixes
Thursday: Top 200 Tracks
Friday: Top 50 Albums

On a final note, I would like to remind everyone about my always-streaming Internet radio station, Culture Greyhound Radio, which I add music to every week, new and old. Tune in!

That’s it. Happy New Year, everyone!


Aug 26 2013

Tales of Junior High Vindication: An Essay About Why I Am Smart

It was probably 1999. Or the year 2000. 9/11 had not happened yet, I know that much. I was definitely in middle school/junior high. Once a week, I would venture over to Mr. Mayhew’s classroom for Gifted and Talented, or GT, which was some kind of special class for kids that were excelling at….creativity or something. I don’t know if you had this in your middle school program, but it basically seemed like a separation of the “smarter” kids from the “dumber” ones. I would, in hindsight, argue that this distinction was completely subjective and probably based on the teachers’ opinions; there are likely people that were in GT that were not gifted or talented at anything at this formative period in their lives, so GT is a bit of a misnomer, and I hope they still don’t call it that. A title like “Gifted and Talented” would probably go to a kid’s head, as would the exclusion of such a title. It probably went to my head, which is likely a contributing factor why I’m such a smug jerk now. Also, I don’t remember a single minority student in GT, and I was in GT for however long a kid was allowed to be in it, which I think was something like grades 3-8. So that’s notable, I think.

I loved GT because it got me away from regular classwork and it usually meant school was almost done for the day. We would work on creative projects or have lengthy discussions about current events. Mr. Mayhew was great at leading discussion. Overall, he was a great teacher. I had him for history and science classes as well, and the guy knew his shit. He was one of the few male teachers I had post-elementary that wasn’t a coach and wasn’t half-assing it or just reading an outline out of a textbook. He was a real teacher who gave a crap whether his students were learning. And he was cool too. On a GT field trip, he let a few of the boys, including myself, go into an R-rated movie, as long as he chaperoned. The movie was The Matrix. He wanted to see it too, I could tell, though he was pretty good at maintaining the “authority figure” role. He’d probably be up in my Best Pre-College Teachers list. Undergrad and graduate professors get their own list, of course, because they have an unfair advantage for a number of reasons.

I remember having a lengthy conversation with him about how the Matrix and the story of Jesus had similar storylines (Mr. Mayhew was very active in our youth groups and bible summer camps as a counselor and chaperone). This now seems obvious, and became so overwrought as the sequels came out that by the time the final one was released, I felt like it was just a predictable afterthought that Neo would die to save mankind. Because, you know, Jesus did that too. At the time, though, it was a revelation for me to discover thematic connections in cinema, even if they were pretty blatantly influenced by the most retold story of all time. I guess the summary of this entire paragraph is that the Matrix trilogy was an overwhelming disappointment and I still don’t think I’m over that.

Also, by that time no one was interested in my observant plot connections, because Passion of the Christ had been released, and who needs subtle narrative references when you can get your point across by showing a guy getting beat to death for three hours and call it a movie?

ANYWAY…..

So yeah, Mr. Mayhew was great. GT was great. But one day in GT, Mr. Mayhew made me very angry. Of course, he didn’t know it at the time. He probably still doesn’t know it. He may never know. No one knew it, because I was likely silent for the remainder of the class. I was likely seething.

The topic of discussion for this particular class was the Top 5 Inventions of All Time. Pretty broad, right? I suppose the parameters for qualification would be an invention that was a significant catalyst for society; it changed lifestyle, commerce, and everyday activities for the better and almost universally. This invention probably didn’t have to ignite this change overnight, but as time went on, and technology improved, the impact of this invention could not be ignored.

Many inventions immediately come to mind, and many were said in the discussion: the light bulb, the cotton gin, the telephone, the printing press, the wheel, the compass, penicillin. We weren’t really trying to make a solidified list, just discussing which inventions would be up for debate.

As the conversation progressed, I finally had thought of one no one had said. I immediately shot my hand up and was called by Mr. Mayhew. “How about the Internet?” I exclaimed proudly.

Mr. Mayhew chuckled, shook his head, dismissively said, “no,” and took the next suggestion.

I sat there, my mouth agape. Did he not want to hear my argument for the Internet? Why wasn’t this even being nominated? I wasn’t even saying it was in the final five, just that it was definitely up for consideration. I’d had the Internet at my parents’ house for about two years at that point, and it had completely changed my life. I had learned how to build websites, discover music easily, and create content. If this was happening for a 13-year-old in a small Texas town with a dial-up connection, who could disagree bigger things weren’t happening elsewhere?

Of course, this was, as I’ve said, 1999 or 2000 or whatever. The idea of the Internet completely transforming our lives was maybe far-fetched, especially for a guy in his forties who, as far as I could remember, didn’t even have a computer in his classroom. But maybe not just for him. Our school likely didn’t have Internet at this time. The word Google likely wasn’t a big thing yet. I doubt anyone in my class had a Myspace, myself included. CNN’s website looked like this, and that was considered pretty awesome. Who would’ve imagined what the Internet would become? How could anyone envision it?

Well I did. I did, Mr. Mayhew. At the time, I envisioned the Internet completely turning the world upside down. Commerce, business, communication, information, copyright, everything would be changed and modified because of this new technology. I remember broadcasting my first online radio station via Shoutcast on Winamp and thinking, “How is this legal?” I had already discovered Napster, which wasn’t an unknown entity at this point. How could anyone not see that this would forever threaten the notion of traditional intellectual property laws? How could anyone not see that our cell phones were inevitably going to get better to the point of having the Internet with us everywhere we go? Was it really so far fetched to believe, at the very least, our Internet connections were going to improve, that we could do decent comparison shopping and have our purchases delivered to us without ever leaving the house, that we would be able to connect with friends and relatives thousands of miles away within seconds at no additional charge?

Maybe it was from watching too many futuristic movies, maybe it was my fascination with Napster and the fact that I could listen to an alternative radio station in Atlanta in my parents’ living room, that I could continue to have lengthy conversations with a girl I met at summer camp. But I felt like the Internet would live up to its potential, that it would be bigger than Mr. Mayhew or anyone else in that GT class thought. I remember thinking that walking home, that I would be vindicated, that in ten years they would all see, that my suggestion wouldn’t be chuckled and dismissed outright. “They’ll see!” I probably screamed at the West Texas sky, my adolescent fists raised like some overdramatic villain from a Toonami cartoon. “They’ll all see! I shall be avenged!”

Of course, over a decade after this moment, the Internet is regularly a consideration when discussing the most important inventions of all time. What do we use every time a cashier swipes our credit card? When we pay our taxes or bills? When we check the score of the Cowboys game? When we want to know what’s happening in Egypt? When we purchase mutual funds? When we want to know how many US Presidents have been impeached? When we book a flight or plan a family vacation? When we want to find out what our high school sweetheart has been up to? When we want to compare the costs of Samsung TVs to Panasonic TVs before buying one? For some of these, there is still a brick-and-mortar method. But why make the trek when you can do it at your kitchen table in seconds?

And the funny thing is we don’t really think about how different life was in 1999. Because it doesn’t seem that long ago. The presidency of Bill Clinton and the scare of Y2K and the screech of a 56K modem and the popularity of Limp Bizkit don’t seem like far removed ideas. But technology has made 1999 primitive. We’ve had a cultural wave of 90’s nostalgia lately, culminating in NSYNC’s 60-second reunion at the VMAs last night. I suppose this post was inspired originally by a gif-heavy nostalgia trip from Buzzfeed called 25 Things That Were Totally Normal in 1999. I generally hate Buzzfeed and their “articles,” but they are great at what they do, which is garnering a shit-ton of pageviews through common interests and gifs. The relevancy lifespan of a typical Buzzfeed article is usually about a day, but I guess you could argue the same about an episode of the Daily Show, so whatever.

Then I started thinking about this piece of idealistic wisdom from Jim Carrey’s manic Chip Douglas in The Cable Guy, ideas that sounded exciting in 1996, but are typical uses of the Internet and interactive television in 2013.

Maybe it was this pearl of wisdom, that I had memorized verbatim, in a movie Carrey was paid an eight-figure salary for, that Ben Stiller directed, with supporting roles from millennium A-listers Owen Wilson and Jack Black, that I still think is Carrey’s most underrated role. Maybe it was this idea that compelled me to believe that in ten years the entire idea of the Internet would shift rapidly from fun time-killer to necessary workflow component. I guarantee if Mr. Mayhew were still teaching today, he would have a pretty sweet computer in his classroom. Probably an iMac.

So what is the purpose of this post? Two things:

1) I’m feeling pretty nostalgic lately, I guess, and gettting old, and not coping with it well.
2) I was totally right about the Internet, Mr. Mayhew. 13-year-old me would like a word with you.


Jul 25 2013

Review: Daniel Markham – Ruined My Life

daniel markham ruined my life

I’m a bit late to the show, but like all of Markham’s output, this one’s a grower. It might be the one you’ll have to spend the most time with out of all of the Markham albums. And that’s because, underneath the twang, the West Texas melodies, the semblance of loneliness, that dirgy Deadsy guitar, that brilliant album title, and that head-scratching album cover, Ruined My Life is a new side of Daniel Markham he’s merely hinted at in the past. With this, the first post-Lubbock proper full-length, and the first proper solo album, his eyes are turned outward, his head is held higher, and frankly, the mood’s a bit brighter.

The highlight here is “New Blood.” Uptempo and upbeat, Markham signals early this album represents a change in life, attitude, and perspective. And I can’t think of a single song he’s ever done that sounds anything like it. Throughout the album, a theme of “moving on” and “well wishes” are given as opposed to past Markham mantras of lost love and confused direction. Pronouns have shifted in his lyrics, giving advice to broken hearts rather than lamenting his own. One Wolf’s material produced an image of internal battle and identity struggle. Ruined My Life (with a title that’s simultaneously humorous, unfortunate, guilty, and, maybe for an ex, downright accurate) contains songs that signify that internal battle, at least for now, has been won.

The death of R.E.M. likely put a heavy weight on the songwriter’s psyche. I’m merely speculating, but I’d be willing to bet money that’s who the “favorite band” is in Ruined My Life. Regardless, the influence has never been more prevalent in Markham’s music than here. “Drag Up Some Dead” sounds like it could belong deep on New Adventures In Hi-Fi and “Killers They Will Creep” makes the younger Markham of Waiting to Derail fame sound like a guy wasting away in Margaritaville. We’ve certainly come a long way from “Wish,” haven’t we?

But mostly, it’s an amalgamate of good ol’ Markham. Combining elements of pretty much everything he’s ever done, from the lovelorn alt-country of Waiting to Derail to the pop laden with sadness throughout the first One Wolf album, to the cacophony of guitar and emotional torment in the second One Wolf album, there’s signature sounds here that immediately make me think of Lubbock, Texas, even though I haven’t been there in years, and I’ve never heard this new music there.

But this is not Lubbock music. Lubbock is a wonderful place to live….for a while. But anyone who’s felt stuck there likely would put a few One Wolf tracks on their mixtape dedicated to a future away from the eerie desolation, the unending boredom, the strange loneliness in a town of 300,000 people. The Markham Sound is inherently Lubbock – it was born there, it still remains in his music; you never really wash off that red dirt. But lyrically, thematically, this is the soundtrack of Lubbock behind you. The melodies are more positive (“No Mosquitos,” which could be about leaving the 806), the thoughts are optimistic (“Best of Luck,” one of the strongest tracks on the album), and the humor, always hinted at in the past, is more apparent here. Less about love lost and more about change, traveling, touring, living life, Ruined My Life is a more mature Markham, a refocused, repurposed, relocated, and recalculated Texas musician Denton should be proud to call a resident.

Buy it on iTunes.


May 20 2013

Five Albums That Changed My Life – Please Please Me

beatles please please me

As graduation has come and gone, and the job search in a big city becomes the highest priority, I have been coming to grips with the fact that I am probably growing up, and I have mixed emotions about the whole thing. I figured by now I would have a lot of things figured out, mainly dealing with self-esteem and the like, but I suppose truly being an adult is realizing that things aren’t as idealistic as we imagine them to be when we leave high school, and that life is a jumbled, unorganized mess of experiences and lessons that gradually develop us into who we truly are, and also that these experiences and lessons never stop. They come at you every day, and at some point, the only one who can present change in your meaningless life is yourself, the one who knows you the best.

Wow. A paragraph in and I’m already rambling.

So I’ve been thinking of my life at a high level lately, as I am wont to do when a chapter of my life ends and a new one begins. That and I’m spending a LOT of time alone and at home, with no one to entertain but my cat, so these nostalgic, big-picture, “how did I get here” thoughts naturally creep up. And since I am dying to be productive in some capacity, I decided to utilize this thought process that has no definite answer into a series of blog posts related to music. Because ultimately, on my thought train, I relate EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE to music. Because music is, and will always be, the glue that holds me together, and the most important thing in my life. Sorry, future wife and children.

I begin this series, which will be presented in chronological order, with the greatest band in the history of recorded music, the Beatles, and their first album, Please Please Me, recorded in one day on February 11, 1963. It is most definitely one of the most important albums ever made, but almost no one, including myself, will say it’s the best Beatles album. That honor usually is debated amongst the group’s later work – The White Album, Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, Magical Mystery Tour (the correct answer), Rubber Soul, and Revolver are generally the nominees. On occasion, Let It Be creeps in there as well.

Historians can tell you about the album on a track-by-track basis, which I believe is the one with the most amount of covers and the least amount of Lennon-McCartney compositions. Even then, though, the duo was already making a name for themselves with chart-topping originals like “Love Me Do” and the title track. And of course, you can read about the vocal-shredding one-take of Lennon’s “Twist and Shout,” which was the last song recorded for that very reason.

My dad introduced me to the Beatles, and Please Please Me is the first music I ever remember hearing. I was probably two or three years old. I will never forget that old stereo system, with those giant Hi-Fi speakers on both sides of our 80’s era entertainment system. Those big knobs on that oversized amplifier, that now-antiquated CD player, which my dad probably bought the first day it was sold. I would later spend so much time using that system, more than my dad, and when everyone was away, I would blare the Beatles to full volume, eventually blowing out the bottom right subwoofer. To this day, Dad doesn’t know that was me, but who else would it have been? I imagine when my dad brought home all those copies of remastered Beatles on CD (which were released in 1987) and plugged in Please Please Me and saw the look on my face, he knew his son would appreciate this medium more than he ever did. In short, he had done what would ultimately be inevitable; he had created a monster. His son was a music lover and all it took was a single CD.

Initially, as most fathers do, he was probably thrilled his young, impressionable son was in love with the music of his childhood. But by the time I graduated high school, it’s safe to say Dad probably would have been okay if he never heard a Beatles song again. I took that introduction and ran with it, eventually commandeering all those Beatles CDs when I got my own CD player and listening to them for hours and hours, obsessed with the band, their culture, their history, every single word, every single song. And my entire family had to put up with it. And so began what would be a lifelong passion that evolved with my own generation’s creations, and something I didn’t see until long after I left home – that my dad and I, like most fathers and sons, don’t completely understand each other, but we are extremely similar in many, many ways. If it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t have discovered my favorite pastime, my reason for being, my life force. Music. I imagine my dad would say the exact same thing about his discovery of what he loved, and who showed it to him (his father), and how that person wasn’t really someone who completely understood him, but that ultimately that doesn’t matter, because you love him anyway.

I have always stood by the old adage that music brings people together in so many ways. When I started writing this post, I didn’t intend for it to be about my dad. I was going to write about my vivid memory of the first time I heard “I Saw Her Standing There,” how I would stand right by the speaker and pretend I was playing guitar (something I still do in the privacy of my apartment at age 26), how I would get in trouble for playing it too loud. In short, I was going to write about Please Please Me, which you can listen to in full here, and I encourage that you do. At the very least, you’ll hear a great album from a great band, and at most, you’ll get a sense of who I am.

But when I think of The Beatles, and in particular Please Please Me, I think of Dad. Because, even as I mature and watch him grow older and he watches me become who I’m supposed to be, the Beatles are still one of the very few things we have in common. There isn’t much else in terms of interests or beliefs or ideals. And when I was younger, I found that truth to be annoying. But as a whole, it’s quite the opposite. It’s just the way it is. The way it’s always been, the way it will be. And the discovery that love for your father has nothing to do with compatibility, or even understanding, really, is refreshing. It’s a blessing to realize after years and years, that these things aren’t important. It’s the experiences together. And my father and I have plenty of those. And we also have the Beatles.

And who could want anything else?


May 8 2013

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

It’s 2AM, and of course I can’t sleep, even though I’ve been deprived of it for several days now. I suppose what’s keeping me up is the past two years. The classes, the homework, the papers, the logs, the WOB torture, the presentations, the internships, the debates and spirited arguments, the fantasy football, the awesome professors, the infuriating professors, the Ragsdale residencies, the All My Friends concerts, the venture creations, the makeshift tech startups with classmates, the playing-hooky road trips to Marfa, the ridiculously HAM/YOLO weekends, the karaoke, the watching friends get banned from Kerbey Lane, the watching us all get kicked out of G&S Lounge, the SXSW shenanigans, the house parties that got a little crazy, the Guy On a Buffalo.

Most of the above has culminated into today, where I and three of my fellow cohorts this afternoon will give a Capstone presentation to a local online digital production company. We have utilized all of our skills and experience, everything we’ve learned from this program. We have had several meetings, made phone calls, sent emails, scheduled Google Calendar reminders , had lunch pow wows, printed at home because Kinko’s is too expensive, and drunk lots and lots and lots of coffee. It almost feels like I’m an adult. Almost.

And we’re going to nail it.

And then? We’re MBAs.

I have a tendency in moments like this to get sappy, but this is who I am, so deal. I consider this day to be an important one for me. The ceremony on Saturday doesn’t mean much to me, frankly, other than making it official with a cap and gown, and making Mom happy. After this presentation, where my team will prove we are who we say we are, after the employees have left and the reports have been passed out and the grades have been jotted down, I am a student no more. Finally.

Most people will ask, well, now what? I’m asking the same thing….another day. Today is not the day to ask that question. Today I am busting my ass until 5pm, and then I am celebrating. Then my family is coming into town to celebrate with me. One thing is for sure, 2013 is not over, the work is never done, and there’s still questions to be answered. This time around, though, I’m optimistic, more confident. But that is a thought for another day, a day that’s around the corner.

I am lucky to have been given this opportunity to pursue graduate work, to have a supportive family, to have understanding friends that I need to start hanging out with again, to have a life in my favorite city, to be able to study in such an innovative, amazing program that isn’t perfect, but I can’t say I haven’t learned anything. Quite the opposite. I have learned so much about my industry and others. I have learned a plethora of knowledge about the world of business. I have learned things about myself, my traits, my hobbies and habits, my ethics, my values, my esteem. I have learned all this from remarkable people. People who were hired to teach, and people who weren’t and have no idea they’ve taught me these things.

But most of all, I’m lucky to have been a part of the group that took the ride along with me. More than the schoolwork, the lifelong lessons, I have made friendships with remarkable people, friendships I hope and believe will last a lifetime. In terms of what would normally be classified as qualifiers for diversity, we didn’t really make the grade. But to say there wasn’t diversity in the Season 7 cohort is obtuse. The unique views and opinions, the insightful discussion, the jokes, the flat-out arguments were probably the most valuable experiences of this entire two-year daytime program, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. I came to school everyday to learn about business, but it’s decisions like these that make you realize you are learning things all the time by everyone around you, that people are remarkable, and unique, and sometimes straight-up amazing. And that, through this program, I have made an unspoken bond with a group of people, some of whom I may never talk to again, some of whom I will talk to for years to come. But it’s a bond that will serve as a reminder through action and recommendation, through support and encouragement, a bond that reminds us: we all went through something pretty spectacular together.

And of course, from now until the end of time, there’s not a doubt in my mind:

Abe
Austin
Blake
Brandon
Chris M
Chris P
Jarad
Johnny
Kyle
Mike
Nick
Rachel
Rhys
Sam
Sawyer
Sean
Whitney
and Will

We are The Best Cohort.™

Here’s to you guys.


Apr 24 2013

Why We Should Be Nice to Young Hipsters

My buddy Austin pointed me to this video that’s gone viral from Jimmy Kimmel. It’s a Lie Witness News report his show did during Coachella where they ask some attendees if they’re excited to see bands like the Obesity Epidemic and the Chelsea Clintons and they all express that yeah, they love those bands so much and can’t wait to see them. But here’s the catch: those bands don’t exist.

Now there’s probably 3 reasons for this, all of which I think are valid.

1) People who go to Coachella aren’t really going to see music or bands, so they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you who’s playing anyway (this one’s more accurate than you think).
2) They’re just being polite to the people asking them questions and don’t want to look like an idiot with a camera in their face.
3) They’re hipsters.

I would like, for the purposes of this little spiel, to focus on #3, though the other two are probably correct in some fashion as well. While the video was funny, I kept thinking to myself throughout the course of it, “Wow. I used to do that ALL THE TIME.” I remember being a young, impressionable 20-year-old, hanging out with new friends from bigger cities who I met in undergrad, trying to fit in, be cool, lying about how I know every lyric to every Mountain Goats song ever and how the Decemberists’ first album is way better than their last two, etc. These are conversations young hipsters have all the time. Yes, I too was a young hipster. I struggled to fit in with my musical friends, who I’ve now come to realize may have not even liked music at all anyway, or at least the trite shit they claimed to like.

At 26, I now understand my true self. I hate the Mountain Goats. John Darnielle’s voice is atrocious and his speaky-singy delivery irks me to no end. This is merely my opinion, but the difference between my age-26 Mountain Goats opinion and my age-21 Mountain Goats opinion, other than the opinions themselves, is that one is sincere and one is not. One is from a kid who thinks too much about what other people think about him. The other is from an older guy who is tired of listening to shit he will never like and tired of trying and doesn’t really care anymore. But it took me a while to get there. I spent a lot of time on music I respect greatly in retrospect, but ultimately I have determined just isn’t for me.

Meanwhile, I back-burnered a lot of music I LOVED simply because it didn’t fit with the current catalog of “Things Okay To Like.” These are purely subjective, arbitrary things that make no sense to me whatsoever at age 26, but at age 21, I lived by The Code. I had to be cool, I had to gauge someone else’s reputable opinion of a band before I claimed my opinion. This was highly pretentious, it was sad, it was necessary. It was a period of self-discovery and it made me who I am today, a more self-aware, musically intelligent, but overall less snobby human being. But it was pretty bad, and I know if it was bad for me in Lubbock, Texas, I can only imagine what kids at Coachella 2013 are going through. THE PRESSURE.

I say this all a bit tongue-in-cheek, of course, because we all know that being insincere and insecure about your music taste is a dumb thing to dwell on to the point of flat-out lying about it. But these kids are dealing with it, and I can understand that. And it will take some time. It’s all part of a big painful process called growing up and your twenties and self-discovery and blah blah blah. All of which is easier said than done. And one thing that never happened to me during this time was I never ended up looking like a jackass on national television during this developing period of my life. So I kind of feel for these kids, even if you can look in their eyes and see nothing but complete cluelessness and low self-esteem and the general physical effects of recreational drugs. Because all they did was show up to have a good time, and then some millionaire has his interns put a microphone in their face and they opened their dumb mouths and pretended to know what they were talking about, like young hipsters do, and got called out for it on YouTube, and now they’re sitting in their chemistry class totally embarrassed and sunburnt and hungover. And this is part of the process. And it’s funny, funny, funny, hilarious stuff. But also, a little sad. But mostly funny.

Because we have to laugh at ourselves. That’s the first step to getting out of your young hipster phase. And most of them will get there. Some never do, unfortunately. And that’s not funny at all. That’s annoying. Because if there’s anything worse than a young hipster, it’s an old hipster.


Apr 11 2013

Slacking On Blogging

Hey everybody! Long time, no blog. How’s your 2013 so far? Mine is getting mixed reviews, but we’ll get to that. Or maybe not, I’m not really sure yet. This is a stream-of-consciousness post. Should be a fun read! Or not…I haven’t decided that either.

So when I started this blog back in 2010, it was designed to be a forum for me to maintain what at the time I considered to be my greatest asset as a recent Texas Tech graduate and an unemployed barfly in my college town – my craft of writing. I still consider that to be a strength, especially now that I’m about a month away from earning an MBA. I’ve done more writing in the past two years than I ever wanted to, and due to time constraints (and the strange need I invented for myself to post something every day) this cool little blog turned into a place where I would just repost pop culture stuff, mostly embedded videos, because that was the quickest remedy.

I always wanted to focus this blog on pop culture (mostly music, of course, but also film, television, sports, news, politics, etc.), but I also wanted it to be a place where I could vent and celebrate, where I could relate these cultural aspects to my menial life, my personal experience, and my present-day comprehension. A place where I aped Chuck Klosterman, more or less. That happened for a while, but of course I got busy and lazy. I started hating blogging, I put it off until it was overwhelming, and then I would phone it in. And guys, I’m not going to do that anymore. But I’m also not going to blog all the damn time either. I’m going to use this for what it was designed. So that means sporadic posts that are higher in quality and ultimately more meaningful to me. Because really this blog is for me, and about me, and I could really care less if anyone reads it, to be totally honest. But thanks for being here anyway. You’re a good friend.

I’m running into the realization that I’m approaching a period of my life I’m all too familiar with – with an emerging graduation, no certain career lined up currently, a dwindling social life, and a continued nonexistent romantic life, I’m going to have a TON of free time, where I’m alone with my thoughts, my anxieties, my uncertainties, and an obscenely fast Internet connection. And my cat, of course. 2013, I can safely say, might be the scariest year of my life. My future is a giant question mark in almost every category.

At the same time, I am more optimistic this time around for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because I’ve surrounded myself with people who have given me confidence and self-worth. Maybe it’s because I’ve taken to heart my lessons from grad school. Maybe it’s because I have finally stopped comparing myself to others and matured to the point where I’m finally just comparing myself to the past version of myself. Maybe it’s because I know that I have a family that supports and loves me, that will always tell me they’re proud of me, that will always make sure I always have a roof over my head and food on my plate. It’s probably all of the above. Ultimately, I know if I turn negative, I’ll just give up on everything, and I feel I’ve made a lot of significant steps in my life, and to do so would be foolish, because it’s all uphill from here. The 2010 guy who started this blog has come a long way, and I feel pretty great about that, and I firmly believe in that old adage everyone’s mother always told them – that if you just give it 100%, everything’s going to work out in your favor in the end. I don’t sweat the small stuff like I used to, I don’t worry about what others think as much as I used to, I don’t get angry like I used to, and I don’t fret over things I can’t control like I used to. All in all, I’m on a very uncertain path, but I feel pretty good that I have the intellect to make things work out in my favor – if not immediately, then eventually.

So what else, since we’re playing catch-up? 2013 music has been blowing 2012 out of the park. I’ve finally started going to the movies again (shout out to the Saturday Morning Matinee Club!), I’ve been dating (!), and baseball is back in season, so that’s been taking up most of my time recently. Yu Darvish is my hero. Spring time is my favorite time of the year, hands down. I still live in the best city in Texas. SXSW was amazing this year, maybe the best of my seven years of going. I’m going to have some serious platinum badge withdrawals in 2014. I saw Green Day, Justin Timberlake, caught some amazing panels, some hilarious movies, saw some old friends, and did it all in a fairly responsible fashion. Like, with minimal hangovers and all that jazz. I know, right?! Well, I guess this is growing up. Sorta.

That’s another thing, guys. I don’t think I’m ever really going to grow up. I know 26 is still very young, but at the rate I’m going right now, which is moderate, I don’t perceive slowing down or settling down or being a miserable old man anytime soon. No matter where I end up, be it Austin or Portland or Dallas (ugh) or London or wherever, I’m going to find the right balance between work and play, and probably ruin the balance occasionally. But only occasionally. Because, really, that’s the way I’ve always done it. Minus my 18-month Lost Weekend in 2008-2009, I’ve been able to keep my head above water, because I was raised by sensible people who taught me good morals and let me do my own thing.

So here’s to 2013, what could possibly be the greatest year of our lives, because we were all supposed to die in December, remember? And here’s to the return of this wasteland blog. Since I’m a personal goal-setter of sorts (with the exception of physical activity), I’ll probably make a concerted effort to post on this thing at least once a week, if not more. But if I’m not inspired, I’m not writing. Them’s the rules. So cheers!

As a final housekeeping note, yes I know what day it is: the next post here will be the Quarterly Review, and hopefully I can hash that out this weekend. Fingers crossed!


Jan 2 2013

2012: A Year of Transition

Now’s the time of the year when people talk about everything that happened and what it means. Obama got re-elected, MCA and Whitney Houston died, some guy jumped from space and Red Bull paid him. We’re almost certainly going off the fiscal cliff. Taylor Swift is apparently a full-blown pop star now. Chik-Fil-A sold chicken sandwiches all while handling the daunting task of publicly hating gay people.  Breaking Bad is still the best show on television. Community is stil the second best show on television. Your mom likes Mumford and Sons now. SPIN Magazine the magazine is dead. George Lucas sold his light saber collection to Mickey Mouse. It’s been a fun year. A lot of things have happened. But music kind of sucks now.

I mean, let’s be honest. Do you guys remember the heydays of the burgeoning Internet? The blogs? The relevance of Pitchfork? All these awesome groups with buzz that seemed to be somewhat justified? Is it just me? Am I getting old and jaded? Probably. But it seems like good music is happening less.

And this is coming from a guy who really tries to keep up with this junk. I scour notable web zines every day for the hottest new band and track and tour date, etc. I don’t know, I guess I started feeling it around SXSW when I realized there really weren’t a lot of up-and-comers I was dying to see. Granted, there were a few, and there’s been a lot of newcomers that have been great. And a lot of my all-time favorites released new music this year. It’s been pretty good. Just not great. It could be better. I feel like 2012 isn’t memorable in the grand scheme of things. It’s just a stepping stone to the next big movement. Not just for music, either.

Granted, 2012 has probably been the busiest year of my life, as I (FINALLY) make the shift into this thing called “adulthood” and get a job and try to date people and take a more proactive approach to actually figuring out who I am and what I want. This year has been a big one for me. So naturally, I listened to less and less albums and went to less and less shows and bought less and less vinyl. I’ve been a bad music fan this year, guys. I mean, look at this damn blog. This is the most I’ve written here in months. I’ve officially kicked the addiction of regurgitating another website’s content just so I can get impressions here, simply because I’ve got so much more pressing things to do nowadays and I really would like to make this site more of a place where I go when I actually have something of substance to say. And of course, to run down the year and make lists. Which I still love to do. Like a lot.

So yeah, it’s probably an amalgam of things. First being I’m busy. But also because, when I run through new tracks and albums, which are now easily accessible and totally legal via Spotify, which has completely changed my life and many other people I know, …I find myself skipping through more than taking in and putting on repeat. And that’s because the output isn’t as great overall….right? People seem kind of lost. Musicians. Critics. Tastemakers. There’s some great stuff, sure. But overall, it’s underwhelming. But with years like this, there usually comes a moment of clarity, a renewed purpose, and a slew of awesome bands. It will happen. It happened in 2003. 2007. 2009. We’re due for another. It will happen again. Like I said, check the title….baby steps. We’re all taking them. Together.

So anywho, tomorrow you’ll get remixes, then tracks on Friday, then albums on Saturday. There’s less this year.  My albums are cut down to 30.  My remixes are cut down to 10.  My tracks….yeah, those are still 200.  Tracks are easy, and my favorite part.  I could’ve have done a 300, no sweat, but that’s a bit much, I figured.

I promise it will be unlike any other best-of list series you’ve seen. Because due to my schedule and the other reasons listed above and the feeling of “I like what I like and I don’t care” that comes with your late 20’s, that less cynical, less pretentious, more self-aware and honest, but increasingly jaded and crabby, vibe….my list is focused on favorites. Some made other lists. Some didn’t. And really the only person in the world who will like my lists the most will be me. But isn’t that the reason we make lists anyway? They’re more for ourselves. Sure, it’s fun to share. But at the end of the day, the process of seeking validation and gratification is tiresome. As a young rapper once said, and then everyone in the world proceeded to repeat all year long ad nauseam: YOLO.

I like what I like and I don’t care.

Happy New Year, kids!