Unknown City

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  • 05:26:54 pm on November 10, 2008 | 0 | # |

    So the Lawrence Arms wrote “A Guided Tour of Chicago” about ten years ago about the homeless population in Chicago. I went out and shot some footage at the locations mentioned, to give you a feel of what they’re talking about, only problem is I didn’t encounter one homeless person all day (except the guy in my alley who did not want to be filmed). Since the Northside has been largely white for so long, and the gentrifying happened just slow enough, it’s hard to notice how much the area has changed since the late nineties. Other things to note, there’s no longer a 7-11 on Walton and State, but there is a ton of new construction and the former White Hen in Boystown is now a 7-11 (as they all are). 

     

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRDsFsKu3SU&hl=en&fs=1%5D

    Lyrics:

    He shuffled up a pair of surfer slippers and an old tweed blazer

    Asked you for a quarter and you looked the other way

    He leaned up against the tow zone sign and just in time for you to avert your eyes,

    Said good morning sir. have a nice day.

    She wears four wool winter hats all year round and mumbles and sometimes screams

    He wears a coat made of burlap sacks and sits in parking lots, never asking anyone for anything

    He’s the old black guy with the shopping cart

    She’s the old lady with the bright blue sweat pants

    They’re the two young white squatter kids with dirty undershirts and rotten teeth

    He’s the guy who hangs out underneath the overpass shouting curse words at passing motorists,

    Or the guy who passed in my alley, who drank until his life made any sense

    He’s the hustler on the train. or his four accomplices, living on three tattered playing cards and slight hand

    He’s Darron in front of 7-11 on Walton and State

    She’s Babs up and down on Belmont right by the train

    He’s Buddy and his wife in Uptown, by the Aragon

    He’s Andy selling Streetwise at the White Hen in Boystown

    He was Ed from the Southside who gave me cigarettes and hope at Walgreens on Belden and Clark

    Where inspiration dies alone

    Yeah, these are the people in your neighborhood

    They’re the people you don’t see when you’re walking down the street

    They’re the people you don’t see each day

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  • 01:22:42 am on October 30, 2008 | 2 | # |

    ***This post comes with a picture that isn’t terribly appropriate for a class blog, so I’m linking it out***

    So women in punk is a daunting issue to even mention in a short post (men can be both fat and ugly but a woman…well….), but when this CD was shipped to my house for reviewing, the topic sort of spewed up.

    ….

    Warning: I am about to have a Lisa Simpson moment here, and this CD is my talking Malibu Stacy.

    Punk is a boys club. It is-it is-it is. This has been strikingly apparent to me many times, like in the basement of Reggie’s or at a MLIW show.  There are pretty much zero all-girl punk bands and the few girls we do have are  scattered: Mustard Gas from Fucked Up, Shannon Burns from The Forecast, etc. I don’t know why; that’s a whole huge argument that my sister and I picked over whilst basement-jamming like four years ago. But point: I don’t think there’s rampant sexism or misogyny, there’s just this weird question about identity. Women don’t really have a solid place in the genre.

    Now as for this CD. Look, the thing is worth a chuckle, I’m not insisting that it’s totally devoid of humor, but it’s not meant for the audience as a whole. I’m going to take a huuge leap here and say that it’s largely directed toward dudes. So as a woman, I can react in one of two ways: I can laugh and pass it off and place myself among the malgrown men or identify myself with the girl on the CD, spread-eagled, use her at your will. And if you don’t feel like allying with the guys or subjegating yourself then, well, you’re just ignored. I don’t think Git Some or anyone handling the production or press for this album thought much about sending it out to music magazines and it eventually winding up in the hands of a female reviewer, and what effect that might have. And that’s almost worse than being categorized–to be a non-thought.

    This isn’t as offensive as it is indicative. I love this music as much as any dude. These songs speak to me just the same. It’s just an unfortunate reality that there are many-a-band out there like Git Some, that aren’t speaking to me. Just because I’m a girl.

     
  • 06:52:02 pm on October 24, 2008 | 0 | # |

    Since I’m interviewing Paul Davis, former contributor to Punk Planet and current isgreaterthan editor, tomorrow, I thought I’d do a quick and slightly amateurish look at some of the print sources that cover punk music.

    Punk Planet is, unfortunately, defunct. It went down a little over a year ago when the Independent Press Association folded. But here’s an old copy:

    It was my favorite. Clean lines, good use of white space, eclectic coverage and printed out of Chicago too.

    Here’s Alternative Press, or punk music’s “AP.” They started out a fanzine and winded up a bit of a teenzine. But they have a functional business model that actually pays their staff, so that’s something.

    Here’s Maximum Rock and Roll, otherwise known as the exact opposite of AP. They’re all black and white, largely street punk and very, very print heavy.

    And finally, AMP:

    There were more underground/alternative DIY-style mags, like Clamor and Kitchen Sink, but a lot have gone under in the past two years, so I didn’t really get to experience them. Some choice quotes from Davis later.

     
  • 04:41:52 pm on October 19, 2008 | 0 | # |

    Red Scare is a Chicago-based label spawned by a guy named Toby Jeg who used to work at Fat Wreck Chords and the The Lawrence Arms’ bassist named Brendan Kelly. Originally formed for the release of Kelly’s side project The Falcon, the label currently hosts a full roster of pop-tinged-punk bands. They’ve sporadically hosted a show featuring some of their bands (plus a few) called “Red October,” which was this weekend at the Subterranean (whose main stage, ironically, is on the second floor and therefore not below anything).

    I was pretty stoked to see headliners The Falcon, whom I just barely missed on The Lawrence Arms’ insane lets-tour-with-our-own-side-projects tour. My bad luck continued last night when we got to the venue and it was sold out (!). Anyway, through some finangling and favors we ended up on the guest list and got in sometime toward the end of Catch-22‘s set.

    The Sidekicks played next: some old material, some new. If I had to describe them as anything it would be like a folksy Dillinger Four making music at seventeen.

    The Methadones were on next and solidly blasted through their set, as usual. My only problem was that at this point the music all sounded kind of fuzzy and run together which I think was because we were standing too close to the speakers. That issue was solved by sneaking through spaces toward the front, which is what we did. P.S. DO NOT do this with an open drink. If you are drinking from a cup stick to the back or get a bottle/can. Can’t emphasize this enough and neither can my faultlessly booze-drenched shoulder.

    Watching The Falcon is equivalent to watching TLA, only Brendan does his signature five minute drunk ramblings between different songs. They played highlights of Unicornography and the EP and some cover of something I can’t remember.

    Anyway, I woke up today with this nifty plastic mug and despite having Twittered some of the “surprise special guests” last night, I can’t seem to find my phone. Anyway, The Official Lawrence Arms will be playing tonight with The Brokedowns and Teenage Bottlerocket.

     
  • 05:14:39 pm on October 14, 2008 | 0 | # |
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    This post’s title (that you can’t see) is Pittsburgh! (The original title was “Pirates and Penguins, naturally” but it got renamed because of sports.)

    Bush (third penguin from left) signed this anti-piracy bill into law today. Basically, what happened was the RIAA and MPAA pulled all their money out from under the mattress and sent their lobbyists to Washington where they convinced our ‘elected officials’ to write this little diddy. All the bill really does is make your life a whole lot more miserable if you get caught illegally downloading or distributing  any intellectual property. It also creates an IP czar and provides the industry with more “tools” for prosecution. This is apparently somewhat controversial, according to the people who write headlines for Reuters.

    I don’t know if it’s really all that controversial or all that big of a deal, especially around these parts of the music-genre hinterland, considering most of the associated labels aren’t members of the RIAA or have vehemently denied being members. If you’re illegally downloading oh say, the new D4 album, you’re probably not going to have the czar coming after you.

    Most importantly though, if you’re downloading music illegally (before or after the release date) you’re being a jerk. As dramatically dialogued here and more observationally explained here, not only did that album cost money to produce, but a band producing such high-caliber stuff as CIVILWAR deserves to make a little money off their work. Pay off bar tabs and whatnot. Right? Stream it, buy it, or earn your free copy.

    Otherwise the czar will get you. He can see through your dirty plaid and right into your smutty soul. Scary!

     
  • 08:31:52 pm on October 12, 2008 | 1 | # |
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    This post is not at all about punk music. Instead it’s about this show format so unique I thought it warranted 200 words on this floating chunk of cyberspace.

    The Baltimore Round Robin tour stopped at the Epiphany Episcopal Church last night. Basically, the bands set up along the perimeter of the venue and each play one song per round, back to back. There’s no front row, headliners or set changes. My friend Nick, who plays a mix of IDM, breakcore and industrial as Royb0t, said when “the twelve bands played, people ran all over the place to the light where the next band was going to play, song after song. It was madness.”

    Now let’s say you take that idea and apply it this weekend’s Riot Fest.  Take a couple of the smaller, second stage acts at the Congress and have them come up with some kind of joint set list and play round robin. Think of the sweeping crush of energy that would come with bands feeding not just off the crowds, but each other as well. Established acts like The Methadones could carry fans toward some of the baby bands like Love and Squalor. Although punk doesn’t lend itself well to innovation, this innovative idea would lend itself well to punk.

    So I lied–this post is about punk music after all.

     
  • 10:43:21 pm on October 8, 2008 | 0 | # |
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    So this discussion in class today about comment boards and accountability wheeled my mind back to a conversation that happened at a bar I was at, oh, a year ago. Because I don’t feel like naming the participants, I’m not going to. Needless to say, true story. So the dialogue happens between a guy who runs a local label and a guy who sings for one of the bands on that label. The basis of the argument was as follows: band guy thought that whatever people say online is the equivalent of saying it in the real world, while the label guy argued that what people say on messageboards is basically, well, pissing in the wind. Insisting upon his point, band guy said if he ever met one of the people who talked shit about him or his band in real life, he’d punch the guy in the face. Barroom justice, I suppose. Frankly, I tend to agree with band guy. People need to be held accountable for what they say online. 98% of the time, the fist of some punk rocker won’t be holding you accountable. So you have to.

    (For a peek where unregulated commenting can go, check out this 2,000+ comment story.)

     
  • 11:23:55 pm on October 5, 2008 | 0 | # |
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    This weekend has been a bit busy, and I’ve been a little waterlogged and choked. Literally, my ceiling is leaking and one of my roommates just threw a ton of wrenches into the legally-binding lease. So anyway, forgive the lateness of my reply (in the voice of Ringo Starr).

    Where you can find punk rock in Chicago:

    Obviously the L&L. I’m not likely to be found bar-crawling the city, but the famed L&L is the only place I’ve encountered that not only features the Arms and the Trio in the jukebox, but they regularly play the acts themselves. Delilah’s is also a great place to grab a cheap drink. Although they have designated Monday for punk rock, you can find variations on the theme throughout the week. Exit, which is an ‘official’ punk rock bar, is not really a punk rock bar. To add another Simpsons quote to the post: “the whole thing smacks of effort, man.” But they also have Punk Rock Mondays and Fat Tuesdays (and cheap beer).

    There is no particular Gilman St. or Creepy Crawl for Chicago, but since Reggie’s opened up in Chinatown most of the touring bands I’ve seen have played there. The place has both great features like the wide, sloping floor and four dollar Tall Boys, and annoying features, like the upstairs area. I’ve seen a few favorite shows at Ronny’s in Logan Square. If you’re over 21, you can normally sneak into the show for free (not that I condone that). You’ll also naturally see punk shows at the Metro, which looks pretty, but the experience isn’t. The beers are expensive and delivered easily-spillable cups and there’s normally an abundance of obnoxious kids from the suburbs.

    Where you may think you can find punk rock in Chicago, but actually you can’t:

    Most of Wicker Park (except the Subterannean), Reckless Records (weak, weak selection) and The Alley. The Alley offers clothes, accessories, piercings and tattoos on site at bloated prices. If need be, you could walk in granola prep and walk out one of these guys:

    Then everyone can call you a narc and tell you not to commit your hate crimes here.

     
  • 01:18:45 am on October 2, 2008 | 0 | # |
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    Into the fray: to know where I’m going, you first have to know where I’m coming from. So here’s a punk rock primer, specifically my punk rock primer: an introduction to the music I love and conveniently also deem influential and important. The list is representative, but limited in size and scope, for sure. Review the italicized section to find out why. Follow the links for a News Corp-filled listen.

    1. Hot Water Music Gainesville, FL

    They’re earthy, gritty and just melodic enough. HWM is quite possibly the most influential band on the crop of punks performing now (for how they continue influencing up-and-coming bands, see Make Do and Mend).

    2. Jawbreaker San Francisco

    Similar to HWM in influential power, Jawbreaker is more or less known for packing poetic emotion into their music, without sounding like it. They also made shitty recording quality awesome. Chicago-based The Smoking Popes hold a similar, though cleaner, sway.

    3. The Lawrence Arms Chicago

    They’re kind of a big deal.

    …You should also know: Alkaline Trio Chicago

    The most popular punk band out of Chicago that I won’t scoff at. They’re sort of old-school at this point.

    4. Dillinger Four Minneapolis

    Influential to both hardcore, political punks and melodic bands, D4 casts one of the biggest shadows in punk rock.

    5. Against Me! Gainesville, FL

    Their early efforts combining folk and punk changed the sound, leading to…

    …5 and 1/2. Fake Problems Naples, FL / Nothington San Francisco

    Proving AM’s worth, these guys took folk to a whole new level and introduced *gasp* country.

    6. The Gaslight Anthem New Brunswick, NJ

    The most exciting band to arrive in punk rock in the past couple years. They combine punk rock with Bruce Springsteen. Most importantly, their emphasis on story-telling lyrics and a sound influenced by the past (and not past punk), will prove to be influential; I’m sure.

    And of course, if you happen to dig up your own primers that focus on different strains of punk, that’d be cool.

     
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