Archive for August, 2011
On Monday I mentioned that clearing out my grandmother’s house has been tough. But it also has had a few surprise benefits. Easily the best thing to come out of her house has been the treasure trove of pictures. I volunteered to remove all of the framed pictures from the house and take them to my home for a round of cleaning and scanning. It’s been like Christmas in August with the large number of family pictures I’ve managed to scan so far. With that in mind, this week’s Wayback Wednesday is ready to bring in some holiday cheer.
This picture is from Christmas 1996 and is rare for several reasons. First off, it’s the very first picture of all of us siblings together at the holidays. I had just left for college and Charlie was all of nine months old here, so it was great to get the whole gang together for the first of many Christmases to come. It’s also rare because I found this frameless picture collecting dust on the back shelf of a closet, which means it’s the first time it’s seen the light of day in at least a decade.
But by far the rarest thing in this picture is my sister’s teeth. Cathie HATED her braces and all but refused to be photographed with them showing. Throughout high school she perfected the close mouthed smile in every photograph. I guess by this point Cathie had moved past having her jaw cracked & wired shut and she was feeling back to normal. So seasons greetings from Brace Face, two babies in vests, and your long-haired-acne-faced Captain!
Another week and another blast to the past. Back in April I was happy to highlight a song by Jane’s Addiction and Beastie Boys on 2 For Tuesday. If that week was like a playlist from high school, this week is straight out of my college days. Up first is another single by Jane’s Addiction, Irresistible Force.
I love this new track! Apparently working with Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio was a brilliant move, because the first two tracks off of the new album are marvelous. I’m not particularly crazy about the video, especially since there’s not a bass player anywhere to be seen. Either give Dave the credit he deserves or make a video that doesn’t feature the band’s members. Still, I can live with a bad video when the music is this good.
Next up is a track without a video, or even a media player available. This track is ultra exclusive, which makes sense considering it’s the first song released by Ben Folds Five in over a decade! Follow this link to listen to Tell Me What I Did
I’ve been waiting for a long time for a Ben Fold Five reunion.1 They were on constant rotation during my college years, and it just hasn’t been the same since they disbanded. And while I’ve liked some of Ben’s solo stuff, I really miss the heavy bass lines and soaring harmonies from back when the three were five. There are two more new Ben Folds Five tracks that will be released as part of Ben’s three disc retrospective. What a great year for reunions!
1. In fact, last week’s Wayback Wednesday pic was of me ten years ago wearing a Ben Folds Five shirt!
The past couple of weekends have really worn me out. All month my family has been in the process of moving my grandmother out of her house and into a senior apartment facility. It’s been a long time coming.
My grandmother moved into the house back in 1989, after her second wedding. She lived with her second husband, Harold, until his death in 1996. Harold had lived in the house for over fifty years at the time of his death, and it certainly showed. As a child of the depression, Harold saved everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Looking back, it’s obvious he was a hoarder. But back then we just said he was a packrat and laughed at his basement full of thousands of light bulbs and hundreds of transistor radios.
After Harold’s death, the family made a concerted effort to empty out the house as much as possible to make it more livable. At one point we were throwing away so much stuff that my grandmother rented a dumpster for the backyard. The house was down to a livable size by the end of the nineties, and everything seemed manageable. But time quickly started to take its toll on my grandmother and her house.
In the early part of the last decade, my grandmother’s driver’s license was revoked. She became reliant on friends and family for all of her needs. Also, her heath slowly started to deteriorate as well as her mobility. When I moved back to St. Louis in 2008 I found my grandmother living in a dirty house and unable to do much about it. But she was unwilling to leave the house for a senior facility, so she has been in the house for the past three years as it began to crumble around her.
Last month we discovered that the bank was taking steps to claim the house and the family began making arrangements for a move. I volunteered to help not really knowing what that entailed. I knew we would be packing up her belongings for the move and setting aside others for a garage sale. What I wasn’t ready for was the filth. Her house wasn’t just dirty, it was at a Hoarders on A&E level of filthy. The bug bombs my uncle set off took care of the first wave of roaches, but there were plenty of reinforcements. By the time I left the house two weekends ago, my skin felt like it was crawling and I was methhead twitchy.
For the past two weekends I’ve had the same routine returning home on Saturday. I stripped naked in my garage, took a scalding hot shower and then promptly crashed long enough to cry out my feelings. I was not ready for the toll this move would take. As a long time viewer of A&E’s Hoarders, I thought I had an idea of how a house not cleaned in a decade would look. The grime and the bugs were hard to take, but the personal connection was tougher.
My grandmother moved into that house when I was ten, and I had lots of happy memories in those walls. My family has moved quite a bit over the years but this house remained constant. Looking at it now is depressing on a crippling level. It’s one thing to watch a roach crawl over a dirty picture frame on a television show. It’s an entirely different feeling watching a roach crawl over a dirty picture of me as a child. No one is prepared to see that shit.
But I’m happy to say that the move was a success and my grandmother is now happily living in a nice facility. We had a garage sale on Saturday for the salvageable items and it went decently well. And best of all, since the bank is reclaiming the home, we only have to remove what we want before we go. I’d probably buy hazmat suits if my family had to clean the house, but luckily it will be the bank’s problem soon.
The move has been extremely tiring and I’m glad to be close to the end. We have a few more things to do in the next couple of weekends, but luckily I am headed to Chicago this weekend for a much needed vacation. But most of all I’m glad that my family was able to come together and do the disheartening work that was necessary to move my grandmother to a better place.
As I’m finalizing my plans for a birthday trip to Chicago for Labor Day weekend I’m also beginning to plan another trip to Chicago in October. This time I’m headed up on a Thursday nite, and I’ll be in town less than 24 hours. As anyone who lives in St Louis could guess, the purpose of my trip is to see a concert. While St. Louis gets many of the larger national tours, the cool limited destination concerts ALWAYS skip St. Louis. As I mentioned earlier this year, some of the best concerts I’ve ever seen involved a drive to Chicago. The band I’m making the trip for this time is at the very top of my Still Need To See In Concert list, which naturally seems like a readymade topic for this week’s Friday 5.
Top 5 Still Touring Bands I Need To See In Concert
This group has been at the top of my list for about thirteen years now. Ever since Portishead toured with a full symphony orchestra back in 1998 I’ve been determined to see them. They’ve never played anywhere remotely close to the Midwest, so the fact that they’re coming to Chicago made this a must for me. If it’s anything close to this awesome, it will be well worth the hassle.
2. Rage Against The Machine
As much as I liked Rage back in the day, I was dead set against going to their shows. The last time Rage played St. Louis was at Riverport in 1997 and I had no interest in attending. Back then Rage concerts were full of Korn fans and other rap-rock schlock fans that I did my best to steer clear of for obvious reasons. Angry white suburban teenagers are funny in concept, but thousands packed together can lead to terrible things.1 Nowadays Rage shows are full of thirtysomethings like me still trying to be cool and not trying to start a fight. A much better atmosphere to enjoy some real rock.
3. Kanye West
Of all the acts on this list besides Portishead, I think Kanye is probably the artist I’ll most likely get a chance to see live. He tours all the time2 and he’s from Chicago. Normally I don’t have much interest in seeing rappers perform in concert. But Kanye has to be the best showman in the rap game and damn if some of his past performance don’t look awesome. His Glow In The Dark tour looked like an ton of fun.
Prince has made his way through the Midwest several times in the past, but mostly during his Artist Formally Known As years. Now that he’s back to being Prince and back to playing his old catalog, I feel the need to see him in concert. Hell, his rain soaked appearance at the superbowl is easily the best half time show in over a decade. He’s still funky and still one hell of a musician.
As the other European artist on this list, it is very unlikely that I’ll ever see Bjork in concert, which is a shame. I still listen to her music frequently and it sounds as if her voice is still intact and delightfully quirky. According to the internet she’s played concerts in the midwest exactly four times, with the most recent being Chicago 2007 when I lived in Florida. At this point I don’t really see her doing anymore world tours, so it seems like a far flung dream. But then again, I’ve been wanting to see Portishead for 13 years now and it close to happening very soon. So I guess anything is possible.
1. See Woodstock ’99, which featured Rage Against The Machine.
2. Although his Watch The Throne tour with Jay-Z is skipping St. Louis despite playing Kansas City and Chicago. Dammit Yeezy, stop your tour here!
Finally a trailer for The Rum Diary!
This was definitely one of Hunter S. Thompsons better books, and getting Johnny Depp to play him as a young man sounds like a perfect match. Even though the trailer looks like it took some liberties with the story, I’m still thinking this looks like a classic.