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Life with an Apostrophe
Next Stop: Unemployment Line
01/17/09 at 10:27 PM by G apostrophe Ra
So I just quit my job. Then I made a video about it, while Jonathan soaked up the limelight and Amy hid from it. Like the self-important prick I am, I played my own music in the background (I decided this was acceptable since we broke up and I never get to play/hear this song anymore) as life imitated art. Dig:
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The Short Distance Between Jason Shevchuk and Jordan Pundik
01/14/09 at 12:19 PM by G apostrophe Ra
Last night I had a falafel sandwich from Lebanese Taverna that I washed down with one of those "naked" mighty mango smoothies with no sugar added (that cost about three dollars and twenty cents each, no one warned me) and the combination somehow gave me hiccups FROM HELL. I blame the combination because the smoothie had this kind of weirdo after taste that seems comparable to the tahini sauce from the falafel (this was a decidedly gross aspect of the drink, but maybe a little less gross than I'm making it sound) and when I think about how they taste together, I hiccup reflexively as an involuntary reaction to the thought. Weird, right? These hiccups literally kept me up last night while my fellow Kerouacian adventurer Chris snored and spoke Arabic to himself loudly a few feet away. I'm not lying- Chris actually speaks Arabic in his sleep, though not especially well when he's awake.

I mean damn, aren't I little old for the hiccups?

I think I want to hold a "royal ball" for my birthday this year. There will be a strict dress code, we will dance to supposedly "undanceable" punk music, and cute invitations made to look like scrolls will be send to the highly exclusive guest list next week. Except I live in an apartment right now, so I don't know how well that'd go over with the neighbors. I shouldn't care, actually, because my neighbors on the left ritualistically play Spanish music every Friday night and Saturday morning at impossibly inconsiderate decibel levels and my neighbors on the right do something comparably annoying with Hot 99.5 (obnoxious top 40 station in Washington Metropolitan Area) over the course of various weeknights. This ball might be worth a shot.
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Bastard Covered Bastards with Bastard Filling
01/13/09 at 03:07 PM by G apostrophe Ra
Sisters, today I felt what I realize is but a taste of your pain.

A few minutes ago at work, I totally got gamed up by a girl. That is to say, I feel like a girl effectively did to me what I usually (at least attempt to) do with girls. I approached my friend Leah (of birthday song fame) with mock-jealousy after hearing that she planned to allow one of our co-workers to take her out to see the movie "Notorious", and before I could even blink, she had shut down my accusations of infidelity (in the context of our fictional relationship) with a series of well-worded, calmly and sincerely delivered, flattering and (more than likely) completely empty statements designed to reassure me of my place in her heart. Among them were the sentiments that the guy she was going out with was someone she "was just using in a way she would never use me" and that the dude in question *had* to pay for her time, whereas I "could spend time with her any time free of charge". It was so smooth and so unassailable that I really had no choice but to stammer for a little bit, wonder how the hell that just happened, and then fall for it. I felt totally outfoxed, but I was cool with it. This conjured, for the first time in my life, the idea that if dudes really want to learn how to be smooth operators, a key move would be to study certain kinds of girls. Leah should write a book on this. I know several no-game-having clowns who could learn loads from her.

Everywhere I look, I see Obama's impending historic inauguration being exploited commercially in a shameless and unrelenting way. On the one hand, I imagine that it must pain him on some level to be commodified so insistently, but the on the other, I'm sure he anticipated this kind of fervor if he has actually believed he could win from the beginning. I saw a dude with a John Kerry bumper sticker driving past me on my way home, and the sight of it provoked a reflexive reaction of contempt the way a fashion savvy junior high queen bee might look down on a math team captain's choice of long out of style jeans. I felt more than a little ashamed once I caught myself, but I guess this is what happens when politics and popular culture cross-pollinate.

One of the first episodes of Nickelodeon's quirky nineties sitcom "Pete and Pete" involved little Pete's favorite song, which was some tune that he heard the band on the opening credits play once in a neighbor's garage, and due to some mildly complicated circumstances I can no longer remember, he never got to hear it again, or at least not until the end of the episode or something, right? So the premise of the whole thing was something about hearing a song that you absolutely loved on first listen but would never get to hear again. Possibly because seeing that episode and internalizing it's theme primed me to do this subconsciously, I have had comparable experiences with two different songs. Once, when I was fifteen and on vacation with my family in (on maybe?) Emerald Island, North Carolina I heard the coolest fucking Smashing Pumpkins single *ever* in some random souvenir shop while I was alone, and I have never been able to figure out what it was, nor have I been able to recall a note of it.

All I know is, it was the perfect song to hear when the rest of your family is out doing some kiddie activity and you are dicking around in a gift shop somewhere alone in a town and state where you don't know anyone and cliques of teenagers who remind you of your friends back home are laughing and having fun nearby and you know you're gonna lie awake chatting up the girl you're crushing on from home on the phone all that night when you get back to the beach house and you simultaneously know that as soon as you get back to your town for more than a few days it'll be old to you again and you won't even want anything to do with your real crew that the counterpart group in the gift shop reminded you of. It had this epic instrumental opening that caught my attention immediately, and I knew before the vocals ever came in that I was going to love it. Maybe the vocals were distinctly Billy Corgan or something but I know when I heard it that I immediately assumed it was the Pumpkins, but I know for a fact the song is not on their greatest hits cd. My only theory was that maybe it was an album track that some maverick (John McCain perhaps?) dj was giving run for his own reasons. A friend of mine once suggested that maybe it was a single from Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain's post-Pumpkins project Zwan, which would totally make sense, but I almost don't want to find out and ruin the mystery/fun. I've never heard it once since.

More recently, I have heard a song at PF Chang's at sporadic times over the last two or three years that I totally love but sounds completely unfamiliar to me and no one who works with me ever pays enough attention to nail down what it is. Not to get all dick thumpy about it, but I'm reasonably knowledgeable about pop music and the fact that this band or artist caught my attention so easily but rang no bells of recognition completely boggles me. It sounds kind of like it may be an alternative piano trio-that isn't Ben Folds Five- but with a pop punky kind of vocalist who is somehow vaguely reminiscent of Matt Thiessen from Relient K. I can sing the chorus melody and can even remember a stray word here or there, but not enough to successfully google it or even communicate it well enough to my colleagues that they might know what the hell I'm talking about. All of our music is streamed through a series of satellite radio stations, but none of the managers have been able to tell me what format it might've been on or how to track it down, largely because I can hardly tell them anything about. Funnily enough, when I heard the lead-off Motion City Soundtrack single ("This is For Real") from their latest album for the first time last year, the first thing I thought of was that something about the bass line reminded me of the piano progression from the mystery Chang's song.

But wait- it gets worse than that! I've had a similar phenomenon with a mysterious flavor of Doritos that I had on one occasion the weekend of my twenty-first birthday when I was celebrating my pal's twentieth birthday (which was three days later) at my apartment with some shitty horror movie and Ledo's pizza. Whatever flavor they were, these Doritos kicked ass in a way that none others ever have. I spent all of 2008 checking for them in the snack aisles of every convenience or grocery store I might've stumbled into with no luck, but of course, part of the problem is that I might not know them upon sight only. Currently I am eating "spicy sweet chili" flavor Doritos which are really good themselves, and might even be the ones in question, but alas, I may have idealized them so much from one experience that none will ever compare to what they taste like in my feeble mind.

Where ever you may be, my dear sweet Dorito variety, know that I will remember our sweet but heatbreakingly brief time together forever.
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You Never Know What's Coming For You
01/12/09 at 12:10 PM by G apostrophe Ra
My favorite song right now is a tune called "I Could Be With Anyone" by a gentleman named Kevin Devine. It pretty perfectly describes a blog entry I wrote here titled "99 Problems But- Ah, Never Mind" (or something to that effect, I don't remember ha ha) which several of my personal friends have recalled to me recently in seemingly unrrelated conversations, and I guess that fact has something to do with why I like the song so much, because so many people have treated that sentiment like it's the dumbest thing a person can say, and it makes me feel good that at least one other person (Kevin Devine in this case) knows what I mean. I have heard alot of hype about Kevin Devine and I have even seen him play twice, but both times I was distracted by the imminent performances of the headliners, so I've only recently started listening to him closely. Once, I even spoke to him briefly, when my band opened for him on a tour with Ace Enders and Steel Train, and I can't remember what I said, but I have the distinct impression that he acted like he thought I was a dick.

Now I totally wish I could talk to him again and tell him how much I like "I Could Be With Anyone", and that in fact, I, too, could be with anyone. Thanks for setting 'em straight, dude.

I was very close to booking a week with Producer-Who-Will-Not-Yet-Be-Named, but when I spoke with my momma dearest to get the final go ahead, she told me that I should spend some time with a voice teacher first. This totally deflated me at first, not because I disagree about the importance of developing my singing technique correctly, but simply because I was super amped to get started on my next project, especially the day after my birthday, which was when the recording block was supposed to start. Now that I've had some time to think about it, I realize this is the right move, and I figure I'll take advantage of the delay by coming up with a buttload more material to choose from. There's no real rush, and even though there's nothing punk rock about voice lessons at all, I think the work will be better for it..

I can't find the nail clippers in this lousy apartment, so my fingernails are inhumanly long, so much so that it actually hurts a little to type. As such, I'm going to stop. More soon. I ain't no glutton for punishment!
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Kevin Durant and Pete Wentz in a Joint Venture
01/10/09 at 11:09 AM by G apostrophe Ra
Ok, ok, ok,
what about this?

Fall Out Boy's "She's My Winona" as the theme song for the Oklahoma City Thunder? Yeah? Just imagine Durant and crew hitting the court to the tune of Patrick Stump wailing "Daddy said you gotta show the world the thunder!"

I'm pretty sure this is a good idea.
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Audio Blood?
01/08/09 at 12:38 AM by G apostrophe Ra
So I just got off the phone with the dude who may be producing my next musical endeavor, which for all significant intents and purposes, is likely going to be my maiden voyage into a solo career. My plan at this point is to link up with him and record three carefully selected songs, evaluate the experience, and determine if I'm going to do more with him or experiment with some other producers. After these initial three tracks, there is a chance I could also decide that writing songs ain't where it's at for me and I should go be a garbage man.

At some point in Some Like it Hot's tenure, I told myself that the ideal project for me would be one where all facets of my musical personality could fit, where I was literally free to make whatever kind of song I wanted, and a cohesive limitation or genre boundary would be unnecessary. I still feel like this is the case to some degree. I'm interested in doing full-blown quirky rock songs with relatively complex arrangements, stripped down acousticy indie kind of singer-songwriter tunes kinda like Kevin Devine, my voice over dancy beats a la Kanye West or the Postal Service, and show tuneish kinds of things where I may share vocals with a female singer. I believe that there is a chance that I'm alternately talented enough or weird enough to pull all of these things off with some kind of common aesthetic that would keep the variety from distracting people too much.

Trying to boil that grand ambition down to essentials just to give a tentative audience a sampling of a greater scheme reminds me a little bit of how I felt about writing a college essay; you get this limited amount of space to make an impression so that you might earn the possibility of leaving your mark in a more lasting and profound way. Picking three songs to start with is proving daunting because I feel like I have so many ideas and so much to say. These three recordings should definitely come out money; should I do straight-ahead pop tracks to establish my credibility before I venture off into weirder fare, or should I obey my weirder impulses to begin with and pick three songs that are unabashedly idiosyncratic? The criticism I got from my first record has kind of made me eager to prove that I can write a simple, bullshit pop song as well as anybody if i really want to, but you know at the same time...

I don't even really want to! I am also toying with the idea of making my debut ep a concept record. I have a ton of these kind of "throwaway" songs if you will that I would like to use somehow; the kinds of songs that amuse me but are not conceptually the kinds of songs I'd envision as hit singles or profile songs on someone's myspace. I think it'd be really cool to work these songs in between the main songs as "skits". They could have dialogue before or after them that connected them all to a story, and I could link them to a viral promotion campaign by recording videos of the song and dialogue in some visually stimulating context that connected with the record's themes and pushing them on youtube. That way, I could give the "skits" away for free so that people could get a taste of what I was doing without giving away any of the album's big guns. With all of these "skit" songs floating around and a single on top of that, I could build some hype without giving away too much of the record itself. I've always been into what I call really high concept songs,and a viral campaign might help my audience to fully understand the complexity of the songs' subject matters and lyrical depth.

Another dumb neurosis that's kind of driving me crazy as I'm preparing songs is this whole idea of trying to circumvent the argument that the songs aren't cohesive before I even record anything. All I can picture is some swoop haired college girl who's got an ego because she books local shows going "these songs definitely don't all fit together". While I don't view "To the Mattresses" as a mistake, I definitely want to keep in mind what I learned last time and use it to improve my art without being so overly concerned with people pleasing that it loses its soul. The problem is, of course, that I don't know exactly how to do that. I always claim that "I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul" (see: Calvin and Hobbes), but I obeyed them with the that record and all I got was alot of people scratching their heads or not being interested or both. Interestingly, I've kind of been thinking of the Neptunes and Kanye as proxies for how to market and cultivate my sound and image, because those dudes are clearly huge weirdos who've figured out how to be daring and unconventional but still sell alot of records and because of my pals Lana and Priska who pointed this out to me.

On top of all this crap I have to adjust to singing my own songs. What a concept! And I'm also trying to work out whether I should move into my parents' house in IL while I focus on this or if I should continue to pay for a residence here in Rockville even while I'm away tracking. On the one hand, I'll be so bored out in Bumfuck, Il living with my parents that I'll have no choice but to focus on my art (I'm not just being a tool who repeatedly refers to pop music as "art"- I'll be focusing on my writing alot in the coming months as well, it's an umbrella term, see?). On the other hand, living out here is more logistically challenging, involves having a job, and is more distracting because I have an actual social life- one I do not wish to give up if it can be helped.

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...Is Systematically Revealing to Me That I Need a New Approach
01/05/09 at 11:29 AM by G apostrophe Ra
I'm under the impression that the Two Tongues record comes out three days after my birthday. This is pretty cool to me. If you don't know, that band is a collaboration between the two longest-tenured members of Saves the Day and the two studio members of Say Anything, and while the two songs they've released are a bit underwhelming, this record will at least be cool to listen to if not flat-out brilliant. (on my other blog, this seemed like it might need explaining. I realize that practically everyone on AP.net probably knows this!-GA)

I just read some interesting facts about the music industry on Anthony Raneri's (singer/songwriter in the band Bayside) blog. The more I learn about the current state of record-buying, the more discouraging it becomes to me to try modeling a career after proxies from earlier eras. One thing I found extremely frustrating in my band was the fact that we made a very limited effort to circumvent the public's fickleness and inclination not to pay for music. From what I can tell, if you can make real, personal connections with your fans, you can develop a group of people who will support you and take care of you, and while you may not be selling out arenas, you can make your art comfortably. The problem with this is that many would-be musicians seem to have these bloated conceptions of what making money off of music is supposed to be like, and also don't realize that developing bonds with people who are financially supporting your music involves more from the artist these days.

A simple thing I think about alot is that if you want people to pay for physical copies of records, you need to give them more. Not having a lyric sheet is shameful, but liner notes and elaborate and stimulating album art are big pluses, too. I wholeheartedly advocate buying physical copies of albums, but since we're in an age in which that is no longer the standard approach, physical records need to have some more attractive attributes (thus the resurgence of vinyl, of course) I have been thinking hard about what this means for my own attempt to carve a niche for myself in the collective pop music consciousness that now spans continents and timezones in an ever more immediate way thanks to -your friend and mine- the interweb. For one, I think I'm realizing more that my sensibility as an artist is better supported by the hanging posters, handing out flyers, busking sort of promotional paradigm than the systematic addition of Palahniuk-quoting, eyeliner-wearing, Blink-182 nostalgic teenage chicks to an online friends list. I mean, I love the people who make up the latter, too,- and I hope that group and I can still be friends, online and otherwise, but the digital music boom has given birth to a culture that has blown the former asunder and I believe that part of the way to finding the people my music should get to involves some level of a reversal of that.

Or so I theorize at the moment. See, I want to connect with people through my art for personal, aesthetic and getting laid-related reasons anyway. So making that a mission statement for the professional benefits as well seems like a no-brainer. "Kicking Ass and Taking Names", nee the name song, which appeared on the "limited edition" version of my band's only full-length, is something of an example of the kind of approach that I feel will suit a promotional and artistic paradigm that is conducive to being successful in the wilderness that the music industry has become. It was a concession as an artist to actually put even more work into our record by promising to include your name in a song if you pre-ordered our record, but it encouraged more people to pre-order our record, and now when I listen to the song, I have a keepsake that immortalizes in some small way the people who supported and invested interest and money in our band. That one instance of a successful hybrid of art and commerce is a foundation to build on, and with my new ventures, I intend to do just that.

So with that in mind, I'm on a quest to find a new path, a new approach, and a new sound.
Or at the very least, something else to brag about.

Althought alot of these blogs are incomplete thoughts, I always feel this silly urge to say something that sounds conclusive or foreshadows something worth sticking around for, like it's the end of a chapter in a petty YA novel.
I wholeheartedly blame R.L. Stine for this.
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Square One/Square Lost
01/04/09 at 11:31 PM by G apostrophe Ra
I think it was Colin Quinn who said that if no one gets your humor, you're not funny. So if you're an artist and no one gets your art, are you still making a statement?

At the end of the month, I will be 22 years old. I have enough college credits to scarcely qualify me as a freshman, no money saved up, an unimpressive apartment, lots of dirty laundry, no girl, no car, some mediocre guitar equipment, an unkempt and thinning "half-fro", a handful of friends, and a battered sense of idealism that manifests itself as a short circuiting gleam in my eye that is alternately sparkling or suddenly going black like a dying star or bad satellite television signal.

But, hey-I feel fucking great!

Some Like it Hot ended this weekend- and the reasons for it are myriad. I would point to the fact that as a band, we had no cogent aesthetic, image or statement and that failed to give context to the idiosyncratic, obscurely allusive, blatantly iconoclastic semi-pop songwriting that I provided for the last two years as a major influence for my decision to say farewell, but there are alot of others. It is not without a heavy heart that I say goodbye to that phase of my life, but I'm pretty amped up to figure out what comes next. A couple summers ago when I was 19, I opted to pursue the band instead of going to the one college I actually thought seemed cool that I could manage to get into, and I told myself I'd wait for the band to either break out or run its course and I'd return to college after that happened. Well, we definitely didn't break out, and I'm more than a little lacking in the punk rock passion of late, so the logical choice would be to go to school and take it seriously now.

The problem is, when I picture myself sitting in a classroom, alternately taking notes and trying to peek down the shirt of the cute short-haired girl two desks over, I have a hard time thinking of that as anything but a snoozefest. I have two personalities that are raging against each other in the jungle of my innards; one is this stupid fucking rockstar asshole who likes jumping off of half-stacks, quoting Paul Westerberg in casual conversation but playing the words off as his own, staying up until 5 am, calling cute girls "baby love" and swaggers when he's standing still. The other is this sweater vest-wearing guy who underlines profound passages in books, relishes a good intellectual debate, wants to make metaphors in poems out of esoteric physics terms like "neutrino", wants to master French so he can understand Rimbaud's work better, and every time I get onstage this blithering idiot starts whining about how he should actually be in law school somewhere.

I'm getting way sick of it. One of these inner demons needs to vanquish the other because the result of their contentious relationship is this awkward semi-nerd-quasi-rebeldom that has made me do things like skip school to hang out at the library. I am also under the impression that this same phenomenon is what kept me from attracting more 13 year old myspace addicts with my lyrics- I suspect that say, John O' from The Maine has never heard of Rimbaud and his band's popularity is all the better for it.

But of course, a part of me believes that the key to unlocking the true nature of my destiny is to stop fighting the persistent turmoil of these warring halves and embrace the duality of my impulses in a way that makes them coalesce into a bold and refreshing aesthetic that will provide direction and significance to my art, my personal life, and the general narrative of my existence. Exploring music as a solo act is a step toward this, I think (the Black Dylan, anyone?). Finally finishing a damn manuscript and selling it would be another.

I don't want to make a grand declaration I can't live up to about chronicling it regularly here, but stick with me, baby, 'cause I'm going places.
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New List of Stupid Things I'd Like to Accomplish Before I Hit My 30's
08/02/08 at 12:59 PM by G apostrophe Ra
1. Dunk a basketball in an actual pickup game.

I'm only 5'9, but I can grab the rim on one out of five tries or so, and there was a badass on my high school's team who could dunk when he was 5'7 and 16 years old. I believe it is totally doable, and as of recent my passion for playing basketball has come back with a vengeance, so I will be working toward this goal starting now.

2. Lay a girl or woman who is famous enough that my saying I did so will provoke absolute disbelief from anyone who knows me

I dunno why, but I think this is a hilarious idea.

3. Play a show with MxPx

Incredible band now having been around for sixteen years and counting. Opening for them someday would kind of be like the culmination of the nuttiness I've descended into starting in ninth grade when I began to teach myself guitar and listen obsessively to this band.

4. Stage dive and not break any bones, ideally by actually getting caught

This one seems the most immediately plausible, but it ain't a guarantee. I have seen the frontmen of absurdly popular bands get dropped on their asses. As the non-frontman of a not absurdly popular band, my odds are further complicated ha ha.

5. Spit in Sean Hannity's face, Roberto Alomar-style

That guy, for me, is the epitome of what's wrong with every sophistry-dependent right-wing ideologue/jingoist I have ever met, and as such I think I could weather the legal hassle and defamation of my character that would likely result.
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I'm Coming Out- I Want the World to Know
06/16/08 at 09:09 PM by G apostrophe Ra
After much deliberation, careful consideration, and discussion with my closest advisers (thanks, Mom), I have determined that it is time for me to finally come out of the closet.

...As a Barack Obama supporter.

Now, as a forward-thinking, left-leaning, artellectual (yeah, I made it up; artist+intellectual in case you were lost) young black man, it would seemingly be a no-brainer that I would be an Obamaniac- but even though I'm announcing my full-throated support for him now, don't think I'm some sort of fanatic. In fact, it was the stereotype that a person of my social location, taste, political leanings, socioeconomic status and race was all but certain to support the Illinois Senator's bid for the highest office in the land that made me hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. In short, I have been in no hurry to conform to the expected behaviors of a nonconformist.

But now I feel that I must, and not merely because he has endeavored so admirably as to succeed in becoming the first black person to win the nomination of a major party for president. Despite what you hear on message boards, in blog comment sections and on Fox News, black people are not so impressed with the blackness of others that we would unanimously vote Snoop Dogg into the White House if he mounted a campaign. That would be a sacrilege, and the implication that we would do so is insulting, to put it mildly.

Nay; everyone knows that blind, ignorant unconditional support for a fellow black candidate is an honor we would only reserve for a better rapper - like Jay-Z.

I have yet to encounter any politican who I have not been at least moderately suspicious of, and there are very few I find impressive. A guy in a suit behind a podium reading from a teleprompter sets off every inkling of a spider sense I have, and politics as a general rule seem inherently superficial, divisive and woefully removed from the plight of the people to my admittedly biased 21-year-old punk rock kid sensibility. But I have been following the presidential campaign very closely since late last fall, and gee golly, I like Barack Obama. Even given this, I have been less than eager to throw my complete support behind, because as far as I can tell, I am utterly pre-disposed to like a candidate like him. In many ways, when I see this guy, I feel like I'm looking at a version of me, or at least someone who could plausibly be my dad. Hear me out-

Obama is constantly derided by critics as being all talk and no substance; soaring rhetoric that offers no tangible solutions. This is something I wholeheartedly relate to because as far back as I can remember, I have constantly weathered mockery, jealousy, or flat out distaste for my way with words, a phenomenon I find particularly dispiriting because I think verbal skills are inherently linked to the strength of one's ideas. So naturally, when I see a guy who I find eloquent and inspiring being excoriated for what I perceive as a powerful asset, and when this public criticism has been carried out in a way that is remarkably consistent with my own experiences, my first inclination is of course going to be to defend the guy I really can't help but identify with.

I tried to empathize with Hillary Clinton. I really did. I played devil's advocate with myself over the issue for a long time, but it's hard to stick up for someone who makes casual allusions to the possibility of Obama's assasination as a reason to continue to pursue the Democratic presidential nomination, hard to believe in a candidate who seemed to suggest that only she could connect with "hardworking Americans- white Americans", against my constitution to buy into the rhetoric of someone who stressed her credentials over Obama as a doer and fighter for and of the middle class when she raked in nearly 110 million dollars on her 2006 tax returns. If she'd won the nomination, however, I'd have voted for her in a heartbeat over John McCain of course. (Did anyone else notice that the thing the Hulk had to fight in the final battle of the film kind of had John McCain's face? I half-expected the creature to challenge the Hulk to a series of town hall meetings.) But every time she gave an address, all I could think about was how much she physically resembled and had the speech cadences of all of the middle-aged white ladies in pantsuits who were the Junior High administrators that gave me detention all the time. And if you think I'm eager for them to have influence over my life again, you're crazy.

More than that, unless the favorite in a given competition is the St. Louis Cardinals, I'm for the little guy; I will all but invariably pull for the underdog. And Obama came into this race about as resolutely the underdog as was possible, especially in the mind of someone like me, who thought the prospect of a black commander-in-chief was severely implausible for the forseeable future. I honestly believe that the fact that he is the last remaining Democratic candidate is a testament to his campaigning acumen, his ability to see the less visible weaknesses in the competition, his embrace of technology as way to galvanize the common man's ability to effect change on the political landscape, his conscientious decision to take on a message likely to resonate with a broad coalition of Washington-weary voters, his shrewd placement of talented and efficacious advisers and aides on his team, and an innate durability and determination that allowed him to weather the might of one of the most powerful political machines in history. Plus, the guy's got balls! I would be profoundly deterred from running from President as a black dude in America not just because of the immensity of the Clinton influence but the mere possibility of Redneck Clem being pissed off by my audacity in challenging the white political establishment and pumping my skull full of lead. The thought of that is enough to make this progressive black dude want to stay home and watch TV, so I have a fairly appreciation for the fortitude it takes to circumvent that.

Pretty much all of that is indicative of the kinds of qualities I would want in a president- and that has little to do with the fact that his physical appearance is not altogether different from anyone I might see at the next family reunion. Snoop Dogg's isn't either, but give me break- I don't even own a single Snoop record.

I can admit my bias; black or no, Barack Obama is precisely the kind of candidate I would be inclined to find appealing, and as such I was particularly suspicious of him, but I've come to see that his obvious appeal may make my endorsement predictable, but it doesn't make it any less necessary.

Let's send the right packing this year. Obama '08.
Tags: shut up g'ra
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I Think I'm the Best G'Ra No One's Heard Of
06/15/08 at 05:39 PM by G apostrophe Ra
So Some Like it Hot has been nominated for "Best Band No One's Heard Of" in the annual Scene Trash Awards.

What are they? Pssh I don't know, ok? But call me egotistical, I just like winning things. Even when I'm not entirely clear what they are.

As such, you should vote for us at www.scenetrash.com/STA, and maybe by doing so, you can help us to become wholly unqualified for such an award in the future. I don't know that being recognized by anything called "Scene Trash" is necessarily superlative, but winning would be a good way to find out.

Also, I need some headshots. If you can help, and have some shutter skills, challah at me. I don't have any money, but I'm sure we could work something out. By work something out I mean, "maybe you'll do it for free?"

NBA Finals tonight. Let's go Celtics!
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Welcome to Paradise
05/24/08 at 09:25 AM by G apostrophe Ra
The funny thing about moving out of your parents' house and in with some dudes is the realization that somewhere down the line, someone is going to have to clean all the ass hair from the toilet seat, and this time there is no way it's gonna be your mom.

I believe this week marks the two year anniversary of my leaving home. I can't believe I haven't been evicted, murdered, fired, raped, crucified etc in two sets of 365 days. (Gargantuan Knock On Wood!)

Also, as of yesterday at 11:00 pm, I am completely done playing instruments, making vocalizations, or conjuring rhyming patterns of clever words out of thin air for "To the Mattresses", in addition to being completely done with CommunityCollegeWork, so I believe that my summer starts today.
Tags: morningwood
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No Wonder Jesse Ventura Crossed Over So Easily
05/20/08 at 08:18 PM by G apostrophe Ra
Does anyone else find the phenomenon of Presidential candidates rapping "on the stump" kinda reminiscent of wrestlers in the WWE taunting each other from the ring? Same kinds of hand gestures, same childish assaults on opponents' character and "honor", same noises of obsequious approval from the peanut gallery.
Tags: shut up g'ra
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Everywhere I Go it's Like the End of the World
05/17/08 at 11:33 AM by G apostrophe Ra
Partially because of a paper for Race and Ethnic Relations class and partially because all of this talk about race in the 2008 presidential election, I have found myself revisiting "The Autobiography of Malcolm X". There are about a million things that are significant about this book, but one thing I have been thinking about recently is how damn entertaining it is. It's so exciting and eventful that it sounds totally made up. Being confronted with this fact has had me wondering exactly how many people are actually qualified to write an autobiography that anyone will read at all, let alone forty-plus years after they're dead. But here's the funny part: it's not like this guy's life was awesome, it was just epically entertaining. In fact, it really fucking sucked, actually. Before he had turned fourteen, this guy had seen his father assasinated by the Klan by being beaten near to death and left on nearby tracks to be finished off by an oncoming street car, and watched his mother's gradual descent into complete lunacy under the stress of being a poor, black widow with eight kids. When you read about something like that, it's hard to picture an autobiography made up of events like "At age 11, I finally stopped picking my nose in public, and my parents withdrew long-held breaths in relief" being as worthy of print.

When I was a kid, I always used to think about writing an autobiography one day and I'm pretty sure the reason for this is how many stupid autobiographies I had to read and write reports or make cute dioramas about between second and fifth grades. When picturing what my life would be like 20 years into the future, I mainly thought of it in terms of what I could reflect on in an autobiography while using lots of cleverly embedded rhetorical devices and making sure all of the "suspenseful" parts came as cliffhanger endings of chapters. Which, of course, more or less goes back to my suggestion that art mitigates life. Now, after revisiting the work of X and Alex Haley, I'm kind of starting to think of autobiographies as the beginning of facing one's mortality, maybe not in small part because X was kind of a morbid guy who was always making cryptic predictions of his own untimely demise, the nature of which ultimately turned out to be right.

As in, if an autobiography is the story of your life told by you, then is the end of that story your death? And you're not around to tell that part, so the guy who wrote "Roots" has to step in and write a day-ruiningly depressing epilogue? Another thing that creeps me out about this is the biographical movie, "X" (I think it's called, I haven't watched it since I was about eight) by Spike Lee starring Denzel Washington. In the scene where Malcolm is driving to the Audubon to make what turned out to be his final public appearance, they stage it so that Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" (an incredible song, by the way) is playing in the background, and as Denzel makes alternately contemplative or paranoid faces into the camera, it almost feels like the character is aware of the song and is grappling with what its elegiac nature suggests about his near future.

Can you say "creepy as all hell?"

Now, when I'm traveling somewhere and listening to music while I do it, if a death-related song comes on, I have to wonder if murderous black muslims are hiding out at my eventual destination and waiting to scream "Take your hand out of my pocket!" before pumping my torso full of two dozen bullets.
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Would Someone Please Try To Kick My Ass?
05/06/08 at 01:58 PM by G apostrophe Ra
Often, I end up going out and meeting people, and every once in a while, these new people I meet are tough guys. You know, as in, they're impressive physical specimens, enjoy a good fight, and have alot of macho pride about things. They're the type of guys who think you're a pansy if you break your finger and seek medical attention for it, or if you catch some other dude looking at your girl's ass and you don't at the very least tell him off while employing as many expletives as possible.

I'm not mocking these kinds of guys; some of them are actually pretty cool. Since I turned about eighteen or so, I feel like I've been meeting an inordinately high number of these guys, and for some reason, I tend to befriend them alot now. The funny thing about this, and about befriending tough guys in general, is that they're always saying things-without any provocation or solicitation- like this:
"If anyone has a problem, send them to me. I've got your back no matter what goes down, dog!"

Apparently, it is an integral part of the tough guy ethic that one shows affection by vowing to squash any potential foes of one's friends, even when the plausibility of such foes' existence is slim to none. This is very reassuring to hear, and actually kind of generous of them when the person in question is a genuine tough guy who strikes fear in the hearts of Non-Tough Guys (like myself) everywhere. But what I find unfortunate is that now that I've done enough social maturing to actually win over all these tough guys and make them my allies, I can't really take advantage of their allegiances because not enough people want to kick my ass anymore.

Only five years ago, I would've loved to have had legions of tough guys looking out for me. When I was sixteen, I went to the mall with a couple of friends where I was brutally mocked and even had rocks and spare change thrown at me by a group of eight homeboys (come to think of it, these wankers were kind of like the forefathers of the assholes who descended on me at the movies last week) who had decided that because my hair was dyed red and I was clad in a white dress shirt, black tie and sneakers that I must've been a "***". My two male Drama Club enthusiast companions offered consoling words once the mob had *finished* pelting me with nickels and quarters and calling me "flamer", but they did little more than shrink away and pretend not to know me while the going was actively getting tough. My female company that night tried to assuage my tender male ego by saying those guys were" total pussies for attacking in such a large group".

Where were the five to seven, 6 ft-plus and 200-plus-pound WWE afficionados that are my current acquaintances back then? Were they congregating in the food courts at counterpart malls and hurling rocks and homophobic insults at other nerdy punk rock kids while their wimpy friends and powerless dates looked on in dismay? And, if that happens to be the case, what exactly caused their change of heart now? Did all of these bullying types have some sort of collective religious conversion?

Someone should really be looking into this. I'm pretty sure that this is a pressing sociological conundrum. That's just my opinion and you're more than welcome to disagree.
But if you choose to, just remember that this time I've got backup, ok?
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Last Updated: 01/17/09 (5,099 Views)
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