Archive for the ‘ Thoughts ’ Category

In which I outline my iPod Life and say RIP to Steve Jobs

Listening to: The Dead Milkmen, “Beelzebubba”

I bought my first iPod in 2003.

It was a birthday/holiday gift from me to me, and the first large purchase I made with my own money that I had saved on my own.  I was nervous when I made the final decision to buy it.  I had never spent any amount even close to $400 on anything before.

I bought the third generation iPod, the one that most people in the USA thought was the first gen.  It was the one that had no actual buttons — just four touch buttons for play, pause, forward and back; a scroll wheel; and a menu button.  The screen was black and white — no color, no photos, and two games.

my first iPod

3rd Gen iPod - via Apple

I loved that thing.

Before the Age of the iPod, I carried my portable CD player around with me everywhere.  I would keep a few CDs in my huge messenger-bag-excuse-for-a-backpack and change them out every half hour or so, or shuffle the songs and replay them over if I was lacking other CD options that day.

The iPod was the enabler of my music (r)evolution.  The answer to the giant stack of CDs that cluttered the top of my high school locker.  The holder of thousands of songs so I would never again be stuck far from my CD collection or computer and without the music I wanted to hear.

My first iPod lasted four years.  It died the night before my first ever show in college radio.  I freaked out, burned some CDs of songs I knew I’d want, and lamented over how and why my iPod and the universe could do this to me.  The show went fine, by the way, save for two drunk upperclassmen who used to have my graveyard time slot and showed up wanting to go on air (another story for another time).

iPod numba 2

iPod 5th Gen - via Apple

I soon bought a new iPod, a fifth generation with a color display that I still have today.  I really only use it now for music to fall asleep to or on especially long travels, but it still works, stands by me and holds a good selection of my music library.

Since then, I went through an Apple computer-resentment phase where I stuck by my PC but still always had my iPod in my pocket.  I got over that and accumulated a second generation iPod shuffle, a borrowed iPhone, a MacBook 4,1, a 3GS iPhone and an iPhone 4.  I kept all the ones I could keep, for sentimental reasons, even if I no longer use them.

My music tastes were largely driven by friends and experience, but that music experience would not have been what it was without my mp3 players and smart phones.    I owe a lot of what shapes my music personality today to the ability to carry such a massive amount of music with me in a rectangle that weighs less than a pound.  Moreover, I’m completely reliant on my iPhone now, and only a tiny bit ashamed to admit it.

Today, Steve Jobs died.  He was the visionary behind so much technology that I’ve alternately loved and loathed, but can’t deny is incredible.  Apple has always seemed to be ahead of the curve and offered innovations that are sleek and user-friendly, even when I resent them at first.  Apple will carry on without Jobs, but the product won’t exist in the same way without him.  The company may stay at the forefront or even surpass Microsoft in Jobs’ posthumous era, but we’ll never know what might have been if he’d kicked around for another few years.

Thanks for some truly awesome technology.  You left before your time.  RIP, Steve Jobs.

In which I outline the story of the Punk Rock Bodybuilder and why crowd surfing etiquette is important

Listening to: the album “American Rubicon” by The Cobra Skulls

The best adrenaline rushes I’ve experienced so far in life:

– snowboarding
– sky diving
-crowd surfing

Being a bit of a punk rock blog, this entry will be focused on the last list item.  People do this at all kinds of shows and concerts.  Many people also write their own set of rules for pit etiquette.  But I’ve yet to see a weblog post dedicated to crowd surfing etiquette.  It’s one of the coolest feelings a body can experience, but it’s just not the best idea in every instance or for every body.  I grappled with even using the word “etiquette” in this post because I think that the phrase “pit etiquette,” though often appropriate and accurate, sounds extremely pretentious.  Still, the whole issue has been on my mind lately, especially with Riot Fest coming up this weekend (!!!!!) where there’s bound to be much stage diving and crowd surfing, so I’m weighing in on it.


A few years back I went to see the F Yeah Tour.  That means on July 12, 2008, I was at the Highline Ballroom in New York seeing Monotonix, Team Robespierre (who must’ve been pretty forgettable, because I have no recollection of them whatsoever), Matt and Kim, Dillinger Four and the Circle Jerks.

It was a really, really weird assortment of bands, to say the least.  To say a whole lot more, I have no clue who made the decision to put them all together at one show with a bunch of misplaced comedians peppered in between the sets.  I felt a bit bad for the stand-up comics because they were so wrong for the show that no one really seemed to enjoy them, but overall it was an awesome evening of music.  But I digress.

With the exception of Team R, every band was better than the last and the anticipation mounted for the Circle Jerks as the show went on.  Maybe I should have sensed trouble when the Monotonix kicked off the show by setting up in the middle of the floor instead of on the stage, climbing up the venue’s support beams, hanging upside-down while singing/screaming, and drumming with garbage cans over their heads, but I guess I was so distracted I didn’t even notice the guy who would later completely squash me.

Dude looked like a punk rock bodybuilder.  I’m not great with guessing weights, but he must’ve been easily at least 250 pounds.  He looked like Doyle from The Misfits (see below) with less hair and more suspenders.  And he really, really liked the Circle Jerks.  He dominated the pit.  He successfully surfed a few times before The Parting of the Seas occurred.


via Brooklyn Vegan

This Parting of the Seas is a phenomenon I’ve observed at quite a few shows.  A rather large person will want to give crowd surfing a try.  The first time or two everyone will catch them, but after that the crowd starts to disperse from the area when they see this person’s looming shadow, because they no longer want to be the one to hold him up.  Usually, this ends in the surfer landing either flat on the ground or on one or two other unsuspecting people who just can’t support him.  Usually, the large surfer ends the diving there and observes the rest of the show with feet planted firmly on the ground.

Punk Rock Bodybuilder Guy was easily one of these people, but slightly more intimidating because of his Doyle-esque look.  In general, he stayed towards the center of the crowd when he jumped off the stage, but at one point he ran far stage right.  This is where the crowd was already slightly thinner, and, as bad luck would have it, where I was standing.

Whatever it was that distracted me, I was looking away the moment he chose to jump.  In slow motion, it must’ve looked like SuperPunk flying majestically towards the crowd, illuminated by green, yellow, red stage lights and deafeningly loud, raw punk rock encompassing the room.  He would be soaring… soaring… smacked flat on the ground.

Only there was a person under him.  That person was me.  115-pound me, with pigtails and shorts I bought from the little boys department and a backpack for my sweatshirt and water bottle.  Everyone else managed to realize before it was too late and escape, but I got the wind knocked out of me and various body bruises courtesy of the Bodybuilder.

I was a little woozy when a first stood up, and a bit sore the next day, if I remember correctly, but otherwise fine.  After all, one of the mottos I live by is that you haven’t really been to a show unless you get hurt.  Though I’ve now found a good amount of photos and videos from that show online, I can’t seem to get one clear picture of The Kid Who Surfed But Really Really Shouldn’t Have.  Here’s a video I found of that night that’ll give you a good idea of the number of punks surfing and stage diving, though:

And here’s a photo where you can kinda see the guy! He’s the kid on the left with the bright red shirt and mad spikes in his hair:


via Highline Ballroom


Which is this: don’t overdo it.  Everyone deserves to feel how awesome it is to surf, but remember those are live people down there carrying you.  If you are the Punk Rock Bodybuilder or an  otherwise rather large person, don’t stage dive over and over again into a crowd that can’t support you.  They want to enjoy the show, not spend the entire time making sure you don’t break your legs.  Also, don’t force yourself upon someone who isn’t trying to help you surf.  Ask them to help you up, or signal to them if it’s too loud, but don’t jump on their back and kick your sneakers all over their face as though they were your own personal stepladder.  And don’t fight with them lest you kick them in the head while they are doing their best not to drop you.  Don’t fight the wave that carries you; it will likely bring you to the stage shortly.  And if it doesn’t, don’t try to tell me the experience wasn’t worth it anyway.

And to those in the crowd: If you don’t want someone landing on you, stay out of the danger zone rather than running away, unless the surfer is, without reasonable doubt, overdoing it.  And come on, don’t go groping people.  It’s just not cool.

In which I contemplate the validity of including an alt-rock band on a punk-rock compilation

Listening to: Descendents/Black Keys/Punk-O-Rama 8
(I’m all over the map today)

The last Punk-O-Rama compilation I ever bought was volume 9.  The last (and also first!) time I saw The Black Keys perform live was this past Saturday at Virgin FreeFest.

Connection: On Punk-O-Rama volume 8, the last song on the first disk is a track called “Thickfreakness” by a band called The Black Keys.

There’s a good chance I wouldn’t enjoy The Keys nearly as much as I do (or at least wouldn’t have come across them when I did) if it hadn’t been for that Punk-O-Rama comp.

The Keys’ performance this year at Free Fest was amazing.  In a move that thoroughly surprised me, the band opened with “Thickfreakness,” which is also the title track off one of their better albums.  While it took a minute to remember where I had first heard the song, recollecting that it was off a punk compilation CD was a bit surprising for present-day me.

What the heck were The Black Keys doing on a Punk-O-Rama comp?  Looking back at the other tracks, for that matter, what the heck were Matchbook Romance, Atmosphere and The Transplants doing on there? And is Epitaph even running the Punk-O-Rama series any more?

While I couldn’t necessarily tell you why some other unfortunate choices for bands were selected on volume 8, it turns out Epitaph stopped making the comps at volume 10 in 2005.  (Incidentally, I somehow picked up the Hot Water Music track from that comp but nothing else.  Not completely sure how.) It was probably a good idea, because by volume 8 I was already questioning what system of musical qualifications the label was using to decide what bands to include on the “punk” compilation.

Still, it begs the question: With such a variety of musical styles on a compilation that started as straight up punk rock music, which is more punk: Including bands that don’t necessarily fit the genre but still rock, or staying true to punk music and the punk identity?

The Black Keys are not, and never were, on the Epitaph label to my (and Wikipedia’s) knowledge.  Sure, some back-door deal could’ve gone on to get them on the album, but that in itself would not be very punk at all.  More likely, whoever was putting the comp together really liked The Black Keys and wanted a song of theirs included on the album.

And take The Transplants–from the first single the band put out, they were criticized for not being punk rock even though it was formed by punk legend Tim Armstrong of Operation Ivy and Rancid fame.  Part of the problem, I think, is people are afraid of change.  Sure, we always crave new music, but throw a curveball like a style of music we’re not expecting from an artist we think we know and all hell can break loose.  The same holds true for a well-established compilation.

By the time Punk-O-Rama volume 8 came around, I thought I knew what to expect from Epitaph on the comps.  I thought volume 7 was a musical masterpiece with a variety of bands I either already loved and respected or were introduced to on the comp and came to love and/or respect by listening to their albums.  I vaguely remember being surprised and a little hurt when I heard volume 8 for the first time.  2003-rudiegirl must’ve been sitting there thinking, “what’s coming out of my stereo?  Am I listening to the Mortal Kombat soundtrack?  Oh, no, it’s just Tim Armstrong’s new punk-rap band. Right.”

Disappointed as I was at first, good came out of that.  The Black Keys are a band I had put on the back burner for years since then, but truly rock.  Especially live, as I can now say from experience.  But the issue still tugs at my music-senses–they just didn’t belong on that Punk-O-Rama volume, no matter how great the song was.

Since then, as punks have aged and become more jaded, they’ve become more accepting of a variety of styles.  I appreciate much more music than I used to and I try as often as possible to listen to new styles and new bands.  Without that compilation from Epitaph, my experience with quite a few bands might have been very different.  And while I still feel like the label serious stretched the idea of what those comps were going for, I know one thing for certain: I will never, ever enjoy music by Matchbook Romance.

In which I make a punk rock mix tape to round up the top news of summer ’11

Blogger’s note: Due to a severely slow Internet connection the likes of which I haven’t seen since oh, say, 1996, this week’s post is up a few minutes late and the actual mixtape itself is not yet created and linked to the blog.  Feel free to throw the songs together yourself if the wait is just killing you and you can’t wait a day or two more for it!

Who needs the equinox to tell us the summer’s over?

It’s after Labor Day, the temperature dropped from 87 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit in DC in a day, and traffic was unexplainably horrible as it always is at the start of September with the older generations grudgingly back at work and youngings ready to sleep through first period and forgetting to study for exams.

Yup, the cycle of life continues.

With the symbolic end of summer come and gone, and autumn already saying “hey guys, what’s up! Remember cold?” now is surely the best time to do a summer news round-up.  Punk rock style.

So I present to you, dear reader, the Punk Rock Summer ’11 News Mix Tape.

1. WEINERGATE (5/29)

The event: Rep. Anthony Weiner tweeted some questionable photos of his unmentionables, presumably accidentally, to the entire world.  He vehemently denied it at first, saying his account was hacked.  He pointed out the euphemism that connected his last name to the images. But then Weiner came clean about his, well, weiner.  What a way to kick off the summer, huh?

The song: Suburban Legends “This Cherry” I mean, I think you get it.


The event: Jose Antonio Vargas is an award-winning former Washington Post reporter who wrote an article that was published in New York Times Magazine to reveal to the world that he’s an undocumented worker in the United States.  He sparked a major controversy in the illegal immigration battle, but as far as I can tell was never deported and is still in the country as I type this.

The song: The Menzingers “Home Outgrown” Tones of feeling like a stranger in a place you thought you knew, not knowing where home is or if one exists, yada yada yada.


The event: Passing the bill into law made NY the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage.  A month later, holy matrimony kicked in and celebrations ensued across the state.  With that, however, came the obligatory opposition groups promising to overturn the law.

The song: The Queers “Today I Fell in Love” Because awww.  And because their band name is, coincidentally, pretty fitting.  Almost went with a Weakerthans song, but this is way more appropriate.  And more punk rock.


The event: This is the event that feels like it dragged on the longest, since it started way before summer 2011 did.  Rod and his helmet hair were found guilty of lots of corruption and faced a hefty prison sentence.  And Rod’s response to the verdict? “I, frankly, am stunned,” he reportedly told the Chicago Tribune.

The song: Against Me! “Walking is Still Honest” Because irony.  And because Rod must’ve felt pretty defeated after that trial.


The event: Halperin wasn’t too happy with how President Obama handled a press briefing about the debt ceiling deadline, so he decided to air his views on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” for the world to hear.  His view was that Mr. President acted like “kind of a dick” during the presser.  He promptly apologized and was suspended.

The song: Big D and the Kids Table “We All Have to Burn Something” This seems to have been Marky’s breaking point; his figurative burning down of the house that was his status as a regular MSNBC contributor.  Hope it made him feel better!

6. FAIRFAX COUNTY BUTT SLASHER (continually through June and July)

The event: This wasn’t so much of a national or world event, so for your kids not in the DC area, one of the top local stories of summer ’11 was a guy going around stores in northern Virginia and slashing women on their butts.  At least one of them thought she had ran into a hanger that scratched her, but it turned out to be a guy with a weird serial habit of getting all stabby up on some ladies’ backsides.  As far as I know, he’s still at large.  So watch your bums, NoVa gals.

The song: The Flaming Tsunamis “If You Really Love Me” Because it’s as weird to ask someone you love if you can eat their brains as  it is to make a regular event out of slashing women’s buttocks.


The event: In England, The Guardian on the US Independence Day alleged that rival paper News of the World had hacked into the cell phone voicemail of a murdered school girl and deleted messages.  Allegations of corruption sort of spiraled all over the place from every side after that and the paper soon shut down.

The song: Dillinger Four “Portrait of the Artist as a Fucking Asshole” Excuse the language.  Listener discretion advised.  But seriously dudes, don’t hack into anyone’s voicemail next time.

8. HEATWAVE (7/18-7/24ish)

The event: It happens every summer!  But the weather is always a story because people love to talk about it, especially when Congress is no longer in session and it’s been a full three weeks since a Democratic pundit has called the President “a dick” on live TV.  And, you know, it was really hot.

The song: The Bouncing Souls “It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humanity” It’s also an excuse to throw one of my favorite Souls songs in there.  Interesting side note: I considered using Souls songs for two other tracks on this punk rock summer news mix tape.  Fun game: Try to guess which ones!


The event: The debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling dominated the news for at least a solid two months of the summer, despite however many dozens of times it’s been raised in the past.  It had to be an argument filled with spewing rhetoric, because that’s what Congress does and it’s how congresspeople get their names in the paper.  The Tea Party should be happy with itself over this one, because getting into a frenzy about every single dollar spent by the federal government helped the movement and the story make news.  In the end, the debt ceiling was raised because it had to be and always is.  Four days later, S&P downgraded the country’s credit rating from AAA to AA+, which essentially means nothing.  A few weeks later, the east coast is faced with two natural disasters and S&P downgrade jokes about earthquakes and hurricanes ensue.

The song: The Dopamines “June 4th” The date doesn’t correspond to the summer dates, but the theme behind the song sure gets the money woes.

10. ENGLAND RIOTS (8/6-8/10)

The event: A peaceful protest in response to the death of a man who was shot down by police quickly escalated to violence by masses who seemed bent on causing destruction and damage and no longer related at all to the original protest or even cared what sparked the madness.  Damage was estimated in the several millions of pounds (which is even higher in US dollars), many were injured, and destruction was widespread.

The song: Rancid “I Wanna Riot” Personally, I don’t wanna riot.  But a lot of these hooligans in England obviously did.

11. THE 2012 GOP PRESIDENTIAL FIELD (all summer and onwards into 2012, but particularly the Iowa debate on 8/11)

The event: I’m not even really sure if the party is trying.  Republicans don’t have a serious candidate for the presidency in 2012 yet, and while some in the party have candidates they strongly support, the general consensus is trouble for the GOP.  The bright side is the circus of face-palm-inducing gaffes that give the media fun fodder for slow news days.

The song: Against All Authority “In on Your Joke” The entire Republican presidential field right now is a joke, so yeah.  Plus it’s AAA so the lyrics make sense politically, too.


The event: The horrifying experience I wrote about in my last blog entry.  EEEARRRTTTTTHHHHQQUUUUAAAAAAKKKEEEEE!!!

The song: Harold’s Trousers “Calvin’s Klein” Though the first thought keeps going to the Carole King song “I Feel the Earth Move,” which is incredibly annoying, Harold’s Trousers is perfectly chaotic earthquake music.


The event: It was a hurricane.  In more detail, it was a hurricane that destroyed North Carolina and Vermont, barely scraped DC, and caused some flooding and damage but was mostly a lot of hype in New York. Got to stay inside for two days watching a lot of CNN, local NBC4, and Dexter while eating a lot of bagels, so can’t really say whether it was a good or bad way to spend a weekend.

The song: Bomb the Music Industry! “Hurricane Waves” It’s just too perfect.  End of summer album with an accurate end of summer song.  As I tweeted when the hurricane was first becoming an issue, this is my song of choice for the hurricane an infinite number of times over everyone thinking they were hilarious for coming up with “Come on Irene.”

In which I could never sleep face down on the floor of a Metro train, but I could fall asleep listening to Glassjaw

Listening to: The album “Clumsy” by Samiam


Samiam posted a song yesterday from their new album that’s due to come out this fall, which I learned about from the every trusty Punknews.  In the past, Samiam has never disappointed; if this track is representative of the new album it sounds like they’re about to continue that trend.  So chances are you’ve already heard this if you like Samiam as much as me.  If you have, here’s an easy link to listen to it again.  If not, try out these amazing sounds:


I have some weird music choices when it comes to what I like to have on as I’m falling asleep.  Glassjaw, Bear Vs. Shark, Jawbreaker, and A Perfect Circle (I admit it!) have all been past selections.  I know many people who can’t fall asleep with any sounds in the room, let alone music that emotes and surrounds as much as these.  But for whatever reason, this is the kind of thing that soothes me into the REM cycle.


You can see some weird things on the DC Metro.  In fact, there are blogs and Twitter accounts that devote plenty of time highlighting some of the absurdity.  In the nation’s capital, people often do three things while on the Metro: listen to something playing through headphones, read, and/or sleep.

Here’s a photo of a girl doing two of those:

it was probably a long day. hope those are some good tunes in there

You get the idea. Some people have strange takes on the combo, though.

This morning I Metro’d to work, which happens every now and then when I’m feeling too lazy to walk up the giant hill that stands between me and my usual bus.  I did the reading/dozing combo whilst on the train, which is probably why I didn’t see the man with the strange take on these common Metro-riding options.

The man I’m speaking of was wearing a white t-shirt, khaki shorts, sneakers, a baseball cap, and was lying face down on the Metro train floor.  He was halfway under a set of seats at the front end of the car.  I didn’t see him until I stood up for my stop, but there he was, full sprawl.  Others on the train were eyeing him curiously as well, some with looks of disgust, others with amusement.  A moment of concern took over first–is he hurt? Unconscious? But as the train slowed for my stop, he lifted his head to look around and check which station we were pulling into.  He looked perfectly awake and healthy.

I’m kicking myself for not having enough time to take a photo.  If I hadn’t been so engrossed in my zoned out/reading state, I surely would’ve seen him soon enough to photograph, post on Facebook, and tweet at @unsuckdcmetro while shamelessly hoping for a retweet.

Then leaving the station, I rode the elevator up with a guy, probably early thirties, who was dressed such that he was in the ambiguous state where it’s impossible to tell if he was a tourist.  He had on a plaid, button-down, short-sleeve shirt, a backpack that bulged slightly as though packed for at least a day away from home/hotel, and headphones blasting.  Blasting so much that I could clearly hear the music he was listening to, though I didn’t recognize it.


It got me thinking.  I rarely if ever have on a pair of headphones while walking around anymore, even with the volume turned low.  I’ve certainly never slept face-down on the floor of a Metro train (though I’m sure, if that ever does happen, it’ll be safe to call it the low point in my life).  But what’s so different between these two men appearing so comfortably engrossed in their sleep/music and my odd choices for music to which I fall asleep?

It may seem like a stretch, but the connection formed fairly clearly in my mind.  I’d never be comfortable sleeping on the floor of a Metro train (for what I hope would be obvious reasons), just as I wouldn’t be okay with blasting headphones so loudly on the street that I couldn’t hear what was going on around me.  And yet, I’m completely okay with loud, vibrant, adrenaline-inducing music for when I fall asleep.  More than that, I feel like I need it; I have a difficult time falling asleep in silence.

This blog certainly follows in the same vein of the one that precedes it.  It seems this has been what’s on my mind while forming direction for the entries.  Next week, a stray from this path is in order.  Feel free to comment with whether or not you agree.  And I think a future challenge I will pose for myself in this blog will be not to start any sentences with “I.”


– Picking it up and putting it down and picking it up again (I’m getting there, I swear)

– Tunes for the economic drama-rama

– “Mature” music tastes (yeah, right)

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