Wednesday, December 31, 2008

ZOMG! Far Side!

ZOMG! Far Side!

These photos REALLY make me miss The far Side. And Bloom County. And Calvin and Hobbes.


Come to think of it, i may just spend tomorrow reading through my Complete Calvin and Hobbes...

Amateur night.

Amateur night.

I am willfully throwing myself in the midst of about 3,000 electronic dance hipster leg-warmer Sparks fans (not that I don't love that shit myself) under the age of 21 this evening.

Afterward I will jump on a train and meet up with folks closer to my age to drink until I begin to believer I too am an electronic dance hipster leg-warmer Sparks fans under the age of 21. Or something like that.

I will be taking public transportation all evening long, and you should do the same. Stay safe tonight.

P.S. Mich, don't let me forget to pick up some Sparks on the way to your place tonight!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Love those recommendations!

Love those recommendations!

I picked up Roberto BolaƱo's 2666 today since so many people gave it high marks here and on Twitter. I would have picked up The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao at the same time but the book store was out of it.

With that said, please keep the suggestions coming! One of my resolutions is to read more and expose myself to new authors since that sort of thing seems to spark up my creative glands.

In completely unrelated news, my friend Gina is celebrating her 1,867th birthday party by playing a show at The Empty Bottle tonight and you should totally go. Also playing is Mr. Russia, a band I quite enjoyed previewing elsewhere today.

Disrespecting the dead.

Disrespecting the dead.

Decider recently observed folks are saying "that gussying up the Pontiac is the final nail in Wicker Park's gentrification coffin."

Well, I was driving down Chicago Avenue Saturday and when I passed Five Star -- one of the 3,546 unnecessary "rock bars" that have opened in the area in the last three years -- I saw a sight that immediately triggered my gag reflex. Hanging in the bar's window was the iconic outdoor Pontiac Cafe sign. The sign that had presided over many a drunken summer, shivered in sparsely populated winters, and shuddered during many bouts of Live Band Karaoke was hanging in the window of a veritable yuppie theme bar like some sort of twisted trophy.

I've been around Wicker Park for almost 15 years so I take the whole gentrification thing in stride and don't get my undies in a twist over the whole inevitability of it all ... but this particular transgression is just a big ol' slap in the face if you ask me!

Ugh.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm looking for a book recommendation (or two or three) from YOU!

I'm looking for a book recommendation (or two or three) from YOU!

I got a nice sized gift certificate to Border's from my brother's family and am looking for a way to spend it. Anyone have any good book recommendations for a guy who likes:
  • David Foster Wallace
  • Will Self
  • Aimee Bender
  • Rick Moody
  • Thomas Frank
  • John Hodgman
  • modern sociology-type tomes
  • short story collections
  • books on modern music a.k.a. rock and/or roll
  • and graphic novels?

Twitter and RSS and tigers and bears oh my!

Twitter and RSS and bloggers and bears oh my!

We're in the midst of the slowest time of the year. Most folks are still out of the office or on vacation and a lot of bloggers I regularly read update sporadically if at all. I, however, update regularly no matter what time of year it is! And I stay pretty active elsewhere online as well. So here's a reminder that you can always subscribe to my RSS feed to make sure you get the daily content from here, and you can follow me on Twitter for bite-sized bites of info. I promise all my Tweets are NOT, "Whoa, I just sneezed" or "I'm bored."

Again, here are a few ways to regularly keep up with me...

Friday, December 26, 2008

An admitted guilty pleasure.

An admitted guilty pleasure.

I always want to play this song when I DJ, and I always chicken out.


Maybe I should round up some folks in the Chicagoist office to do the same? What song would we sing? (No, Marcus, not the Gin Blossoms.)

Holidaze party time.

Holidaze party time.

Guess what? I'm putting on a show tomorrow!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Little did she know...

Little did she know...

I remember watching the Bing Crosby's Christmas TV special with my mom as a kid. She was a Crosby fan, and she did her best to turn me onto him and other pop singers she enjoyed -- including Roger Whitaker, Barbara Streisand, and Neil Diamond -- but I'm pretty sure that it was an appearance by a certain guest star on that special that probably had a more profound subconscious effect on how I would pursue music and how my aural tastes would be shaped in later years.


What does David Bowie himself have to say about the legendary meet-up?
"He looked like a little old orange sitting on a stool ... I just knew my mother liked him."
Happy holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Flight Of The Conchords season two, episode one ... bridging the gap?

Flight Of The Conchords season two, episode one ... bridging the gap?

I watched the season premiere of Flight of the Conchords with GalPal last night and admit I'm a tad worried about the new season. I was late to the series in the first place -- primarily because pushy publicists so deluged me with pitches that the mere thought of the show would send me into tremors -- but GalPal sat me down a few months ago and made me watch the whole series.

The result? I kicked myself for not watching it sooner!

But! The great this about the first season is that it seemed to cover all the ground you could cover and pretty neatly tied things up. I honestly don't think they ever expected to have to do a second season! But here they are, and here it is ... and the result? Well, I'm undecided at this point. The premier has its moments, but it's pretty obviously a bridge between the two season as it attempts to untie all the resolution of last season's finale.

Despite this wobbly beginning I am cautiously optimistic. And I admit that since I am still rather new to the series, and have relatively only recently seen the whole thing, my expectations might be higher than someone who was into it from the get-go but has had a long vacation from it.

Anyway, enough jabber from me. Why don't you watch the episode -- in full below 00 and let me know what you think?

New Year's Resolution #648.

New Year's Resolution #648.

I wanna get THIS huge!


O.K., maybe not THAT big, but I would like to continue to stay in shape...

(Man alive, is Trent Reznor in great shape or what?)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last list o' the day: Chicago's best of 2008!

Last list o' the day: Chicago's best of 2008.

Aaaand finally, my favorite local releases of 2008.

And you should take a peek at Lizz's picks too, because she has pretty damn fine taste even if it's not always aligned with mine. (But who would want that?)

The Best Songs of 2008

The Best Songs of 2008

Now that my favorite albums of the year have been revealed in full on Chicagoist, my top songs of the year are now listed as well. The tunes I picked are all songs that will scream "2008!" any time I hear 'em. They may not be the highest charting singles, and some are barely even known to more than a handful of people ... but they are the top tracks on the mixtape that defines the feeling and experiences of 2008 for me.

TANKBOYS 50+1 SONGS OF 2008 (in almost no particular order)

MGMT "Kids"
Hey Champ "Cold Dust Girl"
Walter Meego "Girls"
Katy Perry "Hot N Cold"
The Black Ghosts "Repetition Kills You (with Damon Albarn)"
Neon Neon "I Told Her On Alderaan"
George Pringle "Carte Postale"
Alphabeat “10.000 Nights Of Thunder”
Amanda Palmer "Oasis"
Beck "Chemtrails"
Beyonce "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"
Black Kids "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You (The Twelves Remix)"
British Sea Power "Down On The Ground"
Chairlift "Bruises"
Coldplay “42”
Cut Copy "Lights and Music"
Does It Offend You, Yeah? "Dawn Of The Dead"
Estelle “American Boy”
The Feeling “Turn It Up”
The Futureheads “Think Tonight”
Hot Chip "Ready For The Floor"
Jay Reatard "See/Saw"
Kanye West "RoboCop"
The Killers "Spaceman"
Ladytron "Ghosts"
La Scala “ Love! Love! Love!”
Ladyhawke “My Delirium”
Lettuce "Blast Off"
Lily Allen "The Fear"
M83 "Graveyard Girl (Speechless Edit)"
Mansions "The Worst Part"
Mardeen "Telephones"
of Montreal "Gallery Piece (Jon Brion remix)"
Phantom Planet "Leader"
Pink "So What"
Prairie Cartel "Homicide"
She & Him "I Was Made For You"
The Submarines "You Me and the Bourgeoisie"
Supergrass "Rebel In You"
The Boy Least Likely To "A Balloon On A Broken String"
Titus Andronic
The Ting Tings "Great DJ"
The Virgins "Rich Girls (RAC Mix)"
Weezer "Pork & Beans"
What Made Milwaukee Famous "Sultan"
Friendly Foes "My Body (Is A Strange Place To Live)
Black Mountain "Stormy High"
Darker My Love "Two Ways Out"
The Hold Steady "Sequestered In Memphis"
Local H "White Belt Boys"


...aaaaand, even though I was DJing the song regularly last year, it didn't really explode until the summer so...

M.I.A. "Paper Planes"

The Best Albums of 2008...

The Best Albums of 2008...

Today is the day my albums of the year list goes up at Chicagoist. The list with write-ups is scheduled to go live later this morning now live, but since you're a loyal reader of this site I'll give you a sneak peak. Keep in mind that these are just the albums that grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and just would not let go in 2008. They aren't all works of high art, but they are all pieces that resonated with me and kept finding their way into regular rotation amongst playlists inhumanly stuffed with a constant influx of new material. This is the stuff that made a mark on me in 2008, and stand a decent chance of still seeping into my headphones awhiles down the road.

Check out the full write-ups on my picks on Chicagoist.


TANKBOY'S TOP 21 ALBUMS OF 2008
  1. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
  2. Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak
  3. Friendly Foes - Born Radical
  4. Sad Day For Puppets - Unknown Colors
  5. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
  6. Rachael Yamagata - Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart
  7. Supergrass - Diamond Hoo Ha
  8. The Features - Some Kind Of Salvation
  9. Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
  10. Lykke Li - Youth Novels
  11. Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke
  12. The Dandy Warhols - ...Earth To The Dandy Warhols...
  13. Sloan - Parallel Lines
  14. Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It
  15. The Uglysuit - The Uglysuit
  16. Darker My Love - 2
  17. Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
  18. Mystery Jets - Twenty One
  19. The Feeling - Join With Us
  20. Weezer - Weezer (The Red Album)
  21. Girl Talk - Feed The Animals

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mister Freeze has come to town.

Mister Freeze has come to town.

It just looks like a wasteland frozen in time outside. When temperatures drop down to below zero Fahrenheit before factoring in wind chill on a blustery day you know than Mother Nature is not fucking around. You realize just how insanely cold it is when your beagle can't even make it up the stairs because she's shivering so bad forcing you to bundle her up in your coat and carry her up three treacherous flights of iced stairs. Your apartment just won't seem to heat up even though the thermostat is near 80 degrees and your bedroom is the worst since you suspect that the drafts shooting across your floor are the result of the structural damage the building suffered when their was a fire in the apartment below a few years ago. Plus, your bedroom faces about 6 blocks of unobstructed air space so those winds do a fie job of pummeling your face of the building and creating a nice chillbox effect.

Look, we Midwesterners are used to this -- and I know our friends to the north deal with even colder temps more regularly, so forgive me me if you are from such a locale and consider this whining -- but this is ridiculous!

Photo by lbanks27

Friday, December 19, 2008

Someone at Decider bit my idea!

Someone at Decider bit my idea!

Obviously someone at Decider read my blog yesterday ... Blue Meanies versus Chia Pet!

P.S. When those two bands played a show together in Normal, IL it was a sure thing 89% of the audience was getting laid that night.

Couch Surfing with Friendly Foes!

Couch Surfing with Friendly Foes!

I just realized RCRD LBL was hosting an MP3 of Friendly Foes' excellent "Couch Surfing." It has been a steady regular in my recent DJ sets ao get it now and marvel at its wonders! I've already raved about their debut disc (out now digitally and next month physically) and am seriously considering putting them on my best of list for this year. Or do I hold off and see if they make the cut next year? Since I count Radiohead's In Rainbows and MGMT's Oracular Spectacular as 2007 releases I'm leaning towards the former.

But I am too wordy about a group who treats brevity so professionally. Why are they sticking in my sonic craw so firmly? It's because Friendly Foes is a SUPERgroup i.e. they remind me of a cross between Superdrag, Supergrass, and Superchunk. They are the perfect vicious indie-pop Minneapolis-based band of 1986 / 1996 ... that didn't form until 2006 ... in Detroit.

I am excited for the places this band is going to go.

DOWNLOAD: Friendly Foes "Couch Surfing"

Photo from the band's MySpace by Jerry Wald

Thursday, December 18, 2008

WOXY is wack!

WOXY is wack!

GalPal: oh god
me: what?
GalPal: woxy number one song of the year
wait for it...
me: is?
GalPal: EVIL URGES!
me: WHAT?!
GalPal: OH MY GOD!
me: they are high
and drunk
GalPal: are they delusional?
me: and stupid stupid stupid
GalPal: that song is not good not good
i mean even for my morning jacket
me: no, not at all
GalPal: ugh, i about fell out of my chair
me: i actually just deleted that album off tankPOD becasue it sucked so bad.
GalPal: haha
me: (except for aluminum park, i still like that song)
GalPal: you did defend that song
me: it did not age well
GalPal: no , no it did not.
me: yeah
that's it
WOXY has lost all my respect
GalPal: woxy gets a wag of the finger.
me: maybe it's run by
BEARS!
GalPal: AAAAAHHH!
hahahaha
i cant even listen to this song anymore...
back to the bird.
me: the bird
hello bird!
GalPal: hee
ah, much better :)
me: indeed

Sparks R.I.P.?

Sparks R.I.P.?

NoooooOOOOOOOOOOOO!


Maybe I'll pull an "Elaine-buying-cases-of-the-sponge" move and just stockpile the stuff?

Long-lost classic Chicago bands: Chia Pet!

Long-lost classic Chicago bands: Chia Pet!

Chia Pet's first album -- Elpee -- previously available ONLY on vinyl and long out-of-print, is finally out as a digital download! It was the very first release on Johann's Face Records and I remember excitedly buying it at one of their infamous shows at The Gallery down in Normal, IL. The were sort of the de facto insane house bandthat wowed recent grads and current students and cool kids in Palatine in the late '80s. They jumbled punk, funk, soul, and gutterpunch opera-rock into an unddeniable danceparty mush machine that prompted many a nubile young thang to partially of fully disrobe mid-show. (See: the Naked Parties of '89.)

I actually bought a couple extra vinyl copies of Elpee a few years ago because my original copy had grown a bit warped from overplay, but I haven't really brought them into DJ sets in the last few years since I moved from vinyl to CDs and finally iPods. So I immediately plunked down the seven bucks for the digital download and you can bet your ass these tunes will start regularly popping up in my DJ sets for the foreseeable future. It's time to spread the word!

SIDE NOTE: A number of classic Johann's Face Records bands are reuniting next April for the label's 225th (!) anniversary. Might I start a grassroots effort demanding the reunion of the first band to even put out a record on the label? Viva la Chia Pet!

Rock Steady, get down tonight!

Rock Steady, get down tonight!

Tonight I am DJing at Moonshine with some members of The Dragon Wars DJ collective (A-Cup, Mother Hubbard, Matt DuFour, Derek Berry) and we'll be spinning rock throughout the night. Anything goes, so it should be a blast. It also looks to be my last full solo set of the year (not including holiday parties or the possible gig with a visiting friend coming in from out of town). And it's affordable! No cover! $3 PBR! $4 Maker's Mark or Jameson!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Andrew Bird at Hideout ... whoah.

Andrew Bird at Hideout ... whoah.


While I have always respected Andrew Bird, I've never really been a fan ... until seeing him play Hideout last Monday. I remember him playing The Note with The Bowl of Fire yeeeears ago, and haven't seen him since then, but man-oh-man has he really grown into his own!

Read my full review and check out photos from the evening.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Personal aaaaaaaads...

Personal aaaaaaaads...


[via Tom]

Eeep!

Eeep!

Got a late start this A.M. and have to run into work, so ... that's it for today! I'm going to try and get CSS and Andrew Bird photos done tonight so look for those to pop up on Chicagoist.

Also, after seeing Bird at Hideout last night I finally get why everyone loves him. It had been almost a decade since I last saw him play, and while I've appreciated his output over the years he's never really connected with me. Well, last night, he did. Impressive.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Out o' commission.

Out o' commission.

Man had I forgotten how much DJing until 4 a.m. can take out of me! At least I'm up and mobile now, and prepping to shoot pictures of the Andrew Bird show at Hideout tonight. Expect a more verbose version of me to resume writing duties tomorrow!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Busy weekend!

Busy weekend!

Two big gigs this weekend! First off, after CSS plays Metro this Sunday, head downstairs to Smart Bar and join me and Rudy as we DJ the after party! I am VERY EXCITED about this since it's my first time DJing at Smart Bar. You know how all local bands are stoked the first time they ever get to play Metro? Well, Smart Bar is the DJ equivalent of that. We start at 10 and will keep the party rocking until 4. I know it's a Sunday night but I would LOVE it if we got a lot of people in there and made it a night to remember. Or at least a night to piece back together the next day.

ADDED INCENTIVE: Cheap beer and FREE PIZZA! Woo hoo!


Tonight the boys in Big Science asked me to DJ after their EP release party at Hideout. I know there's a whole lot going on tonight but if you don't have any plans I highly recommend stopping by to catch their set and then stick around and dance to tunes selected by me and JB afterward. I saw these guys open for OFFICE a few months ago and they immediately won me over with the hard rockin' tunes with a slight new-wave edge.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A half-naked Nutcracker.

A half-naked Nutcracker.

GalPal and I went to see Land Of The Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker last night and it was, um, interesting. It was definitely classy, and filled with talented burlesque performances by both sexes, but I could have done without 70% of the between act "banter" from the show's MC. No fault of his, but the script was kind of lame. They should have replaced him with more antics from the two ladies playing slap-your-thigh hilarious snowflakes or the risque but rivetingly mischievous maid that popped out between acts.

The stand-out acts were definitely delivered high above the stage by The Aerialistas -- talk about mixing sex and the threat of death -- and the special appearance by Chicago's Michelle L'amour as The Snow Queen. We've interviewed her a few times for Chicagoist but this was the first time I'd seen her perform ... and I have to admit her reputation is well founded. Her set was hypnotic.

The whole thing ran just about two hours and by the end GalPal and I both packed ourselves into a cab and made out our way home, visions of half-naked Sugar Plum Fairies still dancing in our heads.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Marcus has a lot of chutzpah.

Marcus has a lot of chutzpah.

Listen to Marcus Gilmer, beloved Chicagoist Editor in Chief, opine about a certain someone on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show. Marvel at his amazing powers of enunciation!

Space hottness.

Space hottness.

I'm feeling bittersweet about this: I can't wait for the new season to start ... but I never want it to end.


[via Mo]

OMG! TXT <3

OMG! TXT <3

I hang my head in shame as I have been guilty of the textual relationship. Don't let this be you too! Escape it's trap!

[credz Nora for the link]

Blago-free zone.

Blago-free zone.

If you want to read about my state's incredibly and ineptly corrupt Governor, Chicagoist is ALL over it. Instead, I prefer to bring your attention to this brilliant bit of Stephen Colbert skewering the parking system in my fair city. He nails it as only a previous Chicago resident could.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

BLURBLURBLUR!

BLURBLURBLUR!

About time they got official about that whole reunion thing.

Mashed bread.

Mashed bread.

If Keep and I had a bread baby, this would be its name.

In other news it's GalPal's birthday today! Happy birthday! We're going to Schubas to see her friends Hey Champ open for Sebastien Tellier to celebrate this auspicious occasion. Here is a preview of the look she will probably be giving me later this night. As you look at it, imagine her saying, "Really? Really?!"


I'll try not to embarrass you on your birthday GalPal!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Dragonette blossoms under Midnight Juggernauts.

Dragonette blossoms under Midnight Juggernauts.


Dragonette's "I Get Around" as remixed by Midnight Juggernauts has been appearing in my DJ sets for a few months. Now you can be just like Tankboy and include it in your DJ sets as well! Y'see, their debut Galore has finally been released in the states and in order to celebrate the band has released of free MP3 of the aforementioned remix. I'll be honest, the album as a whole leaves me a bit cold with more misses than hits, but when the band nails the balance between rock club and dance floor it's hard to deny. Either the band's next album -- out next year -- will totally suck or it'll be totally awesome. Whatever happens I predict I'm still going to like this remix, no matter what.

MP3: Dragonette "I Get Around (Midnight Juggernauts Remix)"

Clean your screen!

Clean your screen!

I shared this handy little tool with my Twitter pals last week and it worked so well I'll let you in the secret as well. I'm willing to bet your computer screen is dirtier than you think it is, but this program will take care of that problem lickety split!

What a weekend.

What a weekend.

How could the last two days have been filled with such a dizzying cavalcade of highs and lows? I have no idea, but right now my brain and general system is wiped out. The most shocking part of the whole weekend? I actually only went out (to DJ) Saturday night!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Feed the (real life) animals.

Feed the (real life) animals.

I just got this email:
The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota of getting free food donated every day to abused and neglected animals. It takes less than a minute (How about 20 seconds) to go to their site and click on the purple box 'fund food for animals' for free. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.
I am a jaded and deeply suspicious person so I was ready to toss this straight into the delete file ... but I decided to do a little digging and apparently it's 100% legit!

So take a moment out to click on the purple box, m'kay?

Thank you.

The day you grow up and are capable of forming an actual relationship is the day you realize this will never work.

The day you grow up and are capable of forming an actual relationship is the day you realize this will never work.

What will never work? This.

Hey! You! Yeah, you!

Hey! You! Yeah, you!

Between tomorrow and December 18 I am DJing quite a bit around town at a variety of places. This mean you have no excuse for not dropping by at least ONE of those nights, right? In fact you probably should come to all of them since there'll be different styles of music at each, but i understand it's a busy holiday season so I'll let you partially off the hook.

Anyway, the tour starts tomorrow at The Burlington where I will be DJing with my ol' Ten56 partner Rudy Tuesday! Yippee! Wahoo! We start at 10 p.m., so get there early to get a seat ... that place can get pretty crowded on the weekend.

Other dates to hold on your calendar are in the right sidebar there, so take note! (and of course I'll be sure to remind you as each gig approaches...)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Friendly Foes fucking rule the school.

Friendly Foes fucking rule the school.


Friendly Foes' debut, Born Radical, doesn't drop until next January, but I've already heard the whole thing and it would have easily made it into this year's Top 20 list. (O.K., technically it's already out in digital format, but I'm not counting it as a 2008 release since their "official" release date is January 13, 2009. You want a taste of what's making my mouth water NOW though, right?

Wrap your ears around this.

MP3: Friendly Foes "My Body (Is A Strange Place To Live)"
MP3: Friendly Foes "Get Yr Shit Together"

Like I said, if you just can't wait for the CD to hit next year, download the album now!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Even better than the last time Jack Black played Jesus on Mr. Show...

Even better than the last time Jack Black played Jesus on Mr. Show...

The Big Red Coat.

The Big Red Coat.

It's wintertime in Chicago, there's snow and ice on the ground, whenever I wait by the bus stop there are no barriers save a few bare trees in Humboldt Park to quiet the wind's razor touch ... it's time to break out the Big Red Coat. The Big Red Coat got its name from my friend Kristina almost a decade ago, but it's genesis prefigures her appearance in my personal timeline by almost another decade.

My father was hit by the late-'80s economy and lost his position as the vice president of a home building company out in Maryland. The job market out East was terrible so he headed back to the Midwest -- where we originally lived -- to see if there were any better prospects. There were, so he moved the family back to the Chicagoland area and everything was terrific. Until he lost that job, and the market still sucked.

So my dad did what he had to do to support his family. He drove limos. He did temp work. And he worked the loading docks for Purolator Courier, a Canadian based transport company similar to FedEx. it was here that he acquired a heavy red jacket dispensed by Purolator Courier for wearing. He actually got a few, since they were built for different temperatures and therefore had different designs. The one I inherited was built for heavy cold and has nice fuzzy pockets I can slip my hand into if I forget -- as I always do -- to wear gloves.

It couldn't have easy for my dad to go from the world of white collar management to working on docks alongside folks who didn't have college degrees. And it must have been humiliating at times to drive a limo for someone whose position he held the equivalent of in the not so recent past. But he did what he had to do to support his family. Now, I don't want to make my dad out to be a saint. He could be infuriating, and at times it was his own conspicuous consumption his manula labor jobs were partially supporting ... but in the end he was willing to take whatever job he coould to keep his family bobbing along uncertain economic waters.

He later went on to get his law degree, and by the time he died we once again comfortably inhabited the white collar world courtesy his job as a corporate lawyer,and truth be told I think he lost a lot of the humility he picked up from rougher years which was kind of frustrating at times. but the Big Red Coat always reminds me that when pressed my dad did the right thing ... and I hope I do the same in times of trial and times of prosperity.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Since when are The Flaming Lips "one of the happiest and most uplifting bands around?"

Since when are The Flaming Lips "one of the happiest and most uplifting bands around?"

Someone left this comment on my Christmas on Mars piece...
I trekked all the way out to Naperville about a month ago to see this because I am that big of Flaming Lips geek, and I cannot say DON'T SEE IT enough. I have seen very few things as dark and depressing as this movie. It was such a shock coming from the Lips who are one of the happiest and most uplifting bands around.
I'm not exactly sure who this happy sunny Flaming Lips is that this commenter is talking about though. From the get-go Coyne and co. have been pretty seriously dark, and even in recent years as their sound has lightened their thematic interests have grown ever darker. Sure, the band has it's humorous side at times, but even that tends to skew towards black comedy. I think the mistake a lot of more recent fans make about this band is through assuming that Coyne's wide-eyed embrace of life is driven through some sort of hippie idealism.

Their is a life affirming giddiness to their shows, but I even think that is filtered through the band's attempts to dress their darker urges as some intergalactic house party.

I do agree with the commenter on one point, Christmas On Mars is very dark, depressing, and kind of disturbing (as I wrote in my preview of the film) so if that's not your cup of tee, then do please avoid the hell out of it.

But what were you expecting, The Yoshimi That Tickled Christmas? C'mon.

About transparency and personal evolution.

About transparency and personal evolution.

Man, it is way to early to be up, but up I am. I just woke up on the couch after falling asleep mid-Daily Show earlier this evening and now I just can't get to sleep. The beagle is bundled in blankets and snoring softly just behind me while the kitten scratches at her new post in the hallway a couple feet away from me. It's too early to really do anything though. Can't go to the gym. Don't wanna eat. Can't even think about heading into the office for another eight hours or so ... so I'm just left here thinking.

The other day GalPal looked at me and asked, "How do you live your life so, what am I trying to say ... publicly?" She's also a writer but has a hard time understanding how I can be so open about so many things online. I realized I didn't have an easy compartmentalized answer for her since I don't really feel like I'm that public in my thoughts. But of course she's right and I am. Part of it is that I'm a writer, and enjoy sharing my thoughts with folks I think will enjoy what I have to say. And I've had an online presence since 1995 -- which is when the early regular Tankboy emails that were the predecessor of this current site started going out -- so I've sort of developed my "brand" over a long period of time in a pretty natural manner. I've maintained a certain transparency over that time so folks tend to trust what I have to say. And that is even with the caveat that I'm not blindly honest. This isn't a journal ... it's a repository of things that interest me and others, and sometimes those things are events in my life and sometimes they're my thoughts on a new record or book, and sometimes it's just a dumb stream of consciousness short story.

What GalPal's question really made me think about is how much I've adapted to different online trends over the years. I'm not a total believer in all Beta or 1st Generation ideas but I am a pretty early adopter of things that seem like good ideas ... and they tend to stick. I'm a Generation X guy who understands the online community pretty well because I've been plugged in for a pretty long time.

(A REVEAL: I used to belong to a Commodore 64 users club in the '80s, and before that would play with pals' TRS-80s and VIC-20s and save stuff on tape and then floppies. I tried my hand at programming when I was in grade school -- BASIC, heh -- but just never had the mind for that discipline ... but I've been fascinated by communication via computer since as long as I can remember.)

While lots of folks are struggling to get their heads around trends or try to suss out just what the hell is going on in our ever evolving communities and interactions it seems pretty natural to me. And the amount about myself that I reveal to other people feels pretty normal. It's kind of an old school trust exercise, actually, in that I let you in enough to see how I work and why I think the things I do so that when I say something you listen and don't have to waste time wondering what my motivation is, right? It's always been that way, but folks have had to adapt to different iterations of that basic principle as new forms of community interaction have developed.

So to answer GalPal's original query -- how can I be so open about myself to so many people -- it comes down to the simple answer that I've been around a long time and have learned that when you want to gain any sort of influence or the right to even have your opinions considered in the court of public opinion then honesty and transparency -- and even a unobstructed occasional look behind the curtains -- have been and remain to be the best ways of doing so.

Oh yeah, and then there's the writer thing ... and that contains a certain amount of ego presupposing people even have an interest in what you have to say in the first place. But if it were just that then I would be the only one reading anything I ever had to write. Ego is a good starting place but if you don't have anything to say or build any relationships, nothing but ego tends to lead you into a vacuum.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Snow outside?!

Snow outside?!

Um, when the heck did THAT happen?

O.K., I guess the holiday season has officially begun ... time to dig out my copy of the Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas...

Also, I'm wondering if this guy was watching me yesterday just before drawing this:

Friday, November 28, 2008

The hunger ... getting caught up with RSS feeds and podcast subscriptions.

The hunger ... getting caught up with RSS feeds and podcast subscriptions.


Lately I've gotten really good at keeping up with all of my feeds and podcasts. Extra time at the gym and speed reading have helped sweep all of my subscriptions out of my in-box shortly after they arrive. Because of this I tend to find myself feeling a little anxious when I'm all caught up. I feel like maybe since I have the extra time maybe I should add another feed. Or another podcast. Or both!

And then I say: NO.

Why do I say no? Well, it took me a while to build up my subscriptions to the point where I felt I was covering all my bases without drowning in repeated or useless information. I should enjoy that I've found a good balance, one that allows me to actually consume this information at rate that actually affords me downtime as well. And so should you.

So if you're like me, and finally have your subscriptions under control, enjoy your free time instead of looking for new ways to fill it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Narcissistic bad boys, I've known a few.

Narcissistic bad boys, I've known a few.

It was just about a year ago that Photogal and I decided it was time to split up. We hadn't been getting along for a long time and we seemed to have exhausted just about every avenue that might lead to reconciliation. It was a difficult decision, and I won't pretend everything went flawlessly immediately post-break-up, but once we agreed it was time to end things we knew we had made the right decision.

Immediately afterward I entered a bit of a "bad boy" phase, induced by the sudden freedom of no longer being with the person I had been with for most of the previous decade plus. In retrospect "bad boy" would be more aptly described as "blindly narcissistic" as I bounced from girl to girl. I honestly liked all of them, but was way too into myself at that point to ever be able to commit to any of them. Luckily for me the majority of the girls weren't exactly looking for a solid thing either.

I've long since emerged from that post-break-up Dionysian fog, but I think that time period may have permanently changed me. I never thought I would be "that guy," yet there I was, acting out the role of self-centered jerk. Because of that I can never really sneer down at some other "bad boy" like I used to because I no longer have the morally clean slate that allows me to do so. I miss that, but at the same time I don't regret anything I did. It was almost as if I'd been laying in a warm pool for years and years, was suddenly pulled out and thrust into an ocean of ice water, and the resultant thrashing helped wake me back up even as it jostled some of the folks around me. I'm thankful for the experience, because I think it helped set me -- shakily at first, I'll admit -- on the proper emotional, moral, and ethical path.

I know, that's not quite the sort of thing you expect from a Thanksgiving Day "what I'm thankful for" post, but there you have it.

O.K, on a slightly related note here is something else I'm thankful for today ... I'm thankful for the fact that the aforementioned catalyst for all off this, Photogal, is still one of my closest and best friends. I think that is absolutely awesome.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quote of the day.

Quote of the day.

Via DeRo's otherwise off-point Killers review in the Las Vegas Weekly:
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

- Hunter S. Thomspon

My actual friends are on Facebook...

My actual friends are on Facebook...

Because of Facebook I've reconnected with a LOT have friends I had lost touch with since high school and college. I've been trying to figure out why it's happening now and why it didn't happen when I opened my MySpace account years ago, and have come to two conclusions:
  1. People are no longer freaked out about social networking.
  2. People learned from the mistakes of oversaturation on MySpace.
I think the first point is a given. Heck, one of my friends got incredibly freaked when her dad Facebook friend-requested her, and if parent are entering the realm then it's safe to say it's largely gone mainstream. The second point is a little more interesting to me though. In my case, i have made a concerted effort to only Facebook-friend people I actually know or have actually interacted with. These are people I don't mind having my physical address, or personal email contact information. On MySpace I think there was more of an effort by folks to "brand" themselves. You had people accepting thousands of "friends" who they would then bombard with bulletins and the like. I was certainly not innocent of this, especially at the height of my concert promoting and multiple weekly DJ gigs. As time went on though I learned how to target people I hoped would be most interested in my events ... and once Facebook opened its doors to non-college students I bolted over there.

My MySpace page is still around, but I primarily use it for "Tankboy Brand" stuff, while Facebook is where I actually post stuff I would want to share with my friends. I tend not to accept apps, so despite the few security snafus in that area I feel relatively safe within my community. (Well, as "safe" and"private" as any online community is going to be ... which is to say not very. But I think you get my drift.) If I want to interact with a band or something not personally aligned with me, I really like the Groups Facebook has set up, and I'm curious to see how their Blog Network dealie works. It seems like there's a lot more choice in how you interact with people, and I think that's why I, and so many other right now, are flocking there. And rediscovering each other. And reconnecting. And finally communicating after some lulls of a decade plus.

It's pretty neat.

SOMEWHAT RELATED HILARITY IN REGARD TO THE ABOVE TOPIC: 12 Great Tales of De-Friending

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BLUR!!!!!

BLUR!!!!

Damon better not be yankin' my chain, but he's now saying all four original members are getting back together in 2009.

Pickle the Kitten NEEDS this!

Pickle the Kitten NEEDS this!


And oh yes, there are more.

Wading through submissions.

Wading through submissions.

Finally found some time to sort through most of the Chicagoist applications for a new music writer or two last night. I was slightly embarrassed to come across GalPal's letter -- she's already been snatched up by Gapers Block's Transmission music site* -- so it's pretty obvious I'm a bit behind on responding to this batch.

I'm pleased with a lot of the applicants though, so while it means that fewer of the auditioners I try out will actually get in, it means that we'll hopefully be teaming up with some pretty top-notch talent. Also, with SuperBird in grad school, Marcus moved into the Editor-in-Chief position, and Ali tackling more general contributor stuff, I've been carrying the brunt of the musical coverage on the site** ... and it'll be nice to have couple other folks regularly posting on that sort of thing.

Yay!

*Funny story: GalPal applied to write for Chicagoist months before we ever met and I had actually contacted her about auditioning, but she didn't follow through and she admits she "just sort of disappeared on the whole thing." Part of her explanation was that I wasn't pushing her enough to turn in audition posts and my response was that was a specific tactic I use with new contributors. I'm more than happy to offer guidance but, due to the nature of the site, if you're not a self-starter I can't have someone on staff that needs to be prodded in order to provide content. She thought that was sneaky of me but I think it's a valid sorting mechanism. Of course now that I'm bringing on new writers I wish I'd seen her latest application before Transmission snagged her talent!

**Speaking of which, check out my review of Kanye West's latest album.

Monday, November 24, 2008

HAT!

HAT!

Melissa's hat threatened to eat my head Saturday night. And it snagged her a "missed connection." From a dude who can't even spell "fur." Heh.

Happy Monday everybody!

Happy Monday everybody!

It's Monday, and usually that would make me a little grumpy ... but I find it hard to be in a bad mood during a work week that only lasts 2 1/2 days! See? I'm already finding things to be thankful for this week!

How about you? Are you looking forward the the coming holiday mini-break too?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Clinton SoS? Hell yes.

Clinton SoS? Hell yes.

I might be the only one, but I think this news is kind of awesome.

Most anticipated movie of 2009? YES!

Most anticipated movie of 2009? YES!

Mooooziks.

Mooooziks.

This week:
Now listening to: Kanye West's Graduation. Still kind of all sorts of awesome.
Tonight: M83 and School Of Seven Bells at Bottome Lounge. Wear your leg warmers and neon.
To the upper right: Some picture some dude sent me of his girlfriend. Yeah, I have no idea either.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Surprise! I'm DJing tonight!

Surprise! I'm DJing tonight!

I am DJing at Liar's Club tonight with Lisa and JB, and it's our last appearance there in November ... so I really think you should come on out and have a drink with us while making that request for your favorite tune.

You will be at the bar or on the dance floor, right?

You don't want to hurt my feelings by not showing up, do you?

Check out last week's set-list for a taste of what might be played. It was a rock and/or rollin' night, but remember ... it's YOU who decides how the night will go. If folks wanna fill the dance floor we'll certainly accommodate those wishes too!

A really simple way to screw up RSS.

A really simple way to screw up RSS.

I was reading d's re-work of Tony Pierce's How To Blog post yesterday , and one addition he made to the original had to do with RSS feeds. Include the full feed, not just your post title. This isn't 2001 so you can stop freaking out about it detracting from your site's traffic numbers. Look, you're writing this for yourself and you're not beholden to some client or another stuck with the idea that pageviews are the number one way to measure success. You want people to read your stuff, right? Isn't that the whole point?

I've stopped reading a number of blogs because their authors only post blog title to their RSS feed. If you want to stick in the outmoded thinking where the site meter is king than think of my response this way; you just lost a customer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Betty update.

Betty update.

The anti-bark collar -- knock on wood -- seems to be working. And when I get home she doesn't seem as distressed as before, so maybe everything'll be fine now? I have to admit though, I keep expecting her to figure out how to "cheat" the collar in some way because she's such a smart little beagle!

Chinese Democracy.

Chinese Democracy.

I reviewed Tommy Stinson's side project's new album today.

Haloween 2008 .... suuuuper late at night.

Halloween 2008 .... suuuuper late at night.

Lauren L. took this picture of me between DJ sets Halloween night. Note the toppled table underfoot. She tells a very amusing story about that table that I am not going to repeat here. Anyway, this is a totally hilarious shot.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quandary.

Quandary.

I'm supposed to see Titus Andronicus tonight at 7:30 p.m. But now I also have an opportunity to see Glenn Kotche with eighth blackbird tonight ... at 7:30 p.m. And, complicating all of that, is the fact that I need to go home after work to let Betty out, so even if I could decide on one over the other the chances I would make either in time are virtually nil!

And later? Burlington or Sonotheque? Sonotheque is overpriced but it's the Pitchfork 500 release party, while Burlington features the nigh-irresistible draw of a drink slingin' SuperBird.

Advice please! Is their any solution to this mess? And why the hell are all these show so goldarned early?!

Spot the photographer: Tankboy at Girl Talk

Spot the photographer: Tankboy at Girl Talk!

I'm in every one of these photos, can you spot me?




Above photos by Will Deitz and Nadim Damluji

And then we have this one my friend Lauren L. shot from the crowd.


Pandemonium all around yet I manage to stand stock still. Now THAT'S talent!

Monday, November 17, 2008

For your consideration.

For your consideration.

The audacity of joke?

New Riverboat Gamblers!

New Riverboat Gamblers!


The Riverboat Gamblers are one of my absolute favorite live acts currently in action and I've been anxiously awaiting their fellow-up to 2006's To the Confusion of Our Enemies. We're all still going to have to wait until March 10, 2009 for the new album -- Underneath The Owl -- but they're releasing the first single for free as of RIGHT NOW. It's poppier than I expected ... download it below!


MP3: The Riverboat Gambler "A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology"

(A warning about the audio quality ... the MP3 is at 192 kbps but I think it may have been ripped by the label at a lower bit-rate judging by the "splashy" hi-hat sound.)

Weekend desk report!

Weekend desk report!

It was a good weekend.
  • Betty the Beagle became a subject of fine art thanks to Lauri Apple's "Hipster Animals" series. She will gladly paint your/your friends' animals as hipsters for a reasonable sum. Also, if you can think of a catchy saying to along with Betty's image on a T-shirt let me know!
  • Ran into unexpected visitors from a town down South and enjoyed spending time with them, although I think they were initially worried I might be annoyed due to the company they were keeping ... which couldn't have been further from the truth.
  • The Lauren / Dawn / Jenny Evil birthday party was an unequivocal success, even if I did spend a portion of the evening wandering around shirtless in Keep's sweater vest while he wore my leather. Don't ask.
  • Saw Tom Schraeder turn in an excellent set ... I'm beginning to think he might actually catch on with the larger public!
  • Slept until 4 p.m. yesterday (!) and then spent the evening drinking wine and watching movies with GalPal. Learned two things: 1. Realized I am no longer as similar -- in the pathetic sense at least -- to the character of Rob In High Fidelity. 2. Just because a movie looks like it has a Flight of the Conchords vibe, that doesn't mean it's any good. In other words, avoid Eagle Versus Shark at all costs!
  • Worked out a deal with GalPal ... she'll watch The Spirit and Watchmen with me if I agree to see The Transporter 3 and another movie of her choice with her. Despite her picking out Eagle Versus Shark, I agreed.
  • Discovered Treat, this tiny little restaurant around the corner from my place, has FANTASTIC food. Even a picky eater like me was pretty blown away. Highly recommended.
  • An extremely old friend I lost track of over a decade ago contacted me through Facebook, reminding me why I love that particular social networking site. It also reinforced my desire to keep that account "friends only" and keep away from bands or people I don't directly know or engage with.
The only down moment of the weekend?
  • Bought Betty an anti-bark collar Saturday and got an email from the building's management company Sunday that unless things changed Betty would have to go. Hopefully this collar solves our problems. I gave it a trial run before leaving her alone today and it seems to do the trick.I am a bit worried though, since folks complaining are saying she barks for 12+ hours and that's just not possible since I don't leave her unattended that long. I understand people's frustration but wish they'd contact me so I can both personally apologize and outline what we're doing to try and solve the problem.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Livid!

Livid!

Cafe 200 in the Aon building has me so furious right now I can barely contain myself. Three times in the past week I've gone down there at 2 p.m. to get a grilled cheese only to be told by the dude manning that station that they're "closed." Look dude, I've worked in the restaurant industry as everything from a chef to a manager and I know "closed" means you've started cleaning the grill because you want to get out of there. I understand that. But if the cafeteria doesn't close until 2:30 p.m. you can't start cleaning the grill that early! Put away your food tubs and all that other crap, but you can't turn the grill off until the restaurant is closed!

And the fact that management there is so shoddy that this has happened three times is driving me absolutely insane.

So three times in the past week I've stormed out of there and headed to other restaurants in other buildings, even though other stations in the cafeteria are obviously still open and have food. Way to win and keep customers folks.

Insult to injury? Today I walked to a Quizno's in another building, got sass from the chick at the register for wanting a plain turkey sandwich -- we don't make those, she says ... really? -- and I just sat down at my desk to eat said turkey sandwich to find out she smothered it in ranch. Great. I guess I'm eating from the fucking vending machine today.

Watcha gonna do tomorrow?

Watcha gonna do tomorrow?

Hey, check out the hot chick on the right ... it's GalPal!

Hey, check out the hot chick in the middle ... oh wait, that's no chick, it's Tom Schraeder. He's having a CD release party at Schubas tomorrow. You should go check him out.


Afterward head to Quenchers and goose my friends Lauren, Dawn, and Jenny Evil for their collective birthdays.