Video Fridays: Pavement

pavement-quarantineSo, it’s happened again.

I’ve written before about how I fancy myself quite the student of music, and yet, despite my diligent efforts to know what’s going on, I occasionally discover that a particular band or artist has somehow escaped my attention.

Well, this time it’s ’90s indie, alt, rock, or whatever you wanna call it band, Pavement.

Yeah, I know, I’m only just getting into a band that officially broke up in 1999 and was insistent during their 2010 reunion tour that they were not getting back together again.

I’ve heard of Pavement for all of these years, heard just as much about their frontman, Stephen Malkmus, and his other projects, but it took coming across a video clip of one of my favorite bands, Wilco, doing a cover of a Pavement song for me to finally get it.

I’ve been listening to their stuff all day and find I really enjoy their punk-attitude-infused sound, very electric-guitar-centric, and yet melodic at the same time.

Only time will tell as to just how deep I’ll plunge into Pavement, however painful that sounds, or how long I’ll be as into them as I was today, but for now I’m happy to discover some great music that is new to me.

For today’s Video Fridays installment then, I hope you enjoy, as much as I did, this full show from the 2010 reunion tour.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Oh, England. You’re No Fun Anymore!

monty-python-copIf you are a heterosexual guy and you reached puberty when I did, in the 1970s, and you were lucky enough, as I was, to have a public television station that, late at night, would play reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus , not only were you introduced to some of the best comedy ever produced, but you could also catch precious, hormone-stirring glimpses of female … um … as the Pythons would say, naughty bits, such as the image here, taken from one of Terry Gilliam‘s amazing and hilarious cutout animations.

If you were extra lucky, as I was, you had another channel available to you, like WOR TV 9, that, also late at night, played reruns of a second British comedy program, The Benny Hill Show, which contained rarer bits of nudity, but plentiful moments of scantily clad women.

Consequently, my impression of England and British culture was that it was more liberal and open-minded than it was here in the U.S., and I loved them for it!

Disappointing then, to come across this item in today’s New York Times:

Ad for Rolling Stones Exhibition Banned from London Underground

A poster for the coming Rolling Stones exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London — showing a bright pink tongue on the front of a pair of women’s underwear — has been banned from the London Underground until adjustments can be made to make it less explicit.

Here’s the image from the poster:

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Really, England?!

The Rolling Stones have been raunchy for decades, while becoming one of the greatest bands in the world, and you’d be hard-pressed to prove that they are in any way to blame for any perceived decline of the United Kingdom.

Let’s face it, you’re no fun anymore!

If My Home Is Ever Raided By The FBI, Can I Be Treated Like Jared?

jared-eating-subwayWhether it’s white privilege, our country’s soft-on-white-collar-crime tendencies, or something else entirely, in all my years of reading the news I’ve never seen anything like the softball coverage of the FBI raid on the home of now-former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle.

Oh, it starts off alright, getting directly to what you’d think the point would and should be:

NEW YORK — Subway said Tuesday it mutually agreed with Jared Fogle to suspend their relationship after the home of the chain’s longtime pitchman was raided by federal and state investigators.

But then…the article continues for another 730 words over 19 more paragraphs reading more like a Wikipedia entry on the history of the Jared-Subway ad campaign, never mentioning the FBI — much less mentioning that the raid was tied to a child pornography investigation — until paragraph 18!

It goes from that appropriate opening paragraph right into:

The separation was jarring because the 37-year-old everyman has become a familiar face around the world. To many, he’s known simply as “the Subway guy” who shed a massive amount of weight by eating the chain’s sandwiches. His story is perhaps the biggest reason for Subway’s image over the years as a healthy place to eat.

“That story played a huge role in (Subway’s) growth,” said Mary Chapman, senior director of product innovation at Technomic, a market research firm. “It’s not just Jared the man, it’s what it represents.”

See, there’s something terribly wrong when a celebrity receives this kind of treatment, while ordinary John & Jane Doe will simply be reported as suspects in a child pornography ring and appropriately scrutinized by investigative journalists who recognize that child pornography, not “play[ing] a huge role” in the growth of a corporation, is the actual story.

Yes, I’m talking to you, Associated Press, source of the article quoted above, and you, Washington Post, with your article titled:

Why Jared Fogle was — and still might be — the perfect Subway spokesman

…and you, Los Angeles Times, with yours, titled:

The Subway guy: How Jared Fogle went from overweight student to cultural icon

…as if there weren’t any possibility that the title of the story might actually end up being:

The Subway guy: How Jared Fogle went from overweight student to cultural icon to child pornographer

Of course, very few details are known at this time, but instead of holding off reporting further until more information is available, there are all of those column inches to fill!

Ugh.

Fare Thee Well, Grateful Dead

GratefulDead-fare-thee-wellSo, last night, at Soldier Field in Chicago, the Grateful Dead played what was billed as their last ever concert, which is to say that the “core four”, the four surviving members of the original band — Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart — claim they will never again all play together after the run of five shows they just did.

I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the show via Pay-Per-View at a friend’s house, it was a very emotional experience, and today I find myself still reeling with feelings.

I’ve written numerous times, here at Fish & Bicycles about my longstanding love of the Grateful Dead and my unapologetic identification as a Deadhead. I’ve gone VERY deep with the Dead’s music over many years, and I’m so grateful for all of the fun, inspiration, and meaning it has given me and will continue to give.

One of the things that was so special about the Grateful Dead, and which partly explains why I’m so emotional about their grand finale, is that the band members were never rock stars. Instead, they felt almost like friends. After all, they cut their teeth at the Acid Tests, where they thought of themselves as participants in a communal experience, rather than hired musicians up on a bandstand, there to simply entertain the party guests.

Eventually, of course, they graduated to larger and larger venues, and were, by necessity, up on a huge stage at a distance from much of the crowd, but they weren’t egomaniacal showmen, prancing and strutting around the stage for attention, as if it was all about them. They simply made music and cared deeply that their shows should be meaningful, exploratory, and uniting experiences.

Another thing that contributed to the Grateful Dead’s appeal, especially to aspiring musicians like myself, is that, due to the improvisational approach they took to their music, pushing the envelope every night, exploring new ideas in front of a live audience, not every idea worked, a flub here and flub there, just often enough to remind you that they were human, so that you notice you still love them, warts and all, and they always pulled themselves out of the occasional train wreck, eventually.

Again, for an aspiring musician this is a powerful, powerful thing, it’s the thing that encouraged millions of people like me to pick up a guitar, learn some Dead tunes, and to stick with it, in many cases long enough to get good enough to play with other musicians, where the real fun starts.

Finally, the last element of Dead appeal derives from their hippie roots. I’ve mentioned my fondness for hippie culture before, and I still long to be surrounded by people who truly believe that love; peaceful, supportive, inclusive community; and freedom of expression are the most important things.

Last night, then, was decidedly NOT just another concert. It was a fond farewell, the end of a long, strange trip, it was friends saying goodbye to friends in all directions, it was the band saying goodbye to each other, it was Bob Weir choking up and struggling to get through the lyrics of his song Throwing Stones, and then Phil Lesh doing the same thing on his tune Unbroken Chain, at the realization that this will be the last time they will ever sing those songs with their bandmates of 50 years, it was the conspicuous and painful absence of Jerry Garcia who had been the heart and soul of the Dead, and it was the reverent, loving tribute that Trey Anastasio paid to Jerry, filling his shoes as best as he could, emulating some of Jerry’s classic tones, riffs, and licks, while bringing his own touches and voice, just as Jerry would have wanted him to do.

The show ended with one of the band’s more obscure songs, Attics Of My Life, a haunting hymn from their classic 1970 album American Beauty, a song about the power of music, and about how music is even more powerful when partnered with love and shared.

In the attics of my life
Full of cloudy dreams unreal
Full of tastes no tongue can know
And lights no eye can see
When there was no ear to hear
You sang to me

I have spent my life
Seeking all that’s still unsung
Bent my ear to hear the tune
And closed my eyes to see
When there were no strings to play
You played to me

Here, then, is that performance, which, even with crappy sound quality, moves me deeply once again. And, just to make up for the crappy sound quality, I’ve included the original studio recording, so that those not familiar with the song can hear more clearly the sublime beauty and lovely harmonies.

Fare you well, Grateful Dead, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell…

Headline of the Day: Not Your Ordinary Organ Transplant

adamandeveIt’s difficult to know where to start with this Headline of the Day installment, so perhaps I’ll just get right to it.

Dear readers, especially all you guys out there, brace yourselves:

Penis transplant patient to become a father

The Guardian

As cringe-worthy as the subject might be, I have to admit that I was powerless to resist reading the attending article.

And, I really wish I hadn’t, as several quotes induced sympathy pains the likes of which I’ve not experienced before and hope never to experience again.

The man’s penis was amputated three years ago after life-threatening complications arising from a botched circumcision. His penis had developed gangrene…

The man, whose identity is being kept secret, received his new penis from an organ donor in a nine-hour operation…

The professor said that even now there remains some risk of organ rejection. Evidence would include lesions on the skin…

Nine years ago, a Chinese man had a penis transplant, but his doctors removed the organ after two weeks due to “a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife”.

OWIE!!!!!!!!!

I know, it’s childish of me to exploit this man’s story for entertainment. But, I promise that I AM deeply sympathetic to what he’s been through and thrilled for him and his partner, that they were fruitful and able to multiply.

Sincerely!

Really, I mean it!!!

Eyecatchers: 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

NationalGeo12-croppedIf, like me, your family had a subscription to National Geographic Magazine when you were a kid, before you learned to love reading, one of the reasons you LOVED the publication was because you didn’t have to read the articles to learn amazing things about the world beyond your neighborhood, town, city, etc.

Reason: The photography was mind-blowing — pictures are worth a thousand words, as is often said — and one could dwell on these pictures, could dwell IN these pictures, could get lost in these pictures.

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever published here at Fish & Bicycles, from July 2012 and titled Eyecatchers: Steve McCurry’s World of Bicycles, featured the photography of one of the magazine’s most acclaimed photographers, and the images I included in that post serve as fine examples of how photography can tell us so much about a place and its people, people in places we’ve never been or may never visit.

In addition to teaching us so much about the planet we inhabit, National Geographic has inspired millions of people to try their own hand at photography, and a fitting testament to how inspirational the magazine has been to so many is their annual Travel Photo Contest, where anyone, amateur or pro, can submit photos for prize consideration.

This Eyecatchers installment, was inspired by a selection of 2015 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest entries handpicked by The Atlantic, and features my favorites from this selection. (Please be sure, though, to visit The Atlantic in order to read the very informative captions to each photo.)

If you’re busy and have a lot on your plate, you might want to consider setting a timer with a loud alarm, as I will not be held responsible for readers getting lost in these photos and losing track of time. :)

Enjoy!

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Late Night TV Bandleader/Sidekick: Part II

THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDENThis morning I posted this week’s Video Fridays installment, in which I touched on the late night TV talk show Host, Bandleader, and Sidekick roles, in response to the announcement yesterday that Jon Batiste will be Stephen Colbert’s bandleader on the new Late Show, coming this September.

My post was never meant to be an exhaustive exposé on the subject, and so my references to late night TV talk shows were far from inclusive, leaving out two shows in particular: Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Late Show.

In my post, I mentioned that some late night shows have a bandleader AND a sidekick, while on others the bandleader doubles as the sidekick, and by coincidence, shortly after I posted that, I came across a piece on Salon.com this morning with the headline:

Reggie Watts, the weirdest guy on late night TV: How “The Late Late Show” bandleader is redefining the sidekick role

If you aren’t familiar with Reggie Watts, it is well worth your time to go on a YouTube binge, or check out back episodes from the show Reggie is leaving, Comedy Bang! Bang!, seasons 1-3 of which are now on Netflix.

And, since it’s still Video Fridays, and since we’re on the subject of late night TV talk shows, here’s a clip of Reggie doing his thing on Conan: