MonthAugust 2001

Lost Post

     I am an idiot and I lost this day’s post. It figures, because it was wickedly long. I tried rewriting it but it all came out crappy. Here are the pictures that were used with short descriptions of their intent:

     Bjork released her latest album, ‘Vespertine’ on twelve CD’s, each containing one song. This is one of them. I was attempting to get people to help me find the others. I’ve found three of the twelve. If you can help me find more I will love you. The original description of this picture was written from Bjork’s point of view and mentioned something about me being insane.

     This is a new drink that’s out there. It is shaped like a grenade and has a pin on the cap. The original description said that it was BOMBALICIOUS!

This is the box a radioshack speaker came in.

The original description was something to the effect of:

Radio Shack Executive 1: D’ya think we should we change the box art?

Radio Shack Executive 2: ….Naaaaaahhh.

     I went and saw Eric’s Trip play in Toronto and then wrote a big gushy piece about how much I loved them in my youth and how great it was to finally see this band that I’d obsessed over perform. Then I deleted it. On accident, of course. Photos I took:

     The day after I drove to Toronto, saw Eric’s Trip and drove home, all in one day, I drove to Kalamazoo to see Ted Leo. I played Mrs. Pac Man next to Ted Leo as he played Donkey Kong, and we spoke openly about our respective gaming frustrations. He was not very good at Donkey Kong.

     I saw a guy unicycling down my street in business casual wear while I was cutting the lawn. This made me smile, because I imagined that he unicycled to and from work.

     Moral of this post: Don’t switch servers because you will inevitably delete something that you didn’t make a backup copy of.

What I did on my summer vacation: Toronto

     We left for Toronto way early, and made really good time. After checking into our hotel in some outlying suburb whose name I forget, we went off to the venue. When we got to the general area of the venue we of course took a wrong turn and drove in the wrong direction for several miles. We ended up getting there at around 3:30. We all peed on the way in (which turned out to be a very, very good idea).

     This time around, we were up at the gate waiting for them to open it. While waiting, four of us played an epic game of ‘War’ and I emerged victorious. This killed an hour or two.

     What we failed to realize was that there were three gates. waiting for hours and then seeing a surge of people pour in from a gate that is not the one you are waiting at sucks big. Seeing it happen again, sucks even worse. When they finally let our gate in, we got pretty close to the stage, but we were way to the left, almost in the middle of the giant screen.

     It was super super hot, so people kept giving up and leaving the front area. Slowly but surely we moved in and up until we were very close and right in front of where Ed would be on stage.

     Radiohead were once again fucking incredible. I must make the distinction of fucking incredible, because incredible isn’t a strong enough word for it. This show and the toronto show were two completely different experiences, because of the differing views. In Toronto I couldn’t see the screens at all unless I turned around. You can see my pictures from the Toronto show by clicking here.

     We had made a sign with letters “N-U-D-E” out of hotel stationary to hold up in an attempt to convince the band to play the unreleased song that is commonly called either “Nude” or “Big Ideas.” At the beginning of the first encore, while all the white lights around the front of the crowd were up, we held it up so that Ed could see it. Another of our party who had managed to make it to the very front hollared for it, and they played it. This made me very, very, very happy. You can see the setlist and some reviews here.

     Moving on to some other random Toronto Pictures, we find that Lays makes some mean ‘Regular Nature’ chips. Which is good because I was starting to get sick of all those fancy types of nature.

     We saw posters for this melding of Macbeth and the Simpsons all over the place. If you know anything about it, or maybe have even seen it, feel free to tell me all about it.

Who down with OPP?

A few letters I’ve been meaning to write:

Dear Toronto,
     I am super, super allergic to you.
But you were still fun!
yer pal,
ak

Dear Radiohead,
     Please stop making your shirts in ‘heroin addict’ sizes. When I need to buy an ‘XXL’ to approximate the ‘L’ I usually wear, something is not right. Also, please continue to rock in earnest.
yer pal,
ak

What I did on my summer vacation: Detroit

     I ended up pulling into my driveway at about 6:30 A.M. I then went inside and slept until about noon. I worked from 3 until 11:30, and we were leaving for Toronto at 7:30 the next morning. About midway through my shift, I got a call from my mom who had driven by something of interest being thrown away in a neighborhood near ours: a cocktail table-style arcade cabinet. Naturally, I left work on my lunch break to go grab it. The person who was trashing it kept the circuit boards, wiring, speaker and coin door; but they left the monitor and power supply.

     Upon returning from Toronto, I wired a circuit board up to the monitor and discovered that it works perfectly.

So yeah. Free cocktail cabinet and monitor. Thanks Mom!

What I did on my summer vacation: Chicago

     Thanks to dumb luck (Some friends had an extra ticket and I had the day off), I ended up being able to go to see Radiohead in Chicago. I forgot my camera, so you get a breather from the pictures. First things first: Radiohead is, without a doubt in my mind, the new Grateful Dead. Why do I say this? Because I’ve heard other people make this comparison and I now have proof.
On the ride to Chicago, we would pass cars containing young folks and speculate as to whether they were heading to Radiohead. In one case, the occupants of a car drew the Radiohead Bear symbol on a piece of paper and held it up to the window for us to see. When one of us would exit etc. everyone would wave. So yes, caravan mentality. Also the show reeked of pot. So in short:

Radiohead = New Grateful Dead because

  • Caravans
  • Universal Bear Symbols
  • Pot

This comparison does not count musically, though.

     At any rate, we arrived at the venue somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 and it was already packed. The doors were already open and we had to walk through the big holding area where billions of people sat in line, ate lunches, etc. for several hours. People were actively cleaning up all the debris from the waiting as we walked in, and the nearer we got to the actual gate the worse the mess was.

     This was the hottest day of the year (thus far) in Chicago, and they were being total water nazis. Water was for sale inside – $4 for a 20 Oz. bottle. Once we actually got inside there were a few sources of relief. They were spraying the crowd with one of those huge fire hoses, and had set up these mist tents where one could go cool off for a bit.

     We waited for a few hours right at the front of the sound board, which once all 25,000 people had arrived was right in the middle of the crowd. After the Beta Band finished boring the shit out of me (Pre recorded acoustic guitar?! I can see pre-recorded samples, strings, etc but acoustic guitar? Play it live you chumps!), Kid Koala took the stage while the crew finished setting up the stage for Radiohead.

     As soon as the band took the stage and the first few notes of ‘National Anthem’ rang out, the crowd surged forward about 10 feet and I ended up in a pretty prime position, close enough that I could see what was going on but set back enough that I could see both of the huge LED screens that were on either side of the stage.

     I’m not going to go into too much detail about the show, because you can read tons of reviews here, but I will say that the highlight was easily Thom playing the unreleased ‘True Love Waits’ alone on an acoustic during one of the encores.

     It was the best sound I’ve ever heard at a concert and it was OUTDOORS which is crazy. I’d read about radiohead using some weird laser system to calibrate their speaker arrangements in Q magazine, and if that’s true, it works very well. I can’t stress enough how crystal clear the sound was – and set against the backdrop of the Chicago skyline, it was a really cool experience.

     After the show, the crowd spilled out on to the streets of Chicago, the police who were directing traffic seemed flabbergasted by the droves of people that just kept coming. We ate some dinner, and two of the four of us that made the trip went to their hotel. The two of us that weren’t staying set off for Detroit, with me driving. I drank lots and lots of Mountain Dew. To the guy who stocks the vending machine that put the No-Doz three spirals back so I had to pay triple price for it: I hate you.

What I did on my summer vacation: Coney Island

     Over the course of about two weeks, I managed to travel through New York, Detroit, Chicago and Toronto. What follows is a photo-heavy account of some of these voyages. What you need to do now, is go make a sandwhich, because lots of pictures are loading as you read this. If you do not have the means to make a sandwich, perhaps you would like to use this time to procure a beverage? Excellent.

New York

     Five of us Michigan folk decided to make the trek to Coney Island, New York for the first annual Village Voice Siren Music Festival. We left at about noon on a friday, anticipating our arrival at the hotel to be around 1ish. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a 13 hour car ride before, but it’s kind of crazy. Around the 7th hour or so, your brain just shuts off and stops caring that you’re still in a car.

     At any rate, once we actually got into New York, we got a bit lost in the tangle of freeways-that-have-three-names. It took some turning-down-of-the-music and back tracking but we eventually found ourselves back on course. By now it was roughly 2 AM. This is when we hit a TRAFFIC JAM. At 2 AM. So we’re sitting there in a traffic jam for a while, when all of a sudden people’s reverse lights start coming on. Soon the entire freeway is driving at us in reverse. Some people have found it necessary to do the speed limit IN REVERSE ON THE FREEWAY. So, we drove in reverse back to the last exit, and got off the freeway.

     Now we are lost again, because the route the computer directions and AAA told us to take is a twilight zone of reverse driving freeway. So we go to this gas station and yank out the big map. This prompts a cab driver (Who from this point on will be referred to as “Nicest Cab Driver Ever”) to approach us and ask where we are going. Apparently he had just gone off duty and was heading home, and just so happened to live right near our hotel. He let us follow him through a series of crazy turns and a straightaway that intersected streets named after every letter of the alphabet. He pulled over and told us that this was his street and to just keep going and we’d find our hotel. And we did! Thank you Nicest Cab Driver Ever (Note: I am talking about a New York cab driver here)!

     We made it to the hotel, and had two people check in (We did the “two people but really it’s five ha ha!” thing). While two of us were checking in, three of us went to a nearby 24 hour deli / grocery / smoke shop, where the other two met us once we were all set. We then went in in small groups so as not to arouse suspicion if they actually cared.

     While waiting at the deli / grocery / smoke shop for his turn to head up to the room, Chris elected to sit down outside and put his head down for a bit, as he was suffering from “Been in a car all fucking day” syndrome. Apparently some dude thought he was “totally bummin’.” because he leapt from his car and approached Chris, hands in the air, saying “It ain’t that bad! It ain’t that bad!” over and over again. Also they sold us some beer at like 3:30 AM which I don’t know if that’s legal in NY but it ain’t in Michigan.

     Moving from the anecdotal to the photographic evidence, you’ll find I took way too many pictures in New York so I’m going to break them up into little subcategories because I’m insane like that. First up, the festival itself.

     We arrived at the festival the next day before anyone had played, so we got a chance to walk around the relatively uncrowded grounds for a bit. The stage was at the foot of the Cyclone – a rollercoaster, and was surrounded on all sides by the rest of the Astroland amusement park.

     Enon were straight up rock and roll. I was a little bit disappointed that they used so much pre-recorded stuff, instead of actually recreating it in the live situation. Chris commented that he felt too many of their songs relied on the “Inviting the audience to dance” device. Fun.

     Peaches is insane. I’ve seen her version of a performance once before, late last year (Towards the bottom). This time she was just as offensive, if not quite as amusing. It seems each performer was given thirty minutes to do with as they saw fit, and since peaches doesn’t use a backing band, she put thirty minutes worth of backing tracks on a mini disc and had it played through the PA.

Once the promoters got an earful of what Peaches was all about, they quickly realized that scheduling her at 1 PM in an open air amusement park teeming with kids was a slightly bad idea. Somewhere in the middle of the closing chant to a song called “Fuck the Pain Away,” (The lyrics are, surprisingly enough: Fuck the pain away / Fuck the pain away”) they tried to pull her off stage. This, of course did not go over well with Peaches.

     Between lyrics, she explained to the security guard that was tentatively trying to escort her offstage that “every kid already knows it” (Referring to the word “Fuck”). After ending the song, she loudly protested to the promoters that she knew her mini-disc was under thirty minutes long and that she was going to do this last song. At this point, she climbed atop one of the P.A. speakers to avoid security, instructed anyone under 12 to plug their ears, and began a song that opened with the line “I got you suckin’ on my titties like I wanted you to.” So, that should give you an idea of what Peaches is all about. If you’re not easily offended, it makes for an extremely amusing show. If you are easily offended, then stop being easily offended. It’s lame. Bonus triviality: Peaches came through Detroit about a week later and Marilyn Manson was at the show. I have no idea a.) why he was at the show or b.) why he was in Detroit, but I don’t really care either.

     Quasi was semi entertaining. I got bored with them, but here’s some pictures for all you Sleater Kinney / Elliot Smith backing band devotees.


     Superchunk played a pretty good set, including some hits, oldies, and new songs. Complaints: They didn’t play enough off of “Indoor Living,” and their newer stuff seems to be a bit too slow-core for me. I was pretty happy with that photo of Mac mid-townsend windmill, though.


     Let’s see, who else played? Man or Astroman played but I couldn’t get close enough to take any good pictures. They seemed a bit lacklustre in the daylight, without the aid of their insane stage show. They did bring out a few dot matrix printers and had them preform a “cover version” of a MOAM song, so that was pretty cool. Also, y’know that computer voice that Radiohead used on “Fitter, Happier”..? They had the voice speak the words to a song, then pitch-shifted the result, so it sounded like that voice was singing a melody. It was their computerized lead singer, they said. So yes, if you are a huge nerd, you would have enjoyed them.

     Rainer Maria also played but I’ve seen ‘em a billion times so I walked around Coney Island instead. GBV played but I hate Bob Pollard. JSBX played but everyone was dead tired and we wanted to leave so we only saw about half of them. Two weird things that happened during the JSBX set:

  • The sound guys cranked the master level for the P.A. up by at least 50%. They were seriously ridiculously louder than any other band that played.
  • Some guy walked around handing out bottles of the most putrid soy drink ever concocted. We all ditched ours after one taste and some vegan guy came over to yell at us for dissing the vegan products. We invited him to try some and he ended up agreeing that it was pretty putrid.

     Oh did I mention it got wickedly crowded? By the time Man or Astroman? went on, it was absolutely ridiculous – shoulder to shoulder for like miles back. Below is a lame picture I took of one of the side channels that lead to a bathroom. Click here for an overhead view of the crowd at its peak, from The Village Voice’s own photos of the fest.

     I should probably mention that you should not go to Coney Island if you ever have to pee. There is seriously only one set of bathrooms, so bladderless only, please.

     Earlier at the fest we met up with our friend Andrea, who had graciously invited us to stay with her that night. Some of us stayed up until dawn drinking and talking, while others more wisely claimed prime couch and floor real estate. Andrea works as a packaging engineer and gave us all sorts of products that she got for free, like the kool aid seen below. At the time I was like, “Thanks!” but the wicked heat wave of last week coupled with the fact that that’s a LOT OF FUCKING KOOLAID prompts me to be more like “THANKS!”

     We spent Sunday in the car and got back home around 1:30ish AM.
Below is a drink that Joe bought on the way home. Don’t ever buy it. Why? Because it tastes terrible. Imagine, if you will, lining up a bunch of dudes and handing them each a piece of winterfresh gum, asking them to chew for ten minutes and then spit into a 20 Oz. bottle.

     That is what this drink tastes like: Winterfresh spit.

     Oh crap! I almost forgot the best story of all! When we were jockeying for position before Superchunk played, older Pete Wrigley from Pete and Pete talked to me! I swear to god! He was trying to get out of the crowd and we were trying to get in. When he appeared, Chris froze and frantcally tried to alert me to the fact that Pete was standing in front of me without using the word ‘Pete.’ I was, however, oblivious to his efforts. Instead of thinking “HOLY SHIT IT’S OLDER PETE WRIGLEY!” I thought “What the hell is Chris trying to say? I’ll let this guy by me since he’s going the opposite way.” And I did. And that guy was older Pete Wrigley. After I let him by, he said either “Thanks, dude” or “Thanks, man.” I forget which. It all makes sense because he’s going to college in New York.

     Next up: Touristy stuff. Below are a bunch of photos from around Coney Island that I thought were super cool and you might not. Clicking on the littler one gets you a bigger version. Imagine that!

Astroland gates.

The Cyclone rollercoaster.

Sideshows by the Seashore.

Horizon from the boardwalk.

Burger guy with rocket.

Wonder Wheel.

Fiji Mermaid, yo.

     Of special note are the real live sideshow pics which I thought were pretty awesome. We saw a guy lay on a bed of nails and put another bed of nails on top of him and have two people stand on it. Crazy!

     There was also a booth for the smallest woman in the world. You could go in and see her for a dollar. I didn’t really think about it at all, I was just all like “Take my dollar!” and then I got back there and saw her and she said hello and I felt like the biggest asshole in the world. I can’t really explain it, I just did. Not Fun!

     I forgot to mention that there is also a boardwalk and a beach. The background to this window is a picture of the beach taken from the boardwalk.

     Finally, a few other pictures that are great but I didn’t know what to do with them. The sign below was on a bumper cars booth.

     This is my favorite picture ever:

     For all your playa needs:

     A few final thoughts on the New York trip:

  • Truck stops with showers are weird.
  • It really pisses off the waitress if you win the teddy bear in the crane game that she’s been after since she’s worked there.
  • If you are me, you should really learn how to put sunscreen on. Putting it on your face so you don’t cover the whole face and you stand with one half of your head to the sun for a long rock festival results in one half of “normal face” and one half of “sunburned with imprint of your own hand on your face” face. I swear, you’re so stupid.
  • Certain parts of New York try to make their 7-11’s look “rustic.”
  • Coney dogs taste just like hot dogs everywhere else.
  • Grafitti is on every available surface. In the Coney Island area, some tags we saw on the way in were already covered when we left.

Toronto Radiohead Photos

     Some photos I took at the Toronto Radiohead show. Click for bigger versions:


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Thom giddily rocks an acoustic while fan in foreground displays appreciation.

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Mopey-looking Thom on the big screen, as seen through the camera mounted in his piano during ‘You and Whose Army?’

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Thom rocks hands-free. That little microphone-ish thing beneath his arms is one of the cameras.
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Johnny and his wall of stuff.

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A dramatically lit Thom, towards the end of the last encore.

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Ed scratches his head.

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Thom plays the organ.

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A clearer shot of Johnny and his wall of stuff.

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One more shot of Thom.