26 October 2006

It Was a Really Crappy Day

You know the day, the one where everything in your universe goes wrong. A dot of red ink on the cream sweater. Project FUBARs. The crabbiest man this side of Mr. Wilson’s fence. Blogger crashing every couple of hours. Just a general argh, followed by a scan of the circus want-ads.

How did I deal? Maturely and sanely: I went CD shopping. After all, I want to be Ben Heller when I grow up.

I don’t go CD shopping much these days. I’m an MP3 addict, so I get most of my music from eMusic and iTunes — instant aural gratification, open twenty-four hours. But sometimes I need to wander the aisles, listen to something new, discover something I didn’t know was out. I grabbed my purse, hopped in the Beetle, and zipped down to road to Ella Guru, where I spent a glorious hour wandering and listening and discovering.

So what did I buy? On first listen, a damn good stack of discs.

The Decemberists: The Crane Wife. The Scriveners and I going to see The Decemberists on Friday, so it was imperative that I get the new album (which, surprisingly, has yet to be offered on eMusic). The album is brilliant; I’ve listened to it four times since I ripped off the cellophane. Very excited about the concert; the Northwest doppelganger saw them a couple of weeks ago and has yet to stop raving about the show.

The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America. The Connecticut beloveds are huge fans, and turned me on to The Hold Steady years ago. I didn’t know this album was out (I guess I need to call Renae and Greg) until I found it on the new releases shelf; getting a high thumbs-up so far. They’re a great Brooklyn-via-Minneapolis band; if you have yet to hear them, I recommend checking them out.

Badly Drawn Boy: Born in the U.K.. I love Damon Gough — his voice, his songs, his thoughts. On first spin, this is a worthy addition to my BDB collection. Will over at Will and Ben's Record Room wrote a very good album review last week (those two always do).

The Pernice Brothers: Live a Little. A great eMusic discovery from a couple of years ago, I enjoy Joe Pernice’s slice of indie pop and think he has a lovely voice. The new album is quite good. Hey, Atlanta and Atlanta-bound readers: The Pernice Brothers are going to be at The Earl in early December; anyone want to join me?

Lambchop: Damaged. I think Lambchop is recording some of the best alt-country music out there these days, and this album doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s quite good. Ben, I’m looking forward to reading your review later this week.

At least the lunch hour went well. Been a while since I bought a stack of CDs and really enjoyed each one. Maybe that’s a good sign for the rest of the week? There's a concert and a costume party this weekend, so hopes are beginning to soar.

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At 10/26/2006 09:13:00 AM, Blogger haahnster said...

"2,176 vinyl albums and 4,723 CD albums"...Wow! I want to be Ben Heller, too!

I have closer to 1,200 on vinyl and another 1,000 or so on CD. But, that's just a guess. I need to count, I suppose. While I'm updating my b**tleg list (which is a must-have for music trading purposes), maybe I'll start cataloging my "officially" released stuff as well...

At 10/26/2006 09:29:00 AM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

I've got the Crane's Wife, and I hate that I am missing the band tonigt? Are you going, Beth?

I had a friend who used to live near Ella Guru, and I loved going there. I'd always walk out with a stack of used CDs for ridiculously little money. These days I'm more of a Criminal Records kind of guy. It's closer.

I may be in for the Pernice Brothers in Dec. I saw them at teh Earl a few years ago, and it was a good show.

At 10/26/2006 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Ben Heller said...

Beth, someone who has that amount of albums has to be a little excessive.

If he listened to one album every day from the start it would take him just over 19 years to get through them.

I'm writing the review for Lambchop's album tonight. Musically it's quite gorgeous, and it's gonna get a high rating.

I've bought The Decemberists album on recommendation and I can't wait to listen to it over the weekend

At 10/26/2006 10:18:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

HAAHNSTER: I whittled down my vinyl to two boxes after several moves; just the b**ts and the most special ones are left. My CD collection has around 2,000 albums; my MP3 collection is nearing 20,000. We have to catch Heller!

DJ CAYENNE: I'm off to see The Decemberists tomorrow night; too bad you and Mrs. Cayenne can't make it; I'm going with a fun bunch. Maybe we can all hook up for the Pernice Brothers.

BEN: I always have affection for the excessives. Isn't the Lambchop submlime? Let me know what you think of The Crane Wife, and check back this weekend for the Decemberists' show review.

At 10/26/2006 11:35:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

I have no idea why people spend ANY money for CDs or mp3 downloads. Get a guitar and make your own music. 80 million to REM?! What kind of country are we that we give 80 million to four guys who posture with instruments?

I really hate people whose lives revolve around that "latest, coolest music."


At 10/26/2006 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Pick up book, learn a foreign language, do something constructive and active with your life. The money spent on music could easily get you a plane ticket to China. Check out Shanghai right now. THAT will open your eyes more than listening to always-teenaged musicians with odd band names. Stop passively listening to music! It's a waste of your time.


At 10/26/2006 11:40:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Some of us (and I'm one of those) have absolutely no musical talent, so grabbing a guitar and picking a few tunes isn't an option. And what's wrong with loving music? I feel sorry for you that you don't understand the sheer joy of hearing a new song.

At 10/26/2006 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Ben Heller said...

To the person who commented above..

I really hate people who spit out random controversial statements about what people should do with their lives, when they haven't even got the guts to share their profile with the blogging community. Are you a Politician ?

What we do with OUR money is OUR business, not yours, and I wouldn't for one minute suggest to you how to spend your money.

At 10/26/2006 12:31:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Thanks for coming to our defense, Ben. I was trying to be a gracious blog hostess, but Jeremy ticked me off; there are plenty of blogs for musicians he can frequent. And I can't stand comment chickens, either.

At 10/26/2006 12:49:00 PM, Blogger Ben Heller said...

Don't worry Beth, as he doesn't want to share his experiences with us they can't be very interesting.

I'd rather read your blog anyway.

At 10/26/2006 12:56:00 PM, Anonymous Renae said...

wow, I was just going to say something about the HOld Steady and then I see that this Jeffrey has a problem with people listening to music.

Frankly, I'd rather listen to a good tune than dig myself and my ego further into the false belief that I am separate from everyone else.
I'm thrilled that there are people who feel their connection to the universe by going to China and then those who feel connected by engaging popular music and then those who feel connected by meditating for six hours a day.

The universe is so big and so open and so inclusive that we all fit.

So Jeffrey, show us your joy and passion--let us celebrate it. And I'll tell you how great it was to see the HOld Steady in the basement of the Masonic Temple in Monroe, CT with a small but dedicated group of young kids and middle-agers like myself. It was their first gig in the tour and the release party for the CD. What a great time.

At 10/26/2006 12:58:00 PM, Blogger haahnster said...

"jeffrey," you are a troll of the 1st degree. Your simple-mindedness is quite pitiful. One of the very best ways to learn to play a guitar is to play along with your favorite songs. Also, I must be better endowed than you (in many ways, I'm certain), in terms of multi-tasking ability; I often pick up a book and read while listening to music.

And, as for a flight to China, well that's got headphones in conjunction with a good book written all over it.

But, you weren't really making a reasoned argument were you? So, you win. I fed the troll (you).

At 10/26/2006 01:15:00 PM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

You guys are being a little hard on the Jeffster. I, for one, see the error in my ways. I'll be selling off all of my albums, CDs, iPod, and books (plz come to my garage sale! you materialist swine). With the proceeds I can buy a schweet 12-string and a plane ticket to China. Of course, I will have no culture of my own to share with my new friends, but whatev...I'll be there, man.

At 10/26/2006 02:32:00 PM, Blogger barista brat said...

beth - yay for your music purchases!

jeffrey - t'est vraiment pathetique. restez au chine - tu ne sera pas manquer!

At 10/26/2006 02:39:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BEN: Thanks, dear.

RENAE: See, you need to blog and share the joy of moments like that basement concert (and I'll call you this weekend; I promise).

HAAHNSTER: You go, well-endowed one!

DJ CAYENNE: Be sure to send me an invitation to that garage sale. I embrace my materialist swineness.

BRAT: They're very good.

At 10/26/2006 02:59:00 PM, Blogger Bubs said...

On days like that is when we usually head to the Borders by our house, grab some coffee and walk around. We usually grab a stack of magazines, read most of them while we drink coffee, and then buy one or two that bear further reading. And we ALWAYS go through the discount CD bins in the music section upstairs.

At 10/26/2006 04:45:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I can spend hours in a bookstore. The ex and I used to spend nearly every Saturday evening in our neighborhood bookstore, then head to a movie. Good times.

At 10/26/2006 07:43:00 PM, Blogger haahnster said...


Won't you miss the fun of wandering through book & record stores once they've all been wiped off the map? I love the convenience of Amazon.com...but, I've always preferred shopping in person, especially with a friend or too along for the ride. Alas, it appears to be a thing of the past...

At 10/26/2006 08:45:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I love Amazoning, too, Haahnster, but I also prefer shopping in person ... something about spending all that time just wandering the aisles, picking up and putting down ... flipping through the pages ... standing at a listening post ... I hope they don't go away ... but our locally owneds are dying here.

At 10/26/2006 10:54:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...


Why not donate all that cash you spend on CDs to the starving children of Darfur?

Heh heh.


At 10/26/2006 11:04:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

While you guys are slaving away at your 9-to-5 jobs that are slowly grinding you down, your local heroes REM are MULTI-MILLIONAIRES with personal assistants and homes in several countries. Meanwhile, you guys come home to your sad stack of "tunes." Man. You remember that old Neil Young song? "Helpless, helpless, helpless." I didn't own the record. I heard it on the radio.

Stop giving your cash to filthy-rich poseurs like REM! C'mon, THINK!

FREE yourself NOW from this horrible flim-flam routine set up by modern-day P.T. Barnums like REM and Warner Bros. Believe me, all the Warners execs and the REM "kids" are millionaires many times over by offering people like you your opiates.


At 10/26/2006 11:41:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Ah, dear Jeffrey, you amuse me. Full of disdain for our love of music (in particular, my love of R.E.M.) … and yet you can’t stay away. Two hits in a day? Seven-plus minutes on my page? I think you're harboring a secret crush … or there just ain’t much going on in Astoria today. It's cute, in a grumpy old man sort of way.

At 10/27/2006 12:08:00 AM, Blogger mellowlee said...

I LOVE Badly Drawn Boy and The Decemberists (Crane Wife 3 is an amazing song isn't it?) I haven't heard the others, but that will change :)

At 10/27/2006 12:11:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

I'll try to remember this weekend to upload some samples on Bolt, Mellowlee.

At 10/27/2006 12:23:00 AM, Blogger mellowlee said...

That would be simply amazing, thanks Beth! Bolt is on the fritz today. As someone pointed out earlier, ( i think it was Barb ) they must be in kahoots with Blogger, cause it was being a bitch too. *heavy sigh* Those damn free services eh? Get us all hooked and dependant, then make us suffer...I bet they do it on PURPOSE ...totally, evil buggers.

At 10/27/2006 12:31:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Blogger has been a real b*tch this week. A lot of comments I've tried leaving have just floated away ...

At 10/27/2006 12:56:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...


I simply want to liberate you from the ideological stranglehold the millionaires' club (REM) has on you. It's like that Charlie Brown Halloween.

Listen Beth, what do you get from this deal? You get a rock in your bag every time. Just the interest from the cash REM has stashed into banks would provide wonderful homes for everyone who stops by your blog.

What did you get?

A rock.

Stop supporting Warner Bros. execs and their millionaire frontkids REM!


At 10/27/2006 01:41:00 AM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

Hey-- there was a time when REM was our little band in college...

Heard "Radio Free Europe" on the car radio today on the way to work and was reminded of when and why I just fell in love with the band. If someone held a gun to my head and made me pick a favorite, I'd make them wait while I decided between "Gardening at Night" and "Rockville."

Yes, they probably should have given it up in the early 90's. So should a bunch of bands-- prominently U2, the Cure, and a bunch of others. On the other hand, despite their being seduced by the dark side of corporate rockdom, there is nothing like my memory of dancing with some girl at my college to Gardening. The play between culture and commerciality will be nonstop and relentless until that great Marxist heaven on earth occurs.

If you were to peruse my itunes, you'd find a band called the Uptown Rulers. They were a ska band from the farm town in central Illinois that I went to college in. They were just the fuckin' shit-- good tunes, good politics-- and of course put out two records on a tiny label and disappeared. When the Clash started actually selling a bunch of records, people started bitching about it. They were unrepentant. They said that they had no regrets about their message and they wanted to get their message out. That meant selling records. Were it not for the Clash, I don't know what I'd have done. So if having an audience is a crime, talk to any musician you know. Ask them if they want to sell fewer cd's or songs on itunes. Ask them about selling out; if they bitch about selling out, ask them what the sell-out point is. Expect a long silence.

I'm reminded of the old joke: A guy walks up to a woman and asks her if she'd have sex with him for a million dollars. She smirks and says "Well, of course." He then asks her if she'll have sex with him for 20 dollars. She haughtily says to him "What kind of woman do you think I am." He replies "I think we've ascertained that; we're just haggling over price now."

Johnny Yen

At 10/27/2006 02:06:00 PM, Anonymous Renae said...


Why is it that the seemingly well-intentioned story by Johnny Yen really annoys me? Could it be that, like in so many tales of the human condition, the woman is labeled a slut for how she uses her body and sexuality while the man is labeled clever for his? Could it be that the assumption is that the woman won't enjoy the sex while the man will or that the woman doesn't like to have sex while the man does? I look at that story and go, "Stupid man, you would have a better chance of having sex, and really good sex, with the woman for free if you only treated her with respect, love and kindness."

Maybe I'm annoyed because I first heard this story while working as a secretary in a big corporation and dealing with constant requests for kisses and blow-jobs by all the "respectable" men who worked there.

Sorry but I just couldn't let this one go by without expressing myself.

At 10/27/2006 03:06:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Yes, Jeffrey, your latest comment was deleted. You can bash me and my taste in music all you want ... but when you write childish, mean, high-school level things about my friends and readers, I'll delete you every time. Have a good weekend, Jeffrey ...

At 10/27/2006 06:15:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...


Hold it, you have FRIENDS??!!

Okay, my bad.


At 10/27/2006 06:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


That Jeffrey dude from Astoria Oregon? You want we should send out someone to teach him some manners?

At 10/27/2006 08:13:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Man, now they want to ROUGH ME UP because I think all of you are SUPPORTING CORPORATE AMERICA by stuffing the pockets of WARNER BROS. and R(ich) E(nough) M(illionaires).

WARNER BROS. WANTS you to sit at home and listen to your "tunes" as you save money from your shitty job to buy the latest lame crap put out by REM. Jeezus!

"Nazi Punks Fuck Off!" -- Jello Biafra


At 10/27/2006 09:22:00 PM, Blogger haahnster said...

Jello Biafra also released a spoken-word 7" single called "Die For Oil, Suckers." The odd thing about that is vinyl records are a petroleum product. Life is full of those little contradictions.

It's kind of like someone littering the comments of a blog, as if they were going to persuade the blog's author to suddenly abandon her R.E.M. albums (already purchased, anyway, mind you).

LEAD US, "jeffrey"!!! You are obviously a wise, wise messiah. Lead us all away from the evil temptation of Warner Bros. I worship you, "jeffrey."

At 10/28/2006 12:50:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Dear Haahnster,

Why did you put my name in quotation marks? That is my real name.

To be honest, that last time I purchased a piece of music was around thirty years ago. At that time I was an undergraduate -- and a very poor one, in fact -- but I used some of my savings to buy two albums: Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night" and Jeff Beck's "Blow by Blow." Since then, I've never purchased any albums, cassette tapes, or -- what you guys buy now, I guess -- CDs.

I had played guitar in high school and was in a band that played some pretty good music. We played a couple songs from a band down in Macon near you guys, the Allman Brothers. We played "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "Stormy Monday." If I pick up a guitar I can still play those numbers. "Elizabeth Reed" is a little tricky, but has a couple of great melodic lines written by Dickey Betts. We had a good band, including a kid who played a Hammond B-3 -- and we had to haul both that and a Leslie into countless gyms and ballrooms in the Midwest where we played. We broke the band up when we graduated and went off in different directions to college.

So, you see, I can appreciate music. I only object to people wasting too much of their hard-earned cash and freetime listening to music. The world is a big place, and I've traveled all over with money NOT spent on stacks of CDs.

That's my only point.


At 10/28/2006 01:08:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...


As you probably can imagine, I'm not too fond of the TV either. A couple years ago, however, a friend gave me a TV and I started to watch a few programs. I hadn't really watched TV since the sixties, to tell the truth. Anyway, I found this one show I really liked called "The Rockford Files" starring James Garner, whom I remembered seeing on a show called "Maverick" that I used to watch as a kid. When I later mentioned this show to someone, they said it had been a big hit back in the seventies -- or maybe eighies.

It is strange not having watched TV for almost thirty years. When Ted Koppel announced that he was doing his last Nightline and they showed some old footage, I realized I had never seen the program -- not even one show. Only recently have I found out how much Americans refer to TV and music. I've never really been connected to that. Anyway, I do enjoy watching an occasional episode of "The Rockford Files." I love his mobile home on the Californian beach.

Oh yeah, I'm talking about this because I did want to thank you for that clip you posted of Quentin Crisp (spelling?), who acted very strange on that talk-show. I'm laughing because I might have acted the same way.


At 10/31/2006 08:28:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

ohmygod!!! this is so funny...i love that a bitter old guy, who hates moveon.org, is completely out of touch with people and apparently couldn't make it as a musician is ragging on a bunch of people he has never met.

this is rich!

damn beth, i think you are right. jeffrey does have a crush on you! otherwise, why would he keep coming back...

At 11/02/2006 10:23:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...


I may be out of touch, as you say, with the latest sitcom or ephemera like some band called the Decembrists, but you're completely out of touch with grammar and syntax and standards of punctuation. I have traveled around the world and have great students to teach every day. I'll take my unplugged life any day over yours.


At 11/02/2006 05:59:00 PM, Anonymous m said...


i actually have an amazing life. i have a great job, where i make a difference in this crazy world. i am lucky enough to be able to travel the world. i also have wonderful friends who i love--and they love me.

but you are right--my grammar "is suck". but at the end of the day--i can really say that i enjoy my life. i don't need to act like a pathetic little man to get attention.

i am off to listen to the latest decemberists cd. it is really good. you should stop your self-imposed cultural exile, and join the living. you might actually smile.

At 11/03/2006 07:01:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Jeffrey, if you're going to mock the writing style of others, be sure to first check the spelling of each word you use: Decemberists, dear. And if you mock any of my commenters again, I'll start deleting every comment you leave. This is one staying because M does have an amazing life, makes a real difference in the M 9-to-5 existence, and thinks you're a silly little goof.


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