Friday, September 12, 2014

Bits & Pieces

** Holy Moly, the September Dooms have hit this gentlewoman and her gentle family pretty hard this year.  I think that in some moments of feeling vulnerable, the internet isn't the best place to hang around (learn this the hard way, ouch), but other times it is good to remember that the interwebs can help us connect and support each other.  And while listing little random things doesn't solve, or even chip away at all the hard things in the world, somethings you just have to take a breathe and remember and hope that life is all hard things.

** I am continuing my status of being a trendsetter by  finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy, only a million weeks after it came out.  It is all about being fashionably late, right? It may seem like just another super fun summer movie (which it is!), but there is a lot of truth in it: be nice to trees because they will one day save your life from an evil pie maker (Lee Pace makes a disturbingly good bad guy) and awesome mix tapes and dance offs will save us all, and the entire galaxy, one day. Also, my sharp little eyes did see the Missouri flag in the opening scene of the movie (a nod to the director's childhood home state). See y'all alien abductions do happen in the Show Me State. 

** The other day I went to the grocery store. Not the good grocery with the good food, but the cheap grocery store with the cheap crap food. Some times you just want cheap crap food. I noticed the security officer, actually it was pretty hard to miss him, he was riding around in one of the clunky store scooters. At first I thought maybe he was just returning it to the front of the store, but I am pretty sure that he was patrolling the store via the cart. Clearly,  this is cutting edge crime fighting.

** I've been fighting insomnia a lot lately, and I have discovered many options in this great battle of wits.  One, sit on the kitchen floor, eat cold pizza and read by the glow of my electronic devices and microwave clock light (which is like, whoa, bright), or two, take some advice from my sister; when she can't fall asleep or fall back asleep, she gets up and does something productive and somehow this tricks the brain into re-setting itself. So that's the reason why I was mopping the floor at 5:30 am on a Saturday. I'm pretty sure that is what the people call, "winning at adulthood."

** On the other side of adulthood, there are some days that I feel I should get a certificate just for keeping myself alive. 

**  I don't know where my desk at work came from, but an important person must of had it at one point, and obviously, I am continuing its important ownership,  since I award myself the VIP award almost everyday. My desk is big and heavy and it has a panic button, just above where my right knees falls. You guys, I have a panic button. Logically, I know that it is not still live or hooked up, but for the first couple of weeks of work, I debated whether to push it or not, and then one day I did, and nothing happened. Security didn't come up, alarms didn't ring, no superheroes swooped in and saved me for piles of work. But wouldn't it be grand if there was some dramatic action to take whenever I was in a panic? Hello, I am in a PANIC, people, send help (or pancakes). 

**I do not like the cafeteria at work. It’s in the basement, so it’s dark and always so, so cold. The food is way overpriced for its quality, can only be called “decent” in taste and I never know what I want to eat so I will just wander around aimlessly and then get soup.  Unless it is Mediterranean Day, then I will go down and get all the hummus and all the pita chips and all the Kalamata olives.  But the food folks always put the hummus in the salad bar, so if you have to pay for it by weight, and even if I try to be fugal with my scoops of the food of life, I still end paying like $8 dollars for like a 1/2 cup of the stuff. Hummus is some heavy stuff. And then I weep, wail, and gnash my teeth at the cashier: why are you doing this to me?  Ok, not really, I just hand over my money and vow to never eat there again. and then fret about it on the internet. 

** Let's end on a super high note: Motivational Posters via Parks & Rec's Andy Dwyer:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Adventures in Audio #5B: Ryan Adams @ 9:30 Club

Continuing on my quest to catch live music at 50 different venues:
(See earlier post for a little history of the 9:30 Club)

Gah. I love seeing Ryan Adams live.  He is and will be a favorite, forever and always. 
This show caused a lot of heartache in the area. Ryan Adams has been selling out larger venues across the country, but for his newest album release party, he came to DC to a club that has 1,200 maximum capacity. That may sound big, but this show was considered a more intimate setting.  It sold out in about 5 seconds.  And that is the dead truth, not hyperbole, not being overly dramatic for effect.  5 seconds. Poof.  By more luck than I probably deserve in life, I was able to snag one of those golden tickets.  
And it was a golden night indeed. Ryan sounded really good, his band sounded good, his hair was epic and he told us stories, invisible lasers, dingo invasion and smiley faces wearing cowboy hats were all  mentioned. He would get all these bright ideas on stage, for merch, or jokes, or whatever got caught up there in that head of his.  At one moment during his set, he just stopped and said, “So many ideas.”  And that was my best and favorite take away from the night: so many ideas. So many ideas of music, why I love it, why it is part of my life, why it is one of the best parts of me.  
 He can be super chatty at shows, his banter can be random, sometimes he might seem a little unfocused with the playlist at hand (so many ideas) and I love it all. I think it adds to a feeling of authenticity, up there on stage, he is him, him is he.  And randomness can beautiful and celebrated over polished and perfect. And that authenticity also comes through in his music, it can be raw and quiet,  it will frequently shred your heart to pieces, yet still be so cathartic, and be that voice to that time in life or those feelings that you thought didn’t even have words.
So many ideas.
Ryan Adams @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC, September 8, 2014

My Wrecking Ball from Ryan Adams' self titled new (fantastic) album:

Adventures in Audio #5A: Bleachers @ 9:30 Club

Continuing on my quest to catch live music at 50 different venues:

Why the ABC action up there in the title? I saw 2 completely different shows at the same venue, so the logical part of my brain only wants to mark off 1 venue off my 50 different venues list. The non-logical side of my brain is thinking about pie and tambourines.
The 9:30 Club has been an anchor in the DC music community since it opened its doors in 1980. The original location of the club was 930 F St. NW and the opening time was 9:30, so there you go, a double whamming in the clever name.  The first band to play? Oh, that would be The Tiny Desk Unit, featuring Bob Boilennow host of the All Songs Considered and the Tiny Desk Concerts at NPR (DC music history, yo). The original club was a much smaller, downstairs club, therefore a true underground  club, both in geography and point of view. It strove to be the cutting edge of music, whatever the genre, whatever the band, it just had to be good.
The 9:30 moved to it’s current and larger location on V street just  off the U street corridor, in 1996 and to this day is nationally now for being one of the best live music clubs in the country, both by fans and bands. 
There are a lot of music venues in the DC area, all with their own personality and grit, but every time I walk through those 9:30 doors, no matter what band is playing, I feel like I’m part of something. And maybe that sparkly romantic idea comes from  the 9:30 being  the club that I’ve been to the most times , or the place that I’ve seen some pretty amazing bands, or heard the songs that I needed to hear at that moment in life, or maybe it is just standing on my little spot of ground, usually to the left of the stage, with my heart tight in anticipation of the music, that just feels so familiar and comfortable and unabashedly happy. I have come to terms that I will never be that suave  hipster that has  a whatever stance and nonchalant too cool for school attitude at shows. Nope, never. I will also be the one with wide eyes.    
On the shows!
So here is something that I don’t normally do, that I have probably done only a couple times in my life. I bought a ticket for a show because of one song that I heard on the -regular all commercial-radio, you know the kind of stations that don’t even give out tote bags.  The song was “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers. This song was on pretty heavy rotation on Kansas City radio before I moved out here and I loved the catchy sound of it, a perfect summer anthem. Then, fast forward to a weekend a week or two after I moved back to the coast of the east;  I as driving to the beach, listening to that radio station that actually does have tote bags (NPR) and they had an interview with Jack Antonoff, the singer and mastermind behind Bleachers, you might also have heard of him from his Grammy winning band Fun.  In this interview he talked about this song, his own experiences with therapy and how most of us carry around this feeling about wanting to get better, whether that be in an emotional way, or just being better at life.  To quote from the interview ( I suddenly feel like I am writing a research paper):
I found myself with a feeling every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to bed. And now I know that that feeling is I want to get better, but I didn't know what it was at the time. And I talked about it and I thought about it and I kind of realized that maybe it's something that we all feel. You know, maybe the idea of, like, getting better is ridiculous but wanting to be better is kind of the best that we can do as human beings. I knew that that was for everyone. That's something we could all sing together. But then it occurred to me that the only way this statement could have weight and matter enough for someone else to want to yell it back at me in their car or at a show is for me to just spell out all the horrible things that have happened to me in my life and how I found a way to move on.
 So somewhere between here and the coastline, I decided that I needed to see this band.  And then I heard they were coming to DC (hooray!), but . . . I heard this after the show had already sold out (Boo).  And then in a feat of mercy, a second show was added and it was at that second show, which was actually the first show, since it was on the night prior to the original show,  that I stood there on the upstairs balcony and let my heart burst open.
Bleachers have only one album out, so they played for just about an hour (thank you for not making me run to catch the last train home!), but each and every song was like this massive explosion of joy.  I may have come to hear one song, but I left loving all them. The music may have been a little bit more poppy, more dancey (?) than a lot of the bands that I usually see, but one of side effects of this little music challenge is making more of an effect to see a more variety of music, and has help my heart grow three sizes (just like the Grinch!).  
 One thing that really stood out to me during the show was that the band seemed so happy to be in that moment, like ridiculously happy. Jack repeatedly thanked the audience for coming, and with the smiles on all their faces and sweat dripping from each song, you knew that they meant every single one of those words of gratitude.  And hopefully they felt our gratitude right back.
I adore sing-a-longs, when all the voices from the band and all the voices from the audiences meld into this huge choir of truth. That’s just awesome. And that one song that I came to hear, “I Wanna Get Better,”  was indeed played , and the place just about busted open when the crowd joined in the chorus, and a thousand or so people all raising their voices and roaring  the words “I Wanna Get Better,”  it was like a beautiful therapy session.

Bleachers @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC, September 2, 2014