Sunday, February 27, 2011

When Did Music Start Sucking?

More than 30 years ago, I stood in a record store in Florida with my grandfather, who told me I could get whichever album I wanted. Back in 1977, the choice was easy: KISS Alive II.  I was a KISS fan, it was a double album, and it had this great shot of a bloody-faced Gene Simmons on the cover.

Sadly, it was that very picture that made my mother forbid me from getting it.  I gave the "you're too old to understand" speech and theorized that my mom hated my music in the same way her parents probably hated her music.  Interesting theory, but I still ended up with ELO's Out of the Blue.  

I think I liked the spaceship on the cover.

The so-called controversy over this year's Grammy Awards made me realize not only how much I've become my mother, but how much today's music really sucks.  I didn't watch, but I read the outrage around Arcade Fire winning Album of the Year instead of Eminem, and Esperanza Spalding winning Best New Artist over Justin Beiber.  What really happened is that actual music won out over popularity and sales figures.

When did music turn to crap?  Sure, there are some good songs out there right now.  But how many of them will be popular in 30 years?  Which artist(s) will still be playing in 2041, and not as a nostalgia act at the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning but as something that reaches across the generations?  Who is this generation's Billy Joel?  Bruce Springsteen?  U2?  The Beatles? (Okay, that one's unfair.) I know I'm showing my age and maybe I "don't get it," but there's something to be said for the fact that these artists are still as relevant today as they were in the early 70s.

I know I'm a music snob.  I fully embrace my inner Johnny Fever, who refused to play top 40 no matter how many times Andy Travis begged him to.  Classic Rock is called classic not because it's old, but because it stands the test of time.  These are songs that say something.  They have an impact on us, both musically and lyrically.  And none of the titles ended with, "feat. Lil' Wayne."  They weren't covers, they weren't remakes.  They told stories and spoke about the time in which they were written.  They...okay, I'm overstating it a little.  But the fact remains that you won't be buying Justin Bieber tickets for your kids in 30 years.  You won't be lamenting for Jay-Z's "older stuff."  That's because today's music is temporary and will fade away just as Hansen did in the 90s, or Shawn Cassidy did in the 70s.  

So when did music stop being music?  I'm trying to think about artists after 1985 (when U2 and Springsteen reigned).  It's true that the 90s begat a whole new musical movement with the grunge acts like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots.  But we're 20 years from "Nevermind" and none of the grunge acts are really relevant anymore.  Has anyone since 1985 made music that will still be meaningful to our kids?

Anyway, I guess the lesson is that every generation thinks their music is the best.  The only difference is that my generation is right and the current generation is painfully wrong.

"This one's for you, fellow babies: Booooogerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!"


Saturday, February 12, 2011


I gotta use the can.

This photo was a bad idea.

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Location:Boca Raton,United States



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Location:Brazil Ct,Fort Pierce,United States


Dear Central Florida,

Please get some scenery.



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Location:Sebastian,United States

I thought I posted this awhile ago

By the way, if you're ever looking for a place to buy fireworks, inexpensive clothes, or just eat at some mildly racist restaurants, the stretch between Fayetteville, NC and the SC border is the place for you.

I've actually never been to South of the Border, though I've heard of it. And I won't be going this time.

But the next time your down this way, look for the giant sombrero and take a siesta from your driving. Just don't do it when your nephew is dying to see his new puppy.

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Location:On the stretch between Fayetteville, NC and the SC border

The Home Stretch

Is this my "Welcome to Florida" picture? I can't tell.

We just passed a sign for Vince Carter's Restaurant. It's at exit 265. What's at 265? Why does he have a restaurant there? Is it Orlando? Does he play for the Magic now?

The dog wants to play. He's chewing on my shoe.

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Summing up

I've been driving the entire time, which made blogging difficult, especially at the speeds at which we were traveling. But after stopping at McDonald's for a #1 (see what I did there?), I have relinquished my job as key master and now I can try to remember everything I wanted to say. And my memory sucks.

South Carolina ended uneventfully enough and we were down to 2 states. Jeremy pointed out that we'd only be in Georgia for a couple of hours,

which was cool, but then squashed my buzz by reminding me that Florida would be about 5 hours. Maybe that's why he just chugged a 5 Hour Energy.

Huh. I was gonna say something about Georgia but I'm drawing a blank. Maybe that says something about 95 through the Peachtree State.

The dog rode up front with us. Maybe that was it. Or is it that I need to decide where I'm crashing tonight?

Anyway, I've been referring to this little English Golden Retriever as "dog" for the whole trip but he does have a name. My nephew came up with Chili. As in chili dog. Or is it "Chilly?" Wait, I'll ask...

The driver says it's actually "Chilli." So neither one. It refers to something Jack (the nephew) did online a little while ago. Never mind. Jeremy isn't crazy about it but he'll go for it if the full name can be "Chilli Ray Valentine." now THAT'S awesome.

Lookin' good, Billy Ray!
Feelin' good, Lewis!

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Location:Old St Augustine Rd,Jacksonville,United States

South Carolina, but barely

Ahh, the best laid plans... We left The cozy confines of the EconoLodge, or wherever we were staying, and headed south in search of coffee. Meeting up with Joe & Maureen didn't work out and it was already later than we wanted it to be so it was time to check out before the hotel realizes we snuck a dog into the room.

Confidently behind the wheel and with only about 30 miles to the border, I planned to get some caffeine once we made the crossing. But there was no traffic at all and there weren't really any places to stop so we kept going. And here we are, just north of Savannah, getting gas, feeding the dog (which sounds like a metaphor for something perverted), and pretending Jeremy isn't fighting a major caffeine headache.

Note to self: pay attention to the gas light. By the time I realized we were low, there was little time to find a place.

This gas station is nice, though. Gulf. I can't remember the last time I was at a Gulf station. And look what they sell inside!

So while the dog chomps away and Jeremy sucks down a Red Bull, I'll ponder the choices for lunch.

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Location:Dillon,United States

And that's a wrap

The stretch of road in this area is filled with hotels. It's like a really really really low budget Vegas. the trick is finding one that's pet friendly and available. There are school busses in almost every parking lot, which means lots of kids. I remember how I was when I was on a school trip and staying at a hotel.

So we ended up at the EconoLodge. Nothing fancy but we're not gonna be here that long.

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Location:Jim Johnson Rd,Fayetteville,United States

Friday, February 11, 2011

A brief interruption...

Zipping down 95, we just passed a sign for the town of Rock Ridge. Let the Blazing Saddles references begin!

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Location:Nc 581,Kenly,United States

Shhh, the dog's asleep

Time for some gas and some crappy snax now that we're in North Carolina. The plan is to head to Fayetteville and call it a night. 99 miles to go. But I don't know...with snax like these, I may never leave.

I've just been scolded for spending too much time trying to decide on what to drink. So I've got something to work on for tomorrow.

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Location:N Carolina 4,South Whitakers,United States

Dog chow

Time for the dog to eat. And while Jeremy preps the food, I scope out the many choices here in Fast Food Heaven.

YouTube Video

Hey, there's a Hardees!!

YouTube Video

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Location:Branner Pl,Chester,United States

Virginia is for lovers...of miles and miles of traffic

It took 2 hours to drive the 60 miles from the northern border of Virginia to this spot halfway to the southern border. An hour and 45 minutes were spent getting to Fredricksburg.

The time spent in Delaware made getting through DC by 4 almost impossible. Lord knows I tried, now that I was driving. The dog still has no interest in the cage. I guess I wouldn't either but therein lies the difference between dogs and people. I have a choice. The dog doesn't. Having said that, he has learned that all it takes to escape the cage is a nice, stinky crap. They grow up so fast...

So we're headed down 95 and Jeremy tells me to take the Baltimore/Washington Parkway. Expressway. Whatever. He says it's better. He was wrong. In fairness, 95 wasn't much better. Rush hour on a Friday. Or was it? No, traffic picked up once we passed the accident on the shoulder. We were crawling along so everyone could get a look. SUCKED!!!!

But things were moving in Virginia but that was short-lived.
We noticed that while we were mired in bumper-to-bumper traffic, there were these virtually empty lanes just across the barrier.

YouTube Video

We couldn't figure out how to get there or how we could have missed the entrance. But it was pissing us off.

And as the sun set, the traffic started moving and I started getting drowsy. And that's my story as of now.

Back in the car, I'm in the front seat and the dog is in the cage, making a lot of noise. We're trying to wait him out--Ferberize him, so to speak.

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Location:Madison,United States


The dog has to eat so I'm getting pizza. Maybe he'll share it with me.

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Location:Stanley Plaza Blvd,Newark,United States

Delaware--The "Drive On Through" State

Goodbye New Jersey...

...hello Delaware!

We'll probably be through the state by the time I post this, although Jeremy has graciously promised a bathroom stop. He's determined to make it out of DC by 4 and a construction delay near Swedesboro cost us 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I'm not allowed out of the back seat because we don't want to wake up the dog and get him back into carrier.

Oh wait, the dog has to eat. We'll probably stop soon.

Location:Delaware Memorial Bridge 2:15 pm

Goodbye New York

Things have quieted down from an excretory standpoint. We drove by JFK (the airport, not the president) at noon. I'm glad the dog has stopped crapping, but now he's whimpering like crazy. We also lost use of the radio when I tried pairing it with my iPhone. Apparently, you can't do this while the car is moving and Jeremy has no intention of stopping. He wants to get through DC by rush hour.

So I crawled into the back seat and let the Dog Whimperer of his cage. He climbed all over me and then settled down on the floor by my feet.

I spoke too soon. He just threw up. I guess I can't blame him. The Belt Parkway needs a new pave job.

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Location:Somewhere along the Jersey Turnpike, around exit 5.

Now can we go?

30 minutes after the previous incident, he did it again. So we had to stop at Wal Mart for wipes, a can of Febreze, and some Sudafed (for my brother, not the dog). This required a security checked that may be the envy of several big-city airports.

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Location:Port Jefferson

Two Guys and A Dog-Day 1

My brother got a dog from a breeder on Long Island. And we're road tripping down to Florida.

2 minutes after leaving, the dog takes a nice, stinky crap. It's gonna be a looooong day.

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Location:Wading River, NY

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Damn you, M. Night Shyamalan!!

I was a film major for one semester back in college.  I started with a bunch of film theory classes and started noticing that enjoying a movie was becoming impossible.  I was too busy looking at the background, the lighting, the shot selection.  I'd analyze the plot and question why one character acted the way he did.

The along came "The Sixth Sense."  I saw it weeks after everyone else did, but in this pre-rampant internet age, I was able to avoid the twist ending.  I was completely blown away by the ending and, sitting on an airplane between Cape Town and New York, I watched it again.  Simply fantastic.  I talk to people who swear they knew the ending.  They saw all the clues—the thermostat, the door knobs, etc.  Liars.  No way anyone seeing that movie for the first time picked up on any of that.  Since then, I haven't been able to watch certain types of films the same way.  I'm constantly looking for the secret, even thinking a character might be dead.  Or everyone else is dead.  Whatever. 

"I see hidden meanings in every friggin' scene."
This ruined "Shutter Island" for me.  I just watched this on my iPhone and once I realized that it was a psychological thriller and remembered someone saying something about an amazing end scene, my mind started playing out all the possibilities.  Teddy is dead. Teddy is dreaming.  No, Chuck is dead.  There is no island.  Nothing is real.  Everything is real except the lighthouse.  On and on.  My crappy AT&T service allowed for extra thinking time, since the screen would freeze every once in awhile.  I thought the movie was really good.  It would have been better if I could have just watched it instead of trying to figure it out the whole time.

Maybe I'll go see Toy Story 3 again...