Sunday, December 28, 2008

Must be present to win

Originally uploaded by V'ron
That must be one of the rules of the Bucks' good luck charm, my Stella. Oh, yes, she was there last night, but ..... ah, I'll get to that.

Stella and I discovered a new cheap place to park near the Bradley Center (and no, I'm NOT telling the world about this -- suffice to say that it's single digit, change back from a ten-spot find, and it's not in Tosa, either), and things looked promising. Everybody under 14 with paid admission got a pair of socks, socks that still smelled like they'd been screen printed that afternoon. We took our seats, inspected the socks, and watched the opening montage, which is a countdown to game time with a clever twist -- all the numbers are shots from numbered jerseys from past and present players. It's sort of a subliminal KAREEM way of reminding KAREEM people KAREEM that there were great KAREEM players and KAREEM moments in Bucks history. Then, if you needed to be reminded that most of that greatness went down in the 70s, it's all done to a prog-rock hit from that era, ELPs "Karn Evil 9" (which most people know as "Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends....")

Back to 2008. The place is full: the weather is cooperating, people have to get out of the house, and Iverson is in town. They introduce the people who are going to render the anthem as "The Milwaukee Symphony" but somebody needs to be told that two french horns, a trumpet, a trombone and a pair of baritones does not constitute a "symphony." Good horn section, though, and they played it well. Only one question -- because these guys are top-tier, accomplished, symphony orchestra musicians, to be sure. You mean to tell me they still have to bring their sheet music to play the anthem, a song that most high school band nerds can play in their sleep? But still, what mattered was a good arrangement and flawless tone, and that they had.

OK, so tip off and the Bucks are off. It's a respectable game, especially since the last time I was in the Bradley Center to see Iverson play, it was a few years back, and Brian and I had these killer seats right behind the Philly 76ers press seats. We could hear the squeak of his shoes, and could feel the spray of sweat come off his head. We'd finally gotten respect for him as a player that night -- a night he'd broken his person record and scored some 50 odd points. So I was worried about what kind of damage he'd do to a Bucks team that is in a dangerously gray transitional phase right now. Not to worry -- they were keeping him in check, down to only 10 points by the half, and they're only down by 2 at the half.

Stella and I stuck around to watch the halftime show, but we probably should have taken the time to get the ice cream cones we waited until the 3rd quarter to get. This halftime show was Sem Cycle -- a pair of unicyclists who just didn't seem to be on their game. They rode around on unicycles and shot hoops, and couldn't make their shots! One of them gets on a cycle that extended to some 15 feet high, but then all he did was ride around on it. Stella and I -- who have seen things at halftime from the Red Panda Acrobat to the wonderful Jesse White Tumblers -- just looked at each other and said "HUH?"

We usually don't get a treat or anything during halftime or time outs because the lines are ridiculous, so we picked a lull in the 3rd quarter to go get a coupla waffle cones. For some reason, the line was ridiculous, and we were gone for quite a bit. We come back to our seats and that's when ridiculousness really set in -- the Bucks are down by 18. WHAT? How did this happen? What, we can't go get an ice cream and take a whiz without the Bucks blowing what was -- until we left -- a tight game?

"But I'm the good luck charm!" Stella said, in disbelief, as we both stared at the scoreboard. It was Bucks 53 when we went to get our cones, and it was Bucks 53 when we returned. WTH?

"Well, I guess you have to be actively in the seats, watching the game for your magic to work," I replied. Because, once we returned, Detroit didn't get much further ahead, and in fact, the Bucks actaully cut the lead to 10, which is what they ended up losing by. "Good luck charm must be present to win," I said, in a deep, Voice Of God tone usually reserved for that part of a contest commercial signifying the fine print. OK, next time, we'll get our treats at halftime or a timeout!

At least today was a picture perfect day to forget about all that, and go out to Red Arrow Park to take in some skating. Perfect temperature -- the rink held a good Zamboni-ing, the sun was out, the Starbucks seemed to have their A-list people working behind the counter, and we ran into friends while Sammy worked on his gliding skills and Stella perfected her arabesque. We took our lesson learned and instead of watching the Zamboni at break, we got ourselves some hot chocolate treats.

Final Bucks note -- there's a huge push to get Joe Alexander into the NBA All-Star break Slam Dunk competition. This would be cool for a variety of reasons, least of all being that apparently, he's a clever and funny guy, and this might be the ticket to some kind of celebrity that calls attention to him better than just playing "Hey Joe" every time he hits a shot.

Did they know it's Christmas?

betty sharpens it up
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Well, when you're feeling sorry for yourself, there's nothing like heading out to a benefit to be reminded that they're predicting the food pantries to run out faster than ever, and further, more people than ever before will be needing to use a food pantry. So it seemed more fitting than ever to reprise a song that was originally produced to combat famine in Africa to raise money for the Hunger Task Force.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I would have gone to Shank Hall Friday night anyway, since it's about time I caught Testa Rosa live. Thing is, it wasn't a particularly representative show for them, even though they were brilliantly beautiful. Lead singer (and songwriter) Betty Blexrud-Strigens has a voice meant for 4AD, as I've mentioned before, and their self-titled CD furthers that comparison: you can hear bits of Juliana Hatfield, Throwing Muses, and even touches of Sarah MacLaughlin in the songwriting, arrangements, and delivery.

But at this decidedly Christmastime-themed show, Testa Rosa seemed to remind us all that they (unlike much of the 4AD stable) are definitely Americans. Betty wails out Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December" (a friend asked, "Wasn't that Glen Campbell?" and we agreed that it wouldn't be out of character for Campbell to sing it) with such convincing regret and authority that she could make a career out of tearful country blues. But then they jump into some of their originals -- including what should be their hit, "Weather Underground" and their place in the alterna-verse is sealed. Dressed all in black, right down to the heavy boots, she's as Cool as Kim Deal, but a lot more talented. Her husband, Damian Strigens, is overlooked in this band (most guys in bands fronted by talented beautiful women tend to be), and that's a shame. He rifles off arpeggios on his guitar, he adds subtle flourishes here and there, and he doubles on drums (and bass, or anything he needs to add). They did a newer song that kept people riveted, a storytellingly little dirge which I assume was titled "My Sin" that whetted my appetite to come see them on their own terms. Later in the set, they invited the Celebrated Workingman's Mark Waldoch to join them on stage -- they didn't need him, but his John Hiatt-like voice and delivery did add yet another dimension to the rest of their set, and forced a mental note on me to catch HIS band next time they played as well.

While the "regifting" table was being set up in the back of the room (brilliant idea -- come bring your awful gifts to exchange -- and of course it was yet another way to raise $$$ for HTF), plenty of friends of Testa Rosa assembled on the stage to recreate the justification of Bob Geldolf's existence. That crowd included your intreprid reporter, and I'm embarassed to say I'd forgotten exactly how the song went, but it didn't matter. On stage I picked out plenty of characters who appear in this blog, including Mr Chris Tishler, Dave Deerlick (and many of the rest of the Deerlick), Bill Backes, plenty of us raising a glass to Rich "Atomic" Menning (who couldn't be coaxed into joining the musicians onstage) and other people I couldn't recognize behind those Foster Grants. It was fun! I have no clue how it sounded (when there's 20 people up on stage, Todd Rundgren himself wouldn't have been able to provide good monitor) but it was fun from the stage.

Afterwards, John Sieger followed with a good set of storytelling, upbeat rhythm and blues, but even he admitted it was difficult to come on stage after a giant all-infamous-star show. So he was good background while everybody milled about, exchanging unwanted gifts, buying each other holiday toasts, and marvelling about the foggy warm weather. If we can just get through December, indeed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Seasonal Consistency

Back when Stella was five, and her paternal grandmother was alive, we took her to see the Milwaukee Ballet's production of the Nutcracker. Her grandmother, the late (and wonderful) Jan Wensing, who was always ready with a bit of interesting fun facts and advice, had told me that the general wisdom was that a five year old could be expected to get through the Nutcracker and retain interest right up to about where the Arabian Dance begins in Act II. While it's wonderful and magical, two hours is a lot to ask a five year old to sit still through. Stella actually made it all the way through the Sugar Plum Fairy that year as a five year old.

Ever since, we've made it a tradtion, Stella and I. While our normal ballet season tickets are comfortably in the loge, we purposely pick a different spot to see the Nutcracker in each year. This year, what with the economy an all, we had to go with nosebleed. The Ballet clearly knew this, and we took advantage of their offer for "buy one adult ticket, get up to two children's tickets @ $10." It was such a good deal that we invited our friends Emily, Lily and Lucy to join us, and it was a lovely night out.

Sammy overheard us talking about this, and he asked to go. Hmmmm, he's five, he'll last through the Arabian dance, so what's $10? And we're both glad he joined us. We briefed him on the story beforehand, and sang all the popular songs through it, and explained to him that this was where all these songs came from. ("Not the Tom and Jerry episode!" although that what he referenced.) He ended up loving it even more than Stella did as a five year old.

It works from the cheap seats, believe it or not. I wish more people knew this -- most people see that a night at the ballet can run up to at least $100 depending on the seats. But I've seen Michael Pink's version going on five years now, and it almost gets better every year. It's fantasy, it really does remove me from the crummy weather, the crummy economy, and it was a easy way to dunk my normally pokemon-obsessed, Godzilla-fighting kids into a pool of classic culture. Even though Sammy -- right on the dot -- started whining and fidgeting when the Arabian dancers did their thing, afterward he said it was awesome, which is high praise from his age group.

Stella, on the other hand, finally understands why I wait for the sensuality of the Arabian dancers, this year done by Susan Gartell and Andrey Kasatsky. As a gymnast, she finally appreciated the athleticism of that particular dance. Other standouts this time around included Douglas McCubbin's terrific Drosselmeyer, seeming more wizard-y than previous Drosselmeyers, using his entire body to communicate an otherworldliness befitting a toymaker. Ryan Martin was a particularly chivalrous Karl, and Luz San Miguel could almost be taken for granted as a lovely Marie. And Stella and I suspect that family favorite Tatiana Jouravel could spend the rest of her life dancing the Snow Queen. (Stella has a souvenir pair of autographed pointe shoes from Jouravel -- who once substitute taught Stella's ballet class and was inspiringly effusive, complete with enchanting foreign accent.)

But there was something magical and fun to watch a little boy, up in the rafters (we were in the very back row so he could do this without blocking somebody's view) "conduct" the orchestra through songs that he was so pleased to recognize. Every time a movement would begin, he'd light up like our Christmas tree in joyful recognition, and enjoyed the show way beneath. Stella, in the meantime, practiced her arabesques in the lobby during the break (and in the parking lot on the way out), and it was the loveliest cheap night out we'd had in awhile. There's no holiday tradition like consistent excellence.

In the meantime, we stayed home and watched the Bucks game from the comfort of our warm dry house. We sold out tix to a friend, and we're happy they got their money's worth -- a good, fast up and down game that culminated with a win. Terrific passing -- these guys are really seeming like a team these days, and even if they don't make the playoffs, it's good to watch them play this way.

Coming up this holiday weekend -- huge Hunger Task Force benefit show this Friday at Shank Hall -- hosted by John Sieger will be there, but the band/moment I'm going to see is Testa Rosa. They'll be fronting a (local) all-star version of "Do They Know It's Christmas" which will include, among others, Rich "Atomic" Menning singing a verse or two, a la Bono/Cyndi Lauper, et al. Shank shows are ending early, so there will still be time to catch the always entertaining Guido's Racecar at the Cactus Club. And speaking of club, Saturday night the Five Card Studs club it at Cali's in Brookfield.

In the meantime, I'm getting ready for Christmas cheer. I've had a wacked out month, and a few setbacks in my life these past few weeks, but I've also learned that I'll get through them, and the reason I'm not panicking is that I've learned that I have one pack of terrific friends and family (and those two terms pretty much merge for me these days: my family are my friends, my friends are my family). It's times like that that I think I really get this whole season: it's a time to be truly grateful. I'm grateful for my friends and family, and I thank you, dear reader, for coming and visiting my virtual home here every so often.

Finally, speaking of consistent excellence in our Christmas traditions, I'm about to sign off for now so that I can catch the rest of the 27th Annual Paul Host Christmas radio show on WMSE, 91.7. Like Michael Pink's Nutcracker, Paul Host's voice (as well as his record collection) is a comfortingly consistent element of this town -- this town that I've grown to love simply because it's packed with great music, art, and most of all, friends and family. Happy Christmas, youse!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dark, ADVENTuresome Roundup

No, dear readers, I haven't gone dark. I ran into some pals Thursday night who asked me, "Hey, has your blog gone dark? You haven't posted since the beginning of the month." Yes I HAD. But there's been some technical difficulties, and rather than bore you with the details, here's to hoping I got all the redirects right and all the backups fixed. Still having trouble with my domain (am I boring you with technical difficulties yet?) but you're here, so somehow you've found The Sixth Station. Lost a few posts in the backup shuffle, though, so I'm recreating from memory. And there was much to see in Milwaukee these past few weeks, so much that I missed a lot, and caught a lot of old favorites. So let's just round up this Advent season PowerPoint Bullet Point style:
  • Let's begin with my birthday weekend which started off with a fun, exciting, Bucks v. Charlotte game, which they almost blew, and then came back to decidedly win. It started out with a great anthem, delivered by this gospel-trained singer who just belted it out inspiring me to almost yell, "Tell it! Tell the truth! Testify!" by the time she got to "Rocket's Red Glare." She really set the tone, because there wasn't a dull moment all night at the BC. Even the Energee girls finally started to deliver -- they came strutting out in the 3rd quarter doing a routine to "Control" and they were even sassier than Miss-Jackson-To-You. Girls, this is the difference between sexiness and sluttyness. It's attitude. Keep this up. Because when you're like this, and my little girl says she wants to be one of you, I reply, "Then keep up with the dance and gymnastics training." When you act like a bunch of Airport Lounge rejects, both I (and her father) simply reply, "The hell you will."

  • We brushed off the snow (not knowing that the December 5th dusting with simply that, a brief dusting) and headed to Zad's Roadhouse to see a couple of bands for the birthday that continue to deliver. I've already written about how better Floor Model gets every time I see them; this particular evening they tried out new tunes that are reminding me that these guys are thoughtful tune and wordsmiths, who just happen to be working in the angry punk genre. Besides the fact that they do drop litererary, political and pop culture references in their songs, they musically drop plenty of cultural references too, not to show off that they can, but because it works. They played the "hits" too, and any band that can slip a Ramones cover into a set without missing a beat gets points with me.

    After the set, we shot the breeze with the boys, and I now have a macabre bet going with bassist Mark E Lee. The whole macabre conversation started when everybody (and I suspect this went on in a lot of bars where fine music is featured) started drinking toasts to Mitch Mitchell. We started wondering who would go next, and somebody had suggested Keith Richards. No, we said, not Keith. We already agreed on why betting Keith Richards to drop dead was a sucker bet but decided to roll the dice on drummers. Charlie Watts or Ringo? Who will outlast the other? I've got a free drink from Mr. E Lee that says Ringo. If Charlie outlives, I'll have to buy a round.

  • Opening that night was Danny Price and the Loose Change. He's sharpened up a lot since I last saw him, and one can tell he's been sitting in with Paul Setser and Eat the Mystery , as the songs seem to make light of melancholy. Consider the chorus of one of the earlier songs: "Take your sunshine, and stick it where the sun don't shine." Give it a happy melody, but sung by a guy who sounds like Tom Waits and dresses like a 70s TV detective. And then, give him a band that can just as easily jam out in a psychedelic way, and you have a combo that can (and should) share a gig with anybody from Floor Model to Jerry Fortier's Trance and Dance Band.

  • Stella and I trudged out to the BC on the 10th, racing after Girl Scouts was over, and got a great game again from the Bucks. Halftime entertainment were these professional trampoline artists that didn't just jump around like on the Olympics, but simulated extreme skiing and snowboarding. That was fun, but Stella was getting tired. It was a school night, after all, and the Bucks were down in the 3rd quarter, but I convinced her, "Look, if they don't make it to within 8 in the first couple of minutes of the 4th quarter, we'll go." And as you may have heard, there was reason to stay: they got their lead back, they got their moxie back, but they still lost. Her never-seen-a-loss streak came back, though, on the following Saturday, as she took home both a win and a "Luke Ridenour Growth Chart," which, as previously mentioned here, did indeed prove that he is not short.

  • So now we come to recent news. First, a huge shout-out of support to Andy Kochanski, whose concertina hall was hit by an armed robbery. According to Saturday's Journal-Sentinel everybody involved will be OK, but kudos to the JS for talking to a lot of the players in the story, and pointing out that Kochanski isn't going to let a random robbery wreck a special place. I know some people are going to be afraid to go there, but really, this awfulness could have (and has) happened anywhere in the city. Remember when Bay View was getting hit by those robberies? Did that stop people from going to Bay View for their nightlife entertainment? No, and I hope the Concertina Hall survives this, as well as "Doc" Pfaff, who was sitting in on harmonica that night, will survive his gunshot wound.

  • Friday night there was a lot to go see (including the interesting Collections of Colonies of Bees at the Cactus Club -- playing a show before going off to Japan for a tour), but my soul needed the family (well, my kind of warped family) that attending the CD release party for the Mighty Lumberhorn's "Nothing Ever Happened" provided. Yes, it's finally out! They had a wonderful collection of Riverwesterners openin up for them called "String 'Em Up" which featured a bass player who played mandolin (or was it a mandolinist who sat in on bass?). Either way, you had two ends of the musical spectrum, and it clearly influenced the sound he produced, as he played like he was very aware that there were several pieces to his band. As a result, most of the crowd agreed, he had a very sweet sounding approach to the instruments and to the genre, and it made Linneman's a very warm, friendly, and all over sweet place to be that night.

    Again, I just take the Mighty Lumberhorn for granted now. I go. I listen. They make me laugh. They make me chuckle. They make me appreciate down home music and attitude. They do songs with titles like "18 Wheels to Bethelem" and I can't wipe the grin off my face, during weather and economic times that would normally make that a difficult feat. Regular readers of this blog know I'm a fan. At one point during the show, somebody was whining that they weren't playing all the songs from the new CD: "Aw, that's an OLD one! I thought this was a CD release party," at which point I had to recite a verse from the Rock and Roll Gospel of Mark Shurilla: "You gotta play the hits." Indeed. What would a Lumberhorn show be without "What Would Jesus Drive?"

  • Oh, and traded a bit of gossip, as many of the former Wisconsin Citizen Action employees in the audience gushed about fact that Marquette and Wisconsin Citizen Action alum Mary Beth Maxwell was on Obama's short list for Secretary of Labor.
  • Finally, last night. We begin, as we have begun most of this month, with the Bucks. Last night was "Guinness Book of World Records" night at the BC. To be sure, there was a gentleman from the Guinness organization to judge and walk us through attempts to get into the book and "be a part of history." I have to ask, though, how long do you suppose one of the records we in the crowd set/broke, say, the "longest Mexican wave" (at over 6 minutes) will last? This wasn't an organic, crowd just came up with this, wave. (Oh, and yes, according to Guinness' Stuart Claxton, the "wave" is internationally known as the "Mexican Wave," BTW.) We were pretty much egged on, this crowd of us that barely filled half the stadium due at least to weather. They just led us in this until the clock ran out. How hard will it be to just go to some other NBA town, such as Chicago, and do the same thing, and just hold them out 30 seconds more?
    Anyway, the game. Anthem from the Brown Deer High School choir, and even though there were only a dozen or so of them, it was extremely well done. Standard choral arrangement, but well balanced and everybody was spot on pitch. Small, but effective group there.

    So the Bucks come out and from the get-go pretty much dominate. It's 8 points before the Clippers' bench sits down (giving up on their tradition not to take their seats until the team scores its first basket.) I'm pretty sure they never ever got within 8 of the Bucks the whole game. "Hon," I asked Brian. "I know they got beat in overtime last night, and they had to fly into this crap, but is it that? I can't tell if they suck, or if we're on fire." Answer: both. The Clippers DO suck, but the Bucks WERE on fire. You'd need both to have a 40-point lead that late in the game I guess. Even Seniorgee, the retiree's version of the Energee Girls could have probably held their own against the Clippers. Still, a win is a win, and I'll take it.

So, off to celebrate the win at Points East, where the Mighty Deerlick, (AKA known as The Reindeer Lick this time of year) had their annual Xmas show, where in addition to (recite the Shurilla verse again, brothers and sisters) playing the hits (because it's not a night with Dave Deerlick without "Choking the Chicken") they move on "Reindeer in the Sky", "Don't Believe in Christmas," and "Rasta Santa." Like the Lumberhorn the night before, I'm at the point where I just take the fact that they're going to deliver for granted. I still don't know how they do it, playing the same set and making it fresh each and every time. Opening the night was a reunion of a band called STaLL (mixed case intentional) and they did not wow me, nor did they turn me off. They were exactly that -- a good opening band for the Deerlick. I would like to have heard a bit more dynamic range from them -- they seemed to have a basic song formula that worked, so they never veered from it. Good vocals, and a terrific guitar player who knew when to stretch out and when to hold back, but maybe I need to see them in a setting where I'm NOT expecting to be shocked into laughter, which is what I pay for when I'm going to see the Deerlick.

Finally, I headed over to the Uptowner to cap off the pre-Christmas weekend with those masters of the poor stage, Eat the Mystery. Danny Price is with them, Angie is worldweary as ever, Paul Setser seems to be taking a back seat (which is strange for them), and Critter (of The Barrettes fame) is joining them on cello and fits right in. I'm there just in time for Angie to narrate on "Is That All There Is," and to be carried out in a trash bin while hollering "Good Night, Sleep Tight." Spotted in the crowd (and thus coming full circle) are Floor Model's Jeff Callesen, Mark E Lee, Marlavous and Dave, Paul "The Fly" Lawson, Lisa Mayhem, Danielle Champagne, and just about everybody else who's ever shared a stage with anybody who's eating the mystery. Neither Ringo nor Charlie are dead yet, there's a parking ticket on my car, it's blowing all kinds of snow, and it's time to go home and wrap Christmas presents, to complete this winter ADVENTure after all. As Angie sings, "Good Night. Sleep Tight. Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite." I'm off to the Nutcracker this week.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Simon Says Shoot Hoops

The Bucks' good luck charm, my Stella, joined me last night for a satisfying, if not boring win against Da Bulls last night. I'm stealing the phrase "boring" from The Bratwurst who continues to be my favorite place to get real Bucks analysis on the game, while I concentrate on the sideshows, general fashion sense of the team, performance of the Energee Girls, and such. However, we're still having fun watching the game. Right now, Stella and I are down with "that short white guy," Luke Ridnour. People, he's 6'4", he is not short. In fact, to prove the point, Saturday Dec 13 is "Luke Ridnour Growth Chart Night" so that the kids can measure themselves up against him and see that indeed, ol Luke is one tall mofo. At least the folks in the front office know that people would think he was "short." But he's a tall dude. And a fast one too. This guy hustles really well and he was on fire last night.
But yes, my Stella was there last night, and she has yet to see the Bucks lose. We had a good, straight up anthem from an operatic type guy by the name of Will Johnson. Johnson has such a well-trained operatic voice that I'm surprised they even bothered to give him a mike. Because he had nothing to prove, he didn't add any unnecessary flourishes, except to hold "La-and of the Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" out so that we could hear how big his lung capacity is, but that was it. Refreshingly well done, Will.

OK, let's whine a bit. I know the concession stands are staffed by volunteers that are making some money for their respective schools or civic groups, but would it kill management to give at least a half hour training on a little customer service? Like, if a register isn't open, don't ignore the customer standing in front of it. Try this phrase on for size: "I'm sorry sir, but that register is closed. These two lines are open, however..." Now that isn't so hard, is it?

So halftime entertainment is a -- get this -- Simon Sez tournament hosted by "Steve Max -- Professional Simon Sez Leader." What a great job! "Hey, I'm John Doe and I sell insurance." "Glad to meet you John. I'm Steve Max, the Simon Sez guy. Do you have a business card? WHOA! I didn't say SIMON SEZ!" Anyway, I have to admit it, he was good at it. He led two groups, the classic men vs. women, and I pointed out to Stella that the kids dropped out early because they just don't listen.He narrows it down to one guy and one girl, and neither of them are faltering. So he takes the easy way out and gives them both a prize.

Maybe that's what's been up with the Bucks until last night. They were waiting for somebody to say "Simon Sez." As in "Simon says quit doing those funky shots you never make" "Simon says play massive hard defense" "Simon says pass the ball a lot" "Keep on shooting from the 3 point line and count on it" WHOOPS! I didn't say Simon Says!

Tomorrow night, for our birthday weekend, Brian and I will head on back to the BC to see them beat Charlotte again, and the game's not televised. And after that, Floor Model is at Zad's with Danny Price and the Loose Change. If ever I needed a Floor Model night, it's tomorrow. I just heard that Atomic Records, after some 20 years in the business in one name or another, is closing its doors in February. OK, I have to admit, I'm probably one of the reasons why. With the kids and all, I don't have time to cruise the record stores like I used to and I've been buying my music either online, via iTunes or directly from the artists when I see them at shows. And the closing of Atomic is a symptom of a bigger loss. What a void my life would have suffered without the cool record store in every town I've lived in! -- staffed by people who were as passionate about music as I was, who learned my tastes and could always recommend something great that would change my life. I would have never known about anybody from Devo to the Pretenders to the Magazine to ..... the last piece of vinyl I bought before I bought a CD player, the Pixies' "Doolittle." And it was recommended to me by some pierced college student behind the counter at Rich Menning's Atomic Records. I wish all those guys the best and hope (and gotta believe) that they'll somehow still be in the business of moving great music from artist to consumer. Hey Rich, nobody said Simon Says!