Young, hung, and full of vitriol...

I can't offer works of staggering genius, but what you will get are my sometimes funny, questioningly intelligent, frighteningly vitriolic, occasionally shockingly sweet, but almost always charmingly grouchy ramblings on music, film, politics, society, pop culture, literature, queer life, travel, Kansas City, and the mundane, yet surreal aspects of everyday.

I'm a queer punk country boy in his late 30s, who has settled back in the midwest after a decade or so of living around the country. My boyfriend, MJ and I moved to Kansas City a couple of years ago after an insanely surreal life in rural, southeast Kansas. This is my attempt at getting back into writing after a longer than anticipated hiatus. I'm still a bit rusty, so be gentle with me...A bottle of wine, some Barry White, and a can of Crisco usually does the job.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


If you turn on the radio, it would seem that the state of the music world is continuing it's rapid, but evergoing nosedive into preteen drivel and washed up watered down grunge rehash. MTV and VH1 are a vast sea of moronic "reality" shows where any douchebag with enough lack of self esteem can become a "star". Log online, however and there is a world of blogs and websites proving that this may actually be one of the best times for music ever.

As a music fanatic and occasional snob, it's truly astounding to me, how much fucking brilliant music I discover nearly every week. I've blogged about the great scene coming out of Eastern Europe and Russia, especially in regard to post rock and shoegazer. A little closer to home, however, is the staggeringly perfect band, RAISED BY SWANS from Ontario, Canada. I'm actually at kind of a loss at finding bands to compare them to. I hear hints of the Swedish band Kent and Death Cab For Cutie combined with a bit of shoegaze and post rock. Awash in a sea of melody, mood, and dreamy dynamics, this is solitary, late Saturday afternoon with a small buzz going, I want to get lost in my music listening. Not depressing by any means, but definitely music to let completely wash over you.




While DEADGIRL wasn't as shocking, sick, or astounding as I was lead to believe, it was still a twisted, somewhat disturbing, EXTREMELY dark film. While vaguely hinting at the zombie genre, it's more a bleak coming of age drama. Getting past the shocking, misogynistic imagery, I saw a comment on the dark side of humanity, and even moreso, the extremely sick, dark, fuckedupness of masculinity at it's basest. Whether it's self inflicted pain, fag bashing, date rape, or having sex with an undead "corpse", the lengths a man/boy will go to in proving their masculinity are always a driving part of the dark heart of this world. We all have come across men that view women as beneath them. This film shows what happens when you strip away personality, choice, and humanity from a woman and she truly becomes nothing more than a piece of meat. Is an undead girl still a person? If she can't die, feel pain, sadness or be it still wrong? While a lot of people may view this movie as nothing more than exploitation wrapped in a pseudo message, I honestly felt like it managed to sidestep being shocking for the sake of shock and actually managed to say something. This is not something i would recommend to most people, nor that I could probably have watched with most of my female friends, but naive or not, I honestly feel that this film had a valid message and reason for being made, and it, mostly, succeeded.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

While I am excited to actually be writing again via this blog, I am obsessively going back and rereading my posts everyday, realizing that my writing has really gone to seed. I'd never claim that I was a brlliant writer, by any means, but I think my way with words and occasional cleverness with dialogue, phrasing, and telling a story, made for a usually enjoyable read.

Reading this blog thusfar, however, I can definitely see how rusty and stiff I am. There doesn't seem to be that conversational smoothness to my writing anymore. I'm hoping this is just a matter of being out of practice and not a sign that I have gone to shit.

The dilemma that I am having is whether I should forgo too many more posts until I feel a bit more comfortable with my writing again. I have to wonder if a blog, especially a new blog, is the right place for me to spew practice runs...

Monday, February 15, 2010

When was the last time an album grabbed you by your guts?

If you love music...truly love should download this EP. The band released it for a free download, so don't feel bad about being a thieving shitheel. This is probably my favorite album of the last couple of years. At least since AMANDA PALMER released WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER. This is absolutely stunning music. An intense, dreamy, beautiful, hypnotic wall of sound from Slovakia. I cannot stop listening to this album. I've raved about it on Facebook, but I just think something this amazing should not be overlooked.

Sleepwalking through fog...

Just a music post. Nothing much else that I'm quite ready to babble about at the moment.

It seems like Russia is becoming my newest source of quality music. With a big influx of atmospheric minded bands, you don't have to be Sarah Palin to see that the mother country is churning out some truly innovative and amazing artists. Case in point, my soundtrack for this afternoon, EVERYTHING IS MADE IN CHINA's album AUTOMATIC MOVEMENTS. Blending post rock, alternative, a bit of shoegazer, and some ethereal electronic, they somehow manage to combine the best bits of EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, SIGUR ROS, RADIOHEAD, MOGWAI, M83, AND THE ILLS while still sounding original and diverse. While there is a commonality of moodiness and harmony, not one track on the album sounds exactly like the last. If you're looking for fun, bouncy, pop, I'd recommend going elsewhere, but if you are of the mind that an album should be listened to from beginning to end, absorbed, and completely lost in, I highly recommend this beautiful, intense, hypnotic record.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Since i just spent an hour composing a rambling post about my fixation with music, I figured that I'd mention a couple of bands that I'm loving on right now and were the soundtrack for that epic.

My love for all things post punk and vaguely 80's sounding led me to the amazing Belgian band CUSTOMS. Their 2009 album, ENTER THE CHARACTERS is an excellent 46 minutes of indie/post punk/alternative in the vein of Interpol, The Killers, Echo and The Bunnymen, and The Cinematics. Without sounding too derivative of the new wave of early and mid 80's British "raincoat" bands that have surfaced over the last handful of years, they mange to pull off being moody and epic, while still being bouncy and danceable.

Los Angeles band, EULOGIES, released their debut album in 2007, but it's their sophmore release, HERE ANONYMOUS that caught my attention with it's updated spin on classic indie rock. Somehow managing to sound like your favorite mid 90's college radio track, yet completely fresh and modern. They've managed to nab audio appearances on everything from the 2008 film THE WRESTLER to the Showtime series, CALIFORNICATION. If you are at all a fan of quality indie, without the pretension, give this a listen.

Anyone that knows me can attest that I'm a music fanatic. I eat, breathe, and live it. I've been this way since I was a kid dancing around my parent's living room to Boston, Kiss, Queen, and the Studio 54 record set. My obsession with collecting music started with a copy of KISS's Destroyer album that my parents bought me for my 3rd birthday. From there it became nearly compulsive.

If you grew up in a small town in the late 70's/early 80's, the skating rink was the epitome of a social life. The time I spent coordinating my parachute pants with my strategically placed bandanas set the tone for the eyeliner, ratted hair, bondage gear goth days of my early 20's. My mom, being the rockstar she still is, would always give me money for my nights "out" at the rink. She did this every weekend, despite knowing that while all the other kids would be playing Pole Position and buying plastic trays of nuclear yellow nacho cheese dip, I would be huddled under the dj booth, flipping through the stack of used 45's for sale. Each Friday night, I'd come home hungry because I'd spent my treat money on a Blondie 45 or some Culture Club single. Yet, week after week, my mom would send me out the door with a $5 bill, and have a snack ready for me at 9 o'clock when I got home.

After amassing a rather substantial pile of 45's and LP's, I discovered the bright lights of Tape World and Musicland. Not being lucky enough to have access to any indie record stores as a kid, the mall was my source for all things cassette. As in my roller rink days, my mom would drop me and her friend's daughter Ashley off at Metcalf South in Overland Park, Kansas with my allowance and money for food and snacks. Inevitably, when she came to pick us up a couple of hours later, I'd crawl into her Thunderbird with a plastic bag full of tapes and band t-shirts, and a growling stomach.

High school led to an addiction to CD's and their empty promise of superior sound and indestructibility. Both of which were pretty much lies, but that didn't stop me from amassing a collection that now stands at a perfectly alphabatized 3-4 thousand, and is still growing. I can't count how many times I'd live off of canned tuna because I'd hit that poster child of 90's alternative nation, the used cd store, and spent all of my grocery money on a stack of obscure indie or industrial cd's and 12 inch vinyl. Whether it was my deep passion for music, or the surfacing of my OCD, I'd have to be alone the first time I listened to any new album. I'd organize stacks, saving the album that I was most excited about for last. Even now, one of my favorite sights is a stack of unopened cd's waiting for me tear the plastic off of them.

In the modern era of mp3's, ipods, and file trading, I either get laughed at or lauded for continuing to buy my music in a physical format. I do have 2 ipods that I love dearly and have packed to the brim with thousands of tracks. I have a cell phone that will hold music, as well as a pc with a hard drive full of music files. Yet, I still continue to buy cd's from my favorite bands, ask for them for birthdays and Christmas, and even when I download an album, I always, at least, burn a copy of it onto a CDR, often eventually buying an actual copy of it at some point. It's funny having guests over to our new apartment vs when old friends visit. The more recent people in our lives have no idea that there is are storage bins of music stacked in closets and under the bed, while my old friends inevitable ask where the hell my wall of music is.

I know rationally that converting everything to a digital format would free up so much space in my apartment. I'd no longer have a need for bookshelves or stacks of storage bins for storing my thousands of compact discs. I will even admit to falling for the ease of downloading. Not only have I been been able to discover hundreds of amazing bands online, but it's possible to track down songs and albums that I've been hunting for years or had nearly forgotten about. That said, I still see this as a nice addition to my music obsession and not a replacement. Regardless of ease, mobility, convenience, or free space under my bed, nothing can replace that feeling of flipping through a bin of cd's or albums and finding something amazing. I miss the days of walking into the Love Garden in Lawrence,Kansas, or Musicwerks and Sonic Boom in Seattle and having the person behind the counter spend 30 minutes playing me something new they thought that I'd love, just based on the stack of purchases I'd put on the counter. Just like nothing will ever come close to that lovely smell of a library, the sound of a small, hole in the wall record store is something that will always hold a very special place in my heart.

My friend, Damon, who is no longer with us, told me once that the moment he realized that he truly loved me as a friend was a night he and I spent drinking beer and talking about music. He said the light in my eyes and the passion that I was radiating while talking about bands, songs, and concerts was me at my best and something actually quite beautiful. That night is one of my favorite memories of Damon, and his comment I consider one of the biggest compliments that I have ever received. I know that my cd collection and the amount of space it takes up are an annoyance to my boyfriend, and that sometimes my single mindedness when it comes to fixating on an album, song, or band are probably a deficit when it comes to my conversational skills. Despite all of that, I know that anyone that truly knows and loves me gets it. They know that music is such an integral part of me. That passion for it makes up a large part of the man that I am. It's something I wouldn't trade for anything. I consider myself lucky to be such a sickly obsessed music geek and I'd still gladly trade my lunch money for the the new Cinematics cd any damned day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Last weekend, my boyfriend MJ had a massive craving for Chinese. Being a chef, he comes in contact with foodies from all over the city. A chef that he works with had told him about this phenomenal hole in the wall place right down the street from our new apartment. Possibly the "best" Chinese in Kansas City. On that recommendation, how we could we pass it up? After a long search online, we had narrowed it down to a place 2 blocks from our apartment. As we parked, it was inevitable that we eat there, it being "famous" and all (the sign swears it)...Unfortunately, my brilliant, talented mister, has a few issues with retention of names and directions.

In retrospect, the bars on the door and the curtained/blacked out glass door should have tipped us off that something was amiss. Our neighborhood, Westport, however is an interesting mix of hipster, bohemian, yuppie, gay, and criminal, so bars on windows are a pretty common sight. We figured maybe the rather dark entry way and tiny 80's kung fu crime movie waiting area would lead us to some truly amazing, authentic food. Instead, we were led by a boy of about 10 into a dining room right out of some 80's Asian massage parlor envisioned by John Waters. Peeling wallpaper hovered over labia pink paneling. The lighting was entirely early 1980's home interior party brass and frosted glass fixtures. Each one missing 2 to 3 light bulbs. There was a long buffet that dead ended in an aged pepsi fountain dispenser sitting on a sawhorse and a piece of plywood.

Each table had a lovely mural straight out of some Nagel goes nature nail salon. For some reason ours looked like it was lifted out of John Wayne's bathhouse.

As we were seated, a very very large black woman was filling take out containers from the buffet, while screaming at her mother to shut the hell up, that she wasn't paying for damned nothing, so she should shut her damned mouth, and that she was acting ignorant. The containers were so full that she couldn't get them closed, which was obviously a cause of much distress for her. With an exasperated sigh, she gathered up her heaving, leaking containers and headed out the door. Apparently, on her way out, she dropped one in the parking lot. This was evident by her obviously annoyed and very angry sounding mother who was ordered back in to see if they could fill a "recplacement" container, no charge, since they hadn't made it out of the parking lot yet. From out of nowhere, this slight, but very intense, angry looking Chinese woman, whom we later concluded was the owner, came barreling out, shaking her finger, loudly proclaiming, "NO, NO, WE DON'T DO THAT!"

MJ bravely exploring the buffet...

The 10 year old boy was, of course, our waiter. After dropping off our drink order, he disappeared behind a curtain to not be seen again until the end of our meal. I glanced up from my plate of what can only be truly described as middle American Chinese cuisine, to see the boy appear from behind another curtain with the owner hot on his trail. She screeched at him in Mandarin and with a look of mortal terror, he wandered over to our table to inquire if I needed a refill. I told him no thank you, as MJ pulled a whole chicken foot out of his low mein with a puzzled, but amused chuckle.

I had no more than pulled my wallet out to find my debit card, when I heard the owner shouting at the boy in Mandarin. As he paused for a breath, the very browbeaten kid visibly mustered up enough courage to bellow, "HE SAID NO!!!". The glare she gave him was enough to make me feel like pissing my own pants. She then whirled around and disappeared behind yet another curtain. The boy looked over at us with a look of utter defeat, then shuffled off, head down to sit next to the rickety front counter. I'm still feel guilty for not taking the damned refill and keeping the poor child from the caning we're pretty sure he was getting as we started the car.

We're still not sure what the curtain behind me was hiding, but we both swear we saw it move a few times...

We paid our $14 and actually made it to the car before we both lost our shit. As we idled at a stoplight a couple of blocks down, MJ glances over at the neon lit storefronts next to us. He then matter of factly points out the glowing "PEKING" on the front of one of them. Through the window, we can see what looks like a beautifully decorated, charming Chinese restaurant. MJ grins at me sheepishly, and mumbles, "Oh yeah, Peking...that's the place I meant."

Though the food was entirely mediocre, we both agreed that if we'd gone anywhere else, the food would probably have been much better, but we'd never have had the absolutely surreal and hilarious dining experience we were just presented with. If John Waters ever needs a location, this is the spot. I honestly expected Divine to come out from behind one of those fucking curtains that were everywhere and start shoving low mein up his dress. Sometimes it really is the company that makes the experience...