Friday, February 29, 2008


I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m always on the lookout for the next big blog idea to exploit. I mean, it was this blog you’re reading right now, with a (supposedly) single theme that got me to thinking seriously about writing again in the first place. And now that I’ve meandered off all to hell and back, as far as “topic” is concerned - and now that I know a lot more about how a new blog goes about attracting readers (like, yeah, writing on a daily basis. Touche.) I think it would be cool to come up with that golden, one-in-a-couple-hundred-thousand idea that would land me up there as a “blog of note” on the blogger main page.

Because, c’mon, it’s not like that stuff happens in some completely organic fashion; like, trying to guess which band member is the leader by their press photo just happened to be your hobby. And let's face it, you don’t land a sweet-ass full-time blogging gig for ABC by reviewing your mid-eighties comic book collection half-assed. The widely-recognized blog doesn’t just happen; it’s flowering is the result of a combination of hard work, and a hot, steamy one night stand with a Greek muse. Like Xanadu, but without all the roller skating.

Remember how in the 90’s, everybody used to say “in the future, everyone will have their own television station”? It’s weird; maybe it’s because I get most of my boob-tube-style media nowadays through the internets - or maybe it’s because the nature of mass-media celebrity nowadays is more akin to a cancer that one tries to avoid at all costs – but I look at those “bloggers of note” as being superstars in their own right; pioneers of a medium that’s just beginning to discover it’s potential.

So, it’s not like she needs any more readers, but with all the hook-y, theme-ready blogs out there, I think today’s blog of note is particularly inspired. How cool is that? In a world where 1 out of every four adults didn’t read a single book all last year, where the hoytie toytie look down from behind their spectacles at the book selections of potential readers, here’s someone who’s celebrating something that should be one of the simplest pleasures in the world, whether it’s great literature or pulp fiction, holy book or maniacal rantings of L. Ron Hubbard. And it all takes place in San Francisco, where readers sit drinking coffee and perusing their books on Zen Buddhism and Paradigm Subversion for Dummies among the ghosts of Sam Spade, Mardou Fox*, and Chevette Washington.

As an ADHD’er and borderline dyslexic who’s raising the greatest little boy in the world, whose face flushes red with pride and exhaustion every time he finishes struggling though a book – I thought this was pretty freakin' awesome.

All right, whistle’s blowing – time to go. I’ve got a date w/ Dr. No tonight.

*full disclosure: I don't think I ever finished The Subterranians. My beatnick phase never really took.

MONDAY: A Coffee-Related entry!! Fo' Sho'!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Take this, all of you, and drink it...

I’d been searching lately for a few new coffee-related drinks to feature, in a half-hearted attempt to maintain my title as (one of) Denver’s greatest coffee blogs, but the products I turned up were mostly uninspiring. At the Valero gas station by my daughter’s day-care (purveyors of fine, Javalero brand coffees), they have “Stok” which is the semi-truck driver's equivalent of an “add shot” at Starbucks, served in those little containers that they put creamer in, that for some odd reason you never, ever have to refrigerate. Ass. I was ecstatic when I saw the giant tarp up at my nearby 7-11, advertising the “Slurpuccino”. Yes, I should probably be embarrassed to admit that, but I’ve been dreaming of just that sort of frozen sludge since my hazy-minded, munchie-addled early 20s - a $1.50, 40 oz. high-octane alternative to Peaberry’s Frozen Bear. Of course, you don’t really expect much from something that’s squeezed from the rear corner of an urban convenience store - but you'd expect it would taste, at least vaguely, like, y’know, coffee. I’m sorry to report, my fellow junk-food junkies, that the Slurpuccino is a Slurpee no-no. It tastes, more than anything, like an innocuous cream soda. If I was a maker of such decisions, I would market a Blak Slurpee and be done with it.

(And, please, don’t talk to me about “cost of product” – I’m sure the Coca Cola exec. who gave the okay to mass-marketing a $2 a bottle coffee and cola concoction has barrels of the syrup in his basement as part of his severance package)

Then, a few weeks ago, I discovered a new Mecca for myself: a new international market to satiate (but just barely) my well-documented, insatiable (and untented-to) wanderlust. H Mart in Aurora is a screeching, steel-twisting, no-reported-survivors car-crash of Asian cultures and goods, where Korean, English-as-a-second-language-speaking cashiers work amiably alongside the Spanish-as-an-only-language Mexican immigrants who bag your groceries. There are a couple of different food stalls, one of which sells the second best boba smoothies in town (next to, of course, Lollicup. Sorry “Boba & Crepes” – but, hey, thanks for playing), along with two dollar bags of popped rice cakes (which are blasted loudly from deep within the bowels of this massive steampunk looking contraption) and fish-shaped Korean Waffles on a stick(!?) For five bones, you can get a 40 minute, non-erotic massage (this is A-town we’re talking about here; so, yes, the clarification is apt). It’s from one of those high-tech chairs, as opposed to an earthy, associate’s degree wielding 23 year old hotty, but still. (If they ever manage to manufacture a chair that DOES give erotic message, sign me right the hell up!) On my first visit, they even had a flat screen TV set up in the front of the store, where the customers could sing karaoke (I don’t think that’s a regular thing: when I returned the following week, I psyched myself up to see if they had “Peace, Love, and Understanding” by Elvis Costello, but the whole set had up and vanished.)

Anyhoo, along with some frozen-ated coffee pops (mmm… like Mr. Brown on a stick) I got a couple of other Asian soft drinks, such as.........................

“It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.” Nigel Tufnel.

And that’s just how it tastes. Blacker that black. Like burnt charcoal basted in motor-oil. Like goth-poop. Yeah, I noticed that The Black Boss has some distinctly Anglo features, too. I’m thinking that maybe they mean it in the “deep, dark” underworld sense. Or the makers just aren’t giving it as much thought as I do. Or they’re just screwing with my mind.

Yes, yes, “What’s a Pocari, and why doesn’t it just get some damn antiperspirant?” Ha ha, you cheeky monkey. But all told, this stuff isn’t really so bad. You know in the 70’s how your mom, when she was doing Weight Watchers, she would drink “Fresca”, which - like “Tab” - was a diet soda with no non-diet analog? Well, this is it; Pocari Sweat is like Fresca, but with your garden variety, not good for you white-refined sugar, instead of the outright deadly poison that is saccharine. And it’s flat. So, it’s like non-diet Fresca, but left on the counter, with the cap off. Since 1976. So, no, it’s not actually “good”, per se, but it won’t kill you. Jeez, what do you people want from a soft drink named after an odorous bodily function?

Anyway, yeah, that’s how I’ve been spending my weekends. Sorry for the completely amateurish pics. Thank G-d The Onion just got a photo intern on staff – I am ass at taking pictures.

Maybe the H Mart offers a class.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Depeche Mold

Ever since I was laid off from the cable company last year, I’ve toyed with the idea of downgrading to plain ol’ antenna-powered broadcast TV. I’m pissed off that they keep cutting back on what comes with our package (no more Something Weird and second season Facts of Life episodes on demand for free – the greedy bastards!) I don’t really have the time to keep up with the demanding, multi-layered story arcs that cable series are famous for - and besides that, it’s not as if I have all this extra money to burn. But the thing is, the wife and I (being the urbane sophisticated folks that we are) have this weekly ritual, where we sit down to watch two solid hours of public access programming every Friday night. It’s even better since the radical teenagers from Denver Open Media took over the programming last year. They’re like the 21st century, punk-rock Little Rascals, firing up their mid-grade digital video equipment and shouting “Hey, kids! Let’s put on a motherf**king show!”
Seriously, this stuff is pure comedy gold; uncut, uncensored, and usually unintentional. There’s this one program, VlogTV, where these two kids sit in front of a laptop and show clips off of youtube. It’s sort of like “Homemovies” that used to air on KBDI in the 80s, except everything is viewer-requested, so nobody reviews the content beforehand. There’s always this breathless, nerve rattling moment while the hosts wait to see if they’ve been duped into downloading hot MILF action.

Then there’s the “Chuck and Linda Lee Show” - Linda Lee is a new-ager of the “angels talk to me” variety, who talks all about creating your reality, while she herself pantomimes drinking a cup of tea. Chuck’s reality consists of getting the smackdown from Linda Lee anytime he opens his mouth to say something. And playing guitar.

The other thing I love about public access is that anytime I watch it, I’m sure to see someone I know. The wife - she used to do naughty with a guy that had a speaking part in Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds”. Me – I watch channel 57 and see Rebecca, an avant guard artist who went by “Becky” back when she was cheerleading at dear ol’ Northglenn High School.

Last week, we got the kids to bed early so we could watch the monthly live broadcast of the “First Friday” event on Santa Fe. Right there on stage, belting out "Roxanne" in front of a group of middle aged guys, was a girl that I used make out with on a semi-regular basis.

You know how you have those paradigm shifting revelations about your own life? And you know how they don’t generally occur when you’re actually meditating, or hiking to the top of one of Colorado’s many 14,000 foot peaks?. Yeah, I had one of those, right then. A clear, cognizant reflection of my own reality; not one I’ve so much created, as one that’s a product of my advancing age.

Do you know how old I am?

I am old enough to actually know people who play in cover-bands. (!)


I kid, of course. I kid, because I love. And because I can relate. Who am I to knock somebody for whatever it is that gets them through their eight hours of day job? And really, she effectively re-created that early to mid-nineties college rock growl. I mean, it wouldn’t be unheard of if they garnered some measure of success for mimicking their influences.

I remember, there used to be this band in Boulder called “Fluorescent Echo”. The lead vocals were handled by a dude who was a dead ringer for Erasure’s Andy Bell. The keyboardist looked like Jane Childs, and the bass player was Flea, just like every other bass player on the planet in 1991. While most bands Northwest of Denver were known for approximating The Grateful Dead, Fluorescent Echo effectively channeled Depeche Mode in order to achieve their 15 minutes of fame.

And it’s not as if they were the only ones – In the late 80s / early 90s, you couldn’t hock a loogie without hitting a sack full of Yamaha DX7s, all programmed to mimic the Mode. After some quick Googling, I realized that no one yet has put together a list of those bands. And you know what that means - - it's time to get bloggin'!

To wit:


Now, these guys were just flat-out brazen. Not only did they recreate the Mode's sound, note for reverberating, hammer-striking-anvil note - but the lead singer had the audacity to raid Martin Gore's closet as well. But these guys knew who they were ripping off - you had to give them that. Their first album was like 10 songs worth of "Strangelove" - and their remix album, "Naive Dance", had tracks produced by Paul Robb of Information Society. So that's like a double dip of synth-y goodness.



Sure, I could have gone the easy route, and just put up the video for "The Great Commandment"; but I had a dream JUST like this one time. I was watching a government controlled TV network in Germany back before the Berlin Wall came down, and Matt Damon was wearing some Z Cavariccis and doing the Molly Ringwald side-to -side. Besides, I thought the hardest working band in Eastern Europe deserved some of the spotlight. You think it's easy to produce that kind of techno-pop when the commies in charge only let you use a conventional drum set? RESPECT, yo.


7 RED 7

Seven Red Seven (myspace page)

Okay, so I couldn't find any youtube clips for these guys. Which means nobody had a video camera at the Sacramento mall opening where they performed their triumphant live show. But listen to that music on their myspace page, and just try not to feel nostalgic.

(if you can do it, just leave me alone. You're dead to me.)



To be perfectly honest, this track always kind of bugged me. I mean, sure, it has a good beat, and you could do the new wave "sweep a penny" dance to it; but the best Depeche Mode songs were always about longing, obsession, need. "You Think You Know Her" is a dark, haunting ode to taking some "me-time", in order to really be sure what you want out of life. And while that may be good advice for the average 17 year old who listens to this kind of stuff, it's doesn't exactly fit a grinding dance track. And what's up with their monicker? Do you think they go on couples spiritual retreats with Hall, Oats, Milli, Vanilli, Captain, Tenille, Big, and Tasty? And that hair - dude, didn't you get the fax that sportin' it like Rico Suave is no good for your alternative-radio street cred?


So there it is, folks - my comprehensive list of bands rockin' it in The Mode.

Why? Why not? This is how I get through my eight hours of day job.