Take Your Protein Pills And Put Your Backpack On…

I was on Amazon today getting a decal for my car. It needs a little something to set it apart from the other silver sedans in the parking lot. I have already stood next to someone else’s car at least twice not understanding why the handle button is not unlocking the door.

So something on the back window for identification purposes will be just then thing.

I ordered a Bowie decal, which I will show in a later blog once I have it on…

but,

while I was on Amazon I came across this:

https://www.amazon.com/David-Blackstar-Backpack-School-Bag/dp/B01KHD52Q6/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1503869634&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=kids+blackstar+backpack

I am a bit stunned. Of course, I fully acknowledge the rights in this world for folks to make money, and I have seen a lot of cashing in on Bowie merchandise, hell, I made the star letters as vinyl cutouts to sell, but I find this one comical.

Is this the kind of backpack little girls want to wear these days? What happened to Hello Kitty and My Little Pony? I just don’t get the demographic for this. Is it for parents to buy for their kids who won’t understand or appreciate the significance, or are there very young girl Bowie fans who really dug his Blackstar album? It really spoke to them in a way that they really want to emblazoned it on their backpack? Be that kid in school? I mean it is marketed as a kid’s backpack. It’s a bit boggling.

Per the description in the ad: Small Size For Kids Under 6 Years Old

Don’t fret little dudes. It also comes in blue.

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom

Take your protein pills and put your helmet backpack on.

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The Miracle Of Plastic (Vinyl Actually)

There are many ways to damage your records.

Leave them in your car when you run in to hang out with a friend, warping your copy of Blondie “Eat To The Beat”.

Lazily refuse to put the albums back in the sleeves and just lean them up against the stereo rack and then have your high school text-book and Trapper Keeper fall into your exposed copy of Led Zeppelin’s “In Through The Out Door”.

Have the breeze from the open window blow the dust cover down while your Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” album is playing and listen as the tone arm bounces and scratches its way across side 2.

There are many other ways, but these and a few others are the ones etched into my brain. My “Police – Regatta De Blanc” fell victim to misuse and forever had a skip in the song “Deathwish” forever.

So I learned.

However, there are always accidents, and recently I had one.

I needed to do some work in the basement, and as everything is better with music, I decided to throw on the first record I thought of, which happened to be “Adam Ant – Strip”. I had listened to that non-stop when I was working in the music room as I was finishing it out.

I pulled the record from the shelf, opened the record player and pulled the record out of the sleeve. It so happened that I pulled it out with Side 2 facing up. My favorite side is side one. So I flipped it.

With my index fingers on the edge of the record I spun it in order to turn it over to side one… unfortunately, it slipped from my fingers and fell.

In slow motion I saw it fall and bounce off of the tone arm of the open record player tray, then slide across it into my hands.

I stood frozen for a moment.

I can’t believe I did that!

I turned over the record and could see right away a huge scratch.

I was a bit devastated.

I got this record only a few years ago, but it really found a place in my catalog and due to its continual spins in the music room set-up, it is a Mike classic. I immediately considered the necessity to replace it.

The cover and back cover are ridiculous

but I NEED this album.

I decided to take it upstairs and survey the audio damage.

Much to my surprise, I really heard no damage at all. It was unbelievable. The look of the scratch is horrible. If I were looking at this record in the store I would pass on it. Yet it was imperceptible. You just never know. I have had records that looked mint that have skipped and been unrepairable, and this baby is gauged and still plays great.

Whew!

Thank goodness for the miracle of plastic, or in this case vinyl.

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DUDE ! Synchronicity is REAL

I speak about synchronicity all the time.

You know when you think of a song and then hear it later that day. It happens to me with a scary frequency and I know it’s a thing.

It happened again, and this time with an image. Not exactly a perfect match, but I think you will clearly see the synchronicity in it.

Several posts ago I did a review of the newest Nine Inch Nails EP and stated how much I did not like the cover. A drab rehash of another cover.

Then I took a photo that reminded me of NIN and Trent. Here it is again.

Then I found out that Nine Inch Nails has a NEW release. Another EP called “Add Violence” coming out soon!

Now, look at my photo above and then check out the cover below:

COME ON! Sure, not an exact match, but…

can you deny that the images are similar? Switches and knobs. Lights and labels.

I holding up an imaginary hand for a high-five here!

Come on. Give it to me!

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2 Drivers – One Stereo

Yesterday Joe and I drove to Kalamazoo to visit Abbey and the soft opening of the KZoo Cat Café.

Check out the Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/kzoocatcafe/

We snuck there and surprised Abbey. It was a long drive but we made it and delivered gifts and had our first real look at the café. There were indeed cats there, crazy and cute and very interested in the new items.

The Café is cool I must say and we explored and made some new friends (Hi Goldie!) and I picked up a KZoo Coffee Mug. Too far away to visit? You can get your swag here:

https://squareup.com/store/kzoocatcafe

So… we arrived safe, and Joe drove (yes, I can hardly believe it either!) 4 of the 6 hours of the trip (skipping the nefarious traffic areas in Chicago and suburbs) which netted him his first 2 hours of night driving. He is a good driver and the trip went surprisingly fast.

Also surprising was his music selection. Knowing the drive was coming, he built a Spotify playlist for us. Alas, it was a short one and we were soon playing all of his playlists. Joe, like Max and Abbey, love all types of music and it was an interesting romp through the music he has saved to his lists. Many recommended by friends and some he has just heard and added, I was pleasantly surprised with the selections.

Which was good since he controlled the music (although I held veto power) for the entire trip!

Sure I skipped the screamo and machine gun bass drum tracks, but I heard good stuff otherwise. Van Morrison, Billy Joel, Lumineers, Offspring, classics and contemporary tracks and it kept us moving along.

I have to say I was pleased that we could go a full 6 hours just on the music Joe brought along.

And… we did all the music off of Joe’s phone! On the way back (my music) everything will be running off of a flash drive. What is the world coming to?! I don’t really have any CD’s to PLAY in the CD player in my new car (though it has a player) and Cindy’s car doesn’t even HAVE a CD player.

Ah technology.

I recall a car that I drove, the yellow Maverick that we got from my mother, that I had to stick a folded piece of cardboard under the tape in the tape player to make it angle enough to hit the play head right to make the sound good. It was notorious for eating tapes too. Remember those days folks?

The technology of car stereos has really evolved.

Wonder what kind of gas mileage this baby gets.

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Institutionalized

Some songs just have a life of their own. They become a part of your existence and it never even occurs to you that they could be anything but the best song ever.

Such a song is “Institutionalized” by a band called Suicidal Tendencies.

This song was introduced to me by the film “Repo Man”. I can’t remember the scene, but I got the soundtrack and immediately loved it. Iggy Pop, Circle Jerks, Burning Sensations, Black Flag… great stuff. “Institutionalized” with poor Mike just seemed to be perfect for me, a little punk, a little thrash… and not just because he is my namesake.

I must confess here that surprisingly, I have never listened to another Suicidal Tendencies song. I have no idea if all their music is like this or not, but having this one song probably changed my life.

Years later when Dalton and I were friends and started sharing music, we discovered we had a mutual love of this song. We both put it on mixes we shared with each other. It was featured prominently on the tape that we often played hacky-sack to in the backyard.

Thinking back on it I don’t think Dalton had any Suicidal Tendencies music but for this song either. It was just that good.

The story in the song is classic. On a whim, realizing I didn’t know all the exact lyrics, I present them here:

“Institutionalized”

 Sometimes I try to do things and it just doesn’t work out the way I wanted to.
 I get real frustrated and I try hard to do it and I take my time and it doesn’t work out the way I wanted to.
 It’s like I concentrate real hard and it doesn’t work out.
 Everything I do and everything I try never turns out.
 It’s like I need time to figure these things out.
 But there’s always someone there going.

 Hey Mike:
 You know we’ve been noticing you’ve been having a lot of problems lately.
 You know, maybe you should get away and maybe you should talk about it, maybe you’ll feel a lot better

 And I go:
 No it’s okay, you know I’ll figure it out, just leave me alone I’ll figure it out.
 You know I’ll just work by myself.

 And they go:
 Well you know if you want to talk about it I’ll be here you know and you’ll probably feel a lot better if you talk about it.

 And I go:
 No I don’t want to I’m okay, I’ll figure it out myself and they just keep bugging me and they just keep bugging me and it builds up inside and it builds up inside.

 So you’re gonna be institutionalized
 You’ll come out brainwashed with bloodshot eyes
 You won’t have any say
 They’ll brainwash you until you see their way.

[Chorus:]
 I’m not crazy – in an institution
 You’re the one who’s crazy – in an institution
 You’re driving me crazy – in an institution
 They stuck me in an institution
 Said it was the only solution
 To give me the needed professional help
 To protect me from the enemy — myself.

 I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything
 But then again I was thinking about nothing
 And then my mom came in and I didn’t even know she was there she called my name
 And I didn’t even hear it, and then she started screaming: MIKE! MIKE!
 And I go:
 What, what’s the matter?
 And she goes:
 What’s the matter with you?
 I go:
 There’s nothing wrong mom.
 And she goes:
 Don’t tell me that, you’re on drugs!
 And I go:
 No mom I’m not on drugs I’m okay, I was just thinking you know, why don’t you get me a Pepsi.
 And she goes:
 NO you’re on drugs!
 I go:
 Mom I’m okay, I’m just thinking.
 She goes:
 No you’re not thinking, you’re on drugs! Normal people don’t act that way!
 I go:
 Mom just give me a Pepsi, please
 All I want is a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me
 All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me.
 Just a Pepsi.

 They give you a white shirt with long sleeves
 Tied around you’re back, you’re treated like thieves
 Drug you up because they’re lazy
 It’s too much work to help a crazy

[Chorus]

 I was sitting in my room and my mom and my dad came in and they pulled up a chair and they sat down, they go:
 Mike, we need to talk to you
 And I go:
 Okay what’s the matter
 They go:
 Me and your mom have been noticing lately that you’ve been having a lot of problems,
 You’ve been going off for no reason and we’re afraid you’re gonna hurt somebody,
 We’re afraid you’re gonna hurt yourself.
 So we decided that it would be in your interest if we put you somewhere
 Where you could get the help that you need.
 And I go:
 Wait, what are you talking about, we decided!?
 My best interest?! How can you know what’s my best interest is?
 How can you say what my best interest is? What are you trying to say, I’m crazy?
 When I went to your schools, I went to your churches,
 I went to your institutional learning facilities?! So how can you say I’m crazy?

 They say they’re gonna fix my brain
 Alleviate my suffering and my pain
 But by the time they fix my head
 Mentally I’ll be dead

[Chorus]

 It doesn’t matter, I’ll probably get hit by a car anyway

I wasn’t on drugs, had no issues with my parents, and preferred Coke to Pepsi, but somehow I WAS Mike. I got behind the irony and the rage and I loved to shout out these lyrics and pogo in my living room, so far removed from the actual problems of the song, but loving it.

The perfect slice of music, lyrics and sound.

It never occurred to me that someone wouldn’t dig it as much as me.

A few days ago, high on the gadgets in my new (used) car, I filled up a flash drive with mixes and plugged it into the USB slot and ran it through the car stereo (that incidentally sounds fantastic). I was waiting in the driveway to drive Joe to his first night of his first job and as he got in the current song was fading out and as we backed out of the driveway… “Institutionalized” came on.

I cranked it up.

Joe took it in and as we approached his new employer’s parking lot he remarked, “What is this? He is just talking. What kind of song is this?” and proceeded to ask me to turn it down, apparently embarrassed to pull up in a car that was cranking Suicidal Tendencies.

I obliged him in stunned silence.

HOW could he NOT like this song??!!

It is the perfect song.

Maybe he was just too nervous that night. I’ll give him one more chance. I mean, there are 2 types of people in this world: Those that love “Institutionalized” and those that don’t.

Maybe if he was a Mike too.

Sigh…

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A Confession Regarding The Ramones

I have a confession, and it is likely to shock some, but I feel it must be said:

I have never listened to a Ramones album.

There. It’s out.

I have no explanation for this, it’s not like I dislike The Ramones. I have heard several songs on the radio and I like what I’ve heard, like “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Rock and Roll High School” and of course “Blitzkrieg Bop”.

Furthermore… everyone that mentions The Ramones in videos I watch and books I read all pretty much describe them as being the catalyst for wanting to be musicians and that hearing them changed their lives.

Henry Rollins loves them.

As I think back on it though, Dalton, my main source for new music back in the day never really spoke about The Ramones, and didn’t have any albums of theirs. To my knowledge he only had the song “I Wanna Be Sedated” which was featured in a lot of mix tapes.

Maybe it was simply BECAUSE everyone else loved them so much. You know… the Dave Matthews effect.

The Dave Matthews effect is when I avoid a band because everyone hardcore loves them and the hype is at an unbelievably high level. These go to 11 style. It’s why I avoided The Grateful Dead until Garcia was dead and I didn’t check out Dave Matthews for real until the 2000’s and had to admit that both were as good as everyone claimed.

Sub confession: I’m listening to Dave Matthews as I write this.

So who knows, The Ramones may be another victim of the Dave Matthews effect.

Or, it could be that the time that they could have really made an impression on me was when I was in a metal phase, or my “The 80’s will NEVER die” phase. It is true that my taste has morphed. I started with Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond and now listen to everything… rock, funk, jazz, ambient, country (limited), sitar music, African jazz, you name it. The Ramones may be my next big thing.

I vow to at least give them a try to see if they click with me. It seems I owe them and everyone who has ever recommended them to me directly or indirectly at least one chance.

Now that one member has passed as well as many many years… it’s time.

I’ll give it a go.

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NIN… Apologies A Statement And A Question…

So, didn’t I just mention that I was waiting for my vinyl copy of “Not The Actual Events” EP from Nine Inch Nails a couple posts ago?

Call it synchronicity, but the very next day I received an e-mail about the release.

Business is business, and I don’t enjoy waiting, but this was handled well by Trent. I post it here with respect going out to Trent for his action on it and for anyone that doesn’t know about his question at the end.

The e-mail in its entirety (minus direct links, if your a customer, you got this already):

DEAR NIN.COM VINYL CUSTOMER,

TWO APOLOGIES, A STATEMENT, AND A QUESTION.

APOLOGY 1:
FIRST, AS SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW WE ARE CHANGING OUR FULFILLMENT PARTNER.  I HAVE NOT BEEN HAPPY WITH FIREBRAND FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS AND WE ARE NOW PARTNERING WITH SANDBAG.   I’M SORRY IT’S TAKEN AS LONG AS IT HAS TO MAKE THIS CHANGE, AND I APOLOGIZE FOR ANY AGGRAVATION YOU MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED ON THIS FRONT. YOUR SUPPORT IS VERY MUCH APPRECIATED AND I ASSURE YOU THERE’S BEEN AN EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNT OF SCREAMING DONE ON MY END.  YOU DESERVE BETTER.

APOLOGY 2:
THE VINYL RELEASES FOR DEVIATIONS, NOT THE ACTUAL EVENTS AND THE REISSUES HAVE BEEN DELAYED AS MANY OF YOU ARE AWARE.  THE BLAME FOR THIS LIES WITH ME AND MY TEAM.  WE RAN INTO A VARIETY OF QUALITY CONTROL ISSUES WITH THE AUDIO AND VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE ARTWORK, THEN WE GOT OBSESSIVE ABOUT GETTING IT RIGHT.  AT SOME POINT THESE FUCKUPS STARTED TO ADD UP TO A SUBSTANTIAL DELAY THAT I WASN’T FULLY AWARE OF UNTIL RECENTLY.

AGAIN, I’M SORRY FOR THE DELAY HERE BUT THE INTENTION HAS BEEN TO GET THIS UNCOMPROMISINGLY RIGHT.

HERE’S THE UPDATED, ACCURATE (BARRING AN ACT OF GOD) TIMELINE FOR SHIPPING:

*   DEVIATIONS WILL SHIP AT THE END OF JUNE
*   ALL OTHER TITLES WILL SHIP AT THE BEGINNING OF AUGUST

IF YOU HAVE ORDERED ANY OF THESE TITLES, YOU WILL RECEIVE AN EMAIL WHEN YOUR ORDER HAS SHIPPED.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE A COMPLETE REFUND (KEEPING THE DIGITAL FILES), WE GET IT

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR ORDER, OR WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT SANDBAG CUSTOMER SERVICE

ADDITIONALLY, EVERYONE WITH AN OUTSTANDING VINYL ORDER WILL RECEIVE A DISCOUNT CODE FOR 20% OFF YOUR NEXT PURCHASE.  THIS CODE IS GOOD FOR ONE USE AND UNIQUE TO YOU. YOU WILL RECEIVE YOUR CODE VIA EMAIL IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

STATEMENT:
WE ARE TAKING ALL MEASURES AVAILABLE TO MAKE SURE ANY PREORDERS FROM NIN.COM ARRIVE IN YOUR HANDS BEFORE THEY ARE AVAILABLE ANYWHERE ELSE.  I KNOW HOW FRUSTRATING IT IS WHEN THIS ISN’T THE CASE (LIKE WHAT JUST HAPPENED WITH BEFORE THE FLOOD).  I ASSUMED WE ALREADY HAD THIS PRACTICE IN PLACE, I WAS INCORRECT.

QUESTION:
FINALLY, DID YOU KNOW THERE’S A NEW TOP-SECRET NINE INCH NAILS EP THAT WILL BE RELEASED BEFORE THE FIRST SHOWS WE DO THIS SUMMER?  DID YOU KNOW NOT THE ACTUAL EVENTS WAS THE FIRST PART OF A TRILOGY OF RELATED EPS THAT WILL BE RELEASED ABOUT 6-8 MONTHS APART?  NOW YOU DO.
MORE INFORMATION ON THIS SHORTLY…

THANK YOU.
TRENT

 

I am waiting. I accept your apology.

The Aural Retentive

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