— Philip Sandifer, The Last War In Albion
I’m not saying I literally eat crap, guys, but let’s be real: I eat crap. I am someone who likes to go out to eat, but I am really poor. So rather than eat at home most of the time and only go out to eat when I can afford really good food, I eat the cheapest crap I can find at fast food places, just so I don’t have to cook.
My friend Jim has started a group blog about sandwiches, which if you know Jim is the sort of thing you’ll be completely unsurprised to hear. Anyway, I have joined and will be posting semi-regular reviews of the cheap fast food sandwiches that make up a much higher percentage of my diet than I like to admit. Here’s my first post, about eating footlong cheese subs from Sheetz.
Pretty overwhelming watching video games journalism screaming through puberty these past couple of weeks. This line from Kotaku’s recent update about disclosing relationships on the site jumped out ‘cos it’s something I’ve been wondering re: music journalism too. I’ve so far avoided giving to any crowdfunding campaigns for music stuff, despite wanting to support valuable and worthy causes like Polyester’s recent redesign or the recent Milk! Records comp, for this exact reason. Out of caution more than conviction, though — if the logic is that you’re more inclined to support projects you’ve invested your own money into, is that really so different than reviewing a band whose records you’ve bought or shows you’ve paid to see?
Exactly. It’s the same thing. I would think reviewing something you bought is also a bit less biased than reviewing something sent to you for free. After all, shouldn’t the maker’s act of charity lead you to be more charitable in return? If you invested some of your own money, you’re going to have more expectations for the final product than you would if you got it for free.
This entire line of logic on Kotaku’s part is ass-backwards.
‘We Ain’t Even Married’ by (Young) Pioneers is my new jam.
Since I always forget to post what I write for RVA Mag on this tumblr, I’ve set a reminder on my phone that will go off every Saturday afternoon and remind me to post everything I wrote over the previous week. Let’s see if this at least is a routine I can stick to.
Let’s try some subheadings as well.
[EDIT: This went way longer than I planned for it to, and has a lot of discussion about process in it that may bore the pants off you. Feel free to skip, or just click on the links, or whatever.]
Stuff I’m actually proud of:
Review of Ryan Kent’s Poems For Dead People (1115 words): This is actually from late last week, but I did very little writing compared to my normal output this week, so fuck it, here’s this. Review of a local poet’s first book, which is really more like a chapbook. All of the poems in it are about dead people—sometimes people from Ryan’s personal life, sometimes famous people he never met. I liked this book quite a bit.
Weekly show preview column (2803 words): Every week I write about 8 shows happening over the next 7 days. I call them “must-see” shows and then I don’t get to more than 1 or 2 of them every other week. My job makes me tired, and a lot of times I feel like I need to come home and do more work just so I can keep up on my knowledge of the music scene enough to justify my position. Which pays about as much as working fast food. Whee, my life rules.
Anyway, I generally think of these columns as running to about 2500 words, and they are by far the longest, most involved thing I write in any given week. What generally happens is, the night before I post the column, I make a tentative plan for what shows I’ll cover in the next week’s column, while at the same time finalizing the tentative plan for this week’s column, which I made the previous week. This usually involves conflicts with some nights, on which there might be as many as three different shows that might be appealing, and panic relating to other nights, on which there might not be ANY shows that seem worth going to. I generally am able to find at least one worthwhile show for every night, though. Then there’s a feature show that starts out every column, which is usually a second show from the busiest/most desirable night of the week. I figure out exactly which shows I’m putting in the column, and what position they’ll occupy, then I do all the tedious coding work for the article the night before. This takes up 2 to 3 hours of my Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning, I write the actual column once I get to the office, and am usually done by 2 PM. The whole thing probably takes 7 hours of work per week.
The less-than-ideal results of the column’s format include the fact that it’s often physically impossible to attend every show I’ve recommended, simply because one show is happening at the same time as another; and the fact that there are sometimes just too many shows worth covering to fit them all in. In those situations, I tend to let some combination of novelty, my personal taste, and venue balance be my guide in picking which ones to spotlight. The undisputed best venue for live music in Richmond is Strange Matter, and every week there’s a temptation to make 5 or 6 of the 8 shows I cover be Strange Matter shows. Sometimes I can’t really avoid doing so, but I always try to spread things around as much as possible, and give some consideration to a club that’s only doing one good show rather than covering Strange Matter for the fifth time that week, or whatever. But it’s never a perfect situation, and I have gotten some small degree of flack a few times in the last few weeks for not covering particular shows.
Of course, when there is a truly worthy show that doesn’t fit into the show column format, I always try to preview that show in a separate article on the site, either by me or by a contributor/intern. Usually I’ve planned this kind of thing out way in advance, and already know which shows will get their own article, but that didn’t happen this week. Therefore, this article happened:
Teargas Rock reunion show preview (715 words): I was actually going to make this the feature show in this week’s show column, then realized as I was writing the text for it that I had too much to say about it. Plus, I’d been worried about what I was going to do for Wednesday, since I should really include both the DJ Abilities and Mouth Of The Architect shows, but also needed to include both the Teargas Rock and Way Shape Or Form shows on Friday night. Suddenly I realized that the key to solving both of these problems was to spin the Teargas Rock writeup off into its own article, make the DJ Abilities show the featured show in the show column, and use the Mouth Of the Architect and Way Shape Or Form shows as the regular shows for their respective days.
This simultaneously ruled and sucked, because I had solved my dilemmas about how to cover everything I wanted to cover by giving myself significantly more work to do at 11 AM on Wednesday. It was that late because I’d had personal life stuff going on on Tuesday night and hadn’t gotten the chance to devote three hours of my after-work time to the show column. I’d planned out what I wanted to cover in the column, but it wasn’t entirely finalized, and I’d had to spend the first hour and a half of my Wednesday morning doing coding for the article before I could even start writing it. Then, in the middle of writing the Teargas Rock thing, that became its own article, and I suddenly still had 8 two to three paragraph blurbs about other shows to write. I got through it all by 3 PM that day, but considering I wrote 3500 words from scratch in the space of about 4 and a half hours, I think it’s probably no surprise that I was exhausted by the time I was finished.
And just think, I do this at least one day a week—sometimes more! (This week was pretty light, as I mentioned before; check back with me in a couple weeks and you might see some even more ridiculous daily wordcount totals.)
Stuff I only wrote because it’s my job:
RVA Cabaret Mega Show preview/ticket giveaway (539 words): This is an article about a burlesque/vaudeville show that was happening Friday. I actually had free passes to go to it but didn’t realize it conflicted with the Teargas Rock show mentioned above, and I wasn’t gonna miss that. Anyway, this is the kind of article I have learned to put together from a couple sentences on a facebook event invite page, but this time I was fortunate to have a detailed press release with some quotes from the organizer, so what I came up with had a bit more meat to it. A bit. This is the kind of article I feel like I mostly construct from pretty words and airy hype. If it works to help promote the event, then it’s served it’s purpose, but I’m under no illusion that I’m doing anything more than copywriting on posts like this.
Ticket giveaway for Bob Mould at the 9:30 Club next week (352 words): It’d be unfair to call this more glorified copywriting, because I sincerely love Bob Mould’s music and I did a good bit to try and explain why in this article. However, at the end of the day these giveaway posts follow a pretty strict format, and I’m lucky they do because that format makes it much easier for me to just plug in a few details and crank ‘em out. I don’t really have the time for much more. I think I wrote this in 45 minutes, though it’s tough to really say because our website kept crashing over and over, and it took at least three tries to get this one posted.
New video by Richmond hip hop artist Noah O (193 words): You might’ve seen this guy on the MTV Jams network in 2012 with his video "I Got It." It got some decent play, but he didn’t have any sort of record deal at that point and the video didn’t help him get one. He’s basically on the same level as any of the dozen or so other guys on the top tier of the Richmond hip hop scene, and I feel like none of them really know how to get farther than they’ve gotten. It’s sad, because there are some really good rappers in this town, but no one’s looking at us the way they’re looking at Chicago or wherever, so even when a dude has some random success, it’s hard to know how to capitalize on it. Anyway, Noah O didn’t let that get him down, and he self-released a new album earlier this year that’s better than anything else he’s done. This is a song from that record, and the video’s pretty cool, so I did a brief post about it. I’m down with what Noah’s doing, but I would be lying if I said that something like this comes to me as anything other than a relieved feeling of “Oh good, there’s one more thing I can post online today to get me closer to my daily quota.”
This is what getting paid to do online journalism is like in 2014, kids. For better or for worse.
(And I haven’t even talked about all the editing and coding of other people’s articles I have to do on a daily basis… or the 100-150 emails I get and have to process every day in order to keep up.)
EDIT #2: Oh look, I forgot one. Shows how much I cared about this one, doesn’t it?
Preview for local bar’s 8th anniversary party (252 words): This is something I wrote entirely because the DJs doing this party are cool guys who spin good music and because the owner of the magazine is close personal friends with the owner of the bar in question. So I get the word, “Hey, can you post a preview of this event?” Yeah, sure I can. Again: copywriting. It is what it is.
Pianos Become The Teeth - Repine
Generally, hearing that the vocalist for a band I really like has gone from screaming to singing is the death knell of my interest in said band. In my humble opinion, there is no quicker, easier way to fundamentally transform and significantly water down the sound of a band than to remove all the vocal-driven tension from their sound and replace it with something smooth and pretty. If a screamed vocal is adding grit to a song and you take that screamed vocal away, what adds grit now? The answer is usually “nothing.”
I say all this to point out an exception. If this new Pianos Become The Teeth song is an accurate indication of how their new album will sound, they’ve managed to go from screamed to sung vocals without losing an ounce of their emotional tension and musical power. This probably has to do with the fact that Kyle Durfey was a hybrid of singer and screamer even before—he always had an element of melody to his vocals before, and on this song, you can hear that previous harshness still rising up as an undercurrent to his voice, especially towards the end, when things get really dramatic.
But the hype you’re hearing out there is that “Pianos Become The Teeth are singing now!” and I know I always panic when I hear that about a band. For once, though, this is not cause for alarm. If anything, I’d say the transition is being exaggerated for a narrative hook to use in constructing articles. Which is funny, because I just used it as a narrative hook to construct a blog post.
Anyway, what I’m really saying is that this song rules and I’m excited for the new Pianos Become The Teeth album.
"Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" by Dada
Twenty-two miles out of Pasadena
I picked up a hiker named Tina
Now oe’ve only been here
A couple of weeks
Soakin up the sun, the drugs
And the freaks
We hit it off
So we moved in together
Got a cat named Ringo
And it purred like leather
We robbed a bank in
Bought a Caddy and a
We’d ride by day
We’d play by night
We’re makin’ love every night
I heard a random adult-alternative song in a public place the other day, and used the wonderful Shazam app to figure out what it was. It turned out to be "Lullaby" by Shawn Mullins, which is apparently some late 90s waning-years-of-alt-rock single that I just somehow never heard until now. Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because as I was listening, all I could think was “this sounds like someone trying to do a watered-down version of ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’ by Dada.” But I figured no one other than me even remembered that song. I’m glad to be wrong about that.
You know, it seems as the years go on I just hear more and more about what douchebags the members of Dads are. But I’ve never met either of them, and probably won’t ever know them on a personal level, so all I’m left with is the fact that their records just keep getting better and better. So yeah, apologies to any of you who might know them and therefore have had to deal with what sucky dudes they are, but I personally am looking forward to getting their new album. Like, a lot.
T.I. FT. IGGY AZALEA - NO MEDIOCRE
Tara Hillegeist: Rap game Taylor Swift and a washup chasing trap rhythms like a lawyer looking for his ambulance with no slickness or skill to reward my ears for enduring it? “No” is word enough.
RIPPED FROM THE COMMENTS SECTION: “calling Iggy Azalea the ‘Rap Game Taylor Swift’ is the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen on the Jukebox.”
Wait, were you intentionally referencing Kitty Pryde, or is that a crazy coincidence?
Kitty »»> Iggy, by the way.
It’s back to the Big Apple for two more cases of Detective Danny Clover. Larry Thor stars as the sharp, philosophical detective in Broadway is My Beat, a stand-out from the crowd of radio cop dramas. Clover walks the Great White Way and mixes with the upper crust and the downtrodden in search of the truth in two mysteries: “The Garment District Murders” (originally aired on CBS on April 14, 1951) and “The Milkman Murders” (originally aired on CBS on February 16, 1952).
This was really interesting. I find all the episodes of Down These Mean Streets interesting at least for the info about the radio shows they feature and the context they fit into during that period, but usually I can predict which ones will actually be good based on how familiar I already am with the stars and characters on the show in question. This week was a big exception though. I’d never heard of Broadway Is My Beat, but was intrigued by the description, and sure enough, this is a sincerely great show. I’ve actually only made it through the first of two episodes on this podcast (only so many hours in the day I can devote to listening to podcasts), but I’m looking forward to hearing the second one. This is well worth your time if you like detective fiction—definitely has that same sort of poetic/literary bent that showed up in a lot of Raymond Chandler’s work, though less downbeat overall.