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Friday, August 24, 2012

Na Na Nothing Groovier Than An Evening Concert With Mike Doughty
or an outdoor freebie with hipster coolness

Okay, so my two week vacation in August is always bittersweet. I look forward to being free of the Special K immensely, and pack a lot of activity into those fourteen days, but the cold hard fact is it signifies the beginning of the end of my favorite season, summer. I'm never ready to give up the long days, steamy temps and sleeveless, sockless attire. The outdoor concert is another reason I cherish summer, especially if it's free.

Here in Pittsburgh, we are blessed with multiple county parks, two of which have open stages. Local musician, Bill Deasey has the enviable position of booking both of these beautiful venues. This year he booked Mike Doughty, touring in support of his exemplary effort, Yes and Also Yes, for the penultimate concert under the stars in South Park.


the coolest cat in the room... or park

Doughty is one of Geo's and my favorite musicians to see live. Sadly, Geo's indentured servitude prevented him from joining me last Friday night. A bummer because A) Geo is alwaysALWAYS my first concert companion choice and B) He would have finally met my delightful friend, Annie who was driving up from West Virginia to see her musical love. (Mike Doughty is her Rhett)



The amusing constant in Annie and my relationship... is rain. We met in the teaming rain at an Old 97's outdoor concert, and every musically-related meet up since then includes some modicum of moisture, without fail. Friday was no exception except for the modest volume of droplets. By the time the show started, the stormy skies had cleared, giving way to a gorgeous, comfortable, sweatshirt evening reminiscent of the beach. Fear not Reader (singular), our streak is not broken. While we were pressed against the stage with the dancing masses, a light sprinkle ensued. Not enough to drench, but enough to turn my hair into unruly Medusa locks.

Me with crazy-ass hair? That's standard, too.

more fidget in those legs than a man can handle

Scrap, being scrappy
only a hipster doofus can pull off velcro sneakers

the elusive smile 
Anyway, Doughty took the stage with his usual cohort, Scrap on base and a new member, Pete on the drum kit. His voice is deep and rich and is a perfect match to his jazz-fused, pop sound whose irresistible base line makes it impossible to sit still. I have difficulty categorizing his sound, which is a good thing. He spans jazz, pop, hipster scat, rock, introspective ballad, all with sophisticated lyrics that challenge ones resolve to find meaning in their poetry. His songs always expand my meager vocabulary. Into the Un (one of my new favorites) contains the word "nepenthe". It's a magnificent word that trips off the tongue, but seriously, who uses nepenthe in a pop song?  Um, Mike Doughty does, Luddite.


white people dancing' all awkward 'n shit

And boy can he move an audience to dance about with white-guy abandon. By the third song, the very rhythmic Na Na Nothing drew enough people to fill half of the dance space (including us) and by the fifth tune, the entire designated area was filled with head bobbing, spinning fools singing along, including one skinny, shirtless, dude with a classic middle-of-the-back Mullet .

tres sexy, Mullet Man
Awesome.

One of the things we appreciate about Doughty is his tendency to call out talkers in the audience. When my Everlovin and I have seen him at more intimate venues, he has stopped mid song to gently embarrass chattering a-holes into quieting down. I don't know why people can't just be cool, but there is always THAT guy, the talking guy who insists on yelling some ridiculous non sequitur in the middle of a song as though he's inflicted with Tourettes. Well that asshat sat his fat butt on the stage right next to us. At one point Doughty heard his bellow and looked over our way. Both Annie and I slyly pointed the goofball out, mouthing "Get him", but Mike didn't cut loose on the dude. He chuckled at our ratting the ignoramus out and kept going, the look enough to quiet Mr. Tourettes.



(That Pete's a looker up there on those drums, no?)

He played so many great songs one right after the other, we never stopped moving even when he performed solo. Staying true with the every-act-plays-a-cover tradition, Mike shared a lovely little story about holding a cassette player on his little five-year-old lap in the back of the family car, listening to his favorite song over and over. When he launched into John Denver's, Country Roads (an uncharacteristic choice), the entire field sang along. (this is when Tourettes guy started yelling) Afterwards, Annie (who's from West Virginia) taught him the WV gangsta sign.

how cool is he, huh?
Holding true to HIS tradition of not caving into the charade of the Encore departure, all three band members simply turned their backs to the audience for an appropriate amount of time before turning around with mock surprise to start singing the encore songs. Hysterical. I love it when bands kick that encore exit BS in the ball sack. No one's fooling anyone. Except maybe Modest Mouse, and they were just being bung holes.

There was a lovely little moment at the end of the show, when a young girl of about six, ran up on the stage to give him a huge hug before he departed, much to his delight. Her little hug of thanks pretty much summed up the crowd's gratitude to this troubled man for an amazing evening.

awwwww

in which he utilizes modern technology in the form of iPhone accompaniment

(There are a couple more videos on my YouTube channel here.)


Doughty has battled drug addiction and bipolar disorder which he talks about freely in his autobiography aptly named The Book of Drugs. It's a very interesting read which explains a lot about his hatred for his former bandmates, Soul Coughing. He has battled (and still battles) his demons day by day (by day). Fortunately for all of us, he's winning.



Partial Setlist in no particular order

Rational man
27 Jennifers
Na Na Nothing
Into the Un
Vegetable
Day By Day
(You Should Be) Doubly Satisfied
White Lexus
Ossinging
The Only Answer
Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well
Busting Up a Starbucks
Sunken-Eyed Girl
Grey Ghost
Tremendous Brunettes
I Just Want The Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing
Strike the Motion
Rising Sign

Country Roads

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Knock Knock! Who's There? BAT-SHIT CRAZY LADY!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!

Dude... I totally had a menopausal meltdown last week. Like textbook, poster child, full-on Edith fucking Bunker, hydroelectric asshole, mental collapse.




yaaaaaaaaaay...

It was epic.

I went from zero to RAGE in five seconds flat, followed by despair, self loathing, tears, a brief period of rational behavior (imagine that), more rage, more self doubt, more tears, etc etc etc, yadda yadda yadda, rinse and oh-for-the-love-of-chocolate-please-STOP-REPEATING!!?!... culminating with me collapsed on the couch in a deflated heap of self repulsion.

More drama than the stage can handle.

All this ridiculousness was triggered by something so trivial and insignificant, I can't even pinpoint its origin. The worst part was I was cognizant of my crazy, but could do nothing to stop that freight train from jumping the rails of reasonable reaction.

Dude, let me tell you, it's no fun watching yourself go round the bend. This is the exact unhinged behavior for which I've been apologizing in advance to Geo over the last couple of years, fearing I would devolve into this type of preposterous mood swing. Meanwhile, I've been all proud of myself for not getting all Lizzie Borden on people's asses throughout these changeling years. Up until now, I've been freakishly calm, complacent, and levelheaded, as if I've been neutered. All the jagged emotional edges polished smooth.

Then out of nowhere...

BOOM!!

MIDLIFE CA-RAY-ZAAAAAAAAAY!!

Perhaps the most unsettling factor of this entire sordid affair was how quickly the angst and ire washed away. I swear I could literally feel the lunacy draining from my body, like True Blood's Lafayette expelling an unwanted demon.

The good news is I found that bat-shit crazy bitch who hijacked my psyche, gagged her, chained her up and locked her in a heavy duty footlocker stashed in the far corner of our attic.

Hooka, please! Stay the fuck OUT!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In Which I Write Completely Random Drivel And Bore You To Tears

Okay, so I've been so lax with this here bloggity blog lately. It's not even that my life has been so rich and full that I have no time to compose entertaining observations (read: mundane minutiae) to force upon you all. I've just been rather... meh.

Anywho, here's a bunch o' crap I found hiding under the dust bunnies in the far corner of my brain closet.

1. I WAS AT THE BEACH!

what the ef does this mean?!? seriously.
oh dewey beach. you are wack

Briefly. And by that I mean one day with the sole purpose to see Rhett and the Serial Lady Killers play at Bottle and Cork in Dewey after sleeping off the travel exhaustion on the beach, soaking the towel with less-than-attractive drool before driving off to Annapolis to hit repeat and see Rhett and the SLKs play Ram's Head On Stage for over-polite, white people who would not get out of their chairs to shake their asses. Peculiar, but I'll write about that later. Maybe. Probably.



It involves Mr. Miller, so yeah, a good chance of it. Probably. Sand + surf + Rhett Miller = perfect excuse for a road trip.


2. A WHILE AGO GEO AND I HAD A FRIDAY DATE

Yeah. All damn day. It was awesome. Between the breakfast and lunch eating outings, we squeezed in a trip to WYEP (our tres magnifique public radio station) for an in-studio performance from a terrific local band, Good Night States. (I'm not sure if there's a comma there or not. Probably not, but I'm kinda lazy right now and throwing this piece of ACK together on the fly, so not really into the looking up of info. Sorry. I suck.)

 Whatever. Their music has a sophisticated, layered pop sound that is full and polished. They were super fun, charming and amazingly sweet peoples.

Dan's on the left
The drummer, Dan Harding, recognized me from the Twitter which was completely unexpected. (that's how oldsters refer to anything, with emphasis on the "THE"... THE Facebook, THE Interwebs, THE diarrhea.)

Aaaaaaaanywho, turns out Megan runs a local food truck, Frantuary which we have featured on our little dog and pony show, Pittsburgh Today Live...

Franktuary in the haus

Megan's mate, Trevor


AND to illustrate even further how small our little universe is, she and her hubby, Trevor (also in GNS) are active members in my best friends' boutique church on the South Side. She plays the keyboards for services. It's a tiny orb upon which we reside.


3. UM...NO MORE PLUMS

I said, NO MORE MOTHERF*CKING PLUMS!! Nuff said.


4. ACTING LIKE IDIOTS, YOU KNOW,  FOR THE KIDS

I let loose my inner 10 year-old and participated in a charity water balloon fight in downtown Pittsburgh. It was mayhem. I was soaked on the third toss by an errant balloon splitting open on my head, and it just got more chaotic from there.


Team Yellow, lead by KISS radio's Mikey, dressed in a kilt, breached our line and dove for our extra ammo. Then the other two teams followed suit and pretty soon we were all in one quadrant pummeling each other. Good times.
post mayhem

mud covered
with ian, pre-melee

Local celeb, Ian Rosenberger (of Survivor fame) organized the First Annual event to raise money for his charity, Team Tassy, to continue to help the people of Haiti afford healthcare. With the proceeds from this afternoon of frivolity, Ian figures to help 3,000 people. Definitely a good Karma day. I'll definitely participate in next year's event.
cape crusader approved


5. OLYMPIC FEVER, KINDA

The London Olympics started this week. The opening ceremonies were long, and at times very boring (thank you DVR for the power-watch the next day), but kudos to the Queen for her "parachute" entrance. She's a cheeky monkey, that Liz.

I usually enjoy watching the summer olympics, but haven't had much opportunity with the time difference and all. Avid watchers have been less than amused with NBC's coverage in general and Bob Costas in particular. I'm not fond of the we-will-only-show-you-USA-athletes-as-though-the-rest-of-the-planet-does-not-exist broadcast philosophy. And I really hate that the network doesn't see fit to show us other country's athletes receiving their medals. Hearing other national anthems was always one of my favorite parts of the coverage back in the stone age when ABC had a lock on the games. This centrist crap is BS. Bring back Jim McKay! To top it off, we're left with viral video of Aly Raisman's crazy-ass parents making a spectacle of themselves in the stands.



You can watch the video here.

Go ahead. I'll wait...

WTH, right? It's like they're on a frelling roller coaster. Ha Ha! Freaks. This is why people hate us Americans. And then today, the Chinese badminton team has been disqualified for throwing games. Corruption in BADMINTON. You can't make this shit up, people.

It hasn't all been a sideshow. One of the most awesome sights came from a British gymnast, Jennifer Pinches (does she? pinch, I mean. verbs as last names...gotta love it.) who is also a nerdfighter, ala YA author, John Green and explained here, when she flashed the nerdfighter sign during competition. She is made of awesome.


Here she is being interviewed by a fellow Brit Nerdfighter, Alex Day...




 DFTBA


6. STREET TACOS, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE

Pittsburgh is finally embracing the food truck/street food phenom prevalent in a lot of similarly-sized cities. There is a hot dog truck (see item #2 above), cupcake truck, pirogi truck and Indian food truck and soon-to-be taco truck. The street taco stand is a rather recent culinary development thanks to the increasing Mexican population moving into the Burgh, and good GOD it's a welcomed one. There are two of which I'm aware. One in the Strip District downtown... or dahntahn.


And one on Brookline Blvd. The later offers up to six different fillings on a double homemade tortilla and roughly a dozen toppings. I. Cannot. Get. Enough. Of. This. Stand.
Las Palmas es muy bien


Thank the little baby Jesus for immigrants, otherwise we'd have nothing delectable to eat. Viva los tacos! And beer, because these puppies are SPICY!!

And lastly...

7. THAT'S A BIG ASS SHAWK!!!?!?!




Craaaaazy crackers. But you have to admit, that's a big ass shawk. The only thing that would make me move my largess any faster would be this...


Now that's some scary ass shit right there, yo.