Weekly Mailbag! Vol. 5: Remedial Letter Writing

It's been at least a year since my last Weekly Mailbag, so the name isn't even REMOTELY accurate. I kind of like calling it Weekly Mailbag in spite of that. It's kinda what makes blogging fun.

Let's start with an e-mail:

To: the Public Readers of The Hartford Advocate & the Editor and Dan Barry

Dan Barry has it all wrong.

For anyone that was standing in the club on Saturday night in down town Hartford- Up Or On the Rocks was featuring Connecticut's TIP THE VAN from Marlborough & the crowd loved them!

The place was packed. The crowd was cheering,dancing,singing
,clapping and the SOUNDMAN "FESTER" was swinging the chain hung lamp back & froth because he was so excited.TIP THE VAN was never a full blown ska band anyway, and if Mr.Barry had ever seen TIP THE VAN at any previous show in CT he wouldn't have made the unfair comments he published in this weeks Local Motion. Up Or On the Rocks will see me again if they book TIP THE VAN and I will tell all my friends to come out for one of the best bands this state of ours has to offer.TIP THE VAN is a rock/reggae/power ska band. Pick up their newest cd titled 'Something Wicked" and you would know this is a band that has a rock influence. The horn lines are awesome and powerful. "Chicago" is a rock band. Anyone with have a brain knows that a band with horns doesn't necessarily mean you are a ska band. TIP THE VAN'S two lead vocalist sisters Nicole & Simone make this band my # 1 band to go see & listen to.I can't wait for TIP THE VAN to re
lease another cd because I'll be in line amongst the many fans who voted TIP THE VAN the # 1 band in the Hartford Advocate Grand Band Slam - to get another cd to skank to.Check out TTV'S web site and listen for yourself.
www.tipthevan.com or www.myspace.com/tipthevan

Yup, Dan Barry has it all wrong.


So what you're saying is, um, you're a fan of TIP THE V... excuse me, Tip The Van. And you advertised their CD, which I already knew about. Was there anything else?

No? Great. Moving on, then.

* * *

As you might imagine, the vast majority of responses to my column -- when they're not from the musicians themselves -- are from someone claiming to to be the General Public (though they are often, I shit you not, girlfriends/parents/roadies of the band who received my less-than-sparkling review. You know that MySpace page you made where it says "MY BOYFREINDS BAND IS SOSOOOOO FREAKIN AWESOME"? Yeah. It's not hard to find). And they're fuckin' angry. They want to kill me. They want to bleed me to death slowly by hundreds of tiny papercuts made with Hartford Advocate pages.

Unfortunately, these people then sit down behind their keyboards and compose letters like the above. "I've got it all wrong," our anonymous writer claims -- and then goes on to summon up a bunch of random information that has absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote. Yup, the crowd was definitely into it -- but I never claimed they weren't. I caught those powerful horn lines; I remember specifically complimenting Steph, the trombonist, as a good player. And yeah, I was aware of their CD -- I first listened to it when I penned the cover article about TTV winning our Band Slam this past summer. (Our correspondent must have missed my byline.) In my recent review of Tip The Van, my central point had nothing to do with any of these things. I argued that they are not a ska band, despite their claim to be. I argued that due to certain things they did in their songs and on their instruments -- and certain things they did not do -- they were more like plain old alternative rock.

"TIP THE VAN is a rock/reggae/power ska band," writes our correspondent. Well, ska historically preceded reggae, so if they don't have the elements of ska style, they probably don't have much reggae in 'em, either. And I had never heard of "power ska" as a subgenre before, but a quick Google search seems to turn up other bands who are rock/ska hybrids -- which, as far as I can tell, is exactly the same kind of watered-down, 3rd-wave skate-punk ska I was bagging on in the first place.

So... what you're saying is, I was right? Because a second ago you said I was wrong. You're losin' me, baby!

* * *

It saddens me that the vast majority of our readership, it seems, is so lacking in anything resembling argumentative or rhetorical skills that they can't even latch onto the main idea of my column -- let alone disprove it. It saddens me more when a zealous reader, trying to come to the defense of their beloved band, accidentally lends support to my arguments. That shit is so sixth grade. Like, if it came to me written on a piece of paper folded up into one of those little square packets, I would take it seriously. But somebody let you on the internet, and that means you're old, and should know better, and that shit scares me.

A lot of people put the burden on members of the press to write responsibly. And we should and must, I agree; but the buck doesn't stop there. I think the public also has an obligation to read responsibly. If you can't read an article or watch a newscast and isolate the main idea, then you're not going to notice when media organizations start replacing Good Press with ridiculous biases, factually incorrect statements, and self-imposed censorship.

Wait. Wait a second. OH, FUCK!

OMG Disturbingly Awesome Pairing

The answer is: a ghettotech white boy hip-hop electronica duo bearing the AMAZING name House of Blow.

The question, Alex, for $1000, is:

What do you get when the hulking, hard-drinking, neck-tattooed guitarist for Hatebreed teams up with the scrawny, scrotally-tattooed, straight-edge singer for Glassjaw and Head Automatica?

House of Blow.
Say it out loud with me now.
House of Blow. House of Blow.

House of Blow plays this Saturday, April 7th at the El 'n Gee.

APRIL 12. Redscroll Records Opens. Mark it on Your Calendars.

Redscroll will be to Wallyworld what Metropolis is to the Northwaste Corner -- which is to say, the hub. The center. The everything.


That's right -- it's going down!

The wonderful folks at The Space have recently put out an AMAZING CD compilation featuring 20 (!!!) local bands who have crushed their stage. Among the many bands features are Local Motion favorites Call it Arson, Welcome, Shadowgraphs (ex-Eschellon), and Mile Marker Zero. The great thing about the comp is that it has so many different genres of music, you're bound to discover a band you like (even if you haven't heard of them before).

HERE'S THE DEAL. I have THREE copies of this disc to giveaway. To enter, all you have to do is post a comment on this blog entry (see link below) telling us about the best concert you ever saw at The Space. Haven't seen a show at The Space? That's fine -- tell us who you'd like to see play there and why. (And yes, I'll know if you're promoting your own band, so don't bother.) The best entries get the goods!

A quick note: you don't have to sign up to Blogger to post comments (there's an "Anonymous" option), but if you go that route, please sign with your e-mail address so I have a way to contact you if you're a winner.

Hehe, "if you're a winner."


Hurtling Back Into Orbit

Long time no see, huh?

I'm really excited -- I'm almost ready to get back into the action here. And you know what the best part is gonna be?


Oh yes. I'm gonna give you shit. Free. For no reason whatsoever.

What's taking so long? Well, other than moving to a new apartment, another car breakdown (ahem), and a gigantic cold that wrecked my holidays, Blogger has also upgraded to their new version. Among other improvements, they now offer LABELS! So now you can sort through all the entries I've written by topic -- I've even got tags for different genres of music. (I personally recommend the "Shitty Music" label.) It's taking a while to go back through all my old posts and tag them, but I'm almost done.

You can anticipate all of this -- tags, giveaways/contests, and a completely overhauled links section -- sometime in February. With any luck, I'll even be linked on the Hartford Advocate's main page.

Hang tight -- just a little while longer...

Going on Hiatus

Because of some crazy circumstances and big changes in my life (moving, etc.), Local Commotion is going on hiatus until late December '06/early '07. I'll be back soon to continue writing silly, ridiculous crap. Until then, have some wonderful holidays, make sure you get enough sunlight to keep those crappy New England moods at bay (these lightboxes work wonders), and drop me a line if you hear somethin' good.

Until then,

CBGB Closes. In Other News, Punk Has Sucked For Years.


If not for Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, I might never have seen the crusty, poster-slathered inside of CBGB. And now it's gone. Check out Yahoo News' article on its final show:


I like that Patti Smith and members of Blondie were there to close it out.

But I gotta tell ya: Hilly Kristal? I'm not a fan.

Don't let the fluff in this piece fool you. Kristal let this happen. To some degree, he even wanted it to happen. CBGB's last gasp as a culturally active institution was sometime back in the '80s, if not earlier. Since then, it's pretty much just been a t-shirt. Kristal never really grasped the cultural significance of his own venue or its meaning in the birth of punk -- he merely wanted to make a buck. So when it began to look like CBGB was going to bite the dust a few years ago, he immediately started talking about moving to New Jersey or Las Vegas. He didn't understand that it wasn't the name CBGB, or the awning, or the logo that made CBs important -- it was the space.

It was the disgusting, awkwardly-shaped, piss-infested, sounds-like-shit space. It's a space only a punk could love. It's a place you can only enjoy if you don't give a fuck about anything, drink hard, and prefer physically intimidating your crowd over performing for them. Kristal, ever clueless, recently said, “For some reason, they want us here. I don’t know why it matters to them, but it does.”

[Read more of that interview here. It's excellent.]

As the interview makes painfully clear, Kristal does not care about the space. It was filled with numerous code violations (a big no-no after the Great White show fire in RI); he didn't pay his rent; he's long viewed the place as an instution to museumify, rather than a living place that can transform music and culture.

CBGB is dead. Long live CBGB.

Musical Instruments Are People, Too. Sorta.

This helpful announcement just in from Lys Guillorn:

Cold weather PSA for my fellow musicians: humidify!

Howdy. Just a reminder to put your instrument humidifiers in your guitar or other wood-based instrument cases as we get into cold weather. If you don't have "real" humidifiers, you can use a film canister with holes poked in the lid and a damp, but not sopping piece of sponge inside. If you need film canisters, I can give you some... (Film? Yes, people still shoot film...) A little prevention will spare you having to have cracks repaired later.

Be very well,