Sunday, January 27, 2002
Dear Friends of Whatevs,
I will update this site sometime during the evening hours of Monday, January 28, 2002. Keep your eyes out for a brand-new "Be Like Mark!" section, some new 20-word reviews (Gosford Park, Wet Hot American Summer, In The Bedroom, Royal Tenenbaums, Blackhawk Down), and some original content from a legend known only as "The Giors"...Until tomorrow, however, please enjoy this photo...
Monday, January 21, 2002
Friends Of Whatevs,
Well sufferin' succatash. Here I am and there you are. A match made in heaven, if I do say so myself. It seems that since you are visiting Whatevs (dot org) for at least the third week in a row, we have forged ourselves a little bond here. Are we going steady? Friends with benefits? Just friends? I can't say, it's still too early. I have to be honest with you, I'm still seeing other websites. You know that I've been in a relationship with Salon.com for over 5 years, didn't you? You HAVE to know that even though Mighty Big Tv and I haven't exactly been seeing eye-to-eye since they switched formats about six months ago that there's still a bond there...And don't even get me started about Concert Flashing.com; that's a relatively recent affair, and if you want my honest opinion, that flame will burn out soon enough. But I'm glad that you are still interested in what I have to offer, and I would be remiss to say anything other than your attention is flattering. I think it's only fair that we stay cazh with our relationship and continue to see other URLs, but if our love affair continues to blossom, we may have to start talking seriously about the next step in both of our lives. But that's a discussion for another time and another place.
But shmeriously folkzies, thanks for your continued visits. And as a bonus to you, I thought that I would give you all a week off from having to suffer through reading a full page of my droning and narcissistic monologues. One of you, a loyal and dedicated FOW, has generously decided to contribute content that I'm sure you all will find humorous and insightful. He's a local FOW whose area of expertise is music, specifically the fine (and expensive) art of going to live concerts all over the US of A. His name is Jason Nummer, and we have attended a few shows together over the years (The Verve at St. Andrews in '98 and the wildly entertaining Peaches & Gonzalez/Elastic show at The Shelter in '00). I'm sure that his fresh take on some very diverse genres of within today's music scene will inspire some of you more adventurous types to go out and buy some new CDs, or maybe even venture away from your TIVOs for a few hours and go see some live music. So without any further babbling from the peanut gallery, here goes nuthin'.
Top 10 Shows of 2001
by Jason Nummer
1. Sigur Ros/Album Leaf - 9/18/01, Gem Theater
The show that wasn't supposed to happen. Detroit even had the tour opener! This tour fell in the wake of 9/11/01 and was almost cancelled due to the fucking Taliban. From the official site: "Should we not make it to Detroit due to air traffic delays, we will try and get to Toronto. If we can't make Toronto we will try and make it to Boston etc, etc. We will join the tour as and when we can." Luckily they made it out and did a great show full of songs I didn't know (except for two!) - I even had both EPs! The Gem was at full capacity for what was the first show in years featuring an audience giving 100% attention to the band. You could have heard pin drop. An absolutely perfect show in every way. Highlight: the wireless equipment picking up Detroit radio station interference during softer moments. Damn you WJLB! Oh yeah, Album Leaf rocked too.
2. Mercury Rev - 11/22/01, The Phoenix (Toronto, ON)
Finally! I'd been waiting to see this band for 4 years now! I didn't care one bit that the show was on Thanksgiving day forcing me to skip that almighty dinner for the first time in my 23 years. Ended up seeing them in Toronto after I was told a Detroit date was not going to be scheduled (mental note, they added a Detroit show just hours after we bought Toronto tickets). The wait was completely worth it. The band had a stage presence that was almost eerie. The setlist was divided up nicely between 1998's Deserter's Songs and 2001's All is Dream (with a few extras in between) and stretched for just over 2 hours. The frail presence of lead singer Jonathan Donahue was completely haunting - especially when he began flapping his arms attempting flight. Looking into his eyes made you feel very uneasy and nervous. Was he about to turn me into a spider or something? Creepy. Check out Mercury Rev.com for a more in depth review and setlist. Got to see them all over again at the Magic Stick the next night too. Bitchin'.
3. The Strokes - 11/17/01, St. Andrews Hall
Every hipster in the metro Detroit area turned out for this one. I felt like I was at a damn White Stripes show. The question was how would the most hyped band of the moment deliver? Well, the show was over in about 40 minutes with no encore. Good? Fuck yeah. They ran through the entire album and even did the fabled "New York City Cops". This show was just flat out fun. Not a frown in the house. I like St. Andrew Hall sing-a-longs!
4. Frank Black - 4/18/01, Magic Stick
Another show that wasn't supposed to happen. From the official press release:
URGENT! Early Morning April 13th, $75,000 Worth of Gear was Stolen From Frank Black (Former Pixies Frontman) in Philadelphia. Approximate Total Value Lost = $60,000 to $75,000
What are the odds that just 5 days before I'm set to see the closest thing ever to The Pixies, someone steals the tour van from an Econo Lodge in Philadelphia? 1 in 666? I was never good in statistics. Anyways, the show went on with rented and borrowed equipment and still sounded great. The show was a surprising 2.5 hours and covered a lot of 2001's Dog in Sand (which kicks ass!). The band did manage to throw in some Pixie stuff that didn't come off as desperate (whew). Highlight: great cover of Arlo Guthrie's "Coming into Los Angeles". Check out Frank Black Superstar for complete setlist.
5. Spoon - 4/23/01, Magic Stick
The only show I saw this year with under 30 people in attendance! The band themselves even came out and had a chuckle over the small turnout. This only added to the show as the intimate atmosphere allowed for tons of comical interaction. Great show. Hope they aren't discouraged to come back to Detroit. Highlight: befriending the barkeep and convincing her to give me the kick ass Death Cab for Cutie poster behind the bar.
6. Grand Buffet - 9/26/01, Shelter
This show completely came out of nowhere. We had gone to the Shelter to see Wesley Willis this night. We got there early to meet up with some friends. Turns out it was the best surprise of the year. We were bombarded with this little two- man duo out of Pittsburgh whose stage show consisted of two mics and a mini disc player. The songs were about Robocop, cats, crapping your pants, Red Dawn and candy bars. There was even a brilliant cover of Patrick Swayze's "She's like the Wind" from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I haven't laughed this hard since seeing Sandra Bullock in 28 Days - thanks Grand Buffet! Totally this year's Peaches and Gonzales. Support the small acts! Grand Buffet.com.
7. Ekoostik Hookah - 7/12/01, Magic Bag
Hookah! I saw this band about 9 times in 2001. What made this one so great? Who knows? The 3.5 hour show encompassed everything about the whole Hookah experience perfectly. The message boards are still lit up over this one. Accompanying me on this night was someone who had never even heard of Ekoostik Hookah before. Three songs in she turned to me with, "I can't believe they're this fucking good". Setlist at Dubba.com.
8. Bis - 10/18/01, Shelter
Finally got to see Manda Rin in person! Wasn't really expecting much out of this one. Didn't really think they could pull off the heavily produced studio albums in a live setting. Shit. I was more wrong than the time I thought Shallow Hal wouldn't sell out opening night. Luckily, being wrong in this setting still let me see a show. No encore though.
9. Godspeed You Black Emperor! - 9/29/01, St. Andrews Hall
Best show of the year featuring 15 or so people on stage? GSYBE! of course. I almost didn't even catch this show. For a whole year I had this band confused with Godsmack or one of those other horrible rap/metal bands with God in the title. (No offense intended if the real God has a rap/metal band called God's Honda or something). Luckily I made it to this show. I love shows where songs frequently stretch to 20 minutes with lots of improvisation (did I just write that?). Plus they got away with the film backdrop showing nothing but birds and garbage flying around. An area previously abandoned after American Beauty? Check out Adequacy.net for a much better recap.
10. Wolf Eyes/Neil Hamburger/The Go - 3/21/01, Magic Stick
Neil Hamburger! Know him. Love him. Self-proclaimed as "America's Funnyman", this was the funniest standup routine I've ever seen (including Gallagher 2's CMU appearance a few years back). His whole 35 minute set was made up of one-liner after one-liner. Sample joke: "Why did Julia Roberts rub shit on her vagina? Because she was horny." Best ever?
Then came my introduction to Detroit's own Wolf Eyes. I wish I knew more about them, but their web presence is about as high as the demand for my used toothbrushes. They were largely an experimental ambient band with what looked like homemade instruments. My mouth was on the ground the whole time they were on. I've never seen anything quite like them. Rumor has it you can find their latest CD on CDNOW. I'm sort of afraid to look. Don't know if I want this music in my apartment.
This show would have made it up to #7 or #6 had it not been for the Detroit disaster that is The Go. Worse than Guided by Voices.
Mogwai - Majestic
Spirtualized - Majestic
DJ Peretz (Perry Farrell) - Metro (Chicago, IL)
Badly Drawn Boy - St. Andrews
Radiohead - Santa Barbara Bowl (Santa Barbara, CA)
Congratulations to Jason for being Whatevs (dot org) first celebrity contributor. Thanks for helping out, and I hope that everyone enjoyed that piece. You can email Nummer by clicking through. And just in case you were wondering or you care, here is a quick list of my own personal Top 10 shows of 2k1...
1) coachella music festival (empire polo fields, indio, CA - late april)
2) richard ashcroft (double door, chicago, january)
3) DEMF (monday night, may)
4) strokes (obvs!)
5) area:one (second show, Pine Knob)
6) idlewild (magic stick, february?)
7) the promise ring (magic stick, march?)
8) the donnas (magic stick, october) - Even though my car got stolen!!!
9) area:one (first show, Pine Knob)
10) tenacious d (state theater, october)
And that's all folks. See ya next week with something fresh and interesting. And oh yeah, congratulations to Adam Graham, Conrad Doucette and Nathan Whitehead for getting last week's trivia question correct (the quote "get them to sign on the line that is dotted!!!" is from Glengarry Glen Ross). Your complimentary mix CDs will be in the US Mizz shortly, obvs.
Tuesday, January 15, 2002
Welcome to Week 2 of Whatevs (dot org). Week #1 went well above and far beyond my expectations, both in terms of critical feedback and page views. Somehow I racked up about 470 page views, which was incredibly surprising to me considering I only emailed about 25 of you with an invitation to visit the site. So I'm glad that you enjoyed and forwarded the magic URL along to some of your peeps. As far as the aforementioned "critical feedback" is concerned, A.O. Scott wrote a relatively nice piece on Whatevs (dot org) in this weekend's New York Times and an authority no less than Candace Carpenter (former CEO of iVillage) was quoted by Reuters News Service calling this site's author "one hot piece of arse". But even as the site collects good press and your author dodges the paparazzi and celebrity hotties, I am here to let you know that I am fully dedicated to keeping the Whatevs content piping hot and funky fresh. A wise man once told me that a rolling stone gathers no moss; when you consider that I've been TERRIFIED of moss ever since I saw the original "Creepshow" movie on WXON Channel 20's "Creature Feature", you know that this guy is out there writin' and workin' for you...
A point of clarification. When I say that I'm "workin' for you", I know that a day will come when my brain just ain't gonna respond with the witty witicisms that you all have come to expect from me. That is why I have been workin' overtime, BTO style, to line up some exciting peeps with uniquely diverse POVs to help me out with content production. While my attorney won't let me reveal any of their names until I "get them to sign on the line that is dotted!!!" (first person to email me with the movie that quote comes from wins a prize further detailed below), trust me when I say that their collective talent is Diggler-esque. More deets to follow when it is apropos (sp?)...
So here's what I'm thinking. I spent a few hours of dedicated mindshare on Saturday and Sunday reviewing the Best DVDs of 2001. While I think that I've come up with a pretty extraordinary list, I don't want to steal any thunder from the annual rite of passage known as The Grahammy Film Awards. If I were to release the DVD list at this point, it would accomplish nothing other than tainting these highly anticipated and respected awards. So I have decided to postpone the release of that list for a few more weeks, but in its place I would like to introduce a new venture that is near and dear to my heart.
Any of you who know me know that I am a mix tape foolio. I'm thinking that most of you have probably received a Grambo tape or a CD (I'm hip like that now that I have my bad-ass HP Pavilion) sometime since you've known me, so I thought what better way to share the love and launch the website than with one of my traditional mixes? Then I got to thinking, and I'm definitely considering putting an official Whatevs (dot org) CD out every month. It won't just be the latest and sexiest WDRQ jammy jams on this mix, I plan to draw from my extensive and nationally renowned library of CDs and MP3s, ultimately creating aural landscapes that will make you and yours Shimmy Shimmy Ya. If you e-me, I may even find it in my heart of hearts to burn you a copy. So without further ado, here is the official Whatevs (dot org) mix for Jan2k2.
Break It 'Til It Falls Apart
1) "Stars", Hum (You'd Prefer An Astronaut, RCA 1995, 5m12s) - One of the most underrated songs of the 1990s (I even forgot it on my Grahammys 90/90).
2) "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground", The White Stripes (White Blood Cells, Sympathy For The Record Industry 2001, 3m06s) - First of two Detroit entries on the list, this is one of the stand-out tracks on the album.
3) "The Middle", Jimmy Eat World (Bleed American, Dreamworks 2001, 2m47s) - Probably the best song on the radio right now and one of my Top 10 singles of 2001.
4) "At Your Funeral", Saves The Day (Stay What You Are, Vagrant 2001, 3m11s) - These four SoCal teens are absolutely OWNING MTV2 right now.
5) "Bring On The Dancing Horses", Echo And The Bunnymen (Pretty In Pink OST, A&M 1986, 4m00s) - After seeing "Donnie Darko", I immediately went out and bought EATB's greatest hits (even though that film features "The Killing Moon", not this track).
6) "Stamped", The Verve (Lucky Man CD Single, Hut 1997, 5m34s) - One of the last tracks they ever recorded, this is probably the most "Verve-y" song from the Urban Hymns session and a b-side on the "Lucky Man" cd-single.
7) "A Movie Script Ending", Death Cab For Cutie (The Photo Album, Barsuk Records 2001, 4m21s) - There's only so many times that you can read about a band in Spin without buying one of their albums.
8) "In The Garage", Weezer (The Blue Album, DGC 1994, 3m57s) - Do you have your Dungeon Master's Guide, your 12-sided die and your Ace Frehley posters on the wall?
9) "Rubella", Smoking Popes (Born To Quit, Capitol 1995, 2m03s) - Top notch power pop from one of Morrissey's all-time favorite bands.
10) "No Action (Early Version)", Elvis Costello (My Aim Is True, Rhino 1977, 2m17s) - I like to see this song as a distant cousin to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", even though the songs could not be more different musically.
11) "Since I Left You", Avalanches (Since I Left You, London/Sire 2001, 4m22s) - Another Grahammys 2k2 award winner, you'll probably hear this song in every Gap that you walk into for the next few months.
12) "Book Of The Month", Lovage (Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By, 75 Ark 2001, 4m30s) - This saucy duet between Mike Patton and Jennifer Charles will get you in the mood to freak.
13) "Digital Love", Daft Punk (Discovery, Virgin 2001, 5m) - If you're not already a card carrying member of the Daft Punk Fan Club, you will be after you hear this song that's been featured in MTV's "Real World Chicago" promos for months.
14) "Hyper-Ballad", Bjork (Post, Elektra 1995, 5m23s) - I've never heard the word "cutlery" pronounced in such an exotic fashion.
15) "La Cienega Just Smiled", Ryan Adams (Gold, Lost Highway 2001, 5m05s) - Has anyone else heard that this whole album is about his romance (and subsequent break-up) with Winona Ryder? Or did I completely make that up?
16) "Everyone Else I Know", Slumber Party (Psychedelicate, Kill Rock Stars 2001, 3m35s) - Sometimes all you need is a syncopated beat from a Casio drum machine and you can work wonders.
17) "Staraflur", Sigur Ros (Agaetis Byrjun, Bel 2001, 6m48s) - Soaring strings, rumbling basslines and Hopelandic gibberish swirl together to create one of the most melodic songs I've ever heard.
18) "The Future Of The Future (Stay Gold)", Everything But The Girl (with Deep Dish) (Temperamental, Atlantic 1999, 7m52s) - Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt combine with the world's premier DJ duo for this house-tinged romp through clubland.
CD TOTAL RUN TIME: 79m03s
Until next week...
NEXT WEEK: ??? (though I have some promising leads...)
Sunday, January 6, 2002
Hello and welcome to the gala launch of Whatevs.org, the website made for the trendy and by the trendy. My name is Mark; just think of me as your host, webmaster and devastatingly suave purveyor of all things rufus. Yes, I just threw out a rufus reference. If you caught that reference and paused ever-so-slightly to appreciate how lame and outdated it is (and therefore caught my slightly spry sense of humour), then this website is for you. If you didn't catch the reference or the lightly veiled sardonic tone I used it in, well hang in there for a few weeks and maybe we'll be able to up your Cool Quotient by a couple of standard deviations.
Let me take a few moments to give you the lowdown on what I intend to do with Whatevs.org. I want this particular universal resource locator that you access via a hyper-text transfer protocol and interpret via hyper-text markup language to be a revolutionary, interesting and funny way to blow a few minutes before your next staff meeting. I don't harbor any delusions of grandeur that this site will ever make me a dime, but I do intend for this to be a creative outlet and forum in which FOWs (Friends of Whatevs) can share their opinions and thoughts about the world around them. So I encourage you to submit items to me, whether that be fictional diatribes, movie reviews, conspiracy theories, or chicken cacciatore recipes. Whatevs (dot org). I plan to publish once per week (probably on weekends), and lord knows that I don't have 52 weeks worth of meaningful things to share with y'all. So please send me anything you've got (we can work together on story assignments if you like), and let's get collaboratin'!!! Hook a brother up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also plan to try and learn more HTML (and possibly buy and learn a program like Dreamweaver) in the coming weeks and months, so please forgive this site for its current lack of technological gusto. If you have any suggestions or pointers, please e-me.
And with that, here is the first official piece of content that you'll find on Whatevs.org...the Grahammys 2k2 (Music Edition). Enjoy...
THE GRAHAMMYS 2K2
TOP TEN ALBUMS OF
Honorable Mentions: Avalanches, "Since I Left You"; Ivy, "Long Distance"; Zero 7, "Simple Things"
10) Bjork, "Vespertine" - Emotionally lush, despite the minimalist sonic approach.
9) Lovage, "Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By" - Dan The Automator (Gorillaz, Deltron 3030) continues to impress with beats that are simultaneously slinky and thick, not to mention the overtly sordid lyrics (courtesy of Jennifer Charles and Mike Patton).
8) Gillian Welch, "Time (The Revelator)" - One of the minor "O Brother" chanteuses enthralls with this pure slice of Americana, complete with ample servings of wistfully morose bluegrass.
7) Slumber Party, "Psychedelicate" - Straight outta Hamtramck (via Kill Rock Stars), these four hotties somehow manage to combine the melodicism of Galaxie 500 with soaring (yet subtle) four-part harmonies.
6) Craig David, "Born To Do It" - His flow is recockulous, he's probably the slickest RnB pimp to hit the scene since Johnny Gill. And his beats, courtesy of the Artful Dodger, are absolutely sick.
5) Sigur Ros, "Agaetis Byrjun"
- If you've ever found yourself turning off the TV on a Sunday night and flipping on WHYT/WDVD's "Big Sonic Heaven", this is the perfect album for you. Throw on some headphones for added effect.
4) White Stripes, "White Blood Cells" - Whilst The Prime Ministers recoup and search for a new drummer, The White Stripes are content to carry the torch for Detroit rawk. Jack and Meg White stripped down their sound a notch for this effort, getting down and dirty to find their inspiration in the Mississippi delta.
3) Weezer, "The Green Album" - Thank God for Weezer. Best...Comeback...EVER!!! (until The Smiths reunite, that is...)
2) The Strokes, "Is This It?" - Ignore the hype, ignore the backlash, and throw in the CD. Draw whatever conclusion you wish, but if you don't find this the catchiest slice of punk pop you've heard in the last 10 years, your musical taste sucks.
1) Jay-Z, "The Blueprint" - I'll be honest. I had given up on rap music. After I stopped sharing a dorm room with Aaron Clark (The Godfather of Rochester Hills Rap) in 1993, I lost interest in the rap game. I wasn't hearing anyone as inspired as Public Enemy, as charged as anyone in the NWA posse, or anyone who could get the party started like my boys in Digital Underground. Even when 2Pac and Biggie hit the scene, I dug their singles but never really got into their albums. Then came the invasion of the Dirty South and I thought for sure that I could never be into rap music again...until I heard Jay-Z. "Big Pimpin" was just that, "I Just Wanna Love You" was probably the best single of 2000, and then on September 11th J-Hova dropped "The Blueprint" on America. Sure, no one was in the mood to get their damn hands up on that fateful day, but once "normalcy" was back in vogue, Jigga straight up took over. I think what makes this album stand out to a guy like me, a guy who would rather listen to WDRQ than WJLB, is that Jay-Ho is bringin da fun back to the rap game. Sure he's got the world's best flow and some of the hottest beats (some courtesy of Timbaland), but his charismatic braggadocio is what won me over. He absolutely destroys targets as diverse as Nas ("You're shit is gah-bage"), Sam Bowie, and his Chinese girlfriend who keeps "bootleggin' (his) shit." He songs practically explode with conviction, honesty and devastating rhyme schemes. Jay-Z sings on one track that "if (he's) not better than B.I.G., (he's) the closest one" -- with "The Blueprint", I think that crown is his to wear...for now.
TOP TEN SINGLES OF
Honorable Mentions: Ryan Adams, "New York, New York"; Basement Jaxx,
"Romeo"; Saves The Day, "At Your Funeral"
10) D12, "Purple Pills" - The lazy, serpentine backbeat of this song shows that Em can produce as well as he can rap.
9) Ian Van Dahl, "Castles In The Sky" - A hopelessly uplifting slice of pure cheeze trance guaranteed to get the glowsticks waving.
8) Weezer, "Island In The Sun" - Up close and personal with Rivers' daydreams of love and companionship.
7) Avalanches, "Since I Left You" - Someone else said it first, but I would have to agree that this is the happiest sad song to hit the radio in a long, long time.
6) Jay-Z, "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" - Fo' shizzle my nizzle, Jay Hova trumped Lil Romeo's ace card (the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back") with slick rhymes and an untouchable chorus.
5) Michelle Branch, "Everywhere" - "I'll have the Natalie Imbruglia Special please...Yes, that is one perfect pop song along with a prompt disappearance into thin air. And make that to go"
4) Jimmy Eat World, "The Middle" - These emo-rockers just want you to remember not to concern yourselves with what the bitter hearts will have to say. Great video, too.
3) U2, "Walk On" - Neil Young's "Imagine" and Eddie Vedder's "The Long Road" were highlights of America's Tribute To Heroes, but this show (and this year) belonged to U2.
2) Craig David, "Fill Me In" - Although 2-step never really caught on Stateside like the press claimed it would, this song (and 'N Sync's "Pop") proved that this movement has a future.
1) Daft Punk, "One More Time" - When they're not busy dressing up like robots or gorrilas, these two crazy Frenchmen do nothing but make hits. From "Around The World" to "Music Sounds Better With You" to their latest slice of dancefloor bliss, Daft Punk have proved to be one step ahead of everyone else in their ability to take music to the next level. Probably the best Untz Anthem since The Chemical Brothers' "Hey Boy, Hey Girl".
Well that about wraps that up. Hope that you enjoyed the year in music as much as I did.
Until next week,
NEXT WEEK: The Best DVDs of 2K1