Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lost and...Replaced

A few weeks ago I lost my iPod. I still can't believe it's really gone and I expect it to turn up. I've searched my house, my office, and my car, and the relatives I recently visited looked around for it, to no avail. I've got a vacation coming up, which includes a lot of long layovers and several train rides, and I'm going to need some entertainment. But being cheap, and having already pre-spent most of my tax refund on flights, I was hesitant to shell out big bucks on a new one. So when a colleague pointed out the refurbished iPods for sale on the Apple website, that seemed like a great compromise. I'm a little nervous, but from what my colleague (one of our IT guys, so he should know) said, the refurbished iPods are totally reworked and as good as new, and at least 15% cheaper than new ones. I've ordered a 30 GB video iPod, and we'll see how it turns out. I have to say, I'm going to miss being an Old School (2nd generation) iPod owner!

Speaking of music storage, here's just a little reminder that the driver's-side door pocket is not the best place to keep your CDs. It must have fallen out, and been snowed on and driven over for days before I saw it lying there:


Wednesday, February 21, 2007


The Lemonheads concert was Monday night and it was…a strange experience. Here’s a recap:

After an unremarkable opening band and a long break, the Lemonheads appear. Evan Dando looks exactly the way he looked in 1993. He comes out wearing a knit hat pulled way down over longish shaggy hair. He takes the hat off a couple of songs into the set, revealing a good chunk of hair cut off at about nose level and hiding his eyes, although from what I can tell he doesn’t raise them above microphone level all night. When the tentative crowd finally closes in on the stage, I happily take up position at the corner just a few feet away from him. I start to feel a surreal mix of self-conscious amusement at the ridiculousness of it all and girlish giddiness, and that winning combo of emotions lasts pretty much all night.

I wonder if, through that Cousin It hairdo, he is checking out the crowd. There are 40 of us, 50 max, including sound check guys and bartenders, and we are a somewhat bizarre crowd. Does he see the guys with the sleeve tattoos and motorcycle shirts? How about the grungesters in matching knit caps and shaggy hair? Does he see the woman (not me) standing in front, staring earnestly (and a bit studiously) up at him, not smiling or dancing, but determinedly holding a camera in both hands, occasionally taking a picture, but mostly just looking on? Does he see me, singing along?

It is not the best concert I’ve ever been to. I console myself with the thought that if I had seen this concert at age 16, it would have been the very best concert I had ever seen in my entire life. (OK, the only one I'd ever seen, but who's going to nitpick at 14-year-old details?) The music is pretty good and they play lots of familiar old tunes, but they run through them as if by rote. The most disappointing part, though, is the complete and utter lack of audience interaction. There's no banter, no jokes, no conversation, no funny stories...nothing. Not even a greeting--they just come up on stage and go right into the first song. No "this one's from our new album", no introducing the band...nada.

Noteworthy moment #1: they sing "Drug Buddy". The song is an ode to going out to buy pot with your friend. It’s a great song. One of the stagehands comes up to the stage, and bam! an intense odor of marijuana fills the air. He isn't smoking, he just seems to exude the scent, from his pores or perhaps his green army-navy-store jacket. When he walks by me at the end of the song, I swear I could get high just from the fumes! But now here’s the key detail: later, the same guy walks by twice more, and there is no odor whatsoever. I conclude that his presence was an orchestrated event, planned to bring greater dimension to the meaning of the song—to make it an olfactory experience. It is highly amusing, but definitely odd.

Noteworthy moment #2: Evan Dando throws me his guitar pick. I like to think that through the curtain of hair and the visual effects of whatever combination of substances he ingested pre-concert, Evan Dando sees me, senses that I am getting a kick out of the whole experience, knows that I had his poster on my wall freshman year of college, and rewards me with a little souvenir. So what if the pick landed near me; so what if it’s not even clear if he actually threw it or if it accidentally flew out of his hand during an awkward guitar change. The pick flies, it lands a couple of feet away and I casually (I’m cool after all, not some groupie loser) lean over and pick it up.

Noteworthy moment #3: After an hour or a little more, it appears the band is going to wrap up soon. Evan Dando turns to the band, then turns back with an air of this-will-be-the-last-song. But no: lips back to the microphone, he mutters: "Good night" and takes off his guitar. Understandably, we protest--mostly out of confusion, since to be fair, they had played a full set. He puts down his guitar, pulls on his hat, walks off the stage, ignores a guy trying to give a high-five, walks through the crowd and out the door. After a few minutes of confusion, during which the roadies start unplugging all the equipment and the lights came on, we realize that there will be no encore. It's over. Which is fine with me. It's past my bedtime.

A quick Google search today showed me that this kind of experience is not so unusual. (All of those stories, and particularly the last one, demonstrate that he is a bit of a space cadet, but none so much as this one). And while I'm in a linking mood, here is a hilarious story about a woman who failed in her attempt to sing onstage with Evan Dando. That’s a lot of links, but those are some pretty hilarious sites if you’ve got the time.

Anyway, to sum up a long post, it was a fun concert despite the oddness of it all. In a strange way it brought me back to age 16, when I was discovering new bands and setting myself up for a lifetime of interest in music. It was fun for a while to remember what it was like to be fascinated with a rock star. But at the same time I was happy to be grown up--to find his crazy antics and bizarreness amusing instead of becoming disillusioned by them.

And I did get a photo. You can see just how close I was. You can't see the bangs, but you might notice the wedding ring. Apparently he's married to some British model. I wish her all the luck in the world.


Saturday, February 10, 2007


Yesterday I was very excited (irrationally excited, some might say) to learn that the Lemonheads are coming to town. While I was unaware that they had released any albums since 1993, apparently they put one out last year. I haven't listened to any excerpts yet, perhaps delaying the inevitable discovery that it is really bad. Instead, I pulled out It's a Shame About Ray and have been basking in the memories of my circa-1992 teenage crush on Evan Dando. He was so cute! He seemed kind of sweet and goofy and somehow wholesome despite writing a song (a great song) about going out to buy pot! He took a fan to the prom!

Wait...what's that? Took a fan to the prom? Yes...that's the bit that won my whole heart over to Mr. Dando. The story (perhaps apocryphal?) was that a fan, having been stood up for her prom, instead found her way to the Lemonheads' party, where she told Evan about what had happened, and he offered to escort her to the prom. I dreamed that this would (or even could) happen to me. What a guy!

My knowledge of the prom story, and my crush on (or even awareness of) the Lemonheads' lead singer, is owed entirely to my subscription to Sassy Magazine. It only lasted about 6 years, and I only subscribed for two at the most, but those were formative years, and I was an impressionable girl. Sassy was founded by a feminist, and while it had normal girls-magazine articles about boys and celebrities and clothes, it steered us away from the brainless trends and encouraged to be individuals ( much as possible, for people following the suggestions of a widely-read magazine). Sassy girls didn't go google-eyed for jocks, they swooned for brooding creative types like Evan Dando. They didn't like boy bands, they liked boys who were in bands. They didn't wear what all the other girls were wearing, they layered their clothes and stitched things onto them. I remember one article about how to make your hair look like you've just come from swimming in the ocean. They wrote fiction and poetry and discussed Issues. They were in bands. They read zines. OK, so I didn't do any of those things myself. (I tried the hair thing but it looked ridiculous.) But I definitely identified with that independent spirit more than with the vapidity of Seventeen or 'Teen which I occasionally read. Most of all, Sassy influenced my music and pop culture tastes. The editor, Jane Pratt, was friends with Michael Stipe. The first time REM published lyrics was for Losing My Religion, in Sassy. Spike Jonze worked for the magazine, as did Chloe Sevigny.

Sassy was, quite simply, the best girls' magazine ever. And as it turns out, I'm not the only one who thinks so, and a book is due out this spring on that very subject. You bet I'm going to buy it. If you have never read Sassy, it's your loss, but here's a great article about it.

Once I looked in my mom's attic to see if I had saved any of those magazines. Unfortunately, although I have every notebook from every class in high school and college, I must have thrown out the magazines. As it turns out it is my loss--both in terms of nostalgia and in terms of potential financial gain.

Anyway, enough reminiscing for one day. In two weeks I'll be in the front row, screaming like the 16-year-old I used to be, but for now I'm going back to adulthood.