Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wonder Twins Review: The Detroit Music Awards @ The Fillmore Friday April 17

Welcome to a link to the official print column debut of the Wonder Twins (got that? Great!!). On this journey, we take you inside the world of this year’s Detroit Music Awards, where thankfully, you won’t have to stay for nearly as long as we did (unless you’re a really, really slow reader). Though the Wonder Twins column started out as a fluke with our coverage of Detour’s Rock City Fest last summer, the handful of show reviews we’ve done for the Metro Times “Music Blahg” since that fateful, rockin’ weekend have apparrently been viewed, more or less positively by the people. And because we live in a Democracy, and not the state of Ohio, the Metro Times has rewarded our popularity with our own PRINT column in the actual PAPER. This offers us up to a whole new group of readers – most notably, homeless people who will use our words for warmth and those who do not know how to use the internet! These two very important demographics have been denied access to our acerbic wit for far too long. But, as if Obama himself swept into the Motor City and said, “If I could change one thing about Detroit that would have a big impact on the people, what would it be?” the road to the Wonder Twins is now less exclusive and less virtual! Although I cannot in any way promise that, while reading the physical paper version, our column will make you laugh so hard you end up putting your head down on the table, subsequently getting newsprint on your nose and/or forehead, I really, really hope that happens. I would love that.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Music Writing: Interview with Jennifer O'Connor

I heart Jennifer O’Connor. Not on a gay way, but in a geeky fan girl way. Here’s my interview with her for Detour. She’ll be in town tomorrow opening for the Indigo Girls at the Michigan Theater. I’m really excited for her set, as it’s gonna be a solo (presumably) acoustic set. The last time she was in MI it was at the Pike Room with the New Year on a week day. She had a full band (which included Chris Brokaw on either drums or guitar… but I think drums. It was super late, my mind is fuzzy). It’s a shame that the crowd was s small that night because both JOC and the New Year were so, so, so awesome. One of my favorite shows of ’08 in fact.

This time around she’s touring for a bit with the Indigo Girls – a band that, believe it or not, I remember numerous high school era discussions about whether they might possibly be gay. Seriously. Looking back, I can’t believe there was ever any question about such matters. They are called the Indigo Girls for fucks sake. I mean, if they didn’t actually exist, and you and your friends were sitting around listing off possible names for lesbian bands, that’s the first one somebody would come up with. Then you’d all dismiss it as too obvious – like, who would actually name their group that? But alas, the mid-90’s sure do feel like ages ago, yes? Such an innocent time. I have actually never seen them live, so although I’m way more geeked about JOC, I am also curious and interested to see the Indigo Girls as well. The “music of my people” and all that…

Although I personally am not guilty of this, I would bet good money that many a confused teenage lesbian has made a mix tape for their straight-best-friend-secret-crush with the hopes that, despite the seemingly impossible chances, once said friend got to the last track on side one (“Closer To Fine” of course), a seed would be planted. This seed would germinate until the climactic side two finale – the Indigo Girls cover of “Romeo and Juliet” segwaying into Melissa Etheridge’s “Come To My Window.” She’s then bound to realize you’re the one for her, right?! Of course what will really happen is she’ll listen to it passively in the car on her way to pick up her dumb jock boyfriend from football practice. He’ll get in the passenger seat, and after grabbing her tits and turning to give the rest of the team a thumbs up, will turn back, notice the music and say, “What’s this gay ass shit you’re listening to?” She’ll say, “Nothing, I don’t know. Just some tape.” He’ll pop it out and turn up the classic rock station because “Back In Black” is on. The tape will fall to the floor, and while her boyfriend is mastering some serious air guitar licks and stomping his feel to the music, he’ll kick it under his seat without ever even noticing. It’ll stay there until your friend leaves for college and sells the car to a confused teenage girl who finds the tape one day and pops it into the deck. By the end of side one, a seed will be planted...

... and that's how gays recruit.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dear Friends and Fellow Tea Lovers

Dear Friends and Fellow Tea Lovers,

I just wanted to take a second to let all of you know how much I appreciated and enjoyed your company at my “Teabagging Party” last night. Considering I’ve been doing these for YEARS, it was really exciting to see such an unprecedented turn out. I mean, I’ve always felt that doing your taxes is an activity that leaves one very thirsty – and what better way to reward your thirst (and the completion of a complicated filing job well done!) than with nature’s tastiest treat – a cup of hot tea? Remember last year, when Ethel brought an assortment of animal figurines she had collected from Red Rose tea boxes back in the 80’s and passed them around to share? What a hoot! And I’m not just referring to the tiny owl statuette which was my favorite! I didn’t think we’d be able to top that kind of excitement this year – or even match it seeing as poor Ethel passed away shortly after the last party. Poor woman – and her no good children just rifled through her things like they were at a rummage sale, didn’t they? I hear they just threw all those Red Rose animal statuettes and her autographed Harlequin novels in the trash calling them “useless junk.” Humph! Makes me glad I never had children to break my heart when I die. I digress…

This year’s teabagging party… My, oh, my – where do I start? I had mentioned to Ed, my neighbor that I was having my annual teabagging party and though he usually just nods his head politely and buries his face in his Soldier of Fortune magazine, he seemed really interested! In fact, he looked left and right and leaned into me and said, “Wow Ruth, I didn’t know you were one of us.” Heavens to Betsy, he said that! I didn’t even know he liked tea let alone felt so strongly about it. I tried to ask him whether he preferred loose leaf, herbal, and (the million dollar question!) which Celestial Seasons flavor he couldn’t live without, but before I could finish, he mumbled something about Glenn Beck, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “We’ll be there – in solidarity.” I wasn’t sure who this “we” he referred to was seeing as he lives alone and generally keeps to himself, but I was happy to hear he was interested in attending – the more the merrier! Though it is generally rude to invite yourself to a party, is it not? Things have changed so much since the good old days...

A couple hours later as I was raking crab crass out of the back yard (quite a workout for an old lady!) Steven, one of the handsome boys who live behind me, was listening to the loud “boom boom” dance music and tending to his garden (can you believe it? Two men living together with such a nice garden and not a woman in sight! And you should see the size of their cucumbers!). He and his roommate are always so sweet and polite to me, giving me veggies from their garden (though I suspect he has quite a sweet tooth what with that "Twinkie" shirt he's always wearing)... Anyhow, I mentioned to him that I was excited about my upcoming teabagging party and he looked positively shocked to hear about it! Apparently he and his roommate have hosted several teabagging parties just in the last few months at their home! I was so surprised to find I was surrounded by tea drinkers! “Ruthie girl! You’re a freaky lady, I love it!” is what he said to me! I don’t understand the terminology of young people these days, but he seemed so enthusiastic, that of course I invited him and his roommate. “We will be there with balls on!” he said and started laughing. When I corrected him and said, “I think you meant ‘bells on,’” he put his hand on my shoulder, winked and walked back into the house.

All of you are well aware of what happened next, and frankly all I can do is apologize. I’m still stunned. Why Ed and his friends were dressed in camouflage and brought along extra copies of the NRA newsletter to hand out, I’m still not sure. Regardless, they were not very festive – in fact they were very hostile and kept talking about “teabagging Obama, the fascist.” One of them kept mentioning his involvement in the Michigan Militia – and I don’t think he meant a militia of tea drinkers! When Steven and his roommate Billy showed up with cans of whip cream and prophylactics saying, “We’re ready for teabagging!” I thought my heart would stop! They must’ve come to my house from a pool hall, because Billy asked me if I wanted an "8 ball" – he must’ve taken one as a souvenir after a winning game, I’d imagine. I politely declined (it would look so out of place on my mantle with my Precious Moments figurines), though it is a pretty creative choice for a hostess gift, isn’t it? When Billy responded to Ed that he’d love to teabag Obama, Ed pounced on him screaming, “You are what’s wrong with this country!” I didn’t know what to think! Then when Ed took a can of whip cream to the head, I knew it was time to call it a night! The nerve! They completely ruined our party. And none of them even brought any tea along to share with the others! Such rudeness!

I thought it would be fun to have some new faces, but I was wrong – next year it’ll be just us ladies again with our tea and that’s final! If it’s not too “over the top” maybe we can share pictures of our cats in jaunty hats – I hear some of the ladies at the American Legion did this after a Mary Kay party last year and they’re still talking about it! We’ll see…

Again thank you for coming, and I hope you understand that I’m just as confused and horrified as you all are – what is this country coming to?

Your friend in tea,

Ruth Johnson

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Show Review: Titus Andronicus & Lucero @ The Magic Stick 4/11/09

As my brief little write up for Detour alludes to (thanks for tag teaming that one Adam), I was at the Titus Andronicus/Lucero show this past Saturday. My girlfriend loves her some Lucero, but isn’t such a fan of fellow Lucero fans. Now I know why. This guy pretty much hit the nail on the head with his description of the bunch. However, despite my occasional horror and frequent wincing at watching a throng of sweaty boys crowd surfing and bouncing off of each other (with more than one person going ass-over-apple-cart and narrowly escaping entry into closed head injury land) it was difficult for me to feel much animosity. I know I would have felt lots of it should I have been foolish enough to try to watch the show from the floor, but from my safe haven near the merch table behind a metal bar, I could see that the people in the pit area were having a blast – arms around each other, singing along, smiling… I scanned the crowed for the kind of testosterone and whiskey fueled “Yeah, we might be half naked, sweaty and in exceptionally close proximity to each other, but I’m not a homo and to prove it I’m gonna beat your ass” pre-fight tension, but didn’t really see it. It was not MY kind of happy crowd, but a happy crowd nonetheless. As far as Titus Andronicus goes, I just don’t get it. I tried to get it, I don’t get it and now I’m moving forward. Because that’s all you can do.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Record Reviews: It Hugs Back, Micachu & the Shapes, Red Red Meat

This week's Detour New Music Guide is up and finally up to it’s full 12 album glory. Like most Tuesdays I wrote three of the 12 reviews. The first one being It Hugs Back, a new 4AD band that clearly loves all the same old 4AD bands that I do. Maybe that’s not a good reason to like something, but it works just fine for me. The second is Micachu and the Shapes – a record that all those lap top pop lovin’ blog folk are sure to eat up. The third is Sub Pop’s deluxe reissue of Red Red Meat’s Bunny Gets Paid. As somebody who has very fond memories of working at an indie record store and shopping at countless others, I do indeed still love the physical product – be it vinyl or CD. So I guess that’s why I love the idea of breathing new life into classic records (and expanding the notion of what qualifies as "classic") the way a good reissue does – it gives people the chance to discover something they may have missed the first time around, or to replace their crappy sounding, well worn CD copy with a better sounding (and looking) upgrade. Bunny Gets Paid does exactly that, and Sub Pop’s decision to reissue that particular record says they totally get it. Because frankly, I can’t get enough of 90's indie rock lately, and by and large, what I own is on CD and sounds like shit. I’m just saying it is a good way to get me to part with my money for music – by making old stuff new, interesting and available again. Keep it up Sub Pop.

Show Reviews: Morrissey @ the Michigan Theater and Morrissey in Chicago

For half my life (for real?) I’ve been a Morrissey fan – and in those 15 years I’ve seen him a grand total of five times. Yes, I know this isn’t a fanatical amount, but it should be seven -- there are at least two tours in that time period I was unable to attend. One because I was 14 or 15 years old and had nobody to go with or drive me, and one because his Michigan date happened RIGHT after I moved to Charlotte, NC. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, but I should’ve picked Morrissey over moving. But I digress. The two most recent shows just happened and were within a week of each other. You can read my reviews on the Detour site – Ann Arbor here, and last Saturday’s Chicago show here. For the Chicago show, I failed to mention eating at Denny’s in Kalamazoo at 4:30am on the way home. My body does not like to be awake and ingesting food from a 24-hour diner surrounded by drunkos and tweaked out club goers at 4:30am. But I can now say I’ve eaten “pancake poppers” while deliriously tired. I don’t even know if they were really called “pancake poppers” or if I made that up. I do know this really happened though, because when I finally woke up the next morning (um, late afternoon), there was a Denny’s take out container on the counter containing the remainder of these “poppers.” I also know that I tipped our waitress several dollars more than I needed to – because I can’t imagine what it must be like to work that shift, and because the thought of having to be in a seated position under those lights any longer while waiting for my change made me want to burst into tears.

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