Category Archives: Writing

My musical year in review – 2016

Yes, 2015 was hard to beat.

I certainly didn’t do that on the concert attendance front.

But I DID start broadcasting again, something I’ve sincerely missed.

Utilizing the categories from last year, here’s what I enjoyed during my musical journeys in 2016:

Best Discoveries

I listened to a LOT of pop music this year. As a child, I didn’t have a lot of musical diversity in my life. Lots of hymns and classical music. My continuing appreciation of pop music is perhaps an attempt to stay connected to the wonderment I had in my late teens and early twenties as I discovered so much.

Carly Rae Jepsen keeps pumping out catchy, well-crafted, body-movin’ tracks. I particularly enjoyed this one during 2016:

This track by Bridgit Mendler was also a favourite:

On the flip side of pop tarts…

“Tenderness on the Block” is a song I first heard on Shawn Colvin’s 1994 album Cover Girl. I’ve long considered Shawn a premier arbiter of cover songs. This particular song on this particular album fell flat on my ears. I think Shawn does an admirable job with her version, but I never really liked it all that much.

I don’t remember what spurred me towards listening to the original. I’m also not sure I ever made the connection that Warren Zevon wrote it. My most significant recollection of Warren is him playing on the Letterman show during the final months of his life. Warren and Dave combined into something very poignant and moving. I miss them both terribly.

Maybe it’s the piano part or the Jackson Browne harmonies in the original that makes me love it.

Best Covers

Kacey Musgraves and Buddy Miller provided my best covers pick this year. From the Cayamo Sessions At Sea – Buddy Miller and Friends album. This is LIVE folks:

If I Were Cooler…

I took a wonderful sidetrack into the electric blues this year. There is so much about this music that I don’t know. A very rich and complex history.

I’d never heard of Freddy King until I found this song:

This song is a masterpiece. Produced by the great Leon Russell who was taken from us by the monster that will be forever known as 2016.

I also listened to many tracks from the Tedeschi Trucks Band. I love the vibe and culture that Susan and Derek are creating and fostering with their studio and production efforts. I hope to be able to support them by seeing them live as soon as I can.

Their NPR Small Desk Concert is a rough, brilliant gem:

Best Concert Experience

In March of 2016 I got to realize a dream and see two AMAZING musical acts. The Suffers and Lake Street Dive played First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN. Some of my favorite musical acts (Low, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü) made their stars in this venue.

And Prince.

I was standing in line to enter and I found myself right next to his star on the outside of the building (it was still white then). I looked at it and considered that I should take a picture. But I didn’t, the line moved, and then Prince died.

I’m probably about 15 feet to the right of where this video was shot. It was a great way to end a great concert.

Broadcasting

I started broadcasting again in 2016.

In the summer before my Junior year in high school, I started with an hour long newscast (Newton At Noon) on KBCU FM 88.1

It took me about 5 minutes to realize that I loved the medium and the capability of radio. It was one of the primary reasons I came back home to attend Bethel College and I did my best to continue the tradition of the station during my educational career there.

This year, I did my first streaming show. I’m not sure if this is “radio” or not, but I structured my shows this year in the same manner I’ve almost always done them. Loose, free; playing what I want when I want to. My initial shows were on Anonradio.net (I’ve linked to show archives). Now, I’ve built my own streaming audio server and broadcast HERE.

Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I’m usually on live from 9pm Central for 1 hour.

I can’t let 2016 be ANYTHING but pure Purple. Amazing, bicycle-loving, Epoch DEFINING, elemental; singular – Prince . prince

Sometimes it DOES snow in April;

May we all live peacefully,
to see another.

I can’t take it anymore

This has certainly been an exercise.  Took me 2 plus years to complete.

I’ve been having trouble finding books to read recently.  I wander the aisles of the downtown Wichita Public Library and either give up or grab something at random.  I haven’t finished the last 4 books I’ve checked out.  This makes me sad.

My life is certainly busy.  The boys are growing up.  Playing sports, making art, building Lego ships, Science Olympiad, learning to read, making me laugh.  My last grandparent (Mabel) died last week.  My parents are getting older.  My wife remains as beautiful as ever.

I’ve read multiple articles about how Billy Joel doesn’t really like this song.  I’d agree that is isn’t his best.  I wasn’t alive for the majority of the historical artifacts listed.

I think that the basic reason I wanted to write through them all was to help myself understand what the past is, where is lives in my life, and how I should try to improve the future.

Thanks for sticking with me through it all. May we still burn on, and on, and on.

Cheers.

Hypodermics on the shore, China’s Under Martial Law, Rock and Roller Cola Wars

Hypodermics on the shore, also known as the Syringe Tide, was the result of medical waste being dumped in the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.  This is how many of the beaches along the Jersey Shore looked in 1987-88:

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I think Snooki is under that rock in the middle.

Speaking of toxic waste and ocean pollution…  According to this study, there are approximately 5.25 TRILLION pieces of plastic floating in our oceans.  A 19 year old Dutchmen has developed a boom system to start collecting all the plastic shit us horrible humans have been dumping.

Tianasquare

This image is my generation’s Hippie flower in the end of a rifle.  Tank Man (real identity still unknown) solitarily stood in the path of Chinese tanks whose purpose was to clean out the student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.  Hundreds (or thousands depending on the source) of pro-democracy citizens protesting the oppressive Chinese regime were slaughtered in the hours before Tank Man took his stand.

Now, the world buys everything from this nation.  The sins of consumption push us all beyond justice and peace.

The Great Cola Wars of the 1980s lead to hair on fire, diabetes, and horrible Super Bowl halftime shows.

The best response I’ve ever seen is Neil Young’s video below:

AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

ryanwhite

Ryan White is the first “face of AIDS” that I can recall.  His story is courageous and heartbreaking; indicative of our horrible human practice of judging first and understanding later.

I have never smoked crack.  Two wonderful ladies have kept me on the straight and narrow:

whitney houston just say no

Throwback-Thursday-Mr-T-helps-Nancy-Reagan-unveil-White-House-Christmas-decorations

Ronnie looks pretty rough in that picture.  Nancy must have mis-read his star charts.

Bernie Goetz shot four African American teenagers (three of them 19, one of them 18) in a New York City subway train on December 22, 1984.  One of the men sat next to Bernie and asked him for $5.  None of the four men displayed weapons or expressed the desire to physically harm Bernie.

Bernie’s response was to rise from his seat on the train, draw his unlicensed and unregistered revolver and fire five shots at the four men.

According to a taped interview with law enforcement officials (taken only after Goetz had fled the scene and hid from police or several days):

“If I had more bullets, I would have shot ’em all again and again,” Goetz said on the tape, played in a darkened Manhattan courtroom. “My problem was I ran out of bullets. And I was gonna, I was gonna gouge one of the guy’s eyes out with my keys afterwards.”

Goetz was arraigned on multiple counts of attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and unlawful criminal possession of a firearm.  His case progressed through multiple iterations in the New York criminal justice system and resulted in a conviction on only one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, for carrying in public the loaded unlicensed gun used in the subway shooting, and two counts of possession in the fourth degree, for keeping two other unlicensed handguns in his home.

He served 8 months in jail.

There was also a civil trial brought against Goetz in 1996. $43 million was awarded to the plaintiff.  Asked in 2004 whether he was making payments on the judgment, Goetz responded “I don’t think I’ve paid a penny on that”

In my opinion, the worst thing to come out of all of this was Goetz obtaining hero status in organization such as the NRA.  Gun nuts probably have tramp stamps of his likeness.

Foreign debts, homeless vets

The “foreign debts” that Billy references here have nothing on the Eurozone crisis.  PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain) are still adversely affecting the world economy almost 8 years later.

I wonder what the ratio of homeless vets from Vietnam is to the homeless vets from Iraq and Afghanistan.  I’d bet it’s higher now that it was then.  We have less of a social safety net and less societal concerns now.