Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Metro Article

Here is an article that appears in the April issue of The Metropolitan.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Wedding Bells

I know nothing about weddings except that when I go to them I usually get drunk and make and idiot of myself out on the dance floor. I never put much thought into the planning of an event as important as a wedding. Even while I was buying a ring, I never thought about things like caterers and reception sites and flowers. This was a major oversight on my part. There are things I never knew existed like people whose entire job is planning weddings. I never knew that if you plan on getting married you need to book a place to do it well in advance. I thought it was like making a dinner reservation, that you just called a golf course or a hotel and said, “Yeah, I’ve got 150 people coming in two weeks so you might need to push some tables together or something.”

It doesn’t work that way.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Larry always dreams of black helicopters and explosions and death. His first apartment had railroad tracks in the front yard. Twice a day, three in the morning and three in the afternoon, a locomotive sped by. At first Larry would wake up in fright every time the train went by, later he dreamt straight through. It was here that the nightmares began.

As Larry watched from blocks away, a construction crane dropped a pallet of explosives on the roof of a high-rise apartment building. Larry sweats and pants and wonders why he is the only one that is panicked. People keep walking their dogs, riding their bikes, or moving to the beat of their headphones. A second explosion destroys the neighboring high-rise, still no one notices.

Black helicopters survey the scene circling the destruction like a swarm of flies. Suddenly there is silence the helicopters turn towards Larry just as a third explosion occurs beyond Larry’s view, behind the first two explosions. Finally, there is chaos. Priests dressed in robes of white are running with their crucifixes clutched in their fists. They are running from the explosion towards Larry. There is one priest emerging from the smoke and then Larry notices two, then Larry sees twenty or thirty of these cross-wielding padres running fervently in his direction. He notices the dark around their eyes, deep creviced wrinkles and frothy mouths.

Larry wakes subtly. He is used to the weirdness and destruction. He just stares at the ceiling and tries to think of nothing at all.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Telephone is not Your Friend

The first ring.

I pretend like I don’t hear the phone. “It must be in the cube next to me.”

The second ring.

I look at the small round red light blinking on my phone. My palms are starting to sweat. I look at the clock on my PC and wonder if I can just say it is too close to quitting time to answer the damn phone. I look casually over my left shoulder to see if my boss is there watching me. I stare at the blinking red light again.

The third ring.

Shit. Shit. Shit. It is probably some stupid user. “Why don’t you just reboot? you stupid ass?” I wrap my fingers around the hand piece of the phone, but I do not remove it from the cradle. I can fell my armpits sweating into my sweater. Shit. Shit. Shit.

The fourth ring.

“What is going on here? Why can’t I just pick up the phone?”

The red light is still blinking. The plastic of the hand piece is wet with hand sweat. I can smell my deodorant.

The red light stops blinking and is now unlit. There is no fifth ring. I look around to see if anybody sees me. I hold my breath and listen if anybody is talking about me. I try to make myself invisible. I feel cool as the air conditioning vent above blows dry the nervous sweat my pale skin is covered with.

I stare at the phone looking at the light that lives next to the word PHML. I am waiting to see if it lights up or if I truly avoided something. If I am lucky, the stupid user called someone else.

The light next to PHML illuminates. I decide that I do not notice it and go back to surfing the internet.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Finally, a Radio Station Worth Listening to?

Here is an article I wrote a few weeks ago about the new radio station in town. The CP article today motivated me to post. It is weird how much press this MPR-backed station is receiving. I think the backlash is beginning...

Music radio is a good idea, in theory. A person sits in front of a microphone and a CD player playing DJ for a party. Shelves of music surround the DJ. The DJ plays what the audience wants to hear. That is the way it is supposed to be. At some indefinable point in the last fifty years, the concept has shifted from a personal relationship between a listener and a station to a concept of listeners as customers and radio stations as giant profit-driven companies. Somehow, this presentation of artists and their art turned into marketing plans and sales figures and people in suits buying each other expensive dinners. I can not remember exactly when I lost faith in radio, but I can remember when I was saved.

As “The Current” staked their claim in the radio landscape they gave local hip-hop duo Atmosphere the opportunity to plant the flag in the ground. “I wanted to write a song about my hometown”, were the first words sung on the air. These lyrics begin the song “Shh”, which is an anthem about the joys of living in Minneapolis and the Midwest.

The first day in the life of “The Current” filled the airwaves with the kind of eclectic music play list that would have had the president of Clear Channel clutching his heart through his chest. They played local music old and new such as The Replacements and The Owls. They played legends like Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Robert Johnson, and Al Green. They, of course, played new below the radar bands like Death Cab for Cutie, The Arcade Fire, and Marah.

“The Current”, 89.3, is a radio station that realizes that people over the age of twenty-five still care about music. They realize that just because their listeners have kids and day jobs does not mean they do not still feel passionate about new music.

There is a rich history of music in Minnesota. The big swing bands would come through in the thirties. Rock and roll was revered in the fifties and sixties. There have been many regional and national music legends in Minnesota. From Prince to Atmosphere, from The Replacements to Happy Apple, a diverse and talented musical legacy exists.

Unfortunately, for most artists there has been no place to be heard on Twin Cities radio for the last ten years. There use to be a fostering radio relationship with artists as far back as KDWB in the fifties to REV in the early nineties. Corporations have “killed the radio star.”

“The Current” is an interesting concept: the station is part of an ever-growing Minnesota Public Radio family. MPR is hardly an independent entity. They are, in every sense of the word, a corporate entity. When the new MPR-backed popular music station was announced, it had many people scratching their heads wondering what it would be. On one hand, there was the idea that a public radio station would have a better understanding of what the Twin Cities public lacks in a radio station. On the other hand, MPR being a sprawling corporation, there was a definite chance of this being another in a long line of mediocre corporate radio stations.

In the weeks leading up to the launch, there was a blog started by the 89.3 staff that worked as a communication tool between the clamoring public and the sculptors of the new format. Hope was given via the blog. The blog’s readers were informed of the new DJs and staff being hired and were given the chance to suggest what kind of music they wanted to hear.

The on-air talent that was being assembled was impressive. Thorn Skroch and Mary Lucia, both REV veterans, are respected music aficionados in the Twin Cities. Mark Wheat helped form Radio K, the University of Minnesota’s student radio station, into one of the most respected college stations in the country and is also a highly respected club DJ.

So far “The Current” has been living up to the promises and expectations. The few days following the launch the streets were buzzing with excitement. The local hipsters in blogs, bars, and record stores were all uncharacteristically optimistic. An inevitable backlash will occur just because that is the way the backbiting and gossipy music scene works. Let’s just hope that The Current can fight through that by staying true to its eclectic vision.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Metropolitan

An article I wrote appears in this months Metropolitan.