Tea for the Bloggerman


New Tentative Coachella Schedule
March 20, 2009, 7:00 pm
Filed under: music, Travel | Tags: , ,

Hello all zero of you,

Since I will not be going to Coachella with Yanira as originally planned, I am updating my tentative schedule. I no longer have to suffer through the Conor Oberst/Jenny Lewis bullshit and can focus on the actual talent at the festival. Here it is:

Friday, April 17th:
Beirut
Franz Ferdinand
Leonard Cohen
Morrissey
N.A.S.A.
Paul McCartney

The Black Keys

Saturday, April 18th:
Booker T.
Calexico
Fleet Foxes
Henry Rollins

Hercules and Love Affair
The Killers
TV on the Radio

Sunday, April 19th:
Antony and the Johnsons
Paul Weller
The Cure
Throbbing Gristle
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

And the must-see list:

Friday, April 17th:
Beirut
Leonard Cohen

Morrissey (he’s sort of in between, I would ditch him for any other must-see)
Paul McCartney

Saturday, April 18th:

The Killers


Sunday, April 19th:

Antony and the Johnsons
The Cure
Throbbing Gristle
Yeah Yeah Yeahs



A list of people who recognized my PiL shirt…
January 5, 2009, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Misc., music, Tea, Travel | Tags: , , ,

Exactly what the title says: this is a list of everyone who has recognized my Public Image Ltd. shirt in public. I will update this short list as intelligent people make themselves known.

1) Schwab @ Last Shot Tattoo Parlor

2) Cashier @ Teavana in Town Square (1/5/09)

3) Cashier @ Guitar Center in Town Square (1/5/09)



All Along the Waterfront: Bob Dylan at AEG Concerts on the Green
September 10, 2008, 12:47 am
Filed under: Concerts, music, Travel | Tags: , , , , ,

Last weekend I had the pleasure of taking a hot, uncomfortable bus ride down to San Diego. I was hungry, sweaty, and cramped, but it was all worth because on that Saturday (the 6th) I would be seeing the one and only Bob Dylan, one of my idols, in concert in a place I hold dear more than any other location.

I woke up at around 5:30am on Friday in order to prepare for my 8am Greyhound bus ride. The bus ride lasted until 4pm with a transfer in San Bernadino, and upon arriving in San Diego I felt instantly better. Yanira met me near the Pizza Hut that is connected to the Greyhound station and we proceeded from there to 7-11 where I bought some Arizona iced tea to quench my thirst. From there we walked to the trolley station where I bought my three-day trolley pass and waited for the train. While waiting someone walked by wearing a 2008 Montreal Jazz Festival shirt. Small world.

The trolley came eventually and we boarded. From there it was on to the Old Town San DIego area where Yanira lives. From there we ordered pizza, decorated cupcakes for the birthday of one of Yanira’s roommates, and watched two French movies, “Amelie” and “Paris, je t’aime,” both excellent movies that I would recommend to anyone. It was no surprise that I would like “Amelie” because of my extreme fondness for the soundtrack. Yann Tiersen’s accordion is immaculate; the movie cannot be more than a little less than perfect with that music.

The following day was Saturday, the day of the concert. Leftover pizza was on the menu for breakfast, yum. The only thing on the schedule before the concert was a trip to Old Town, which we went on around noon. I love Old Town San Diego, a place where some of the early buildings of the Spanish settlements in California are preserved and maintained as museums. There are also lots of other tourists attractions too, restaurants and shops and the like. All in all a lovely place to spend the day. And what a lovely day it was too. The weather could not have been better. Why oh why must I live in blazing-ass Vegas?

In Old Town we looked at most of the shops and buildings before sitting down in a restaurant for iced tea and chips while watching crazy raver circus performers give knives to children. At one of the vendors I found something that made my heart soar like a big soaring thing: a toy accordion! And a great one at that! The sound is so rich and loud! I’ve been toying with it since, but I can’t do much with it. I can play Sabbath’s “Iron Man” thanks to a tab I found online, and a C major scale, but that’s about it so far. Yann Tiersen here I come!

At around 4ish we left Old Town and went back to the apartment. More leftover pizza was eaten, blankets were grabbed, and we were off to Qualcomm Stadium. We got there around 4:45ish and the line was already enormous. The concert started at 8, doors opened at 7. Guess we weren’t as early as we thought. We assumed our place in line and waited like good chirren, talking amongst ourselves and with the obsessive middle-aged woman Dylan fanatic behind us. She  was also a Leonard Cohen fan and my Leonard Cohen tour t-shirt gave us away as fellow Cohenites. Around ten minutes or so into our waiting a security person from the venue made his rounds down the line to inform everyone that no cameras would be allowed but lawn chairs were okay. Even though their website clearly says “no cameras with removable lenses” and “no lawn chairs.” Le sigh. I prepared to take the trolley back to the apartment to drop off our cameras and come back, but asked the guard anyway about our situation. He said to just explain that we didn’t drive to the stadium and they would do something stupid like ask us to take the batteries out or something. So we waited more, camera bundled up in our blankets hoping they wouldn’t search. I had Yanira hold the blankets because she looks far more innocent than I.

Eventually the line starts moving and behold, four tables of security personnel going through and searching everyone. We went to our table and said we just had a blanket and jackets. They said we could just shake them down and keep moving. Yanira feebly shook the mass of blanket in her arms and we were allowed safe passage. Eat that, AEG!

We made our way to the front of the large field and laid out our blanket with the rest of the crowd. It appeared like it was going to be a nice night, laying out on our blankets listening to Dylan croon. But alas, people soon started to crowd to the front and everyone had no choice but to pack up their blankets and lawn chairs and smash forward. Before the havoc I made my way to the merch table and bought a poster and the “eco-friendly” bag I mentioned earlier.

At 8 the concert begins and man, what a concert it was! Bob was in top-form that night, completely annihilating the low bar I had set for the concert. Watching recent youtube videos of him would lead one to believe that his voice is COMPLETELY, not partially but COMPLETELY, destroyed. Not rough and smokey like his vocals on Modern Times, but  REAL GONE. Like Tom Waits with a tracheotomy gone. Watch this clip to get a feeling of what I was expecting:

But his voice was far from that; in fact, I would even describe it as strong! And Bob appeared to have such a good time playing, which shatters his image as a morose musician tapping on his keyboard for a couple of hours and leaving to collect his check. He smiled in between verses, would occasionally glance at the audience (but still kept from facing us), stuck his tongue out on more than one occasion, bopped his knees at particularly rhythmic moments in songs, and walked around the stage in between songs with a sort of skip in his step. His harmonica playing was also very surprising; it appears Bob has actually learned how to play it, and is playing it well.

The set list was excellent as well. Mostly newer tunes from Modern Times, “Love and Theft,” and Time Out of Mind, but a number of revamped classics were included like “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “She Belongs to Me,” “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding,” and “Like a Rolling Stone” and “All Along the Watchtower” for the encore. I had my fingers crossed for “High Water (for Charley Patton)” but I was completely satisfied. Highlights of the concert were “It’s Alright Ma,” an impossibly deep “Ain’t Talkin'” which gave me flashbacks to Tom Waits’ dark tones at the Phoenix Orpheum, and the profound “Workingman’s Blues #2” which should be near the top of anyone’s top Dylan song list.

Despite the packed conditions, the slightly heavy smoke and the idiot near us who would scream “HURRICANE!” between every fucking song, it was an excellent concert. I sincerely hope the Neverending Tour stays neverending, because I must see Bob again. Once you go Bob you don’t go back, as they say.

———————-

Setlist:

Cat’s in the Well
The Times They Are A-Changin’
The Levee’s Gonna Break
She Belongs To Me
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
Ballad of Hollis Brown
To Make You Feel My Love
It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
Working Man’s Blues #2
Honest With Me
Lenny Bruce
I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
Highway 61 Revisited
Ain’t Talkin’
Thunder On The Mountain

Encores: Like A Rolling Stone, All Along the Watchtower

———————-

Video Clips Yanira and I Took With Our Smuggled Camera:

“Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” minus the first few seonds.

A verse of “Workingman’s Blues #2”

A good portion of “All Along the Watchtower”

Long Live Bob Dylan.



So Long, Montreal — Part Three: Take This Waltz
July 1, 2008, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Misc., Travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Day two in Montreal was quite pleasant. We started the day someone early, got breakfast before the free hotel breakfast was closed, went back to sleep, woke up, and prepared ourselves. We had two things on our agenda before a special show at the Montreal Jazz Festival: change more US money into Canadian and go to the Montreal Urban Outfitters (clothing store). So we got our stuff together, went down to the lobby to ask directions, and headed out the door.

From the hotel we headed down Rue Phillips to Rue Ste Catherine, which appears to be a major street in Montreal. Lots of outlet stores and whatnot, very nice. We turned and walked down Ste Catherine, changed our money at the nearest opportunity, and headed down the street for five blocks or so, checking out different stores along the way. After getting to the store and looking at everything in it, we grew hungry and sought our daily dosage of Asian food. We found a cute Korean restaurant nearby and found a seat overlooking the street and ordered a box lunch to share. After lunch we walked back down Ste Catherine, checking out stores and stumbling into a large mall that I swear was not there a few hours before. We looked around the mall, got some souvenirs for people back home, some swim trunks (forgot mine in Las Vegas), and more Asian food (fake food court Japanese, tasted wonky). Yum.Mural at the Korean Restaurant

After all that we headed further down Ste Catherine, past Rue Phillips and down a few more blocks to the Montreal Jazz Festival. People abound! Lots of people there enjoying the festival. At 9:30 on the main stage a special tribute concert to Leonard Cohen was to be held, and we got their 3 hours early. Leonard was to be given a special award from the festival, and everyone assumed that he would be there. So we waited, and waited. Three hours later, it began.

Crowd at the tribute concert

Turns out Leonard wasn’t there, but the president of the festival said that exclusive footage of Leonard would be played at the concert instead. And boy did they show great footage. The concert began with a recording of Leonard singing Hallelujah at one of his Montreal concerts, a recording that was projected not only on two large screens above the stage, but also on the side of two nearby buildings. Imagine a city where you can look out your window and see a giant video of Leonard Cohen playing against the Hyatt Regency hotel downtown. Amazing.

Crowd

Then the concert began. A guitarist walked on stage, bathed in stagelight, and started picking out the chord shapes of Hallelujah. Then a trumpet was heard, but it was not coming from the stage. We looked around, trying to find the trumpet, and soon found it: Chris Botti was playing from the balcony of the Hyatt, a couple of stories above the crowd. A wonderful start to a great concert.

Hallelujah

Various performers came on and off the stage to pay homage to Mr. Cohen, many of whom I had never heard of before. But there were some familiar faces: Chris Botti (who returned to the stage later in the evening to play “A Thousand Kisses Deep”), Madeline Peyroeux (who sang a marvelously jazzy version of “Dance Me to the End of Love”), the lead singer of Barenaked Ladies (who sang “A Singer Must Die” and the Cohen song with the line “…your naked body!”), and Leonard’s son Adam who sang a furious version of “Take This Waltz” and a soft version of “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye”. Other singers and preformers played that I had never heard of before, but all were good–Buffy Ste Marie, Garou, Joe Lavano, Katie Melua–and more footage of Leonard singing “Suzanne” and “Closing Time” was played. All in all, an excellent concert.

Barenaked Lady

Adam Cohen

Bow

Adam accepting the award on Leonard\'s behalf

From there we made our way out of the crowd to another stage where Annie Sellick and the Hot Club was just starting their set. Wonderful swing music. Then, we ordered some sandwiches at a sub place and took them back to the hotel. We ate, then slept. The end of day two.

TO BE CONTINUED.



So Long, Montreal — Part Two: He Did Not Come All the Way Home Just to Fool Us
June 30, 2008, 9:21 am
Filed under: Concerts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Time for part two, are you ready for this? I don’t think you’re ready for this. Proceed at your own caution.

So we arose in the early afternoon on the 25th ready to journey out and explore this strange land we had found ourselves in. We showered, enjoyed a complimentary breakfast, and prepared ourselves. Yanira, being the fashion-nazi she is, was looking forward to seeing the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I had shown her information on the exhibit a week earlier, after recognizing the name while searching for things to do in the city. We had talked briefly about Saint Laurent because he is recently deceased, and Yanira is a devoted follower of him. AND Wednesdays at the museum are half-price admission days. Could it have worked out any better than that?

We called a taxi and had him drive us to the museum. Montreal is such a beautiful city [“it’s like New York and Paris combined!”], lovely weather in June, dotted with outstanding cathedrals and overall nice things. We got out and proceeded to the ticket counter, only to find out that the half-price deal was only after 5pm. Being 2pm, we decided to walk around and come back. We walked down the street, past McGill College where Leonard Cohen studied, and took in what the area had to offer. We also spent some time in a nice bookstore.

Soon we grew hungry and went looking for Asian food. We had a taste for Asian food for some odd reason. Trying a few places without success, we found a shady-looking Vietnamese restaurant with decent prices. We were surprised; it was actually nice inside. We ordered a plate of Pad Thai to share and munched on that while talking. After lunch we walked upstairs from the restaurant to Cheap Thrills, an over-priced used CD/vinyl/bookstore. Excellent selection, but the prices were horrendous. I did find one deal though: a Canadian pressing of Tom Waits’ third album Small Change in MINT condition for $10. Last time I checked on amazon.com these went from $32 and up. I bought that after looking through damn near everything in the store [“I’m going to D-I-E”] and we walked on.

We killed enough time in Cheap Thrills to return to the museum for our discount. We then entered the enormous exhibit full of outfits designed by Saint Laurent, with video monitors showing famous models modeling them (as models are wont to do). I have only recently began to rethink my position on fashion. I used to despise it, but only because of a mental connection I had made between fashion and unimaginative trends. The word “fashion” conjured up images of celebrities wearing the latest designs as a statement of their wealth and importance rather than clothing being a medium for art, and this exhibit has certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities of this medium. Saint Laurent was a visionary, that is for sure.

We spent an hour or two in the museum, made a stop in the boutique to pick up a catalog of the exhibit and some post cards, and left. We hailed a taxi then to take us to the Place des Arts, an area of downtown Montreal designed for festivals and large events. The Place des Arts is flanked on two sides by large concert halls, a third side being occupied by a mall and the Hyatt Regency hotel, and the last side being open for the most part. We got to the Place des Arts, found out which concert hall Leonard would be in, struggled to find an entrance, failed, waited, asked around, found out we had to go underground to get in, went underground, and entered the building.

The theater was extremely nice and we had excellent seats: 10 rows from the front. A reward for being up so early to buy the tickets as they were released. I made my way to the merchandise table to try and nap one of the nifty Leonard Cohen shirts and posters they had for sale, but I was devastated (not really) to find out they did not accept credit cards. After a day in Montreal, the little Canadian money I had had dwindled down to $19, and the cheapest thing for sale was a poster for $20. I returned to my seat, still aflutter over getting to see Leonard, and waited patiently until the lights dimmed.

There are many words and phrases I could use to describe the concert–amazing, breath-taking, awe-inspiring, fantastic, earth-shattering, life-changing–but all seem inefficient to describe the feelings I had when Leonard ran out (yes, ran out!) on stage to the microphone. Everything was simply perfect; I could not ask for more. Leonard’s voice was strong and powerful, and the man had energy to take him through a three hour concert (yes, three hours!) and many encores. His guitarist, Javier Mas, is a genius. His woodwind player had enough energy to destroy our dependence on foreign oil. His backup singers–collaborator Sharon Robinson and the divine Webb Sisters–were beautiful in both appearance and in voice. Leonard and his merry band took us on a journey through nearly all of our favorite songs–from newer gems like A Thousand Kisses Deep, Closing Time, The Future, In My Secret Life, Take This Waltz, Hallelujah (which included a slight variation in one line which I used for the title of this entry)–to old classics like Suzanne, So Long Marianne, Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, Sisters of Mercy, and a stunning rendition of Avalanche which sounded EXACTLY the way it did on the 1971 album Songs of Love and Hate. It was a revelation, a holy experience. I laughed, I wept openly, but most of all I sat in awe of something far larger and much talented than I could ever hope to reach.

And Leonard was in complete control the whole time. He knew what to sing and when to sing it, what to say and when to say it, what do dance and when to dance it. The man danced! The 73 year-old man danced! On more than one occasion! During The Future he did what has been described as Beck-shuffle during the line “and the white man dancing” and as Closing Time finished he skipped across the stage to the curtain, only to be called back by thunderous applause. After three encores, Leonard thanked the people of his home town, sang a tongue-in-cheek version of I Tried to Leave You, recited a prayer with the band, and wished us all a good night. I will never forget that concert.

After it was over (oh, if only it could have gone on forever!) we walked out onto the Place des Arts and hailed a taxi to take us the three blocks to the hotel. There we had the remnants of our Pad Thai noodles, watched part of the documentary “Ladies and Gentlemen…Mr. Leonard Cohen” and went to sleep. Two more days left to go, and the Montreal Jazz Festival was only just beginning.

TO BE CONTINUED.

YouTube clips of the concert:

Avalanche

Closing Time

Take This Waltz (dedicated to the memory of the late poet Irving Layton)

Anthem



So Long, Montreal — Part One: Getting There
June 29, 2008, 4:35 am
Filed under: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yesterday I returned from a marvelous journey to the center of the uncivilized world: Montreal, Quebec. The great poet Leonard Cohen is currently on his first tour in 15 years, a tour that as of now has no U.S. dates. As soon as the tour was announced I knew I was going to see him. There was no option. Leonard has been a profound inspiration for me for years, and traveling to see him in concert would be my hajj. So, after checking schedules and making plans, I found myself up at 6 in the morning one day ordering two tickets to his June 25th concert in Montreal. Plane and bus tickets were to follow.

The journey sounds simple enough on paper. On the night of the 23rd I would take a plane from Las Vegas to Philadelphia, then transfer planes to arrive in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania [Sidenote: I’ve heard three different pronounciations of that city’s name in the past few months–Wilkes-Bear, Wilkes-Bar, and Wilkes-Berry]. From Wilkes-Barre I would take a bus to a town called Hazleton to meet the fabulous Yanira Garcia, fashion designer extraordinaire and fellow Leonard Cohenite. From Hazleton the two of us would board a Greyhound bus, making stops and transfers along the way in New York City and Albany. The return trip would simply be the reverse a few days later, making time to catch some of the Montreal Jazz Festival, the largest jazz festival in the world which just so happened to be occurring at the same time as the concert.

And so, at around 9:30pm on the 23rd I, along with a messenger bag full of papers, my mandolin, and a suitcase of clothes, were in a taxi headed for McCarran Airport. I arrived and rode my plane east to Philadelphia. I arrived early the next morning and took a shuttle bus from one portion of the enormous airport to another to catch my second plane. The small plane flew for half an hour and arrived in Wilkes-Barre, which is by far the nicest airport I have ever seen. It is small, clean, and simply decent. They even have a “Meditation Room” stocked with various religious texts and four pews, perhaps for traveling church congregations. From Wilkes-Barre I took a taxi to the bus station, and boarded my bus to Hazleton.

I only spent a few hours in Hazleton but my time there was pleasant. I like Hazleton; it is a very fake town. Hazleton tries very hard to appear to be a small town, but it is far too densely packed with people and buildings to successfully pull of the illusion. However, if anything is an indication of a town’s size it would be the number of Starbucks that are located there, and Hazleton has ZERO. No Starbucks’, how do you like that?

So in Hazleton I met up with Yanira, we had lunch at a health food restaurant called the Dragonfly, then lounged in a Wendy’s to charge our cellphones before the bus arrived. Later we boarded the bus and off we went. The bus rode down the Pennsylvania countryside and through the barren wasteland that Springsteen calls New Jersey until we arrived in New York City. There we got some food and waited in a long line. Within two hours time the line began to move as Greyhound staff checked passports and other documentation. The bus from New York drove for a few hours until it reached Albany, where it stopped for a half hour to refuel and be cleaned. From Albany it was a straight shot to the border. At the border we were forced from the bus to gather all our belongings and file through customs. Who, what, where, when, why, and back to the bus we went.

Montreal is not very far away from the US/Canada border, but it certainly seemed like it. We arrived in Montreal around 7 in the morning on the 25th. There we gathered our luggage and went to the information booth to find out how to get to our hotel. We thought we could walk and started walking, but soon we found ourselves lost, cold, and hungry. So we returned to the bus station, waited for the currency exchange window to open, changed out our filthy American dollars for shiny portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, and took a taxi. At the hotel we checked in, found our room, and slept soundly for a few hours before our big day officially begun…

TO BE CONTINUED.