I’ve always had a fascination and affinity for the name Veronica. As a an Elvis Costello fan, his 1989 single bearing the name is still a favorite of mine. In the Archie Comics universe, I choose her over Betty. In the film Heathers, Winona Ryder played its heroine with the moniker. I also have been heard to say that I love the name because of a cute nickname that can be given to it….Ronnie.
Sadly and too soon, we lost one this week. The one, only and unforgettable Ronnie Spector (born Veronica Bennet in case you weren’t aware).
On 30, Adele’s first album in six years, she grapples with the fallout from her divorce, both in herself and through the lens of her son. There is an art to bring pragmatically selfish. Trying to stay together for the child or separating, the inevitability of trauma forces those involved to consider their own needs as well. The nuance of mental health for all parties involved creates a void that is only filled by the realization that the best thing to do is often the worst thing to do. The album is a loose concept based on the reconciliation and justification of her big decision, and it’s one that hits close to home for a generation speeding headlong into middle age, trying desperately to not make the mistakes of our parents.
It’s 11:35pm on a cool Thursday night in April, 2015. Hustle Bankroll, the opening act for the night has just completed his second set, having been asked to fill time. The headliner, nearly three hours late, is Earl Simmons, the now late DMX. The Vogue theater on the north side neighborhood of Broad Ripple is packed full of people. Near the sound booth is a contingent from a sorority, a pack of AKA women dressed in their unmistakable pink and green. By the bar, a group of twenty-something men in tieless dress shirts and jackets. On stage, a man in an oversized Pelle Pelle jacket starts to make an announcement and is stopped by a tall man in a long Ruff Ryders t-shirt. “What?!” He exclaims, pulling the mic away. He’s shocked. Both men rush off stage. Despite reassurance from promoters that he’s coming, DMX is nowhere to be seen. A man two rows from the stage says to his friend, “how much you wanna bet his ass got arrested?”
Long before Kanye West was a pop pariah / media megalomaniac / Christian contrarian, he was merely a polarizing figure who would interrupt Taylor Swift and liken himself to Michael Jackson repeatedly. Two albums later, he would make a whole song about how he loves himself. But at some point, Kanye was a true artist, the kind that calls himself a genius and for all its worth… is right. There is an apex to all ability, however, and it’s nearly always noticed in hindsight. When MBDTF dropped a decade ago, an artist had his most quintessential work- an endlessly quote-able, often repugnant, undeniably gorgeous, sonically diverse, musically challenging album. It was an artist reaching a zenith so shortly after his emotional nadir, and a masterpiece that has aged well in spite of its creator.
Every generation seems to think it’s the one that has it all figured out. Then it comes to find that merit and valor are intangible, subjective wares. We assume the mantle of our predecessors and say that things will be better than before. Then we see the residual exhaustion and indifference permeating our own hearts, and say to the next generation, “I hope you leave the world better than you found it.” That objectivity and clarity often comes far too late in life, when our ability to impact is already taken from us. But what if the moment we’re in now is so woven into the fabric of our flesh that it resonates in spite of our differences. On his surprise near-instrumental album Long Violent History, that is precisely what is presented, twofold.
Life is full of chance encounters that, in hindsight, seem like they were a puzzle piece sliding into place. Back in April, what feels more like five years than five months ago, I had one of those moments that have genuinely aided my journey through this, the strangest of years. I tried to ease my way into a Friday work day at home by putting on Spotify’s Classical New Releases playlist. One artist that grabbed my attention was Chad Lawson. The song was “Stay,” and by day’s end I had probably listened to it twenty times. He released an EP of the same name on May 1st, but now the project is released in full as the LP You Finally Knew.
As someone who grew up in the 1990’s, the Jock Jams series of songs were everywhere in my life. I heard them at sporting events- like, all sporting events. I heard them at junior high and high school dances. I heard wedding parties use them to as introduction music. They were everywhere.
And even though some of the songs weren’t great, or even very good, there is something about these massive ESPN-produced mixtapes (all released under the Tommy Boy Music label) that just feels fun. That being said, why just enjoy nostalgia when you can, instead, over-analyze and use math to suck out all the fun of these songs so you can rank which Jock Jams album is the best one?
Let’s call this part the final part, The Closer: The National League.
Part One, The Starter, I delved into a bit of history regarding our ballyhooed National Anthem as well as provided somewhat cogent thoughts on what songs could replace the National Anthem for each American League city. Part Two, The Closer, we will hit the National League cities, but first a few questions:
Why the fuck are we playing the National Anthem at all? What patriotism comprises the beginning of a ballgame? Should we play a game before we battle another country? Is that what we should be doing now? Send our troops over to a foreign country and force them to play an American game before war games commence?
Let’s call Part One – First Starter: The American League
Is there a more perfect time to make a change in how you start a ballgame than now? It’s a question posited by fellow Fancy Boy Jake Breunig and frankly a damn good one.
Now Jake wrote a fabulous article about abolishing the National Anthem this past August. I will defer to him his over-arching replacement choice(s) and instead give each city their just due. However, let’s first take a look at our National Anthem. What we sing is not the entire song. Why? Well it’s what one could call a little shitty toward ‘freemen’ AKA ‘slaves who were freed yet still being treated like shit on both sides.’ As with every war involving America, only the poor and minorities are asked/told to pick up a rifle. During the War of 1812 (when Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became a song… and later the anthem), freemen were not only ‘enlisted’ to fight for the American side, but the British took a lot of them and “allowed them to fight against their oppressors” which is code for “hello good dark chap, take this rifle and hustle up to the front lines and sacrifice yourself for our cause.”
If you’re like me, you make mixes. I love putting together a series of songs for a person or for an event or even just for myself. I need just the flimsiest of reasons to open up my itunes, fire up the cd burner, and look for a group of songs.
However, it’s Halloween… A GREAT TIME TO MAKE A MIX!