Sunday, September 07, 2008

Dodging a Bullet?

The forecast for Hurricane Ike has it moving further west and making landfall somewhere towards the Louisiana/Texas border, although it still deserves careful observation during the next couple of days. Everyone says they don't want to wish a hurricane on anyone, but the underlying theme is still 'anywhere but here'. I'm tired of thinking about or watching the tropics right now, so I've decided to discuss something else I've had on my mind.

I was listening to the most recent All Songs Considered podcast the other day and on this particular episode they have a round-table discussion where they pick apart the music of the 1980's. Now granted, they do make quite a few points that hit the mark (like almost the whole Footloose soundtrack sucked ass, there were a lot of 'buttrock' bands that came out with big hits/albums, and there WAS some really bad music), however there were quite a few great bands that released music in the 1980's. The show itself really made me think about the 1980's and how the music of that era related to me. My parents (well, mainly my dad) had always been into music with a nice stereo system including a Technics turntable (which I'm still regretting I didn't go up and get it when they moved from Alaska) and a reel-to-reel. They also had a decent sized record collection mainly consisting of John Denver, Captain & Tennille, Ramsey Lewis, and various classical albums. When we were really young and living in Colorado, we would take family camping vacations in the Rockies and I always remembered either on 8-track or cassette tape listening to John Denver and the Paint Your Wagon soundtrack. I mean we ALWAYS had that music to listen to . So, music has always been a big part of my life. At the age of 37 now I think the 1980's were quite formulaic for me in my musical tastes and exploration.

I do admit that I did listen to quite a bit of Top 40 (hey, I was living in Alaska at the time, so there were slim pickings) in the early 80's, but as I got into junior high and high school I found the college radio station KSUA, plus I met other people who introduced me to new music which I guess can be called 'post-punk' now, but was also referred to as 'new wave'. Probably the biggest influence though was a place called The Comic Shop. Of course it sold comics, but I think it was probably also a head shop (although I had no clue at the time about drugs), and it also had a small section of independent, punk, new-wave, avant-garde, and just plain strange records. Some of my earliest purchases there were early Butthole Surfers (still on Alternative Tentacles), Dead Kennedys, and The Residents (which no-one else I knew could really stand). From that starting point I did a LOT of mail order, mainly from Ralph Records in San Francisco, purchasing almost every release they put out (since they were the home of the Residents, the other stuff must be good as well, right?) and Fallout Records & Tapes in Seattle (specializing in punk/skate rock). There were frequent deliveries of the latest goods on our doorstep. Of course the music wasn't free, so I had to get a job, and during my junior year of high school I got the 'dream' job of helping to open up a Musicland store at the mall and become one of the sales associates. That's where I learned a lot more about a variety of different types of music (including music I could only tolerate because I had to), and was like a drug addict getting my fix with my 15% off employee discount. Compact discs were still a new medium, but my collection started to grow, plus I was able to order cd's and get first dibs on some of the 12" remix records of the latest Love and Rockets or Cure singles. Score!

After I graduated high school in 1989 and went on to college, one of the main factors that influenced me to choose Oregon State in Corvallis over Washington State in Pullman was the proximity to a big city where bands played and the college radio station (both schools had radio stations). My first term at OSU my friend James and I immediately got involved with the radio station by apprenticing then getting our own shows. I quickly found out there was so much more out there to listen to than the latest Cure, Oingo Boingo, and Depeche Mode albums (which I still enjoyed).

So, in all of my rambling about old times, I have to say that the 1980's overall did NOT suck for music, if you searched beyond the commercial crap forced down your throat. The best year for music is all relative, mainly to one's age and their own personal tastes. I would like to think that a lot of the music that came out in the 1980's is a lot better than some of the garbage that is coming out currently. Some of the music that gets raved about I really have to say, 'what the hell are these idiots thinking?'

I baked my oatmeal bread this morning and it turned out really well. I spent most of the rest of the day reading manga, watching last night's episodes of Bleach, Code Geass, and Moribito, and some of the Anthony Bourdain episodes, plus I caught the end of the Saints game. I also baked some more cinnamon bread, but in the process I burned my fingers like adumbass when I tried pulling the pans out of the oven. Not a good feeling. At least the bread tastes good. Tomorrow I'm planning to take a loaf of oatmeal to Gary and a loaf of cinnamon to Jason and Ellen. I can only eat so much bread myself!

-chris

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