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June 16, 2006

M. Ward at the Women's Club

M. Ward has announced his tour dates to support his new album Post-War, and is coming to San Diego on September 27th to play the totally rockin' Women's Club. As a special bonus, super-early pre-sale tickets go onsale today at 1 PM right here: http://mward.ducatking.com I'm not sure who needs to buy the tickets more than 3 months in advance, Jesus, god knows what kind of horrific changes to the world might happen in those three months, rendering M. Ward and his unique vocal stylings obsolete. But I would say that more likely to happen than the apocalypse is the fact that Post-War comes out to the kind of acclaim that makes this show one of the bigger hipster tickets of the year. A couple songs from the album, namely "Requiem" and "Chinese Translation" are among the best work he's ever done, very catchy and very nicely complimented by the backing band and guest voices he employs. The record is one of the best I've heard so far this year, so maybe buying your tickets so ridiculously early isn't that bad an idea...

June 15, 2006

Suggestions for Lily

I got an email the other day that read:

Hi Conor,
My name is Lily and I read your blog from time to time through hype machine. I live in LA but I am going to be in San Diego this weekend for a friends graduation. I was wondering if you knew of any cool shows happening either Friday or Saturday night, or maybe some good bars to go to.

So I was writing her back, and decided to post it on the blog for all the other people who were in the same situation but were too shy to write and ask:

Yo Lily,

Thanks for asking. I'm not sure what your schedule is as far as graduation and parties go for that, but there are a couple of interesting things going on Saturday night, both of which I am considering checking out. First off you have a show at the Epicentre. This is sort of regarded as...how to put this...the worst venue in town. It's in the middle of a strip mall, and it's obvious that the name "Epicentre" was decided on because "Teen Center" or community center just wasn't drawing in the crowds. The interior of the place is bizarre, and there's an unfortunately placed set of scaffolding that leads you to believe that the place just wasn't intended to have a stage.

The bands playing there are Man Man and the Fiery Furnaces. The Fiery Furnaces I saw open up for the Strokes a few years ago, before I had heard of them. A month or two after I endured them during the Strokes opening gig, they started to get raved about for their album "Blueberry Boat." The way I felt must have been how the guys who went to high school with Lil' Jon felt after he became famous as the king of crunk. Really? Them? You sure?

Homecoming King of Crunk

I wouldn't even be talking about the show if it weren't for Man Man, a band that is undoubtedly not for everyone, but that I think is awesome. They've inspired raves from everyone who's seen them live, were recently dubbed the most exciting live act by Pitchfork, and they are probably about as unique a band as you can get while still maintaining their listenability. I'd check that out and make it option one, that is, if you don't want to instantly turn the music off.


Secondly, you have another more straight ahead punk rockin' option for those who dig their music not so heavy on the accordian or marimba. Fifty on Their Heels and The Power Chords are both punk bands that even I can tolerate, as in their songs have actual structure, melodies, understandable lyrics. They are also playing at a Moose Lodge. I think I would be able to forgive the Epicentre all its faults if it were just called a Moose Lodge. Both of those bands have myspace pages too, so check them out and decide if you think it's worth spending five bucks on. Since you are in town for one night, the local flava may be the way to go, but since I am here all the time, Man Man might be my pick. Either way, both shows are all ages and should be over early enough to enjoy yourself later in the night.

San Diego Serenade Presents: An Hour with 94.9


While reading the blog maintained by San Diego record label Cat Dirt Records, he pointed out a juicy item from this weeks Blurt in the Reader. Evidently, despite the claims of it being "About the Music", San Diego's two radio stations have some pettiness and animosity towards each other that occasionally bubbles over in the forms of radio silent treatment:

[91X Music Director]Collins said, "Another radio station in town, who shall remain nameless, called [Reeve Oliver] up -- that radio station's music director, who is also on at the exact same time I am [a reference to 94/9 music director Mike Halloran] -- called them up and said, 'I hope you are making a lot of money playing the 91X X-Fest, because if you do it, we are not going to play your record when it comes out next year.' "

949 denies the claims, and fires back this damning lob:

[949 program director]Michaels says 91X "dropped Flaming Lips [music] as soon as possible" when that band agreed to play 94/9's Independence Jam at the Open Air Theatre on May 24.

This blew my mind! For these two radio stations, the only things that would indicate to you which one you are listening to is when the DJ reminds you in between songs. They play the same artists, and the same songs, from the same genres and periods of time of music. To me, the principal that I use to select refried beans at the grocery store (whichever one is cheapest) applies to these two radio stations: which ever one is playing the song that sucks less, or the one that is not on commercial, is the one I will tune to. The brand name could not matter less to me, and I imagine that this is also how most bands feel when they sign up for one stations festival instead of another. it's not an affront to the other radio station! It's a band playing a concert for its fans and getting paid!!! What do they do to bands who play Street Scene? What other behind the scenes politics are affecting the quality of your radio? Fans don't differentiate between these two stations, because they are indistinguishable, as radio stations all are these days, so why should bands, the people making the music that keeps the radio stations in business, be forced to make this non-existant decision with their careers potentially on the line?

Never mind that this practices would probably be illegal as well, since it sounds remarkably like the reverse of the recent payola sandals that have shaken things up at radio stations. But it has to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard stations that claim to be "about the music" participate in. Any music director who would drop the rare critically acclaimed and wildly popular band like the Flaming Lips due to station politics, and still pretend to be presenting its listeners with the best product possible is a dick. I will disclose that I am woefully underinformed to make claims about these two radio stations. I have an ipod and an XM, and listen to FM in the car solely as a last resort. But I can sense the desperation in terrestrial radio, based on evidence such as the ads that appeared in Rolling Stone and other magazines a few months ago, which primarily touted FMs "Freeness" as the reason it was good. When you stoop to that level, "Our product may irritate you, be repetitive, talk to much and have too many commercials. But it is FREE!", something is obviously worrying you about your products stature. Try to imagine Trojan condoms employing this marketing strategy. "Hey, these don't particularly work that well, and they cause a rash in like 60% of users, but hey! It's Free! Eh? Eh??"

Who cares if our product sucks? It's FREE!

So for a while i've wanted to do a little experiement, and I figured todays Blurt was the perfect prompt to get it started. I decided to keep a Sports Guy-esque running diary of an hour spent with one of San Diego's two radio stations. I picked 949 because me and Halloran spoke on the phone about the White Stripes about two years ago. Soon I will do 91X, and after those two, I'll spend an hour with an XM channel and see how it differs from the two San Diego stations.

WARNING! This diary is long as balls, and contains random thoughts, free associations and commercials. If you want to skip over it, you are more than welcome to. But I think it is at least sort of interesting, as a snap shot of this desperate, petty medium of radio that we have here in San Diego.

If you're still with me, click below to keep reading:

6:00 Our listening session kicks off about a third of the way in to "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand. You know, past the intro gear shift. Ah, FM radio. It's like hanging out with that friend of yours with an mp3 library of only 500 songs. My friend Danny was like that in college Some of his staples include Whitney Houston "My Love is your love", Radiohead "I Might Be Wrong" and at least three different Ja Rule songs.

6:02 "We don't sound like any other station in Southern California. Musically diverse radio for San Diego A Lincoln Financial station." Quite the claims. It segues into Queens of the Stone Age's "Go With The Flow" which I think came on around the same time as "Take Me Out." If FM 949 was trying to be a Nostalgia Gap closing classic rock station, I think they'd be doing ok. Back to the claims of not sounding like any other station. Somehow I get the impression that that is an unverifiable claim. If you are bickering with the other local rock station by pettily slashing artists from your playlist because they are playing the other stations concert, wouldn't that lead the readers to assume that your station sounds pretty similar to the other station?

6:05 Radiohead - "High and Dry" An instantaneous transition into this song. Haven't had a commercial yet, which is nice. This Radiohead song is probably played too much, but as far as I'm concerned they could replace all of the Karma Police plays with it as well and it still wouldn't be too much. I think I was in seventh grade when this song came out, I remember seeing the video for it once or twice, but don't remember it getting a lot of radio play. It probably is the radio equivalent of an "Officespace" type effect, ignored in its own time, but justly regarded as a classic, and seemingly omnipresent, after a few years have passed.

6:08 The FM 949 Mission Statement is an entertaining read. #8 "Deeper Tracks - We will play more than just the hit singles from albums, both old and new" doesn't seem to really be in effect yet. We've had three hits in a row. If only the 949 softball team could get that lucky! Zing!

6:09 This is Tom Delonge from Angels & Airwaves. You're listening to my favorite (BLEEP)ing station, FM 949, where it's about the (BLEEP)ing music. Now they're going to play an Angels and Airwaves song, which from what I've heard are very long. That bleeping out of the swear words may have gotten me banned from listening to this station when I was younger. I still remember the talk my mom had with me after my two year old brother turned on the radio in my bedroom, which was set to WAVA, and started dancing, unfortunately to Salt n' Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex." I was forced to "Take a break" from that station for a while. If only it could have been "What a man", things may have turned out very differently.

6:12 This band is the new project of the lead guy from Blink 182. I came to San Diego after Blink had made the big time, but I'm guessing that a good number of music fans found their rise to prominence on the national music scene an infuriating prospect. I saw them twice at festivals. Their stage banter reminded me of "Terrance and Phillip" on South Park. Realizing that they made the same dick jokes at every show was quite the sobering thought.

6:14 extended Edge-esque guitar delay effect fade out on this song. They have expanded their musical horizons indeed.

6:15 Ah, an announcer! They're taking a break, but when they come back we've got Piggy, a Zero, and a Bombtrack. And what's this?? Traffic is forthcoming! But for now, a Kaiser Permanente ad. Kaiser permanente lets Doctors be doctors. You know what happens when we do that? Your doctors become even better doctors!

6:16 Ad for Malibu rum with guys in fake, borderline offensive Jamaican accents re-enacting scenes from island life. Going to the shrimp shack, drinking rum. They sound a step away from singing Zip a Dee Doo Dah Mon.

6:17 Verizon Vcast phone commercial featuring a song from Yellowcard and the Subways. I wonder if that ad was pitched as having the feature of people might hear the songs playing while flipping channels and stop on the station thinking it was playing the song they excerpt. I bet it was. Screw those ad executives.

6:18 VW Ad featuring a bad fake german accident. Don't know who thinks those things are good ideas.

6:19 one more commercial, but we're back! Liza with traffic. My old boss would say that one of the reasons she didn't want satellite radio was because she liked traffic and weather. Nevermind that XM has an entire station devoted to San Diego traffic and weather, we also have sigalert, which if you've ever lived in a state without it, seems like gods gift to drivers. The "absence of local channels" is a selling point that pretty much indicates utter desperation in the case of whoever is pushing it, being the cable companies vs DirecTV or terrestrial radio vs satellite. In both cases, it was one of the first features added, making the pathetic argument already obsolete.

6:21 The Cure, Boys Don't Cry is playing. I always thought The Cure was gloomy. Doesn't sound too gloomy to me. Doesn't sound too good either, but whatever.

6:22 Well I guess the Piggy he referenced was indeed the Nine Inch Nails song from The Downward Spiral. I guess this qualifies as a deep track off the album. I would have preferred Ruiner, but actually, I haven't heard that song in like 7 years and bet I would hate it now. It really seemed like Nine Inch Nails was on a pretty cushy path to success with the whole depressed teenager demographic in the palm of their hand, but they seemed to have botched it. How'd that happen? Was it the long waits in between albums? The unwillingness to go to the embarrassing lengths of a Marilyn Manson? The song title Starfuckers, INC? Either way, I think we're better off for not having them around any more. Too many spiral notebook covers were getting ruined with NIN symbols.

6:27 "No borders, no boundaries, just great music for America's finest city!" I wonder if the guy who comes up with those sayings ever goes out for drinks with the ladies who write the sex and beauty tips for Cosmo. I wonder what a conversation between those two would sound like. Hopefully they would just spew hackneyed catchphrases to each other all night. By the way, they are playing Zero by the Smashing Pumpkins now. I had a "Zero" shirt in 9th grade, I'll admit it. It was given to me as a gift, but I wore it pretty proudly for a while there.

6:30 Steady As She Goes! I was hoping they would play this! You know, because it's such a great example of mission statement points #8 (mentioned above) and #9 - "Less Repetition: Although people want to hear their favorite songs more than once, we will try not to play them out." After hearing Steady As she goes for the first time several months ago, I was wary of the Raconteurs, because this song, frankly, is nothing special. I can imagine that anyone who has only heard this song played to death on the radio for the past few months must be unexcited about their upcoming July concert. I like the rest of the album, not as much as the White Stripes, but this is a perfect example of an artist with much more to offer than just this single, and they just aren't going to have their other songs played on the radio, despite the fact that their audience (White Stripes fans) are already firmly established. On the plus side, the DJ did inform me that Pee Wee Herman is in the music video, which I learned the other day on Muzzle of Bees. Thanks Ryan!

6:33 "FM 949: It's about the music!" And the promised Bombtrack by Rage Against the Machine. I know the Onion did an article about it a few years ago, but seriously, what has Zach de la Rocha been up to? Could he just retire off his Rage Against the Machine earnings? Would there be any chance that I would like Rage if they came out now? When I first heard "Killing In The Name of", it seemed almost terrifying, how intense and angry these guys were, and how intense and angry my parents would be if they caught me listening to it. As you get older, and realize that the critics that were acclaiming these guys were all in their 30s and up, it gets tougher to imagine them getting really pumped up by something as obviously geared to 22 year old and younger as Rage Against the Machine

6:37 Piano chords start this next song... Some churning studio effect. I have no idea what it is yet. Could be the Police based on the reggae esque guitars...Ah, no it is The Clash "Charlie Don't Surf." There we go 94.9. Reaching into its deeper tracks bag to play a rarely heard Clash song. A Clash song that isn't Rock The Casbah or Should I Stay is a treat indeed. Let's hear some more Jail Guitar Doors, The Card Cheat, Right Profile, Janie Jones, Clash City Rockers, This Is England, Career Opportunities, Clampdown, and Revolution Rock while we're at it. This song sort of just meanders along. It's already had one fake out ending.

6:42 Charlie don't surf was for Dawn in South Orange county! Call 570 1949 for more requests! NEW Gnarls Barkley when we come back! I'm predicting the Violent Femmes cover "Gone Daddy Gone."

6:43 Liza is back, more accidents. Jesus people, get home from work before 6:45! Then you can sit around and transcribe your thoughts while listening to staticky radio! They stick a little narrated commercial on the end of the traffic, as a sort of buffer to ease you into the real commercials.

6:44 A couple commercials for car stuff. Boring without the stereotypical accents...

6:45 Home Depot ad. I don't listen to much SD radio, but I miss a lot of the jingles from DC radio back home. Jerry's Ford was the king of the ads, their jingle would be stuck in your head for days. Also Joon Rhee karate, Senate Auto Insurance, and Bernie Streeter's Arby's restaurants.

6:46 Lexus ad. The average guy enjoying listening to "Piggy" by Nine Inch Nails is probably just about $24,940 away from buying a Lexus.

6:47 The second "Dads and Grads" ad I've heard in this segment. That oh so clever person should be shot.

6:48 Carls Jr. ad where two Maxim reading dudes debate about whether one is allowed to eat a salad. You know, beacuse he is a male, not a female. It's like they put a mic in the table the last time me and my buddy went to Carls Jr.

6:49 Plug for Bonarroo! Live Streaming video, offered on the 949 page...oh no, you go to their page and click on the same banner I have in my blog ads! The new Gnarls Barkley is called "Who Cares?" and it's safe to say that it will never be as big as "Crazy." The 'who cares' sample is neat, but you have to imagine "Crazy" was lightning in a bottle. I can't wait until my parents discover it in about 4 months, just in time for Thanksgiving. I give credit where it is due, it's good to hear some of the other stuff off the album.

6:52 Gnarls Barkley's "St. Elsewhere" is one of the stations recommended CDs. That must be in accordance with Mission Statement point #7 "Take Risks - We will not be afraid to push boundaries and champion good new music." You know, going out on a limb to recommend the CD with the most popular and omnipresent song that radio has seen in a good long time.

6:53 And as if on cue, the opening bass rumble of Filter's "Hey Man Nice Shot" comes onto my stereo. I think I once saw a list where this cd was like the 3rd most likely CD you could find in any used CD stores dollar bin. Seriously, screw these guys. This song just screams to be use in movie previews or promos for new, but soon to be cancelled, Fox TV series. It certainly doesn't scream to still be blaring through my speakers.

6:56 Another song I don't recognize. I google the phrase "and i feel like william tell" and it turns out that this is Squeeze, "Pulling Mussels from the Shell." I think these guys were on Theme Time the other day. They don't sound like something I care to listen to, kind of similar to that Cure song. I'm just glad that this is winding down. I sort of feel like the guy in Clockwork Orange when his eyes are forced open to watch the gratuitously violent footage. Except that I did this willingl...

6:59 One more minute! Is Squeeze gonna be the last thing I hear? Is Squeeze better than Sponge? Is Spoon better than Squeeze? Will the 7 o clock radio hour be devoted to exploring this pressing issue!? We'll never know! Because:

7:00 I'm done.

That could have been worse, I'm not gonna lie. We saw a Gnarls album track, that was certainly unexpected. The Clash "Charlie Don't Surf" was as well. On the whole, most artists were rock acts from the mid 90s, which I found slightly strange. It is bizarre to have so many artists that were once a major part of your music listening experience, but which you don't read about any more in this age of blogs and new stuff coming out every day. You can either talk about great old Dylan or Springsteen or Dead bootlegs, or the latest new hype, but somehow the mid 90s just don't seem to contain too many buried treasures.

The commercials weren't as constant as I feared, but there were at least 10 solid minutes of them, which equals 1/6th of the time spent listening to the radio. That can ad up quickly if you're spending lots time in the car or listening at work. Commercials suck, there is no way around it. As people stop tolerating the far more clever, sexy TV ads because of Tivo and the internet, boring old radio ads are going to be seem as way more intolerable.

The only other point i can really make now is the softball comment I made at 6;08. Do you think 949 and 91X have softball teams? And if they do, they must play each other right? Can the public obtain tickets to this? If they are this petty and bitchy behind the scenes at the stations, imagine the heat when they take it to the diamond!

San Diego radio - "It's all about the petty feuds that end up with us having to call off the charity softball game when one of the audio technicians has one too many beers and decides to piss on Halloran's gym bag"

June 14, 2006

Blogger Poker Tournament

I came across this Blogger Poker Tournament today, a day before the registration ends (it ends Thursday, June 15th.) What better way to spend the peak hours of a San Diego Sunday afternoon than cooped up in doors, trying to win any number of prizes including a seat in the WSOP and a bunch of ipod nanos, by playing poker strictly against other bloggers.

Truly, I think that Poker Stars should require people to listen to a two song mix of Kenny Rogers "The Gambler" and OAR - "Crazy Game of Poker" throughout the entire tournament, and the last many to be able to endure it would win. In fact, screw the poker, just make that a challenge in itself. I was thinking about going through the various blogs I like to read and critiquing what I imagine their pokers skillz would be based on their music tastes, but that seems futile considering how well I expect to do here. I'm gonna consider anything less than the ipods that are prizes for spots 21-40 a failure. I'll let you know how it goes.

Texas Holdem Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 8496611

I'll also give you this nugget based on the songs I provided today. When discussing last week what the best concerts I've ever been to are, I wanted a chance to mention the worst I've ever been to. That would be the above mentioned OAR at the 9:30 club in DC, one summer during college. It was the kind of show where you waited forever for the band to come on in the DC summer heat, thereby draining the little momentum you had straight out of you. Then the singer turned out to look just like this guy that everyone hated in high school. On top of it, his girlfriend was evidently in the balcony that overlooked the stage, kind of like at 4th and B. He made multiple acknowledgments of this fact, including something that sounds way too made up when I think back on it but I swear it happened. During the part towards the end of the poker song he sings

"He looked kind of mad / and I, felt bad / because I took his money / last night, it's kind of funny / but now I'm just strugglin' / I need a honey"
The singer replaced "I need A honey" with "I need MY honey," as the band dramaticly cut out, the lights came on and he pointed emphaticly up towards the balcony like John Travolta on the Saturday Night Fever poster. Then the song resumed, and I stood their shocked, wondering how something so lame could have possibly happened. To this day, that moment of concert suckitude has never been topped.


June 12, 2006

Persuasive Sound Team Argument

Sometimes one of your friends puts forth an argument so delightfully inept that it kind of makes you want to agree with them:

10:15 AM Jake: are you going to see mountain goats on thursday?

10:20 AM do you want to see sound team on wednesday instead since you've already seen MGs?

10:21 AM well what else are you doing on Wednesday night? nothing, that's what
it's only $12, are you some sort of cheap bastard?

10:23 AM What's the matter with you? Too indie for you? You knee-jerk anti-hype hipster-hating cooler-than-though Stella-and-Pabst-are-terrible I-don't-like-music asshole.

10:24 AM is it their name? it's a stupid name, I know, but maybe it's ironically stupid. Don't even try to pretend like "We Play Guitars" wouldn't be an awesome band name
I hear radiohead is opening for them

10:25 AM Adam is going. So is Adam.
Come on, you know you want to

If not for the fact that the instant messaging program keeps reminding us that it is 10 AM and not PM, you'd think the man was drunk. But no, it takes a special kind of talent to rebutt and counter the imagined responses of someone who would not read the collective convincing effort until 8 hours later. The kind of effort that makes you wonder if maybe this Sound Team is worth checking out...

Well let's take a look at the postiives and negatives:

Positive: Big Heads

Negative: The singer's name is Matt Oliver. Matt Oliver was also unfortunately a guy who drew a comic for the UVA college paper who told me "You have no soul. You are so cold and so empty" after I called his 9/11 tribute comic "trite."

Positive: Tickets are only $10

Negative: I am going to the Casbah on Thursday night as well.

Positive: Adam is going.

Negative: So is Adam.

Neutral: These guys have been getting quite the buzz lately. This could mean any number of things, either positive or negative.

I guess it is my job, nay, my duty, not to dismiss these guys outright becuase of the flavor or the month potential, or the disturbing manner in which they make my PhD student friends write at 10 AM, but rather to go see them and form my own opinion about them, so that when I scoff at the hype, I scoff with authority, and when I berate people for not buying into the hype, I berate with authority.

Sound Team, Casbah, Wednesday June 14th: Here I come.

Tickets here. Four MP3s to download at their myspace, plus tons more at the Hype Machine.

Springsteen, Seals 'n Shit

We saw Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band one week ago at the Greek Theatre in LA. It was unquestionably a hell of a show. My girlfriend sent this synopsis to a friend of ours:

"wow bruce springsteen is amazing. AMAZING! i was completely blown away :) there were 17 people on the stage: a trumpet player, two trombones, a tuba, a drummer, three backup singers brandishing various percussion toys (tamborines, triangles, cool shaky rhythm things, etc), a piano man, an upright bass player who frequently lifted the bass in the air as he was playing, two violinists (or violas, i can never tell), 4 guitars/singers including bruce and his wife, oh, and an accordian! also twice one of the guitarists switched out, once to play a huge upright drummer-boy style drum and the second time to play a washboard with spoons! they rocked out to all these awesome old folk/protest songs, a few hits, and a few written-just-for-the-show-to-spite-our-favorite-president passionate ballads. and to top it all it was in this awesome ampetheater in a park in LA with a backdrop of mountains and evergreens. totally worth the drive up through traffic and almost passing out at the wheel coming back at 1am!"

I'd also like to point out that Bruce's re-working of a song by Blind Alfred Reed called How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live into a Post-Katrina lament brought the above reviewer to tears. But despite the glowing reviews and large amounts of press that the album and performances have recieved (Pete at ickmusic.com has a great collection of material here), some people are still being taken by surprise after they've paid $100 for a ticket and Bruce Springsteen does not play "Dancin' In The Dark." From the Washington Post review of the show back home:

Baffled by the sight and sound of an upright bass and a tuba onstage, as well as a certain 56-year-old rock-and-roll star who wasn't obviously acting the part they envisioned, many of those ticket holders spent a good chunk of the night crying out for "Thunder Road" and "Born in the U.S.A." while bemoaning the fact that the Jersey guy Springsteen suddenly sounded as though he were from (gasp!) Kentucky by way of New Orleans.

They continued to sing even after Springsteen gave the two lingering musicians the hook. The crowd stopped only when a sweaty, beaming Springsteen returned for an encore, prompting him to commend the crowd. "Well done," he said. To which a guy in section 101, row N shouted: "Now play the good stuff, Bruce!"

The idiocy of this is palpable and frustrating. Fortunately, Bruce Springsteen has not renounced his old material, or retired it a la Jerry Seinfeld. He is, however, trying something new, something that many people are grateful for and enjoy tremendously. Forcing Bruce to play the same hits of the 80s over and over again into his increasingly middle aged years would not only be embarassing, but it would also be unfair. These people undoubtedly hear "Dancin' in the Dark" on classic rock radio on a daily basis, so you can't blame them for realizing that things have changed, that The Boss is relevant and kicking ass again. But you can still mock them, and you can still use it to transition into the most pressing local matter we have here in San Diego...

This problem of people grasping at a past that no longer exists applies to us, much more hilariously, here in San Diego. I speak of course of the colony of seals that now inhabit the area of La Jolla known as the "Children's Pool." There are at least five dozen seals that have taken up residence about two miles from my house for many months out of the year, and lie on the beach all day long, occasionally flopping around or giving birth to baby seals. We checked them out again last weekend because my parents were staying in a nearby hotel. They made me realize that my rating of hilarity on the Muzzle of Bees "Get To Know Your Blogger" segment was WAY out of wack. It should have read

#4: people dressed as animals.
#3 Animals dressed as people.
#2 Animals dressed as other animals.
#1. Seals.

seal with party hat

Seriously. Just look at them. Put a little party hat on one of them and let the laughs ensue. Late at night, fat people must sob loudly into their tubs of ice cream at the unfairness that is peoples perceptions of fat people as disgusting and loathsome, yet fat animals as cute, cuddly, hilarious and huggable. Hundreds of people turn out to see the seals every day for just these reasons.

Adding even MORE to the hilarity of this situation is that in a DC Springsteen Fan-like manner, Old Coots such as San Diego's Roy P. Poston still believe that the Children's Pool should be used as a place where they should bring their children to for beach time! He writes to the UT:

"I thank God that I had an opportunity to introduce both my children and my grandchildren to the wonders of the sea, diving and the conservation and preservation of all forms of marine life. I am disheartened and saddened at the possibility of not being able to introduce my great-grandchildren to this enjoyment of the ocean by starting them in a controlled, sanitary and healthy swim area like the Children's Pool....I implore anyone with political influence and the public in general to step forward and voice their desires to restore this area to the children and have the natural, clean, healthy interaction with the marine life that we have enjoyed for many years."

I can just imagine Mr. Poston's Great-Grandchildren's dismayed reactions at the reading of his will where he posthumously reveals to them through his executor that all those pictures of them building sand castles and doing handstands in the surf were on a beach that had recently undergone a rudimentary cleaning to remove the massive amounts of seal feces that had accumulated for the good part of a decade.

Roland M. Gray also adds this trenchant point:

"Apparently it is beyond the comprehension of the various animal rights groups that the Children's Pool in La Jolla was expressly deeded to the city as a playground for children, thus the name. It was never intended to be a seal rookery."

Oh my god! He's right! Now that I think about it, 8 years ago, I never intended to pay $3.50 for a gallon of gasoline! It's as if outside forces have some how impacted the impenetrable realm of my will and allowed changes to occur in the real world!

Back in high school, my friends and I used to joke about a made up place called "Shit Beach." It was pretty much a nice resort, but instead of sand on the beaches, there was just tons of shit for some reason. We would pretend like there was a family that always took their summer vacation at Shit Beach. The kids would protest, but the dad would act like the dad in Calvin and Hobbes, and would force Shit Beach upon them saying that it builds character. Details were added in over the years, like the fact that to get to Shit Beach you had to drive past several much nicer, non-shit beaches, and that Shit Beach was inexplicably a more expensive place to take a vacation than these other nice beaches. None of it mattered: This family had always taken their vacations at Shit Beach and the father would be damned if they were going to stop now.

I think it struck me when I say this sign:


This is Shit Beach! These wealthy La Jolla moms and old La Jolla coots want their kids and grandchildren to be able to play on Shit Beach! For the love of god people, why?! Let's look at the reasoning here:

A) Pro seals:
-People like the seals.
-They are hilarious
-You can't see the seals anywhere else
-You can get seriously ill if you play on this part of the beach
-But there fortunately are elevated platforms that you can observe the seals closely from without setting foot on the beach
-There are miles of nice beaches to the immediate south of the seals. Literally about 100 feet away.

On the other hand:

B) Con Seals
-80 years ago a dead lady said this place should be called the Children's Pool

Now listen. You can play Dancin' In The Dark all you want. You can have a few too many drinks and do the dance from the video. You can leap out of your seat when Bruce plays it at his next concert. But sometimes Bruce just isn't going to play the songs from his album that came out 22 years ago. If you're a fan, maybe you should check out the new album, people seem to really enjoy it. Don't like that style of music? OK, I'm sure he'll tour again with the E Street Band, and then he might play Dancin' In The Dark. Until then, while you don't get exactly what you want, the rest of us will enjoy the nice little surprise Bruce prepared for us this year.


The same goes for the seals. That area may have been the Children's pool. But nobody in their right mind would let their children go down there to play now. Should you yell out loudly for the hits of 20 years ago, or maybe see if, like everyone else, your kids enjoy the unique experience of the seals just as much as they would have enjoyed digging in the sand?

Ponder it while you listen to some of these greatest (s)hits:

Re-Ree - Mr. Brown
The Bloody Hollies - Tired of this Shit
The Circle Jerks - When The Shit Hits The Fan
Wu-Tang Clan - Dog Shit
Tom Waits - Looks Like I'm Up Shit Creek Again
Bruce Springsteen - Dancin' In The Dark

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