Sunday, March 28, 2010

Good Apples at Chicago Hot Glass, March 27, 2010

Set List:
Mt Killer
Used to Sing
Rock Hard
Metal Man
West Wind/Algiers
She Crashed My Car

Thanks to Dillon’s buddy Nick Paul, we got to play the Chicago Hot Glass annual benefit, opening for Stone Free. The industrial setting of this Westside mini-factory fits Good Apples perfectly: furnaces blazing in two spacious, brightly lit halls lined with metal, with beautiful glass objects of art and utility displayed all around, and artists blowing glass on the premises for everyone to see. Immediately we were greeted by friendly and accommodating Chicago Hot Glass members and leaders.

The space was filled early in the evening, all the seats facing glassblowers were occupied, but there was still standing room by the stage as well as on the opposite side of the room. In the adjacent room, the hosts served food and drinks.

We hit the improvised stage around 9 o’clock, opening once again with the instrumental “Mt. Killer.” This was only our second full-length show, and que la difference it is playing in a large space with high ceilings: we filled every inch of it with our noise, but the sound appeared relatively crisp, from what I could tell. Our friends and supporters rocked out with us in front of the stage, but I kept seeing people on the opposite side of the room bopping to our schizo beat. I know I jumped and danced whenever I wasn’t singing—when Dillon, Gabor, and Pete are on, I can’t stand still.

Along with the songs we wrote and practiced last winter, including our cover of Alex Chilton’s “Rock Hard,” we tested three newbies, completed literally in the week prior to the show: “Metal Man,” “West Wind/Algiers,” and “Cosmonaut,” the latter featuring the chorus inspired by the “Moon Calling Skylab” (“Mjesec zove Skylab” in B/C/S) episode of the Alan Ford, the cult Italian graphic book that is unfortunately unavailable in English; we’re cool and esoteric like that. What’s new about our songwriting process now is that I began writing lyrics mostly from scratch, as opposed to cutting, pasting, and modifying Kristy’s found lyrics. (That process is still alive and well too, as will be heard in our upcoming newbie “Epic.”) I’m saying mostly from scratch, because how can anything be written completely from scratch? Not only was “Cosmonaut” inspired by Alan Ford, the first like of “West Wind,” which goes “between two wars is another war” in a nod to The Leaving Trains’ “Always between wars.” And since I’m talking about lyrics, let me disambiguate the first line of the second verse for “Metal Man.” As opposed to what some people heard (Kirsty, ahem), I don’t sing “he ate my pussy, and now I’m yours,” I sing, “he WAS my pussy, and now I’m yours.”

Keeping things tight and on the short side, we closed with “She Crashed My Car.” To my pleasure, Caren and Lyndee were both creating a new dance to go along with this song, although I don’t think they could see each other. Another proof that great minds think alike.

After our set, we passed out our brand new CDs. They were so new, we were cutting the labels and marking the burned discs minutes before the show.

Pics and more at the Good Apples online HQ.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Family Lore

Mom tells me that her Tišma family line (her mom's maternal grandpa and his folks) were also known by the last name of Varuna. To say it more simply, my great-grandma's maiden name was Mika Varuna/Tišma. I google the name and find out Varuna was the Vedic "god of the sky, of waters and of the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law and of the underworld." Nice! (Tišma is just a Serbian and Croatian last name referring to "tišina" meaning silence. Lame by comparison.)


Balkan winter, you were supposed to be mild. But no, you snow-stormed in both February and March. If you've been waiting for me to leave the premises to become your usual wimpy self again, go ahead. Just tell your Midwest sista not to plan to come back with a vengeance just because I'll be back in Chitown on Monday. Deal?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oh Yoko

While I'm caffeinated and compelled to blog, let me note this. The Žabić family had the first Plastic Ono Band single, "Give Peace a Chance" on A side and "Remember Love" on B side. I could understand one level of those songs when I was in kindergarten, and I still appreciate them now that I understand more (I'm in 27th grade now, if my calculations are correct).

The way I see it, Yoko was at first a non-musician but nevertheless a true artist who got to write and record a lot of songs, with the help of, in her and their heyday, some great musician friends. During that experience she definitely became a musician, albeit non-conventional. It doesn't matter that she didn't rock an instrument (though I suppose she took mandatory music lessons as a young girl, given her blue-blood background) and didn't sing like a powerhouse rock chick. Yes, she liked to make strange sounds with her voice. We all do it all the time, but most of us are too scared to shit to call it music. All of that only made her stand apart from everyone else, and made me appreciate her when I was a small child and obviously I keep appreciating her.

Another thing that gets overlooked is that while most rock and folk chicks of her generation, as well as those younger than her, distanced themselves from the feminist movement (even while they embodied feminism perhaps more than Yoko did privately, take Joni Mitchell or Patti Smith for example, but that's a long story), she embraced sisterhood and wrote bad-ass feminist songs. It's complicated. She was probably oblivious to the fact that her open feminism would only alienate people more. Of course, she didn't have to worry about bringing food to the table etc., etc., but whatever.

I guess I'm trying to say that I understand her impulses. I wish there were more people who approach music and songwriting intuitively, and don't care about being either rock or folk or experimental, but who get a chance to break out of their bedrooms, who get support from open-minded but more conventional musicians to get their music heard widely (and hated more than loved, but people are crazy and don't know anything), because judging from Yoko Ono's career, the results are outstanding.

Too bad nowadays she's surrounded by super-rich hipsters who can't hold a candle either to her or the people she hung out in her heyday. (No offense, Yoko. Damn it, I hope she or her loved ones don't read this. I hate it when bloggers are mean like I am now, as if they don't know they're publishing their mean thoughts for the whole world to potentially read and for strangers' feelings to get unnecessarily hurt. Yoko, if you are reading this, who cares what I think, I'm sure your young super-rich hipster friends and son are wonderful, and I'm just jealous they get to play with you and I don't, plus you don't want me to play with you, my guitar playing is pathetic.) But that's okay.

Plus, it doesn't matter that Yoko's hipsters are super-rich, that's not the point. Why do I even keep bringing the wealth up? (I'm being such a stereotypical blogger-ranter here, totally not my blog persona normally. It's the coffee talking.) I mean, Yoko grew up and stayed super-rich too, but I guess the difference is that she wasn't spoiled like some kids get spoiled nowadays (not Sean, he really seems like a nice guy, from what I can tell from interviews with him I saw on Youtube, and I mean it). In any case, I understand that Yoko's parents were super strict by today's standards. Which makes me think: dear Spurious Bastard readers, if you are wealthy and you have kids and you'd like them to become great artists, for godsake be as strict as an early-20th-century Japanese aristocrat banker.

Thank you for reading this rant. I love these and other songs:

"Remember Love"
"Death of Samantha"
"Mrs. Lennon"
"Children Power"