Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Weekly Feature: Browns Blog

Hello folks. Time to introduce another weekly feature. This one will be a Browns-centered blog, featuring the ruminations and concerns of your's truly, CB.

I think Tuesday is the best day of the week to do this. Once the season gets started, it'll be a couple days after most games, which will allow us to more comprehensively digest what happened during the last game, and switch gears to focus on the next one.

Right now, with rookies reporting in less than a month and training camp commencing at the tail end of July, we only have a bunch of speculation to offer. We'll get to that, but before we do, there are a couple things I'm gonna need your help on.

1) We need a better name for this feature. Thanks to google, I quickly realized all the obvious choices were already taken (i.e, Dawg Blawg, Blawg Pound, Brown's Blawg, etc.). Any suggestions? I really hope you guys have suggestions.

2) We need to think about a Cleveland Bachelor favorite player. Right now, a quick glance at the roster suggests a few contenders:
- Robert Royal (TE - LSU) - The Cleveland Bachelor spent a wonderful semester in college at LSU and has been loyal ever since. In the absence of any Aggies on the roster, Royal has my automatic alumni love.
- Mike Adams (DB, Delaware) - I just love that the dude went to Delaware.
- Beau Bell (LB, UNLV) - I was stoked when the Browns got this guy and still am.
- Abram Elam (DB, Kent State) - He's one of only two players from NEO schools and Josh Cribbs is already everyone else's favorite.
- Derek Anderson (QB, Oregon State) - I just love the dude's arm and Brady is a Republican.

These are only front-runners of course, and it is still WAY early, but I believe it is important to identify a guy or two early on and stick with it. If you have other suggestions, comment away, but keep in mind Brady is absolutely never gonna be this blog's player.

3) What kind of focus do you want this to have? I'm thinking of trying to get some player and coach Q&As down the road, but beyond that I just plan to do some weekly commentary. Any suggestions will be gladly accepted, though.

Alright - enough housekeeping for now. As this is the inaugural post, I don't have a lot to say, but I do have a few key points.

A) I'm excited about this year, especially since I heard about the Defensive Coordinator Ryan's plans to include some 46 Zone action. I grew up in Illinois, in a south Chicago suburb, and one of my cherished childhood memories is when Da Bears won Super Bowl XX. As most of you know, that year's Bears squad also had a Defensive Coordinator with the surname Ryan. Incidentally, that Ryan is our new Ryan's pop. I think this is a good omen.

B) I'm excited about Mangenius. Sure they guy had some troubles the last season or two, but that's a good thing. You gotta taste a little turf to truly be great, and if he'd only ever been the celebrated coaching phenom, he'd never have learned. I bet Coach Mangini took a lot of lessons from those hard times and will approach the change of scenery with those lessons already built in to his perspective.

C) I pick the Browns to go 9-7 this year, maybe 10-6, and have a Cinderella shot at one of the wild cards.

Lo-Fi Video Two-Fer

Thanks to a quick scan of my blogroll today, I noticed a couple bands that made the Top 15 so far list below have new videos out.

Crocodiles, "Summer of Hate"

Wavves, "No Hope Kids"

Wavves "No Hope Kids" from Pete Ohs on Vimeo.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Mid-Year Music Report

As an Aggie, there is nothing more I love than tradition. Thus, in that spirit, I bring to you the Cleveland Bachelor Mid-Year Music Report. For the most part, this is gonna follow the exact same breakdown as the First Quarter Music Report in March, with a couple new additions, including a "top bargain bin scores" and a running Top 15 of the year list that merges both quarters together.

Moreover, this semi-annual summary will, wait for it, will eventually be followed in late September with a Third Quarter Music Report. Don't get all hot and bothered about the future, though - there is plenty for you to digest in the present below. Think of it as a gift. Get it? I'm awesome.

1) Camera Obscura, My Maudlin Career
2) Cheval Sombre, Cheval Sombre
3) Akron/Family, Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free
4) Dinosaur, Jr., Farm
5) Crocodiles, Summer of Hate
6) Jason Lytle, Yours Truly, the Commuter
Bonus: The Suckers EP - not a full album, but song-to-song the best I've discovered this quarter.

1) Thao with the Get Down Stay Down/Sister Suvi - 5/10
2) Dinosaur Jr at Musica (Akron) - 4/8
3) Pains of Being Pure At Heart/Afternoon Naps at the Beachland - 4/30
4) I Was A King at the Beachland - 5/27
5) Paleface at the Beachland - 5/8
BONUS: Trouble Books/The Very Knees out-store on Record Store Day at Music Saves - 4/18
DOUBLE BONUS: Arte Povera at Low Life Gallery - 6/27


1) Evangelicals, So Gone
2) Titus Andronicus, The Airing of Grievances
3) Human Highhway, Moody Motorcycle
4) Black Diamond Heavies, A Touch of Someone Else's Class
5) Spiritualized, Songs in A&E
6) Chairlift, Does You Inspire You
7) Eulogies, Here Anonymous
8) Soylent Gringo, Antifuture
9) The Roots, Phrenology
10) Gil Scott-Heron, Evolution
BONUS: Grandaddy, The Sophomore Slump Radio Sampler EP


1) Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
2) Ramona Falls
3) Dead Weather
4) Spoon (full length)
5) Afternoon Naps
BONUS: Spoon Got Nuffin' EP


1) Jason Lytle at the Grog - 7/15
2) Dinosaur Jr at the Grog - 11/20
3) Yeasayer/Ponytail at the Grog - 7/16
4) Dean & Britta Warhol film live scoring at Power Center (Ann Arbor, MI) - 7/2
5) Akron/Family for FREE at the Rock Hall - 7/22
6) Cracker at the Beachland Ballroom - 8/28
BONUS: Brent Knopf (Menomena) in-store at Music Saves, followed by The Veils/Foreign Born at the Beachland - 7/24


1) Camera Obscura, My Maudlin Career
2) Sholi, Sholi
3) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
4) Akron/Family, Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free
5) Bishop Allen, Grrr
6) Wavves, Wavvves
7) Abe Vigoda, Reviver (EP)
8) Jason Lytle, Yours Truly, the Commuter
9) The Black Lips, 200 Million Thousand
10) Cheval Sombre, Cheval Sombre
11) Crocodiles, Summer of Hate
12) Dinosaur Jr., Farm
13) The Phenomenal Handclap Band, The Phenomenal Handclap Band
14) Coconut Records, Davy
15) Pink Mountaintops, Outside Love
BONUS: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Tell 'Em What Your Name Is

Closing Party wrap-up

I gotta say, the Low Life closing party was the most fun I've had in a long time. Many thanks to Dave, the head culture warrior there, for allowing me to do the thing in the first place, to Arte Povera for playing an awesome set, to John G. for designing a terrific poster, to my blogger pal for a well-timed ice delivery, to Leia for the official joy-bringing, and to everyone else for coming. It was great and it made me want to do something like this again. I have a couple ideas, one for August, the other for October, so stay tuned!

For now, I think the pictures speak best.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Today's the day!

This is it. Tonight is the first ever official Cleveland Bachelor event. I've been hassling you all week about this so for now, let me simply say this: I hope to see you there.

And thanks again to John G for designing this awesome poster. If you ever need some work like this done, I strongly endorse hitting this guy up.

The week ahead, 6/28-7/4

Crazy week this week. Sweltering, especially inside my non-AC apartment with the windows up to protect against the gathering evil hordes of honeysuckle. Poor Smelly - she's been panting and out of sorts, while I've been sitting in my home office working on a project. I finally finished it up a few days ago, much to the appreciation of my neighbors, who now no longer have to accidentally catch glimpses of me working shirtless in my completely windowed workspace.

Given last week was so completely dominated by work, I didn't get a chance to hit up most of the things on my own must-do list, including the Beachland shows by Crocodiles and Cotton Jones. I did get to catch the Made in the 216 event yesterday, and it was really something. I never thought I'd compliment for something like this, but Danielle DeBoe (the big shot of the event and proprietor of Room Service) is an incredibly talented merchandiser. If you get a chance, you really should stop over at the event. I was extra pleased to see one of the ladies from Dish, my former favorite neighborhood lunch stop before the hordes of dbs pushed me out, representing her new catering business, and I discovered some really talented Cleveland artisans I'd otherwise have no clue about.

I also had a chance to check out the Founding Fathers set at the Coffinberry album release. I was too tired to stick around all the way to the headliners set, but for being the first gig out ever, Founding Fathers were super impressive, particularly the bass and rhythm guitar players. Keep an eye on them for sure.

This week there are lots of options, but as I was once supposed to be out of town this week, I wasn't as diligent as usual keeping track of all the day-to-day awesomeness, so there will be some blanks for you to fill. Help a brother out and post additional suggestions in the comments section if you know of something I missed.

Sunday, June 28 - Relax from the long day of awesomeness you are sure to experience today at the Waterloo Arts Fest with brunch at the Beachland. In the evening there are a few cool events in town, including a closing party for Melanie Newman's show at Doubting Thomas (see image below) and an international double feature at the Cinematheque with Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (USSR) and Dry Season (Chad/France/Belgium/Austria).

Monday, June 29 - This is your first fill-in-the-blank opportunity. I'm sorry I failed you.

Tuesday, June 30 - Check out Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art Show at the Beachland. I met some of these folks at a recent Asterisk event and they are super cool. No matter your art skills, you'll have a blast. If hip-hop is more your thing than art, check out THE ROOTS (!) at Cleveland House of Blues.

Wednesday, July 1 - Pterodactyl is playing at Now That's Class.

Thursday, July 2
- The original Italian Job film is playing at in Lakewood. Or you could be like me and drive to Ann Arbor to see Dean & Britta live score the Warhol short films project (13 Most Beautiful) they have been taking around the country as of late. Underground word here is that they won't be making a Cleveland appearance any earlier than 2010, so this will be your only opportunity for a while to check this awesomeness out.

Friday, July 3 - Dana Depew's annual artistic blow-out, the "19" show, will have its opening reception at Asterisk. I really suggest you check this out. Some Cleveland Bachelor favorite artists like Laszlo Gyorki, Sunia Boneham, and Thea Milkowski will be showing, along with a bunch of others.

If you hate art and yet somehow are still reading this blog you could also check out Dweezil Zappa's concert tribute to his father, Frank, at the Cleveland House of Blues. This show has got a lot of great reviews and I'm positive you'll dig it. Unless you are the same person that hates art and still hasn't stopped reading this entry.

Saturday, July 4 - Another fill-in-the-blank day for you. But, seriously, it is Independence Day - if you don't have bbq or picnic or pool party or whatever plans by now, go make some!

Other stuff to keep your eye on the following week:

July 7 - Cave Weddings at Now That's Class.
July 10 - Asterisk @ Ingenuity opening at Playhouse Square
July 10 - Music Saves Alley Cat Friday
July 11 - Cain Parks Art Fest
July 11 - Double Dagger at Now That's Class.

Friday, June 26, 2009

1 More Day!

In honor of the fact that there is only one more day until the CLEVELAND BACHELOR/LOW LIFE GALLERY THIS IS CLEVELAND (ALL THE STUFF I SEE) CLOSING PARTY, I am going to expand this announcement from the usual beseeching "come to my party, please" message and instead give a thorough plug to the entire day of events on Waterloo Road in exactly .... 1 MORE DAY!

Plan to get to the street bright and early at noon to catch the beginning of the Waterloo Arts Fest. As I've said elsewhere on this blog, last year's Waterloo event was my favorite of the year, and this year I have even higher expectations. Lots and lots of cool stuff going down. Roger at Only Music Left has a pretty good run-down of the day's musical offerings, and the festival website itself is pretty informative, so I'll do what I do best (or like to think I do best) and tell yohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifu how I think you should spend your time while you are there. Which, of course, is another way of saying that these are the things I plan to do. (Note: If the suggestions below do not entirely sound awesome to you, FEAR NOT, for there are many, many other options. See this page for more info on performances and this one here for more info on various community-related opportunities, including a very cool historical walking tour with Councilman Polensek and State Rep Yuko mid-afternoon.)

Actually, this is gonna be pretty easy to do, because the festival organizers did a really good job of getting a solid music line-up (especially considering what a GREAT job Danielle at Room Service did getting bands to play the Made in the 216 event, which, incidentally, begins today at 4 PM).

My best advice is to start the day with a walk around the premises to familiarize yourself with the terrain, so you'll be able to navigate the following moves with a deftness and speed that minimizes wasted precious minutes. After that, grab a seat at the Beachland Tavern, tell your companion that it is 5 o'clock somewhere, and order that first beer while you are checking out The Lighthouse and the Whaler. They play from 12:45-1:30. After that, take a quick 30 minute break to wander about the artist booths or check out some street theater by Upstage Players. But be back to the Beachland by 2, when Cleveland Bachelor favorites Arte Povera go on. Be there right at the start, cause you are gonna want to split a few minutes early to catch Heelsplitter down the block in the Waterloo 7 Sculpture Garden.

Heelsplitter plays from 2:30-3:15, which sets you up perfectly for a trip back to the Beachland, where you will be treated to the pop sounds of The Muttering Retreats. Long-time readers will remember how this band stole my heart with their Halloween performance when they covered Beck for a whole set. Their debut album is pretty damn good, too. Check them out from 3:15 till a few minutes before 4, when you'll want to be front and center for Leia Alligator's Picklefight Puppet Theater. Trust me, this is something you don't want to miss.

After Miss Alligator does her thing, wander down to the Blue Arrow building, where you will find an awesome photographic display of Cleveland imagery at Low Life and will be treated to the DJ stylings of Drive Time Radio with Kid Flamingo and the 185th Street Shuffle at Blue Arrow Records. Dig on their indie rock groove while you check out the awesome album cover floor until they finish up at 5:30. Then take another walk around the festival, making sure you purchase that one item you've kept coming back to and just don't know if you should get (hint: you should) before making your way back over to Blue Arrow records where you can try to snag a seat on the grand vintage sofa and listen to the soul pouring off the turntables, thanks to my very favorite DJ in town, Lawrence Daniel Caswell of the tremendous "No Ways Tired" show (Mondays 9-11) on WCSB, also known as the only thing that makes me turn the dial from Dan Moulthrop's show on WCPN. (No worries, Dan - you got me Tuesday through Thursday.)

After Lawrence has your booty moving, head down to the Beachland for the Arts Fest after-party. $5 there will get you a drink and some munchies and put some much appreciated cash in the coffers of Arts Collinwood, the non-profit that anchors Waterloo Road and is putting this blast of a festival on for us all. And don't just go for altruistic reasons - this after-party is gonna be great. DJs Chris Kulcsar and Tony Merritt are running the party, and these dudes rule. I've seen them together doing a couple different Beachland Brunch shows, including last week's Father's Day awesomeness, and they spin some great jams will making you laugh lots.

Once you've had your fun there, come on down to the, ahem, CLEVELAND BACHELOR/LOW LIFE THIS IS CLEVELAND (ALL THE STUFF I SEE) CLOSING PARTY, where Arte Povera will make a return to the stage, this time wearing their DJ hats, and the rest of us will be digging the sound and the tasty snacks I just procured at Costco. Seriously. We'll be down there till midnight or so, and if you still need more Waterloo action after that, Frank and Jason at the Waterloo Cafe will be hosting a late night cocktail party till 2 AM.

At that point, you will have reached your fun quotient of the day, and will want to go home for some rest. However, should you wake up the next morning showing symptoms of Waterloo Withdrawal, come back to the street for some brunch at the Beachland and see all the new friends you just made the day before. It'll be grand, and anyone who is anyone (and alive, not broke, and not otherwise engaged or sleeping) will be there. Hopefully you will be too!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I seriously couldn't be any more pumped about the big trade announced today. For years, Shaq has been my favorite player in the NBA, perhaps this is a function of my short-term stint as an undergrad at LSU, perhaps just because he's such a big goofy kid with his rap albums and his Superman fixation.

Either way, I'm stoked. Now if the Browns could just get rid of Brady and the Cavs can bring back Damon Jones, my Cleveland sports wishes will be complete.

Two More Days!

Getting tired of these party announcement update posts?

Well, guess what ... you only have to put up with them for TWO MORE DAYS!

And then it will be time for, you guessed it, the Cleveland Bachelor/Low Life This Is Cleveland (All the Stuff I See) Closing party.

Music starts at 9, thanks to Arte Povera and their DJ selections, but we'll be there all day and night, so come have a beer, eat some tamales, and check out an awesome photographic exhibition of Cleveland, Now.

Cotton, Appropriating American Culture since Eli Whitney did his thing

I could talk for HOURS about these commercials.

Thanks, douchebags

I woke up to a great text this morning:

"Had dinner at bar cento last night. West 25 has turned into something even more monstrous than you remember!"

Thanks, douchebags. First you take over the Warehouse District, now the near west side. Next thing you know, all the interesting folks will move out of Lakewood and the funky, idiosyncratic eateries will all shut down so you can open more of your highly stylized, douchebag bars and restaurants.

Pretty soon, people won't be able to take any surface streets west of Tower City without randomly being asked if they have any coke or when the next Coldplay/Fall Out Boy/Plain White T's album is coming out. Followed quickly by desperate requests for a lift to the Velvet Dog or the Map Room, where they will talk about what they had for dinner at the Greenhouse Tavern and the time they danced/did shots with LeBron's bodyguard.

Well, I can't do anything about this, so for now - please don't make plans to move to North Collinwood any time soon. However, when the Flats restoration plan is complete, it is all yours. Deal?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Music to Write By

The last few days I've been sitting in my sweat-box of a home office, trying and largely failing to bang out a mere 3-5 pages for a book proposal I'm working on with a colleague in my real-world, big boy job. Stupid writer's block.

Today, with time running out and a decreasingly patient (for very good reason) co-author, I sat down, determined to finish this fucking thing off.

As usual, music helped. I'm not done yet (and typing this update is probably a stupid detour that will only add to the lateness of my eventual bedtime), but for now, a sincere thank you to the following artists/albums. Something in there, somewhere, finally helped the grown-up writing juices to start flowing:

Bishop Allen, Grrr
Dinosaur Jr, Farm
Thee Oh Sees, Help
The Phenomenal Handclap Band, s/t
Afternoon Naps, Sunbeamed
Eulogies, Here Anonymous
Handsome Furs, Face Control
Human Highway, Moody Motorcycle
The Zookeepers, Giant Black Taco AND Streetsigns
Titus Andronicus, The Airing of Grievances
(especially Titus Andronicus)
Fanfarlo, Reservoir
Film School, Hideout

Thanks again, folks. You saved me from any more time spent looking like this:

Three More Days...

until you can party blogger-style at the Low Life closing party for the This Is Cleveland (All the Stuff I See) exhibit.

Actually, scratch that. Bloggers probably don't have a reputation for fierce partying. Let's just say you can have a nice Cleveland evening, courtesy of this blog, Low Life gallery, and the fine photographers whose work will be on display.

Whatever, see the flyer below. And come say hi!

Album of the Week: The Handsome Furs "Face Control"

It's that time of week again. A few more of these, and maybe we can quit calling Wednesday lame things like "hump day" and instead call it "CB Album of the Week day." You think? Maybe.

This week's album is the sophomore release by Montreal duo Handsome Furs, Face Control. The album came out three months ago, so I'm a little late in getting to this one, but I'm right on time for getting your appetite whetted for the married duo's upcoming performance at the Grog on July 17.

As an album, Face Control is significantly different from the married couple's previous release, Plague Park, and from the work of Wolf Parade, which the husband half of the band (Dan Boeckner) fronts. As anyone who has traveled in the former Eastern Bloc probably picked up on right away, Face Control is heavily infused with post-Soviet ideas and themes. (Face control is the de facto rule of law in Russian nightclubs, where whether you get in and where you get to sit depends not only on how much you bribe but also how good you look. I guess, then, it is a lot like the velvet rope club scene everywhere else, then, but a billion times more gauche and upfront.) In the end, it is this Russian/post-Soviet theme that makes the album for me. I've spent a lot of time over there, for one reason or another, and over the years and trips I've learned a lot, much of which I really relish. When I listen to it, I hear great stories and quips about something I've experienced deeply. If the album was about any other place - whether Spain or China, Montreal or Montevideo - it would probably just be a techno album I ignored.

That being said, I'm the only person in America that would probably call this a techno album, but the beats in it are just a bit more techno than I would like. Besides, this is my review, and I get to call the sound whatever like - you object to the techno label, post a counter-review in the comments section. (Actually, that would be pretty cool.)

The album is broken into four sections, separated by a handful of single-track brief musical interludes ("Passport Kontrol," "White City," "It's Not Me, "It's You"), each running only a minute and half or so.

Section 1 features "Legal Tender," a track I could see being a great live tune, perhaps at the beginning of an encore, and "Evangeline," with its great scattered guitar work. "Evangeline" really starts building after the 2 minute mark, leading to a great boogie - I'd pay a lot of money to hear Joan Jett play this song. The star of this section, and maybe the whole album, is "Talking Hotel Arbat Blues" - one can see Annette Funicello's indie rock grandaughter getting down to this in some mumblecore beach movie. The song has a great Woody Guthrie-esque chorus, rich in both song and social awarenes, and its discussion of face control reminds me of when a friend of mine from Yekaterinburg discussed the phenomenon so clearly and matter of factly. The academic in me comes out when I put this track on repeat, and if I was teaching courses on post-Soviet politics, I'd make students write an essay on how this song serves as an excellent post-Putin perspective of today's Russian youth.

Section 2 features "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything" and its well-conceived sampling of New Order's "Temptation" and "I'm Confused," another of the strongest songs on this album, with its danceable (and this from a dude that doesn't dance) vibe and its harkening back to 80s/early 90s UK music. (Note: Check out the video below - zombie love awesomeness!)

Section 3 contains "Nyet Spasiba" (which means No, Thank You, for those of you that have never seen a movie with a Russian character in it). This one could also be fun live, a grand show-closer. "Nyet Spasiba" is followed by "Officer of Hearts" and its easily digable chorus. After the last of the musical interludes ("It's Not Me, It's You," with its funky space effects), the final section of the album begins with "Thy Will Be Done" a cool funk wearing the guitar like a glove, enclosing the rest of the song, and ends with "Radio Kalingrid," with its fucked up church organ intro leading to a song that could be Electric 6 (minus the funny) meets new Kings of Leon (minus the MTV).

The album comes in some pretty cook packaging, especially the young Putin photo cropped onto the back, the record-style sleeve the CD comes in, and a really interesting selection of photographs in an enclosed booklet. I usually don't like to ask syncophantic questions to visiting artists, but when Handsome Furs make it through town next month, there's a pretty good chance I'll come with that little booklet in my pocket, eager to ask questions about the back story behind each picture.

As a rating, this album scores somewhere between the "buy it new next time you visit the record store" and "buy it used next time you see it in the bargain bin" - where exactly it falls between those two ratings depends on how much you dig either Russian/Eastern European contemporary culture or the Canadian indie rock scene.

Check out Handsome Furs when they hit the Grog Shop on July 17th. Check out the album at local indie record retailers near you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Buffy meets Edward

Kudos to the folks at Rebellious Pixels - this shit is hilarious. I especially hope all you adult women out there reading Twilight novels (and Harry Potter, for that matter) are suitably offended by how creepy and stalkerish Edward is and how coldly Buffy rejects his ass. Seriously - read books for grown-ups! Twilight and HP, like Trix, are for kids.

CB Q/A #3: Monty Miranda (Director, Skills Like This)

As Clevelanders, we are fortunate to be the beneficiaries of a very rich film community. From the International Film Festival to theaters like the Cedar-Lee that straddle the line between art house and quasi-commercial cinema to the countless film clubs hosted by bookstores, cafes, and the occasional art gallery, one need not lookfar in the 216 to find excellent cinema opportunities. The institutional crown jewel in all this is, without a doubt, the Cinematheque program, hosted by the Cleveland Institute of Art. Led much more than ably by John Ewing and Timothy Harry, the Cinematheque does a truly incredible job of bringing in a diverse array of film that spans the globe and as manygenres as you can imagine. In a given weekend, I've seen seminal French New Wave films followed by underground horror-schlock followed by painstakingingly beautiful contemporary Asian film. For me and thousands of other NEO cinephiles and enthusiasts, the publication of the Cinematheque schedule every other month is cause for both celebration and deep study, and by the time I finish looking over the document, both it and my hands are covered in ink from circling dozens of films that look great. Time and time again, Ewing and Harry score big for us, but sometimes they go above and beyond even their own level of success.

Such is the case with the upcoming screenings of Monty Miranda's SKILLS LIKE THIS (Friday at 9:55, Saturday at 8:10). Since I first heard my friends in Austin fortunate enough to attend the film portion of SXSW buzzing about this film (where it one the audience selection award), I've been intrigued. Along with Medicine for Melancholy, SKILLS LIKE THIS is the best hipster art film of the year.

Did the word "hipster" just make you recoil? Don't worry, it shouldn't - by hipster , I am just referring to the importance of music, image, and consumption of culture to the film's narrative and key actors. You know, there is a reason people call certain folks hipsters, and it isn't just as a way of making fun of their jeans and haircuts.

I'm very excited to see this film this weekend, even more so after reading Monty Miranda's responses to the handful of questions I sent him a few days ago. And, honestly, you should be, too. I make lots and lots of suggestions about what you should do with your time, probably well past the point of obnoxiousness, but this is one of those times you should listen to me. Cool?

1) Other than other films/filmmakers, where do you find your influences? I mean, is there a certain type of art or artist, idea, spirit, etc.

I have always embraced the punk rock DIY spirit. There is something about just going out there and doing that which maybe you are not supposed to do or haven’t had the opportunity to do based on certain qualifications, expectations or opportunity.

The influences are so many; I love all types of films, music and literature. My influences come from what I have devoured through my life as a film and music geek. Filmmakers who consistently make great movies that do not linger in the same genre or style particularly inspire me. Someone like Danny Boyle is a filmmaker that goes from Zombies to Family to India. That is exciting. I guess like with any great art, I become really obsessed and try to study and discover as much as I can from that entire body of work.

2) If you were asked by a younger filmmaker about to make his/her first serious and hopefully commercially viable film, what advice would you give him/her? Or is there a better (earlier?) time to give sage advice?

Make the film you would like to see. Tell this story in the most economical way. Give your characters strength and keep them moving forward. Get into scenes late and get out early. Never stop preparing and try and have more than 17 days to shoot the movie.

3) What is the film festival circuit like? What's the best thing and the worst?

The SXSW Award was a highpoint; SXSW was our world premiere and sitting in the theater experiencing the film with audience for the very first time is an unforgettable and anxiety inducing experience.

I never thought I would do so much travel. SKILLS LIKE THIS has screened in festivals from France to Thailand. Traveling around the world with the movie was amazing and getting to meet and get to know other directors is something that is very cool and inherently unique to the film festival experience.

Not so great. On the festival circuit I would usually come into the theater at the end of the film as the credits roll for a Q&A. During one Q&A an audience member once asked what was my intended meaning of flickering the image through certain key scenes. This was a new addition to the film for me. The meaning of this was that the projector was jacked and apparently this flicker had been happening sporadically throughout the entire movie. You feel like shit then. Fortunately this only happened once.

4) What's your favorite moment in SKILLS LIKE THIS?

Maybe it’s the Drive-Thru scene. I really tried to create a scene that goes from fatuously funny to surreally saturnine. It is a key scene where Max goes off the rails while the other characters are enjoying their stupor. I wanted this scene to play out in unexpected ways. I wanted the scene to start consistent with the a raucous silly tone and veer into dangerous chaos, then move to this ethereal tripped out finale. I think we get into Max’s head there a bit and that is really important to the story at that point in the film.

5) Music is obviously very important to you. Can you describe the role indie rock plays in your film and your thought process behind it?

My idea was to use rock and pop music versus a traditional score. I wanted a kind of upfront sound that the characters of the film are hearing to be this soundtrack.

My hope is audiences hear the music as the soundtrack to the characters and hopefully this helps put the viewer in their world. This in many ways was also the soundtrack to my life of living in Denver.

The music is made mostly of songs that I’ve hand picked or have had created specifically for the movie. At the very early script development stages of SKILLS LIKE THIS wanted the soundtrack to be a character in the film that creates that sound in the life of characters.

Rock and Roll, Punk Rock, Ska, Country and Western, Hip-Hop and Electonica make a rather eclectic music mix and paralleling the film, I believe they share a common independent spirit.

Bands from around the world contributed music to SKILLS LIKE THIS. Some songs come from well-known bands like New Order. Their song Krafty is the song that in a lyrical sense embodies the end of the movie for me.

The Wedding Present with their janglely punk rock guitar (Ringway to Seatac) and then their beautiful Max and Lucy’s love theme (I’m From Farther North than You) arcs with the character of MAX. Graham Lewis, of the seminal art punk band Wired, with his new band 27/11 and their proto dark reinterpretation of the 60’s Monks classic (Oh How To Do Now) follows MAX and friends in their worst moments.

Much of the music, however, is created by unsigned musicians from Denver. Bands like Halden Wofford and the Hi*Beams who play the rough and aging rock band in the bar scene, Andy Monley, who cameos in the light rail scene, with his trippy infectious roots rock, and the Wheel with Nathaniel Rateliff’s his ethereal vocal talents create some atmosphere in SKILLS LIKE THIS. You can get most of the soundtrack on itunes.

6) The city of Cleveland has made some noise recently about wanting to make this a more film-friendly city. In your opinion, what are the most important things a city can do to encourage that kind of industry attention?

I think the first and most important is local filmmakers. Once you get a local filmmaker with a voice and people start to notice the work then those barriers start to come down and this brings more filmmakers out hopefully.

Incentives help a lot too. You can see how they have had a positive effect in areas like New Orleans, New Mexico, and Michigan. We didn’t have government tax incentives in Denver when I was making SKILLS LIKE THIS. These other cities and states become more attractive to filmmakers because of how much money can go back into the movie if the location is offering incentives. Basically everyone wins because a film crew or unit is a money-spending machine. It all goes back into the local economy when the crew is in the middle of production.

7) Last but not least, any previous Cleveland experiences worth sharing?

I hear there is a pretty cool rock and roll museum in Cleveland that I really need to check out. Thanks for the questions and for checking out the film.

SKILLS LIKE THIS will play on 35 mm at the CIA Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard, Cleveland) on Friday, 6/26, at 9:55 PM and on Saturday, 6/27, at 8:10 PM. The film is 88 minutes of awesomeness.


Cleveland Bachelor/Low Life Gallery This Is Cleveland (All The Stuff I See) party countdown:

T minus 4 days. And some hours.

What does the "T minus" part mean anyway? Anyone have any ideas? I always assumed T(ime) till event, but who knows. Bonus CB top reader points if you can tell me. Double bonus points if you don't use wikipedia.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Focus on: Made in the 216 event

As mentioned a couple days ago in my weekly cultural foreshadowing digest, Danielle DeBoe of Room Service is putting on the third iteration of her popular and impressive MADE IN THE 216. She created the MADE IN THE 216 event to highlight just how many talented designers are choosing to stay and build their businesses in Cleveland

In my opinion, the coolest thing about the MADE IN THE 216 event, as I learned about it the from Danielle the other day, is that it isn't like Bazaar Bizarre or an indie crafts fair where all the different sellers have their little booths set up individually from one another. Instead, Danielle takes in all the merchandise and then arrays the various goods in a way that blends the different designers and producers together, integrating them with items she purchases from designers based in all the cities you'd expect (i.e., NYC, London, San Fran, Paris, etc.) and integrating them in the same creative, narrative-driven way that RS merchandises their products year round.

One difference regular Room Service customers will see during the two-day event, however, is in the diversity of the products being offered at the show. The show features a wide range of creations from men and women’s apparel, jewelry, t-shirts, totes and personal accessories; to stationary, photography, screen-prints, household goods, furniture and music. For loyal readers, there are gonna be some Cleveland Bachelor favorites are in the mix. Be sure to check out Oddball Press stationary, Wrath Arcane clothing, Small Screen Designs t-shirts, and photography by Michelle Murphy.

What makes me determined to check this event out (after being out of town the previous two times) is the festival atmosphere. At the same time you can be scoring awesome products from NEO's finest, you can also listen to some solid live music and check out some baked goods and prepared foods vendors. I go to a lot of shows in this town and I gotta tell you - Danielle did an AWESOME job booking bands for the two-day extravaganza, especially for the after-hours shows going down at the Happy Dog. In fact, I'm a little ticked about that, since on Saturday I, too, was trying to book bands to play at an event I am sponsoring, and more than one of the bands I approached was already booked for the 216 event. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? So I'll be taking my happy little ass right on over to Detroit-Shoreway on Friday to get my 216 on. Saturday I'll be at the CLEVELAND BACHELOR-SPONSORED LOW LIFE CLOSING PARTY, though, and I hope you come out, too.

On Friday June 26, the event goes down from 4-9 PM, and you can catch live music outside from the likes of Blake Miller and Jukebox Value outside between the two sales spaces from 6-8 PM. (Note: I caught Jukebox Value at the last Music Saves Alley Cat Friday and he absolutely ruled.) Friday night, Stereo Workers Union, The Dreadful Yawns, and Mystery of Two are rocking the post-party at the Happy Dog after 9. On Saturday, the event goes all day (11 AM to 9 PM), with Bryan Straw and Blake Miller (again) playing outside from 6-8, while JJ Magazine, The Very Knees, and Hot Cha Cha are hosting the post-party. Between the music, the sweet deals, all the other excitement going on in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood that day, and THE BAKED GOODS, this is the place to be. Check it out.

Big Concert Announcement

Just when I was praising the House of Blues folks for doing such a good job of curating national hip hop shows this summer, they reach into their bag of tricks and pull out a solid rock and roll summer addition:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Or, rather, make that:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs!!!

On Tuesday, July 28th, Karen O. and co. will bring their avant/art punk to Cleveland while they tour in support of their latest album (it of the awesome album cover pictured below).

For quite some time I've struggled to find Tuesday selections in my "week ahead" posts. The last week of July, thanks to HOB, this is not going to be a problem.

CB Q/A #2: Andrew Kenny

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get this posted in time for folkshttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif to read it before yesterday's in-store at Music Saves and live show at the Beachland, but reading it now, I think it would be even cooler for the folks who had the pleasure of seeing the show last night to check it out as they reflect on the awesomeness of their experience.

I'm only two lazy interviews (lazy on my part - the artists have been really thorough in their responses) in to this new feature, but I'm really digging it. Check out Andrew Kenny's answers to my questions below - the questions are very similar (identical?) to the ones that I asked Crocodiles, but the responses are different in several ways.

If you were one of the lucky ones at either performance last night, I'd totally be interested to hear your thoughts on the show. And, if you have an opinion on the covers question, let me know - I'll forward your suggestions back to the man himself.

1) How is it different working with the new band than previous artistic efforts?

This band started out a bit backwards because 'Magnolia' was completed before the live band was put together. So most of the differences stem from being thrown into a 3 month tour with a group of people that have never played a show together before. There's a lot of sitting down at the steakhouse, ordering beers, and realizing, "Oh you're a vegetarian? Wow since when? Since you were 13 that's really impressive. I think Outback has a potato and some appetizers that are pretty impressive too."

2) Other than other bands/musicians, where do you find your influences? I mean, is there a certain type of art or artist, idea, spirit, etc.

I don't know how much of an "influence" it is, but I think about my experiences with lab science and music a lot. The repetition. The long days. How your skill set grows and changes with each project. And the more different and challenging the projects are the more you're forced to learn. The politics and pressure from your peers to be original. After I finished this album, it honestly occurred to me that I was afraid to hear about some new band that composed all their beats by beating on a guitar top and I'd have to throw 'Magnolia' in the garbage. Or at least rethink the beats! It would be like working for a year to clone and describe a new gene only to read about it in a journal the following week.

3) If you were asked by a younger musician about to embark on his/her first tour, what advice would you give him/her?

Besides a few days here and there, I've been in a van for two and a half months so maybe I should wait to answer this! I'm afraid scare someone off! But really, my advice about touring would be the same as my life advice to anyone: (1) It's exactly as hard as you make it and if you don't really enjoy what you're doing you should find something else to do. (2) If you're unhappy, you are most likely the one making yourself miserable. And (3) keep a pen in your pocket.

4) Any pre- or post-show rituals you have found yourself following over the years?

When I was out with the Broken Social Scene the year before last, we warmed up our voices by singing together before the show every night. The Wooden Birds have carried that tradition on every night of this tour and I think it helps. Mmmm and hot tea.

5) What is the best thing about touring? The worst?

The best thing about touring is connecting with the people that listen to the music you make. As someone that loves music, I believe there's nothing like having a song mean something to you and looking into the eyes of the person that created it and seeing that it's real and that it means a lot to them too. It validates my own feelings in a way that nothing else can. I'm proud of the music I make and so it's a privilege to perform it for anyone who'll listen and everyone now and again you get to really connect with someone that way.
The worst thing? I miss my wife, Sheila. She's my sun and my moon and her patience with this addiction should earn her a sainthood.

6) What's your favorite song on the new album?

Lyrically, I like "Choke" and "Seven Seventeen" but I think "Believe In Love" is my favorite song to play live right now.

7) Any song out there you'd love to cover but just haven't done it yet?

I can hear the Wooden Birds doing a good version of "Always A Relief" by the Radio Dept. I'm going to work on a few covers this summer when I'm home. Any suggestions?

8) Last but not least, any previous Cleveland experiences worth sharing?

Oh man.. I remember the AmAnSet did a tour in the summer of 1998 and and our van battery kept dying. We bought a spare battery and charged it on stage every night while we played. Even though we spent the whole tour yanking a battery in and out of our van every night, I remember charging it up on the Grog Shop stage for some reason. Also, on the following tour, we stayed with someone we met at the show and it was hands down the nicest house we've ever been invited to. I think they were house sitting for the mayor or something like that. Honestly.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Right now!

Hey, you, the one absent-mindedly surfing the net, so bored you are actually reading this blog ... Want something awesome to do?

If you leave now, and I mean right now, you have plenty of time - and I don't care where in NEO you live - to get to the Andrew Kenny in-store at Music Saves. Check it out!