Friday, May 31, 2013

Gotta Move While It's Still Fun

Tuesday night, I saw the Rolling Stones live at the United Center.  It is their 50th anniversary tour.  Predictably, it was an awesome show.  They played a nice mix of standards –- including "Satisfaction," "Get Off My Cloud," "Tumblin' Dice," "Wild Horses," "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll," "Gimme Shelter," "Sympathy for the Devil," and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (complete with a choir) –- and some deep cuts, like "Rocks Off" and two of my favorite Keith-fronted songs, "Before They Make Me Run" and "You've Got the Silver," not to mention "Midnight Rambler," featuring former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor (who still has great chops).  (For a full set list, click here.)

Here are a couple shots of the stage, before the show, during the first song, and, very fuzzily, at some point later when Mick was walking around the giant tongue-shaped platform that protruded into the crowd.

You can't help but marvel at how much these guys rock, given that they are past retirement age for most adults.

Mick, who turns 70 in July, struts around stage like a rooster in his prime.  His waist is smaller than most runway models' waists, and his voice sounds the same as it did 40 years ago.

While Keith is also almost 70, he looks like he's 175,000 years old, and his liver probably is, but he still plays and sings like he's 20.

At 71, Charlie essentially looks the same as he did fifty years ago, except with gray hair (and a little less of it) and a few wrinkles.  He always looks so proper, so distinguished, so British.  The man can still play the drums too.

As the young pup of the gang (turning 66 Saturday, and hopefully celebrating at Mayfest in Lincoln Square with me), Ronnie still looks the most like a boy, although his face has seen better days, and he'd probably tell you the same, laughing as he goes home to his wife who is younger than me.

As much as you don't want to think about it, when you're watching these guys perform at this age -– in between the fits of euphoria that come with seeing the Rolling Stones live -- you inevitably think "this may be the last time" (pun intended), and for one reason or another, I was asking myself if it will be saddest when Mick, Keith, Ronnie, or Charlie dies.

Don't get me wrong, it will be sad when any of them dies, since the Rolling Stones will effectively die as well, but I think it will be the saddest when Charlie dies.  If you think about it, he's been the constant rock for the past fifty years.  While everyone else in the band has had well-publicized drug problems, arrests, encounters with groupies, and various relationships and marriages, Charlie has been faithfully married to the same woman since 1964 and remained out of the spotlight that has followed his band mates' nefarious doings.  Mick may marry another model, Keith may fall out of a tree, and Ronnie may go back to rehab, but Charlie will always be there, sitting in back, keeping time with that debonair nonchalance.  He's the glue. 
While he's far from a normal human being –- given that that he's the drummer for the fucking Rolling Stones -- he always comes across as just a normal guy, balancing out his band mates' rock star personas and wardrobes.  Mick prances around stage in capes and spandex, and, obviously, has the most interaction with the crowd.  Keith dresses like some sort of junkie pirate that just rolled out of bed and always has that smirk on his face like he's pulling one over on the world.  Ronnie wears sleeveless shirts and tight black jeans, and has hair reminiscent more of a cockatiel than a sexagenarian. Then there's Charlie, sitting in a solid red t-shirt and pressed khakis, with well-groomed hair and an unwavering stoic expression on his face as he pounds away.  He could very well be your retired grandfather, the lawyer (or barrister, as it were). 
Maybe that's it.  He's not flamboyant and doesn't act like a "rock star," which gives him more of an everyman appeal and shows people that you can do extraordinary things without being a freak or strung out.  Just do your job until you can't do it anymore, and look good doing it. 
Here's to hoping I'll be saying the same thing in another ten, twenty, and thirty years.  And yes, I fully expect them to be doing this when they're 100.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 5/31/13

Hair Band Friday - 5/31/13 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Retro Video of the Week: "Dead Flowers" (live) by The Rolling Stones

Given that I saw the Rolling Stones last night, it seemed appropriate to make the Retro Video of the Week a Stones song.  Of course, I'm not going to choose something from the MTV era, since I'm sure you don't want to see the "Mixed Emotions" video.  I went with "Dead Flowers," one of my ten favorite Stones songs, off of my favorite Stones album, Sticky Fingers.  This version was filmed live at the Marquee Club in London in March 1971. (I also happened upon a cover by Guns N' Roses, which you can hear here.)

I'm pretty sure this stanza might be one of the best in rock history:

    Well, when you're sitting back
    In your rose pink Cadillac
    Making bets on Kentucky Derby day,
    I'll be in my basement room
    With a needle and a spoon
    And another girl to take my pain away.

Just so we're clear, sweetheart, you can go to the Derby, but while you're in Louisville, I'm going to be shooting heroin in the basement with some chick called Carol, who I will also be banging.  Fair warning.  This, coming from a man wearing only a gold sequined short-sleeved mid-riff vest.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Top Ten: Reasons I Won't Be Posting a Longer Tuesday Top Ten This Week

10.  Sloth
9.  Mescaline
8.  I am a figment of my own imagination.
7.  I'm going to see The Stones tonight.
6.  Mescaline-induced dysentery
5.  Arrested Development boner
4.  I'm going to see The Stones tonight!
3.  The root beer kings and their wayward marigold concubines
2.  Mescaline
1.  I'm going to see The Stones tonight!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shit I Hate: People Who Don't Get Out of the Way When Train Doors Open

I ride the L to work every day, and while some people can't stand it, I really don't mind it.  It's faster than driving, and it gives me time to read literotica on my way to and from work.  I understand the train will be crowded during rush hour, and frankly, it would be an inefficient use of resources if it wasn't crowded. 

What infuriates me, however, are people who refuse to move out of the way to let people exit the train.  When you're standing near the door, it's common courtesy to get off the train and stand next to the door at each station.  This allows everyone who was not lucky enough to stand near the door to exit the train in a manner that doesn't involve pushing, swearing, and/or the near sodomization of your backpack because you won't move from the center of the entranceway.

"But I can just move to one side, and that will be fine."  No, dicknose, it won't be fine.  You know why?  Because people are coming from both sides.  Thus, when you move to one side, you block that side, which often causes you to do a side-to-side dance that alternately blocks people on both sides, causing an logjam, when you could have just stepped three fucking feet forward and stood next to the open doors while everyone flowed off in an orderly manner.

"But the only people that need to step out are the ones leaning against the doors.  No one else is in anyone's way."  I have a right mind to slap your fat face.  People are trying to get out from the aisles on both sides of the door and from the doorway on the opposite side of the train.  Thus, if you are standing anywhere within five feet of the doors, you are in the way.  Perhaps you don't notice people saying "excuse me" as they try to get around you and the apparent boulder that's three feet in diameter you have in your backpack, as you stand right at the end of the aisle, clinging to the pole as if letting go for five seconds will end your pathetic life.  Move.

"But how can I be expected to know that people are trying to get by me when I'm reading, listening to my iPod, or playing Words With Friends on my phone?"  Here's a trick I find helpful:  when the train stops, look up.  If there are people trying to get around you, get the fuck out of their way.  I find this works much better than pretending that, just because you have earbuds in and/or are reading this month's issue of The Economist, you have no idea you are on a crowded train.
"But how will I possibly get back on the train once I've gotten off?  I am so scared right now."  Once everyone has exited, you step back on the train.  I'll let you in on a little secret:  there has not been a single time that I have stepped off the train to let people off that I have not gotten back on the train.  On the other hand, I have seen situations where people can't get off the train and miss their stop because there is some ass clown blocking the end of the aisle, terrified that moving out of the way will force them to relinquish their coveted spot near the door.  You know what?  You're not always going to be able to have a spot right next to the door, and you will be extremely able to exit the train at your stop, even if you're a few feet further into the train.  Unless, of course, there is someone like you blocking the aisle.  It is then, when you are trying to get around the bizarro version of yourself –- giant backpack sticking out, Beats headphones blasting dance remixes of '80s sitcom theme songs, reading War and Peace in one hand while scrolling through Facebook on the phone with the other, stinking like a combination of cabbage and stale cigarette smoke -- that you will realize the error of your ways and, from that moment forward, you will exit the train to let people off.  Until then, I will hate you and probably give you an extra bump on my way out of the train.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Retro Video of the Week: "Tightrope Ride" by The Doors

In honor of Ray Manzarek's passing, it seemed appropriate to pay homage during the Retro Video of the Week.  This is "Tightrope Ride," one of my favorite Doors songs, sung by Manzarek and performed live in 1972 on the German music show Beat Club.  The song was written and recorded after Morrison's death, and Manzarek wrote it about Morrison as a tragic figure.  It was the band's highest-charting post-Morrison single, reaching #71 on the Billboard charts in 1971.  As the video shows, Manzarek could sing pretty well in addition to playing a wicked organ.  Rest in peace, Ray.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Doors Songs

As you may have heard, yesterday, Ray Manzarek, former keyboardist for The Doors, died at age 74 from bile duct cancer.  The Doors are one of my favorite bands and, in my opinion, the greatest American rock and roll band ever.  I am thrilled I got to see them 8 or 9 years ago as "The Doors of the 21st Century," even if Jim Morrison was played by Ian Astbury and John Densmore was played by Stewart Copeland.

Manzarek was a blues-loving guy from Chicago who found his musical soul mates in Morrison, Densmore, and Robby Krieger.  One of the things that makes The Doors stand out is Manzarek's keyboards.  He was essentially two band members in one:  a bassist with one hand (playing a bass keyboard) and a keyboardist with the other.  If you think about some of the most famous Doors songs, Manzarek is front and center.  Is there a more recognizable keyboard intro than "Light My Fire?"  That badass bass groove on "Break On Through" is Manzarek's left hand (or maybe his right, but you get the point).  And that playful intro to "When The Music's Over" sets the table for the cosmic madness the song becomes.  And then, after Morrison's death, Manzarek attempted to keep the dream alive by lending his voice to The Doors' two albums as a trio (see "Tightrope Ride" below).

Needless to say, I was extremely saddened to hear about Manzarek's death.  A little over two years ago, I posted my Top Ten Favorite Doors Songs.  I'm not going to repost it, since you can just click on the link, but I will post a new playlist with the songs below, since the playlist in that post no longer works.  This is the end, beautiful friend.
Top Ten Favorite Doors Songs by GMYH on Grooveshark

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Retro Video of the Week: "99 Luftbalons" and "99 Red Balloons" by Nena

Two languages for the price of none. Sometimes, I like to sync them up and play them at the same time while popping red balloons with my bum.

Tuesday Top Ten: More Bad Tattoos

Guys, I have to apologize.  Yesterday, I got so caught up in watching the White Sox game, figuring out which of the dozens of pregnant women I know were birthing children, and heroin that I forgot to post a Tuesday Top Ten.  I'd like to say that it won't happen again, but pregnant Facebook posting is a hell of drug. 

In May 2010 and March of this year, I posted top ten lists of bad tattoos.  And then, last month, I posted about sloth tattoos, which is still a concept I have not totally come to grips with.  But the bottom line is that pictures of bad tattoos never get old.  Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but the fact that there are so many bad tattoo lists should serve as a reminder to anyone considering a tattoo that they are, in fact, permanent (barring expensive and painful removal procedures).

Thanks to Allison for sending me a link to yet another slideshow of bad tattoos (18, in fact), which includes, but is not limited to:

#18 - A woman with a tattoo on her ARMPIT of a giant-headed baby inside a shark's mouth.

#16 - An overhead shot of a six-pack of beer on a NASCAR fan's beer belly.  "My girlfriend's always sayin' she wishes I had a six-pack, so I'm like, 'here you go, Darlene,'" he says any chance he can get, followed by a self-satisfied laugh that lasts a few seconds too long, followed by uncontrollable coughing due to a lifetime of smoking Winstons.

#14 - A giant tattoo of ALF on someone's quad, which I think is completely acceptable.  Just don't put a cat on the other leg!

#11 - Speaking of which, a cat looking back at you and whose asshole is a man's belly button.  This is fucking horrible.

#8 - Patrick Swayze's character from the SNL Chippendale's sketch as a centaur.  I think this one has been featured in several "bad tattoo" lists, rather than in its rightful place in the MOMA.

#7 - Two giraffes fucking on a man's stomach.  FOREVER.

#4 - A McDonald's arches tramp stamp.  2 all-beef curtains, special sauce, a pickle, and a bun, hold the lettuce, cheese, and onions, unless you're into that.

#1 - A "No Fear" tattoo and eyes on the back of a head.  I really hoped this guy can grow hair or is comfortable with wearing a wig for the rest of his life.

As if that's not enough fun, there was another slideshow linked from that article that features 16 eyelid tattoos.  Ever since seeing that hotel manager in Stuck On You make use of painted eyes on his eyelids (so that it looks like he's away when, in fact, he is sleeping), I have been intrigued by the possibilities that eyelid tattoos might hold.  Thanks to this slideshow, I am good.  Numbers 16, 13, and 8 are particularly awesome.  #4 is my new hero.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Retro Video of the Week: "Panama" by Van Halen

I just realized that I have not yet had a Van Halen video as a Retro Video of the Week.  This offense is punishable by rocking out.  Is there a better summer band than Van Halen?  Seriously, when I'm in the car and "Panama" comes on the radio, there is a primal need to roll down the windows and crank it.  This is difficult, if not dangerous, in the winter -- at least in Chicago.  However, now that the weather is finally getting nicer, it's time to take those T tops off, break out that cut-off Spuds MacKenzie t-shirt, and live, dammit.  The only way to do that is by playing Van Halen at uncomfortable levels while driving around town, making that otherwise mundane trip to Home Depot suddenly awesome.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Tuesday Top Ten: Things Every Chicagoan Should Know How To Do

Between work, moving, unpacking, playoff hockey and basketball, and doing The Worm, I haven't had much time over the last couple weeks to do much posting.  Thankfully, Creature sent me a link to an article in the Red Eye entitled "25 things every Chicagoan should know how to do."  It's a pretty solid article.  

The "Get drunk at Lollapalooza for less" entry is one that I take advantage of once the sun goes down every night of Lolla.  Nothing like a sport bottle of wine or two to complement Jack White.

I also find the "Make a cocktail that tastes good using Malort" to be a shade hilarious because the author suggests that adding gin to Malort will somehow improve the taste.

I would add the following ten things every Chicagoan should know how to do, in no particular order:

1.  Vote twice in the same election.

2.  Shovel out and save a parking space in the winter with a lawn chair.  And slash the tires of any car that has the gall to take your spot.

3.  Use the word "yous" properly.  For instance:  "Yous guys wanna get some Portillo's and then maybe take some peyote and watch Operation Dumbo Drop?"

4.  Fly out of Midway instead O'Hare.  Because O'Hare sucks.

5.  Find your neighborhood bar and drink there, and maybe sing some karaoke if offered.

6.  Make a Chicago style hot dog, or at least order one.

7.  Shun one of those jackasses with the neon vests and the clipboards who try to stop you on State Street to get you to donate money to Children's International, Greenpeace, or whatever other organization they might be whoring themselves out for.  I find three methods to be particularly effective:  (1) pulling my phone out and pretending to have a conversation as I walk by them; (2) telling them I already donate; or (3) telling them to "fuck off."

8.  Take a shot of Jameson without wincing.  It's a simple, two-step process:  (1) take shot of Jameson; (2) don't wince.

9.  Sing all the words to "Bear Down Chicago Bears."  I know that I'll never forget the way the Bears thrilled the nation with their T formation.

10.  Order at the Wiener's Circle in the proper manner and, more importantly, understand that, under no circumstances, should you ever order a milkshake.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Sixtysomething woman at restaurant while several thirtysomethings at her table discuss the TV show Quantum Leap: "I think I better go to the bathroom because I don't understand this conversation."
--Chicago, Taverna 750, Halsted and Cornelia
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Retro Video of the Week: "Beds Are Burning" by Midnight Oil

Apologies for the lack of posting over the last few days.  I was getting over an eight-week bender, but I should have more time to devote to posting now that I'm physically and spiritually cleansed.  Speaking of spiritual cleansing, that's exactly what Midnight Oil was advocating in its classic 1987 hit "Beds Are Burning," which is a politically charged song demanding that Australia return certain lands to Aboriginal tribes.  One thing I find to be pretty amazing is that the video on YouTube has over 12 million views, and not a single "thumbs down" vote.  On a somewhat related note, I was watching Saturday Night Live back in '93, and Midnight Oil was the musical guest (it was the one that Christina Appelgate hosted, with the first Matt Foley sketch -- pretty sure I've never laughed harder during an SNL sketch).  My dad was watching with me and said, "Well that's just rock and roll," apparently indicating his shock that a band on Saturday Night Live at that time was not a grunge or alternative band.  That probably means nothing to you, but for some reason, I always remember that whenever I hear a Midnight Oil song or see someone totally bald.