Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Of The Week-And I Thank You

!0 years ago, I had a general idea of putting together a top ten of the songs that stood out that week or was in the CD player.  Basically done on a whim and encouraged by Steven Anthony (Hoop) and my friends at the Roost, on the first week of January of 2003 I put up a top ten. Thanks to my friends in the roost, they encouraged me to continue to do this on a regular basis although doing this for 10 years complete was the farthest thing from my mind.  I miss the comrades at the Roost, the late great Trampus, the idealistic Starman and the lovely Donna aka Brooksie who during the 2004 year provided many of a top ten of her own.  To which I started adding comment to the songs at hand, I stole that from her.  Much love to Brooksie for her support over the years.

In 2006, MSN Groups was shutting down and so I took my act over to My Space, one of the worst places to ever start a blog, even after their blotched attempt to go with the times and deleted all the back blogs that I managed to save from March 2008 onward, but didn't get to the two years beforehand.  Then after going from Multiply to Blogspot I finally decided on the latter and been here full time since 2010.  Over the years I managed to talk tunes with Tad over the years and he's been one of most dedicated of readers.  A couple others managed to link my site to theirs as well, 2000 Man, Rastro and Drew's Odds And Sods, who helped get the word out.  Over in Blogspot, the contributors have been The Brat aka Nicole who did put in a guest spot whenever I needed a break from it all.  And of course Bob Lefsetz's commentary and blogs which made great reading fodder.

The top ten has been a labor of love although the time and effort may have not been worth it.  For the songs I have tried my best to showcase the lesser known for the readers to check out and sometimes I did manage to hear from musicians of mentioned bands, a high point for me if they ever did respond. Usually I started writing the list of songs out on Friday Night and add and subtracted over the days to which the final product would appear on Monday or Tuesday.  And then adding pictures added to the work and sometimes the pictures would disappear over time on previous blogs, a pain in the ass and general annoyance. But the majority of pics came from Google and usually when links or sites go dark, those pictures disappear.  So I had to replaced the blank screens with new pictures and hope they stay up for a long time.  Half the time I just say fuck it and leave the space blank.  Besides nobody really goes through the archives all that much.

The ratings have been the best all time this month, cracking 4,000 for the first time ever and having one day 927 views pop up in your ratings meter and two days later down to 38 views.  We'll never know who or how many people reads them but I think at least the rightful number is always around 2000 at best and the rest ghost readers propped up by Vampirestat or Ad Sense Watch Dog.  Or some fly by night Russian site. Those who come in and read them I thank each and every one of you for at least checking it out and pointing out mistakes and all.  Or simply saying good job.  Doing this every week for a whole decade; even I can't believe that.  I don't know what prompted me to keep going but I thought if I can convert a reader or two to my favorite bands I did my job.

But good things do come to an end.  Nothing is forever and even I knew that the Crabb Top Ten would be a finite product and the time expiration would be forthcoming.  And this is my final top ten of the year and perhaps for the last time.  The past two months, I really begin to lose interest in this.  But I figured if I can last out the year, at least it meant that I didn't quit before then.  I wanted to see this out before closing the chapter to a decade long career of the songs that made an impact of a certain week.  This week is no different. But first.

More deaths.  Benjamin Curtis who was part of the space rock band The Secret Machines and later School Of Seven Bells died from cancer at age 35.....Johnny Orr, legendary Michigan and later moving to Iowa State and turning them into a big basketball powerhouse, which coined the phase "Hilton magic" for the Cyclones always seem to beat ranked teams in Ames. (Larry Brown never won there in his time at Kansas) in the late 80s and early 90s before retiring in 1994, he was 86.  On a positive note: John McVie returned to the stage in Las Vegas at a Fleetwood Mac show.

The Goo Goo Dolls has kicked Mike Matalin their drummer of 19 years to the curb. The reasons have been murky at best about Mike's firing despite early in the month Mike celebrated of the birth of twins to his family. The Goos don't believe in maternity leave so they took the drummer from Lifehouse on tour with them in support of their flop LP Magnetic LP.  I think this somewhat echoes of booting their original drummer in 1995 and I'm sure Johnny and Robbie have their own reasons. I still love the Goos but really guys, could you have picked a better time and effort to iron out the differences?

And guess what? It's fucking snowing again. No such thing as global warming and sorry Al Gore, the world continues to play by its own rules with snow up the ass.  Fuck winter.

This week's tunes.

1.   I Have The Gun-Crime And The City Solution 1990  A long time ago I bought Simon Bonney's solo album and it was very country sounding whereas in this band, these guys are a lot like Passion Fodder or Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds (probably due to Mick Harvey having something to do with this, he was in the Bad Seeds).  And I have a low tolerance for both Cave and Passion Fodder.  This is the lead off track and it wouldn't sound out of place on a Midnight Oil Lp if you can believe that.  This CD that I found, was originally found and not bought at the Stuff Etc store in Davenport but at some point between October and this year, somebody bought this cd and dumped it off in Marion at the Salvation Army.  So basically this CD would have a nice story to tell if it could talk.  Nobody knew this but Bonney reformed Crime and The City Solution this year with a new album featuring David Edwards from 16 Horsepower helping out and it was recorded in Detroit by Dave Feeny (Junk Monkeys).  It'd be interesting to hear the new album but from the samples that I heard, I can live without it.

2.   Dream Girl-Anders Osborne  2013  The biggest bitch about no new record stores in my area is that I have to rely on Half Priced Books throwing things in the bargain bins for me to hear about the new artists and new music.  Osborne has been around for a while, recorded an album for Okeh in the 1990s and plays in Phil Lesh And Friends today as well.  Born in Sweden, lives in New Orleans and making the blues rock in the shape of Warren Haynes, his latest album Peace is the first time I heard Anders and I'd give it honorable mention in the best of 2013 albums as well.  As long as we have musicians like Anders, good music for the future will never die.  Seek and ye shall find it.

3.  Me! I Disconnect From You-Gary Numan/Tubeaway Army 1979  I don't spend much time in Record Collector anymore and I went in there for the  final time this year and ended up getting Gary's 1979 Replicas album and something else.  Basically downtown Iowa City is a money grab, down to 10 minutes parking on a quarter and thirty seconds if you use a nickle. Ripoff indeed.  But I always have had a love/hate relationship with Kurt throughout the 25 plus years of Record Collector.  Nevertheless he's the last man standing in the record stores that have been in downtown I.C.  And I recommend going there if you're in Iowa City.   Just remember if you're going to park on the streets, bring lots of quarters. Lots of them.  And maybe I'll be there at the Collector.  In spirit.

4.   Mule Skinner-Otis Williams & The Midnight Cowboys 1970  Hootie wasn't the only black guy to try country music, Charlie Pride has done it before, so has Big Al Downing or Stoney Edwards.  And Otis Williams, long before having a hit on King Records with Hearts Of Stone but he wanted to record country but Syd Nathan nixed that idea.  So it took Otis another decade to hook up with Pete Drake who owned Stop Records in Nashville and they issued this album which didn't sell.  The two covers of Charley Pride songs showed that Pride had the better voice but Otis finest moment was a cover of this old Jimmie Rodgers chestnut including that add lib about that little water boy not doing his job.  You have to hear it to believe it.  But you have to settle for Rocky Top instead. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k7ega_3ets

5.  Candy Store Rock-Led Zeppelin 1976  The 60s had the Beatles, the 70s had Zeppelin. Music was way great back then.  And still is now.

6.  Trout Fishing In America-Richard Brautigan  1970  A music collector knows what to look for when he goes out bargain hunting.  Honestly, going to a record store is NOT where you're going to find them.  You see, the owner of the record store knows value when he sees one and isn't afraid to jack the price up or put it on Ebay or Amazon and let people slug it out for paying for it.  Usually anything on Collector's Choice Music will bring in big bucks, especially the EMI stuff that Gordon Anderson paid for and put out for a limited time only.  Listening to Richard Brautigan the album has a story going far back as being slated for release on the Zapple label, the Beatles' spoken word and noise label but the record never got released after Allen Klein bailed out Apple and shut down the Zapple part.  However, the record ended up on Harvest (home of Pink Floyd, Deep Purple in the UK) in the US and vanished without a trace.  Another oddball find at the Salvation Army and this segment (can't say it's a song, it's a spoken word narrative) did spawn a band to call themselves Trout Fishing In America with the Beaker Street classic No Matter What Goes Right. A sign of radical being: Harvest posted Richard's San Francisco telephone number on the cover.  Can't do that no more.

7. Are You Happy-The Beau Brummels  1967  A tale of two bands: one a pop rock band making great music for Autumn and then the other band which explored country and muzak when Warner Brothers snatched them up and left them for dead.  I have a hard time liking their critical acclaimed Triangle album and even harder time trying to stay awake but this failed single wouldn't been out of place of along the likes of Pet Clark and The Association, although the latter band had better hooks for AM radio.

8.  Sunset Medley (A bunch of blues/Babes in the woods) W.G.Haenschen & T.T. Schiffer  1916   By far the earliest recording to ever grace this top ten and perhaps the first honest Boogie shuffle or as they put it the beginnings of swinging jazz, at least A Bunch Of Blues segment of this medley.  Schiffer, one of the greatest unknown drummers of the early recording years may have invented funk.....50 years before anybody attempted it.  Never knew it existed.  http://www.archeophone.com/product_info.php?cPath=21_24&products_id=74

9. Drift-Hostage 1994  For one things they clarify that back in the early 90s 3rd Street Live was known as Shades and they opened up for Foghat (The Lonesome Dave/Brian Bassett version of that band BTW) and they were one of the best cover rock bands in the Cedar Rapids area.  And for their effort they put together a CD called Black Sky Calling which is a so so record.  But I give it a fond remembrance since they recorded at School House, which was inside 16th Avenue Music in the Czech Village (RIP).  For all the hodgepodge that some of the bands are in the IA HOF, I'm surprised that Hostage hasn't made the list. But then again they do overlook some of the more obscure but more influential musicians in the area.  Hostage did reunite in 2010 and played certain venues but looks like they have retired once again. (there was a picture of Foghat playing at Third street live with Hostage opened up, but the picture has since disappeared, Hostage's loss)

10.  Those Were The Days-Cream 1968
       Another Year-Ian Gomm 1979
       We'll Meet Again-The Byrds 1966
       Another Brand New Year-The Bottlerockets 1999

Finally, I couldn't decide what song would be a fitting end to 10 years of putting up a top ten and I had these songs to debate but in the end I just said the hell with it and put them all up as kind of a medley.  The Cream song was a B side to White Room and I played Those Were The Days more than I did than White Room. Old crank Ginger Baker got credit for this song although Jack Bruce sang it, much to Ginger's chagrin.  Another Year was the B side to Hold On by Ian Gomm, and the Byrds and Bottlerockets songs end their respective albums.   As for blogging, I don't think it's the end of R.S.Crabby, I know I'll be moving on to a different venture (Next up: R. Smith's Record World-yet another music blog that will continue to mine the vaults of the forgotten, coming soon?) but for ten years straight the top ten music and review site has been the one constant in a decade of ups and downs for myself.

For the next year, I pray that 2014 will be a much better year for myself and for you out there.  I pray that our job status will get better and hopefully I won't have to look for another job and give up the things in life that I have enjoyed.   I hope next year we won't lose so many friends, family and musicians that have influenced my life but since most of I know are old and getting old, somebody will opt out into the great beyond.

Things come and go, so do the places that I go to.  I'd love to return to Seattle in the summertime or perhaps another Arizona trip but I think last summer's venture into the Valley Of The Sun may have been the final visit.  But never say never.  But in reality, the CD bargain hunts to faraway places are becoming less and less rewarding and I'm sure we'll lose a few more stores as the years go by.

With this top ten of the week and for the year, I have fulfilled my 10 year commitment and maybe hopefully some of the songs I posted made you seek them out, or at least Google them.  The music world doesn't exist sorely on Free Bird, Hotel California, Hey Soul Sister or any of those piece of shit bro country songs that made country radio a joke to listen to.   There's much more to seek out and listen to be it You Tube, Spotify, or net radio.

Thanks for your support and we'll meet again.

I promise.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Black Monday

The end of the NFL regular season and the chopping block was quite busy.  It was a no brainer seeing Mike Shanahan or Leslie Frazier being let go, Frazier one of the nicest guys and best defense coaches in the league but as head coach couldn't get the Vikings over the hump although they did beat the Lions in the final game at the baggy dome, which they didn't do on the final game at the old Mall Of America Outdoor Stadium.  It also cost Jim Schwartz his job when the Lions underperformed and missed the playoffs.  It seems to me the worst Head Coach job would be either Washington or Cleveland who fired their coach after the game.  Whereas Washington has a meddling owner in Daniel Snyder who like his Dallas owner buddy Jerry Jones loves to have the spotlight on himself more than the team, at Washington has a team of players that might do better next year with a decent coach who can put up with Snyder hogging the spotlight.  But Cleveland is the graveyard, where nobody wins and if the owners are going to fire every coach that goes 4-12 in their first year, they will be forever having a home in the basement.  Greg Scarlino's tenure at Tampa Bay was a one and done deal, a great big mess from day one but Scarlino will return to college football coaching and probably will have success at it.  He was very good at Rutgers.  The jury is still out on the Raiders' coach and one or two other teams pending how they do in the playoffs but at least Rex Ryan can breath a sigh of relief for another year.  The Jets should do much better, until they play New England.

We had a fine Friday and Saturday with sunshine and 40 degree temps but once Sunday rolled around another arctic front came through and knocked us back down to 20 below and about four Alberta Clippers coming through with more snow and cold to fuck things up in yet another winter to forget.  But it is winter but God we are so tired of the parade of snowstorms and cold of the past month and another month to deal with this mess again.

If you happen to stumble across Record World expecting the Crabb Top Ten, rest assured you're in the same award winning site. Although the ratings will the the most highest ever, they're back to the usual average number around 40 to 50 and not going past 100 since the 244 showing on Christmas Eve.  And the 927 views on 12 11 13 was a fluke.  After the past three seasons of Crabb's Top Ten, I thought a change would be a benefit and more towards music and records and not so much on the eye candy and cheesecake photos.  I thought this year adding babes would add ratings and get interest up about this site but in the end I was proven wrong.  The one thing that I noticed about these folks that they're too busy peddling their online sites and wares to really write back to you or even give you the time of day but that's all right. They're very busy in what they do.  And besides I've been promising myself a much needed break from this blogging. And changing the title over to Record World is a sign to things to come.  More music and less social musings. Whether this pans out remains to be seen, but I think it will be more in line with The Review Consortium, a site that I have been using for spotlighting bands but it makes more sense to use this site since this is the number 1 site that I used 90 percent of the time. I may import those blogs over here and close the Consortium for good.  Most of the time here, I'm trying to type, proofread and trying find mistakes as well as trying to hit the right keys.  What you don't see is me hitting the backspace button about 1,000 times per blog.  So why not, a vacation from here sounds nice and relives some stress from my carpel tunnel wrists and fingers that crack everytime I exercised them.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

News: Justin Bieber Retires?, Kill Your TV, 4000 Views

Good morning.

I am having a hard time trying to figure out this Justin Bieber retirement ploy.  The skeptical in me refuses to believe that Mr. Beaver Biscuits is saying good bye, even with his tweet about it smells of desperation and maybe he's going by the way of Garth Brooks, retire and then come back with a big 10 CD box set.  Mr. Brooks has done that time and time again, retire and come back, retire and do a Las Vegas residency retire and then come back with a 5 CD and 1 DVD box set sold at Wal Mart.  Thankfully the world isn't ready for a big box set of Beaver Feaver, or not yet anyway.  Justin Bieber remains the most oddball act ever signed to Island Records which is Chris Blackwell was running that label, Bieber would be booted out of the office.  But the media isn't to be trusted anyway.  Especially FOX news and Andsome Coulter the right wing mophordyke, or ditz with a dick.  But on the Bieber retiring tweet, I call bullshit.

This amazes me.  There's never nothing on cable tv anymore.  We have 100 channels of basically the same thing, the fun quiz of guess where Shawshank Redemption will be showing on what channel, five channels of Bonnie And Clyde, the 24 hour marathon of Christmas Story on TBS and of course the millions upon millions of unreality reality shows on each and every channel and now Dish and DirecTV, monopolizers of the satellite TV of endless five minute commercials breaks have decided to hike prices for next year, just like they did last year and of course the big reason is that the continue to maximize their profits and laughable BS excuse of rising TV content (say that with a straight face I dare you). I never have seen such limited programming with what we have for channels in all my years and it's getting worse.  Kill your TV and get it over with.

Link of the week: Archeophone Records, a label that specializes in the real old music of the late 1890s and 1900's.  I've seen some of their CDs have made it into the bins of Half Priced Books and bought one Stomp And Swerve (American Music Gets Hot) and has some of the earliest music ever put on wax cylinder.  The multitude of derogatory racial  language and music is very evident.  But you can also trace the start of ragtime music which wore out its welcome in 1908 but this gives us the early start of blues, jazz and country.  It's not rock and roll but was radical back in the turn of the century.  Archeophone  is based out of Champaign    Illinois and really has gone out of its way to preserve the history of music that your great grandparents may have listened to back then.  www.archeophone.com

Chris Sevier sues A&E and the President over the suspension of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. This comes from a guy that been stalking John Rich and a 17 year old girl. http://wonkette.com/537453/nashville-church-member-sues-ae-and-barack-obama-for-being-so-mean-to-duck-dynasty-star

This month I have done the unthinkable,  gone over 4,000 views (a first time) and with five more days left adding more to the best ever month.  I didn't intend to flood the blog this month but I had to tie up loose ends and getting my commitments before the year was over.  And every day will add more views and thanks every each one of you and of course the ghost viewers that up the ratings.  Plus the illegal drug site from Russia (xolodremont), and bogus counters like Vampirestat and Secret Search which always adds 10 views whenever they show up.  I don't dare click on xolodremont in any way, they might be the pain in the ass Hunter Warfield collections agency incognito and would take over my site with plenty of Russian spam and the ED drugs spam that floods my inbox.  The Hunter Warfield thing this month has been a head shaking and scratching circumference of Barney Fife ism of bothering the wrong person.  Where's the A Team when you need them to go kick their ass, or at least try to find the wrong person owning money.  Bills are paid up here.

So, with next week coming, I will conclude 10 years of top ten lists and a constant presence on the internet although the fame and fortune has been fleeting and can't quit my job even after it's eliminated.  Too bad that the early years have disappeared, some of the best and most radical of lists got erased after MSN Groups and My Space decided to banish them forever into the great unknown but I managed to save a select few.  But instead of taking about music, I didn't know that I was writing about the end of some of the things I grew up and hung out.  The demise of Wherehouse Music, Tower Records, Relics and the jettisoning of some of my favorite FYE stores to hang out was broadcasted over to deaf ears, and the constant passings of musicians that were a part of my music reviewing process over the years.  Funny how 12 years ago, I can find the best Seattle and Phoenix music stores back then but nowadays it's not what it used to be. Cellophane Square, perhaps my favorite Seattle hangout, now a distant memory like the memory of Isabella of endless blue skies and perfect weather in July, only to come back to cold and gray and rain and snow and a week of Hell in October and never did return back up there.  And now watching record and bookstore still closing, since everybody has smart phones and can access just about everything from the great jukebox and bookstore in cyberland.  Oh yeh, the net has been a great place to discover what is missing in life and get your love life going as well but again nothing compares of having book or record at hand and peering over the notes and words.  Certainly the record collector has paid the price big time, having to go from the local hangout, to places that still have record stores. And thus BIG OIL reaped the benefits of that with their high price gas of 3 to 5 dollars a gallon throughout this greedful decade of record profits and the tidal wave of Made In China shit.

And meanwhile life goes on here in Cowpie Iowa.  The deadbeat truckdriver who my brother lend him 100 dollars for beer and never paid back moved and took the Cowpie Iowa Historian with him to North Carolina.  The neighbor's daughter two doors down got knocked up by some dude who left the state, gotta watch for those 90 second encounters leaving a lifetime fucked up and a new baby for a reward.  A fact of life we try to tell our children to have protection and say no, but through life every generation's teens think they know it all and think they won't get knocked up.  And get proven wrong again.  And again.  And again.
I don't think we never make an difference in life whatever we do.  I was like that when I was 16, knew it all and needed nobody till the money ran out.  But I thank my lucky stars that I never knocked anybody up, nor took K2 and snorted gasoline to be a stark looney to run away and live on the street and breaking into houses at night.  And some of my friends got a raw deal on that.

Things change and from what I have seen in the past 10 years not for the better.  A do nothing congress, a President who promised change and did some but not enough and the left and right continue to bicker and bitch about who does less and the split becomes wider and wider.  We can't cure cancer but we have the drugs to take care of your limp dick when you can't get it up anymore on your own.  And the big music revolution that everybody talks about continues to be postponed since the playlist on FM hasn't changed since 1985 and you're stuck with the same overplayed classics over and over.  But then again whoever SPIN or NME tauts as the next big thing blows away the rest of the bands but when I hear the next big thing I just hear noise and half assed tossed out cliche words.  And the feeling that I get out of this, is like being at Blockbuster in their final days.  A  sense of hopelessness, a sense of dread but trying to find something left to hang on to, or least go home and watch or listen to.

In doing the top ten the past decade, I have noticed that the majority of songs do come from the golden age of rock and roll or the album track years and even though the songs of the 2000's have made the list, many of them when I revisited the past and see some of what I posted, wondered how the hell they sound since a lot of them got donated back to Goodwill. And I forgot all about them.  I really didn't use a lot of the stuff from 2000 onward it seems.  And that's the problem of music today, no melody or no sense of belonging.  The Strokes had the most perfect title that basically describes the music of the past 14 years. Is that it?   Even up after being that album when it was on sale at Tower records me and the drugged out date just looked at each other when it was over and asked Is that it?  Not everything in the past 10 years was bad, most of it didn't get radio airplay.  The Randy Cliffs, Len Price 3, The Stabilizers and Green Day made classic albums to these ears but to the rest of the Cumulus Controlled Corporate Radio World, only Green Day got radio airplay, the rest highly mentioned and thought of here in a blog a few folks read.  But then there's plenty more blogs about music out there worth a read and like the world turns, some will cease but some new ones will pop up.  And if all else fails, you got Bob Lefsetz but his gospel is also tarnished with old coot talk.  The double standard of seek out the great but don't bother me hearing your stuff cause it's not great.  In other words, get off my lawn and out of my yard.

The problem with the old guard, they will not get out of their comfort zone.  And for a time I was like that, not giving up my classic rock favorites.  Till CDs got real cheap to the point that I could check out what was missing and come to find out while searching for the river of tunes, wound up in a ocean of endless music that a lot will not be heard even for me.  But you know I think I have given it a honest effort for what I have seen and continue to see in the dollar section of Half Priced Books or Stuff Etc or the Salvation Army.  In this day and age, I don't pay 20 dollars for cds anymore, there's no shortage of cheap used CDs if you know where to look for them.  Which comes in handy if Pawn America is clearing them out for a quarter and there's a chance somebody might drop a Beatles or Grateful Dead or something other that's not scratched up to holy hell.  I'd offer Bob Lefsetz a change to come with me on a bargain hunt or two but I doubt he'd take me up on that since he doesn't like CDs.

For somebody who retired from bargain hunting in 2009, I have continued to discover things left and right and still do to this day.  I guess it's force of habit or a hard habit to break.  So maybe it's all bullshit on my retirement.

The last bargain hunt in Iowa City for the year.  Nothing substantial and we leave Record Collector for the last time by finding Gary Numan's Tubeaway Army Replicas and a Goo Goo Dolls that I originally had but wanted to hear again and he had a 3 dollar copy down there.  He's doing quite well with the vinyl but everything seemed to be picked apart.  I don't know what it is with guys growing goatees or beards trying to look cool after hitting age 55 but I want no part of it.  It doesn't make you look good, it makes you look like an old grumpy record store owner. Right Kurt?

Parking in downtown Iowa City is a rip off. 25 cents buys you only 10 minutes at the parking meter and put in a nickel and you don't have to fart either.  The days of hippie lifestyle in the college town are over.  It's all about the money.  But looking at the Record Collector inventory and his records, I may have decided that I had enough tunes up here to last me the rest of my years.  The rest of the thrift stores and pawnshops had nothing although I thought about picking Throbbing Gristle's Greatest Hits for 2 dollars but decided against that.  

Had a great turnout in Moline, IL last night. It was so good to see our Quad City people again-From Samantha Fish when she played Rascals Live there.  Sorry Sam I didn't make it, maybe next time. But in the meantime you have something coming up behind you and ready to take over your spot on the Crabb Top Ten most searched keywords.  Ivy Doomkitty is coming up strong.  Better beware. ;-)

And a PS to the 2013 Year In Review, I forgot a highlight, My best friend's son Matt proposing to his long time girlfriend at the chilly Cowboys/Bears game in Chicago a few weeks ago.  Of course she said yes. Of course the Bears won.  Congrats again Matt!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Year In Review A Year To Forget

Well fuck it's snowing again.

And so begins our little wrap up to this forgettable year.  There has been a influx of new blogs and entries this month since I'm finishing up obligations and final thoughts to year which started out being stranded in Eldridge after seeing one of the best shows I've ever seen in Samantha Fish in Davenport.  Sam returns to Rascals Live in Moline on the weekend but I doubt if I'll make it there.  Samantha has been very busy this year, playing over 200 shows and many stops back into this state as well to support her latest record.  I've been kicking myself for not taking an camera and documenting her Davenport show but did managed to record a show about that on the latest Townedgers' album 30, which was finished in April, got shelved in May and revised it and finally put it out this month to no critical acclaim.   And no sales whatsoever but Diggy Kat played it in its entirely on his Radio Buzz'd show.  But as for Sam Fish herself, it was a pleasure having her jump off stage and play her guitar in front of myself while jumping on a chair playing Runaway.  For most of the year Sam was the top rated search word in here before Pat Travers and the rscrabb blog overtook her and Ivy Doomkitty coming up fast. http://rscrabb.blogspot.com/2013/01/samantha-fish-takes-davenport.html

If nothing else 2013 is the year of death. Many many folks that I've known have passed away this year and it started right off the bat with Earl Weaver and our beloved Maggie May and countless others, Nelson Mandela, Ray Price, Lou Reed, Sonny Lott, Mrs. Huey, Jim Dearth, Charlie Chesterman, David Richards, Joan Fontaine, Peter O Toole, George Jones, Ed Shangessey, Yusuf Lateef, Jonathan Rivers, Jack Bonus, Gerri Hein Schmidt, Annette Funicello were just a few of many that died this year. I'm sure 2014 a few more will leave this earth but like you I don't know who the lucky ones will be.   Hopefully they are in a better place where that might be.

January weatherwise was pretty nice judging from what I wrote down although the 2011-2012 winter season was even more better.  This winter of 2013 is like the year itself.  It sucks, it's cold and it never stops fucking snowing or icing.  But the spring of 2013 was the worst here ever. It fucking rained every other GD day and four straight months we had enough rain to wet the basement floor four times.  In May there was a fear that flooding would be as bad as 2008 as the river rose up to 19 feet but thankfully it finally stopped raining to the point that New Bo would be spared.  During my Arizona getaway, another fucking rainstorm and even more water in the basement that we can't get rid of the mildew smell but after July 1, we had three storms all the way though October to which the corn field dried out and farmers bitching about lack of rain.  Either you're drowning in it or having it bone dry.  For January, Blake Shelton stuck his foot in his mouth calling old classic country music for Old Farts and Jackasses which the late Ray Price expressed his displeasure with that comment. Eventually both Blake and Ray reconciled before Ray passed away: http://rscrabb.blogspot.com/2013/01/and-so-it-goesblake-shelton.html

The big story of my life and the year was the ending of printing operations as they went to Minnesota on the recommendation of the ops boss stationed out of Owatonna and offered anybody that would kiss his ass to move up there, take a buyout or take a chance being reassigned elsewhere.  And I rolled the dice and it came up snake eyes on 3rd shift packaging before a last minute decision to bring me back to Iowa City for a year in the scanning department thus preventing me to retire and to hang around for another two or three years.  Final get together of everybody I worked with happened in August to which we had parties for those leaving later on.  Nevertheless this was the ending of a era that started way back in 1998 when Russ Galarti took the money and ran.  And things were never the same again. But on a good note, I made it to being at that place 25 years.

Wasn't much for highlights but in August I finally bought a new car to replace the old Corsica that after 295,000 miles and a rusted out body couldn't take no more and crapped out.  I ended up buying a 2013 Impala complete with satellite radio and On Star, which has been put to good use a few times.  And the new Impala has done a fine job taking me to the bargain hunting grounds in Madison, Davenport and Dubuque and for the first time hitting Quincy Illinois and Kirksville Missouri to take care of my FYE and Hastings withdraws

April came, more rain and floods and more death. Christine Amplett,  Margaret Thacher, Alvin Lee and George Jones passed on. .Jim Zabel went in May, the voice of the hawkeyes.  And then in May the worst tornado outbreak in Oklahoma to which they had not one or two but three major tornadoes cutting up Moore Oklahoma.  And I followed each and every one of those storms via the internet.

Despite water in the basement, countless tornadoes and the usual shitty weather, I did managed to do the usual Madison bargain hunts, with varying results. Pawn America continues to phase out their CD section, going from 6 rows to 4 to a row and a half and prices went from 50 cents in May to a quarter in October and I still managed to find some odds and sods.  Another bookstore bit the dust as Frugal Muse on the strip mall in Madison closed up shop.  But if nothing else the October trip was the first time that I did checked out Sugar Shack Records.  First time in the 20 years of going up there mind you.

In June, Richard Thompson came to town to which I went and see and Richard put on a great show with his rhythm section helping him quite well.  I managed to shake the bass player's hand and chatted with him a spell and followed the drummer back to the hotel room downtown, and everybody left him alone.  The Ellis Blvd. A&W restaurant, after five years laid waste after that fucking 2008 fiasco flood was torn down a few months later, another CR landmark gone to political indifference. But hey CR voted for a new casino downtown.  Not the same thing at all.

And so the end of the month before another flood and water in the basement I got away from the pain and woe of Iowa to spend 10 days out in the Arizona desert one more time.  Back home I missed 8 inches of rain that turned Lowden into a raging river town, but out west they had record temps and 120 degrees in Phoenix before a monsoon storm, raged a fire storm in Yarnell that claimed 19 firefighters.  I drove past that town on the way to Prescott and Kingman, only to find out that Kingman closed their Hastings store.  But the trip was a disappointment about the places that I used to like going to eat at, getting sick at the Mexican place in Tucson and even worse the Chinese food place in Metrocenter to which I almost considered going to ER since I was in so much discomfort.   And of course I was chased away from the Oracle Zia's by pushing sales associates who wouldn't leave me alone to look.  And then coming home to see the surprise in the basement from the storms that I escaped.  And with that the basement is still in disarray after that.

Another concert seen was the 80s tribute band Hairball and it was an enjoyable show.  I don't consider myself to go see tribute bands but Sonya insisted and I promised and went.  And a week later while hanging in Davenport, I managed to crash the Darius Rucker show, watch Mr. Hootie do about five songs before getting back on the walking trail going home.  The Hairball show was more fun. And then J J Cale died.  http://rscrabb.blogspot.com/2013/07/top-ten-of-weekhairball.html

Davenport seemed to be the place to go since I returned there in September and pretty much taken lots of time off due to an extra week of vacation after being at Pearson 25 years and got to see the Quad City River Bandits win the Midwest Baseball title.  I must have gave them good luck, saw them up in CR and they eliminated the Kernels prior before beating South Bend. You have to go to John O Donnell stadium to watch a baseball game. Best place to watch a game. http://rscrabb.blogspot.com/2013/09/top-ten-quad-cities-river-bandits-2013.html

And then October came around and I spent a night camping at Seminole Valley Park after venturing past an unlocked game to take pictures and find it being locked 5 minutes later. With no cell phone and no place to walk to for help, I survived on glasses of water and some guy gave me a candy bar to survived the night. Lots of wind, some rain and basically nothing to do but cuss out my wonderful luck and life of this shit year, somebody finally unlocked the gate at 7 AM the next day.  Thus postponing my St Louis trip and just going to Madison once again, I figured had I gone to St Louis I'd been carjacked.  Looking back my camping trip wasn't that bad.  I had the place to myself. Almost a perfect vacation.

The last bargain hunt was Quincy and Kirksville and putting 500 unwanted miles on the new car as I went into the deepest backroads of Missouri.  Originally thinking of going to Hannibal, I made it as far as Palmyra and got to see a good part of the past of what used to be up there.  Of old Ben Franklin and Gamble Department Stores that don't exist no more. But most of October and part of November I was stuck with a cold and flu that one of our coworkers was passed away and I was mostly out of commission that month.  Ended up seeing the oldest record store in Kirksville, which really wasn't that much and they were closed by the time I got off those damn back roads and on a decent highway.  Back in Anamosa, El Ranchito was replaced by La Tequila, Green Leaves closed both their locations and the folks that run Villa's Patio opened up a store in the old Happy Chef place off 33rd street in Cedar Rapids.  Which reminds me of a low point of the year, forgetting my wallet at El Ranchito and the owner kind enough to let me go home and get it.  Not sure if the new owners would have let me do that.

For sports, The Cubs sucked and got rid of their manager, The Orioles also fell short but The Iowa Hawkeyes and Arizona State Sun Devils had banner years.  The Hawks, predicted to be in last place this year managed to have an 8-4 record and a Outback bowl bid against LSU, whereas Arizona State's highlight was blowing out USC and seeing their coach get fired at the airport.  ASU plays Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.  The Hawkeyes' played everybody tough all year and had one of the best defenses ever with James Morris leading the way.  The next future NFL superstar.  And the Iowa's men's basketball season showed them going all the way to the NIT final, coming up short but having promises of a pretty good Big Ten season.  I hope.

Last year's winter started late and stayed till early May when it was still snowing and came back earlier than usual with the first snow storm two days before Halloween.  And while it went away in November, come December winter came early and too fucking often for my taste.  In fact it's snowing on Christmas, there's you fucking white Christmas there.  And the summary of a year that started too late and never really got going for summer.  A year that started off the wrong foot and stranded in Eldridge and basically fucked from the word go.

But at least we made it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013

It's everywhere can you feel it.
It's in the air that Christmas spirit.

Back to the snow and below zero temps that's so commonplace and typical in December the Almanac was right sad to say about a very cold Christmas.  A record 18 below and even with a new battery the fucking car had a hell of a time to start up this morning.  In the great spirit of things I had to work on Christmas Eve too. But hey they gave us Columbus Day off.

This suck ass weather ended up being a topic on conversation at  Brad Deery, while getting my new car's oil changed and tired rotated (If you're in Maquoketa, I recommend Brad Deery for your new car needs) I got to talking to a couple old timers up there and they were mentioned record cold years, particularly 1978-1979, when the last of December and most of January was below zero all that time.  History has shown that in the Christmas of 1913 folks in Dubuque were treated to a brown Christmas.  I'd post the link but you have to be a subscriber to see that.  Fuck that, just go with the memories and Google if you can the link that you don't have to pay to see such memories.

This Christmas yielded no new Christmas music to speak of. But there was no shortages of annoying commercials with the overplayed Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, another song I'm beginning to detest with a passion, played on that creepy Apple Computers spot. And even more puke inducing, those Honda Michael Bolton ads, it would have worked one time but after 2,356 times of seeing it you just want to punch the PR guy who thought of that bright idea of getting a has been to annoy you to buy a junk car.

This season, my time spent at Wally World was minimal at best but before the onslaught of 7 and a half inches of snow, decided that I had to venture out to the one and Anamosa in the afternoon.  Of course the usual bad cart shoppers and dipshit teenagers yacking on cellphones were out in droves, which was why I went to Anamosa rather than Marion or worse CR or Dubuque, the lesser of the evils.  And then it was off to Maquoketa to Happy Joe's for buffet, to which the service was so GD bad, that I didn't leave any tip.  It's always amazing to me that when you're pressed for time, that you usually get the worst help, they don't wait on you, they don't come back to refill your overpriced drinks and waiting for the check, I'd would have been an hour late to get my car's oil changed.  When it comes to myself, I'm low maintenance, come around every 10 minutes or so, and the secret to having a bigger tip is refills, the more you do, the more Georgies you get.  But a lack of caring and you'll be stuck with your 2 dollar an hour wage plus tips, provided only when service is provided.  But I hardly noticed anybody that tips the Chinese lady at Bamboo Gardens, so I usually leave a 2 dollar tip if I'm doing supper there or a dollar on the cheaper lunch.  There's not much good Chinese food places around, the one in Marion across from Wally World is a dive, Metro Buffet's food is so fucking dry you choke on it and Green Leaves closed down both their places.  Can't figure why they even attempted to go to Anamosa but they didn't last long there.  Even though I don't make a whole helluva lot at my job, I still do my best to reward those who put forth an effort to keep the drinks a flowing.

So anyway, this time of season, the Christmas everybody used to love is more worse than the Chinese water torture.  Does every American Idol chick singer has to scream out the coda to O Holy Night aka Celine Dion or was that Miss Celine?   Made my ears bleed anyway.  And the usual slamming the classics, Do They Know It's Christmas one of the worst Christmas songs ever, with the Feed The World line sung, Make No More meaning quit making more babies.  Or the John Lennon song, nobody wants to slam it since it came from John himself but after hearing that five times in a eight hour workshift at Housemakers' in the Mall I'm sure they'll be going bah humbug.  Even Sheriff Joe in Arizona cut back on the holiday songs after both inmates and co workers were complaining about the same old same old songs over and over again.  Even Mary wants more variety.  Play something different dick head!

Since I paid for a year's worth of satellite radio, I have been listening to more of it in the new car, whereas in the silver car  it's either CDs or silence.  Underground Radio, the most listened to really has stepped up with alot of Bruce Springsteen or Ronnie Spector and neither one I can take a whole lot. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, fun when it came out, but I doubt if I'll play it here anytime soon.  Or Father Christmas by The Kinks.  But I have my favorites.  And since it's the usual time for the Top Ten, let's see what I can do by bringing out the lesser known.  But I can only tolerate so much Christmas music even before Christmas.

The Christmas top ten of 2013

1.  Santa Claus/Don't Believe In Christmas by The Sonics  I got the most dirtiest looks from the old ladies that I worked with at work when I played Don't Believe In Christmas off Bummed Out Christmas. Basically a rewrite of Too Much Monkey Business but it's punk garage around 66 or 65.  B side is a rewrite of Farmer John and can be found on The Best Of Cool Yule on Rhino (now out of print).

2.  My Favorite Things-Herb Alpert   Herb was a big deal back in the 60s and his south of the border sound was perfect for pop radio.  Thought about adding on his version of the overplayed The Christmas Song but chose this instrumental remake to which John Coltrane did and added 13 more minutes to his version. No Christmas station would ever played that.

3.  Christmas Dragnet-Stan Freberg  His Green Christmas was way ahead of its time and if you don't believe me, turn on cable TV and see of all the Made In China bullshit of I phones, Cellphones, video games and what have you.  But Stan always did a dead on soundalike of Jack Webb. Daws Butler is guest star and better known for his vocal use in Huckaberry Hound and other Hanna Barbera cartoons as well.

4.   It's About That Time-The Idea  Back in 1991 the guys in Shoes decided to make a Christmas album but using power pop bands and most of them did their own songs, this was probably the best out of the bunch. Very hard to find, I found one at the Crowded Closet for two dollars.


5.  Christmas Spirit?!? The Wailers   Another Christmas tradition song in the Crabb house, this perhaps one of the best Dylan parodies that anybody came up with. Until Bob gave us his Christmas album a few years ago.   That's a parody upon itself.

6.  Scrooge-The Townedgers  The most paradoxical song of this Christmas top ten, but Diggy Kat played it on his Christmas show last night.  Bizarre to point out that in their long history of music that Christmas With The Townedgers remains the best selling TE album in their history.  Much to the TE's chagrin.

7.  What I Want For Christmas-Nicole Blackman  Another Christmas classic in the Crabb house, this is basically Nicole's want list for her Christmas.  I want you to go away...... Classic.

8.  Who Says There Ain't No Santa Claus-Ron Holden And The Thunderbirds  Another long lost R&B classic and done in the style of The Coasters but with a twisted ending.  And they gave me...The Chair?!? (I told you there ain't no Santa Claus) hee hee hee.

9.  Wrap Yourself In A Christmas Package-Charles Brown  Long time ago the great blues pianist Brown made a Christmas album for King Records that came out on CD.  Kinda reminds me of the first Buck Owens Chrismas album, plenty of originals rather than the overplayed you know what.  And he was the first to compose Merry Christmas Baby too.

10.  The Chipmunk Song-Canned Heat with The Chipmunks  This still cracks me up everytime I hear it.  The thought of Simon, Theodore and Alvin hooking up with the Bear, the Owl and the rest of The Heat  in a tune that I never heard till I got the Christmas best of. You really can't top it.