Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sign On the Road Ahead

Greetings and salutations.

“I find it extremely unlikely that you’ve ever been a part of a Square Society event. It’s unfortunate that you would make those sort of comments without having the first clue what you are talking about. [skip ahead, what would I know about taste, blah, blah] Members are culturally interested, active professionals who support the Center through fundraising and volunteer activities.”

Last week’s column ruffled some feathers. I knew I would upset more than a few bar owners, and I was right. I knew I would irritate the ABC board. Mission accomplished there. But a scolding message about my Square Society comments, and it’s not even from the guy in the Chiquita Banana Girl costume? Total shock. I might even have apologized to that guy if he’d written me, but instead I get this, from the desk of the eternally inane. Some upstanding young professional took the time to drop me a line and give me a good, stern talking-to…and boy, did it hurt. My sides are still aching from laughing so hard. By now, I’m accustomed to all kinds of nasty messages. Threats, snide comments, challenges on my manhood, etc. – all part of the job, and sometimes my favorite part.

You see, if I write something unflattering about a band or one of their shows, I might occasionally get a comment from one of the members, or maybe even a note from the drummer’s mom (I’m being serious). Or if I pick on a band with a fan base that stretches beyond the immediate family, I could get yelled at by a loyal follower. But in all those cases, no matter how obtuse the attack, I can usually understand their connection to the situation and figure out where they’re coming from (before I publish their idiocy to the world and ridicule them for it). Which is why, the more I read this letter, the harder I laugh.

When read carefully, I’m convinced this message isn’t from an actual member of the Square Society. Not that I’m assuming anything of their qualifications, but the last line is an exact quote lifted right from the verbiage on their website. Astounding! Someone took the time to tell me what an uncouth piece of a social crap I am for making an offhand comment about a group they aren’t a member of, and then chose to drive their point home by quoting - the mission statement? It’s the unoriginality I find the most offensive. I could probably go and sissy-smack the Tom Cruise look-alike that fronts The Venus Transit, and he’d tell me to "f*-off" with more imagination than this. But that’s not even all of it. Right behind that letter, we have this:

“Since when did a blog on band activities in the Valley become an arena for your personal opinions? I intend to write a letter to your editor, thanking them for allowing you to dismiss the irresponsibility of musicians and their fans as only having a good time and to make light of a very serious issue [drunk driving].”

Since when did a blog on band activities in the Valley become an arena for my personal opinions? Well, this is just a conservative estimate, but probably right around the time I started writing it. A lot of people seem to miss that point – I write and say what I want because I have the space to do so. I’m not really clear when this became “a blog on band activities,” since that sounds suspiciously like I talk about trumpets and band camp, but we’ll overlook that. What I can’t figure out is where in my last column I made light of drunk driving. It’s no secret that a lot of musicians drink, and bands on the bar circuit tend to encourage it because when they increase a bar’s revenue, they get paid more (and get invited back), but I reread last week’s piece and don’t recall dismissing anything. I suggested a more realistic approach to understanding that drinking can get out of hand in every situation, and think it’s unfair to point fingers at a band because of some supposed recklessness that they and/or their music create. The difference is that bands do less to disguise their motives and that is likely why they are singled out. Unfortunately, reading the Letters to the Editor section always makes me sleepy, so I don’t know if this person is really going to write in or not (note: someone let me know if they come across anything) but it will never cease to amaze me how the best causes always seem to get the stupidest spokespeople.

Moving on, you may have noticed that I’ve started adding upcoming show dates of bands I’ve reviewed on the calendar of my MySpace account. I’ll do what I can to keep it as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but I encourage bands to keep me informed of what they’ve got going on so that I can tell the good townspeople what they’re missing and call them names for not supporting you. And then I can call you names if no one likes you. Or because I feel like it.

And lastly, we have the winners of this week’s Band Battle, or as I started calling it on Tuesday, “Last Band Standing.” In case you’re thickheaded and haven’t read my previous statements on this, let me just remind everyone again. This is NOT a contest of musical talent, creativity, originality, or entertainment prowess. It’s to answer the question of who would win if 16 of the area’s most popular local acts fought each other, to the death, in no-holds-barred street fights.

Dark Ruin vs. Crobar Cane:
Once again the numbers game just didn’t play out. The good ole’ boys of Crobar Cane showed up armed and strong, but Southern Comfort wasn’t enough against spirits from beyond the grave. After Cane put a few rounds in the bellies of the metal heads, it looked to be all over. But the most evil band in the tournament harnessed the power of netherworld to revive themselves. Unable to defend against the forces of darkness, Crobar Cane became country-fried zombie food. Dark Ruin wins.

Illbotz vs. Aggressor State: Roanoke’s tricked-out MC’s didn’t need two turntables and microphone to take a freestyle battle against the speed metal kids in Aggressor State. I thought it would be funny if I tried to make this battle rhyme, but I ran out of time and me trying to rap is nothing short of a crime. The Botz took the advantage by dropping Aggressor State’s drummer the night before the fight, and distracted their second guitarist with the illest pair of 1989 Air Jordans he’s seen since Ebay. Popped two caps and it was over. Fool. The Illbotz win.

Make sure to write in and vote for the winners of next week’s fights:
The Pop Rivets vs. Chinese Fire Drill
Cobalt Media vs. The Cheap Seats

Will dig myself out from under the mountain of reader mail to do another show review AND I need to start deciding what band I’ll be interviewing next. I’m also interested in talking about bands who have cd’s coming out, so drop me a line and do something other than complain. That’s my job. Until next we meet…

- The Phantom