So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #021: 2018 Music Rewind

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #021: 2018 Music Rewind

Funny thing (to me at least) is as much as I consider myself a pop-culture connoisseur, the one tent of it I tend never to wax poetic on is music. Where I find that in review of print media, film, and TV all lend itself easily to good or bad — with plenty of grey area between the two — music has long felt an area safe from my I’m right and if you disagree you’re wrong mentality. Why? Because from an early age I found it easy to understand the notion of music taste. That certain songs, genres, and formats could be loved by one person, tolerated by another, and loathed by a third.

As an example, sitting in the family room of my Grandma Mickey and Papa Bernie as they listened to the symphony… I could visibly see their enjoyment of the melancholy cacophony my ears where whispering to me was boring. And then, on the ride home, my mother blares You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) by Jimmy Sommerville — rewinding the cassingle after each play to enjoy it again long before “repeat” was a button on our stereos. My father, to date, owns only a handful of music — he is more apt to listen to literal silence or news radio if he is in control of the speaker-box. Yet amidst what anyone might assert as having no foothold to the larger musical world, my love of music is as much as part of my identity as my love of literally all other mediums combined.

I can go years without needing to read a comic. My Netflix and Hulu queues are choked with shows I know I’ll love that will remain unwatched as I make my way through my 813th viewing of the entirety of Scrubs. To date, I’ve still not seen dozens of mandatory films I should have absorbed years ago. But rest assured: whenever it is time to truly work on anything in my life — be it a comic book I’m drawing, design I’m completing for a client, or even just visiting the gym — music is on and affixed to my head so-as to ensure no other sound makes its way into my sphere.

With that preamble in place, I wanted to call out some music that I stumbled over in 2018 — be it new, or just new-to-me — and share some thoughts about why it wriggled its way into my head and didn’t leave.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #021: 2018 Music Rewind”

Beat JENeration #015: The Jen 500

Beat JENeration #015: The Jen 500

I don’t know what you did during Thanksgiving break, but I wasted most of mine trying to order an impossible list. 

I also ate pie. (Though not nearly as much as I wanted).

Ok, first things first, I went into Thanksgiving vacation with plans to do jack shit. There would be intentionally bad Netflix choices and lots of sitting around in my PJs, of course, but not much else.  After the a few traumatic years— three with a cancer-stricken mom worrying/enjoying through what would potentially be the “last one” and then last year trying to rally through the traditions as an orphan who never even liked “The Holidays” in the first place —this was year are togetherness with my emotionally exhausted nuclear family with as little effort as possible.

The thing about having no schedule and no place to report to is that it frees up a lot of time and headspace. And I’m sure if you’ve been reading my column, I’ve told you already that being alone with thoughts is not my favorite.

So there had to be some kind of task to occupy my mind while remaining as physically idle as possible.

Somehow I decided refining one of my playlists in iTunes would be an amusing time suck. Jen’s Top 500 seemed the obvious choice.

I know, just the title sounds daunting, but honestly when I threw 500 songs into a playlist over the summer I didn’t think much about it. I captioned it, “The playlist to be played at my funeral or really any event where you are celebrating me.”  But it wasn’t really in any order.

Because who would be daft enough to rank 500 of their favorite songs?

Well, me, last weekend. And when I say last weekend, it took all four days and then I spent a more than a couple hours messing with it this week too.

The list is public on Apple Music and you are free to giggle and gawk at it. I’m not claiming its the 500 best songs, but they are my ordered favorites. Though crafting this list gave me very little pleasure.  It was hella stressful. (And I remind you that pot is legal in California).  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #015: The Jen 500”

Beat JENeration #014: The Greatest Showman Reimagined

Beat JENeration #014: The Greatest Showman Reimagined

The world would be a better place if we would all move our lives’ plot points along by spontaneously breaking out into song and dance. And I think the swelling popularity of musicals in the last five or so years is pushing us in the right direction.

While one must give credit to Hamilton for the recent cross-over popularity in musical theatre, it’s hard for me to gauge actually how much musicals have really has penetrated the general population. You see, in my world, musical theatre has always been a constant. My day job is in the performing arts, I have two high school triple-threats living in my home, and I was raised by two Broadway-loving New Yorkers. Though that really means nothing because in the grand scheme of things the Annie Original Broadway Cast album came out when I was at a very impressionable elementary school age and THAT alone sealed my fate.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #014: The Greatest Showman Reimagined”

Beat JENeration #010: Liz Phair

Beat JENeration #010: Liz Phair

I love Liz Phair. That has always been true, but last Monday, I was reminded, again, how much.

Currently, Liz Phair’s in the middle of her Amps on the Lawn tour and let me tell you, she looks great. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performer look so happy on stage ever. She sounded better than I remember too. Earlier shows — I’m thinking primarily her Whitechocolatespaceegg tour stop at SDSU’s Montezuma Hall (the internet tells me it was 1998) — was a little uncomfortable. Well, she seemed uncomfortable and I remember feeling bad about it.

But I still loved her. 

My favorite time seeing her was in 1994 or 95 in Chicago at Bub City (the old location on Weed St) while she was eating BBQ with her parents. Two tables over, I was too dumbfounded by breathing her same air to speak. I would later see her at Lounge Ax and Delilah’s just being a civilian and I never once even attempted to make eye contact. Aside from being raised near enough to LA to never bother celebrities, I’m also a firm believer that we mere mortals should never speak to deities. She’s a goddess.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #010: Liz Phair”

The New England Shake-Up Year 6 Is a Party Not to Miss

The New England Shake-Up Year 6 Is a Party Not to Miss

The last full weekend of September sees the idyllic New England town of Sturbridge invaded not by leaf peepers but vintage loving Rockers. The New England Shake-Up is a roots rock weekender held at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center, put on by Beck Rustic of Retroactive Northeast.

For three days, four if you count the pre-party on Thursday night, folks gather from around the world to watch bands and dance to djs playing some of the best rockabilly, western swing and greasy rock and roll to be found! There’s also a classic carshow on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday they throw a pool party!

Continue reading “The New England Shake-Up Year 6 Is a Party Not to Miss”

Beat JENeration #007: So, there’s this thing called Australian Pink Floyd

Beat JENeration #007: So, there’s this thing called Australian Pink Floyd

Last night I ventured out to Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa. This is where all the Broadway tours stop in Orange County. I recently saw Liza Minelli here. Eddie Izzard. Misty Copeland dances on this stage for American Ballet Theatre often. Plush red velvety seats for almost 3000 asses, it’s civilized for sure — not that it stops men from attending in shorts and flip flops most nights. But last night was, um, special, different, odd. Last night perplexed me, quite frankly, and I think I need you all to help me figure it out.

There’s this thing called Australian Pink FloydI love pretty much all things Australian. I’ve been there and the place holds up to its hype. Not only do they have koalas, kangaroos, Olivia Newton-John, Hugh Jackman, and Paul Kelly (essentially their Bob Dylan, but he can actually sing well), but they are home to the best dessert ever, the Lambington,  So, I’m always cool with Aussies as a general rule. 

Pink Floyd, on the other hand, hmmm… I went to a typical American high school and then matriculated to a party university. The Wall was rented many a night from Tower’s cult movies section (a young Bob Geldof, eye brows or no, was intriguing) and I owned Dark Side of the Moon to cue up with Wizard of Oz. But, as I wasn’t a stoner myself, I think I missed a lot of the finer points of Pink Floyd aside from the entry level hits – “Comfortably Numb,” “Wish You Were Here,” and…well, actually, if I’m being totally honest I just know The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, “Wish You Were Here,” and I thought I knew “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” but only the radio cut, which I’ll get to later. Fake fan…I’ll accept that, though I would never use the word fan. I did, however, see Pink Floyd live once at Jack Murphy Stadium. This guy, Craig, who I knew from the BBS Board, Anarchy X gave me a ticket — probably because he felt bad for telling mutual friends he slept with me, when he most certainly did not — and well, he thought I was a fan, but he, as I already established, had a problem with the truth. Point? Pink Floyd’s okay by me.   Continue reading “Beat JENeration #007: So, there’s this thing called Australian Pink Floyd”

Rocket J Remembers Lorrie Collins

Rocket J Remembers Lorrie Collins

Lorrie (Lawrencine May) Collins passed away on August 4, 2018.  There have been plenty of obituaries written for her, including one in the venerable New York Times.  The facts about her life can be summarized in a few paragraphs, but I’ll give you the bullet points:

  • Born on May 7, 1942, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma
  • She won her first talent contest at the age of 8
  • Her brother, Larry, two years younger than she, was a Rockabilly guitar prodigy
  • Together they formed The Collins Kids, moved to Los Angeles and performed on Tex Ritter’s Town Hall Party

All that information is readily available on the internet.  Now let me tell you what Lorrie meant to me as a female Rockabilly singer.  Continue reading “Rocket J Remembers Lorrie Collins”

Aretha Franklin, 1942 – 2018: A Remembrance from the Heart and Soul

Aretha Franklin, 1942 – 2018: A Remembrance from the Heart and Soul

Well, we knew this day would come. She had been ill for over a decade, but, still, her power was so overwhelming we simply could not allow ourselves to think about it.  Continue reading “Aretha Franklin, 1942 – 2018: A Remembrance from the Heart and Soul”