I'll Be in That Army

I was reading a post over at Chief Jason's about Conor Oberst's new song "When the President talks to God," and it got me thinking about my favorite concert moment.

The stars were out and Dave Matthews was playing Crash...Errrrt (like a car screeching). Just Joshin. Not to completely knock Dave. I think he is incredible at times. I try to keep a musician's fans from dirtying my opinion. It drives me crazy when people hate a band because people like them, and everybody has heard of them. It doesn't make much sense. I saw Ani Difranco somewhere near New York City some time after Sept. 11th. She performed a poem she had written about the day. Emotions were still high and people weren't sure what to think. I happened to be in the World Trade center approx. thirty minutes before the first plane hit. It almost embarrasses me to say that because I'm tired of that tragedy being used to invoke more war. That day was sad. I was so happy that she actually addressed it. I am so disappointed when artists I admire do not react to things. Like where the hell has Zach de la Rocha been? Does he know that the machine he is supposed to be raging against is currently occupying the white house (and Iraq and Afghanistan and probably Iran before too long).

Ani's poem was met with some cheering, some booing and some silence. I was blown away. It landed the number two spot on my list of favorite concert moments. I laughed through an entire Martin Sexton show with my wife, and seeing Les Claypool at an undersold Moe Down was amazing (I yelled, "What was it?" at the beginning of "Harold of the Rocks"), and Melissa Ferrick slapped me in the face when she sang about putting her guitar in front of her ego, plus her little voyeuristic, hard to even watch because of it's intensity live rendition of "Drive" where she essentially humped a speaker and her guitar for fifteen minutes. All good times. The first time I heard Dave Matthews sing Bartender I almost fell out of my seat. The wind was blowing in a circle. This dude Flea, (anyone who's ever been to a punk or ska show in Buffalo probably knows of him) kissed me with a half shaven face at a Mustard Plug show. By half shaven I mean one eyebrow on the right side, an eight o'clock shadow on the right side and the better half of a Mohawk on the right side. At the time it scared the crap out of me, but looking back I am quite proud of the experience.

But my number one concert moment, to the abhoration (and I created that word specifically for my man) of Adam Robinson was a Radiohead show. It was in Liberty Park. The stage was set up so that the Statue of Liberty was the backdrop to the stage and the New York Skyline was on a stave to the left, each building playing it's own note. Thom Yorke came out to play a song by himself. His little piano faced the back of the stage and his back was to the crowd. Throughout the set, tiny security camera's had been placed in instruments and on the floor. These were broadcast on the sides of the stage. One tiny camera had been placed in his piano. The distortions were incredible. The close up of Thom Yorke's face in a sort of fish eye will never leave me. He sang "You and Whose Army?" When he sang the lyric, "you and whose army?" he turned around and looked at the crowd. His look said, “this is my army.” The sun was almost completely set, the City was squinting to see over the water, and my wife was next to me. Everything was in its right place.

Your Favorite?



Synonym Finder

I've been filling out grad school applications for the past couple of days. This is difficult stuff. I think you should be granted acceptance based solely on your ability to finish the application. Each application has like twelve parts, letters of recommendation being the most difficult part. I really hate tracking down old professors and asking them to write on my behalf. Then you have to get slides of all of your work and arrange them in a way that is sequential, bearing in mind that you are creating a mini movie that will be projected onto the walls of an intimidating room filled with professors and artist who specialize in criticism. God forbid your slide list does not match the order of slides. I start with early paintings that hopefully show an understanding of design and application. I throw in a work on paper to keep them guessing. Then a side portrait of my wife that is powerful, but simple. This is followed by one of my stronger paintings another simple one and then a weak one followed by a diptych of side profiles that are conceptually and aesthetically strong. I arrange them similar to a moving lecture or sermon. Grab the congregation’s attention, drop some theory on their ass, make a joke, get serious and then finish them off. So far, I think I've been delivering Catholic ceremonies, leaving them bored and hungry for the next applicant. There are no nude paintings in my portfolio so I have to make amends.

I have to write a separate statement for each school. It's tough to convey a willingness to learn without sounding insecure or lost. I have to balance heartfelt words with big sounding synonyms that make me sound smart. My selections are usually
effete, namby pamby, vacillating...and probably obvious for that matter.

Add on requests for transcripts from three different schools, a resume that is carefully worded to make me look ambitious (action words are key), and a crisp new slide sheet that does not have the same effect as those clear Mylar sheets that I used to cover my book reports in elementary school in that I thought would guarantee me a better grade, and a $50 application fee. I mean come on, isn't this good enough. All its gotten me so far is a collection of rejection letters that hang proudly from my refrigerator. I hope to some day send them back to the schools to show them what a horrible mistake they made by passing me by. Some day. Some day. They'll regret it...probably, or practicably.

*UPDATE* This post by egg wash is really great. It shows a complete disregard for artists like Mel Chin who are successfully using Art as a vehicle for change but none the less, it is worth reading.