Writing is MOFO Hard. 360’S-Illuminated (Link Records 1991)

ImageWashing dishes. Doing laundry. Offering myself as a human Kleenex during cold season in a preschool classroom. These are just a handful of things I would rather do then sit down and write when I need to write. Dorothy Parker said it best, “I hate writing, I love having written.” I’ll say it in another way– writing is motherfucking hard. Anyone one who boasts writing comes easy for them probably should be doing a pinterest page instead. Whatever it is bursting forth with great ease and being committed to page I am willing to bet is about as engaging as lifted photos of baked goods, shoes and pets.

I can’t pinpoint the time when I began to identify as a writer because I can’t remember when writing was not somehow incorporated into my life. But this I do know. My feeling about the act of stringing words together into something that is affecting and intriguing has remained the same. It is motherfucking hard. I imagine it to be like knitting a scarf. Placing fingers around pen or upon keyboard is as mind-boggling and primitive a feeling as it is to take couple of sticks, clack them together and create something from a pile of fibers. Like a scarf, once finished you hope your writing might bring warmth on a chilly day, but more often it becomes a noose to choke the life out of you. Exhilarating, necessary and motherfucking hard.

Style or length of writing makes no difference in the ease factor for me. When I was writing upcoming show highlights for the section the LA Weekly used to call “Scoring The Clubs,” I needed to get 150 words per article on the page. That’s it.  We had a Monday morning deadline, so every Sunday evening I’d begin the process. I’d listen to the band’s music and stare at a blank page. An hour in this scenario would evolve into head pounding, tears, rage and overwhelming regret for pitching the show idea in the first place. Eight hours later I would begin crafting excuses to send my editor as to why I could not make the deadline. And just as I was about to decide what sounded more legit, “my vision just disappeared” or “my typewriter broke,” I’d feel the spark of inspiration. I’d turn back to the page and that beautiful first sentence would come to me. From there, I’d bang out the assignment usually having about fifteen minutes to spare before I had to wake up for my day job.

I was brought back to all this when I put the 360’s CD into my computer and gave it a listen. I didn’t remember them and was expecting a 90’s shoegazing English band (for some reason), but instead was treated to some pretty decent Pretenders influenced rock and roll. Not a bad disc at all, but there were tumbleweeds blowing across the page when I sat down to write about this album’s place in my music library, and life. And then it came–that spark. Why don’t I plagiarize myself?

So good readers, here is my “review” of the 360’s album Illuminated, stitched together using a few lines from some of my favorite reviews of the past:

“Like a fallen knick knack shelf,” (1) “there is a certain brilliance to music created by a toddler banging passionately on pots and pans on the kitchen floor.” (2) “No tangible boundaries between the silly and the bleeding heart,” (3) [this band] “is more likely to slap you on the ass and give you a ‘hey baby’ than plant a tender little peck on your cheek.”(4) “Get your panties revved up and ready to be slung on stage,” (5) because 360’s “have given a flappy lipped condition a new meaning.” (6) They are like “having a Midol tablet, two chocolate bars and a car load of junk food when you are riding the cotton pony.” (7)

WORKS CITED:

(1) Guitar Boy at Highways. LA Weekly June 30th – July 6th 2000

(2) Old Time Relijun at The Smell. LA Weekly April 16 – 22nd 1999

(3) Babe The Blue Ox at Spaceland. LA Weekly October 9th – 15th 1998

(4) Downgirl at Meow Mix West at The Garage. LA Weekly July 17-23rd, 1998

(5) L7, The Donnas at The Whiskey. LA Weekly March 26- April 1 1999

(6) Cameltoe, Woodpussy at Club Sucker at The Garage. LA Weekly February 26-March 4th 1999

(7) Patsy, The Need, Red Aunts, Automaticans at Saint Lucy’s at The Fais Do Do Ballroom. LA Weekly August 21-27th 1998

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My First Time. 12 ROUNDS Promo CD. (Nothing/Interscope Records 199?) (1998)

Discovering the 12 Rounds CD in my collection was like the feeling you get when you find a super long hair growing out of your neck. You are a bit disgusted, but also intrigued as to how it survived for so long without you noticing.

How did 12 Rounds end up snuggled in right next to 4 Non Blondes? I am guessing it somehow escaped a purge I did a few years ago in which hundreds of promotional CD’s were led one by one to the trash bin outside my house. You see, at one point in my career as a music journalist in the 90’s and early 2000’s, I was getting at least one or two promo CD’s a day, mostly of pure crap from major labels that were seemly never ending poop factories. I had a floor to ceiling stack of unopened CDs next to my desk I lovingly christened “The Leaning Tower of Interscope and Hollywood Records”.

I could never figure out how I ended up on these publicity lists, but will say it wasn’t a cost-effective decision for the major labels to make (imagine that). Somehow they deduced from blurbs I wrote about Club Sucker, The Need, Patsy, Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, Team Dresch, K Records, Chainsaw Records and Kill Rock Stars, that I might be a good person to hit up to do a review of their freshly signed all male, mainstream “alt-grunge-hybrid-trip-hop-ska-electronica rock” band.

I must have gotten every new “next Nirvana” band there was to get.  They all had names like Dustmite, Blind Baby, Hang or Chloe’s Needle Problem. The names of course hinted at the festering angst, scars, dirt and poetry radiating from the souls of the goateed pretty boys clad in winter wear, whose sulking oozed from their PR photos like puncture wounds.  Anyway, all this crap crowded my library of CDs for a long time until a few years ago when it dawned on me that I would never unwrap and listen to that T-Ride promo CD and started chucking the shit.

Okay, on to 12 Rounds. I will admit this errant refugee from the first purge of promo CD’s evoked a bit of emotion. Even as something never before heard, due to its sheer will to remain in my collection, 12 Rounds is responsible for making me think about the moment in time just before the tidal wave of promo CD’s began to flood my doorstep. It was a moment in my history when music journalism felt new, pure, artful, creative and inspired. I remembered the first time my writing was included in a publication that boasted a circulation more than ten. It was a paragraph highlighting an upcoming show at The Roxy in the LA Weekly, a paper I lived and died by as a citizen of Los Angeles. Oh that electrifying moment when I picked up the issue that contained my first piece–an adjective laden blurb about a local band I loved.  Hundreds of blurbs were to follow over the next seven years, but nothing will ever beat the rush I felt that first week every time I passed a pile of the LA Weekly in a restaurant or local club and thought about my words making it into the hands of one-hundred thousand readers.

A few days ago, I did actually listen to the 12 Rounds CD. First, I was surprised to pop it in and discover they are a female fronted band (there was no picture on the sleeve). This album is not a bad album in any way–somewhat typical sounding “trip-hop” 90’s stuff, but in the end, it fell flat for me. So after one play, knowing I would never listen to it again, this 12 Rounds compact disc has made the march to my garbage can. But unlike the promo CD’s before, I shed a tiny tear as the lid closed on this one.

The ones that survived. Bonus points to anyone who can name the CD’s pictured.