Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Smart - Wish You Were Here

Welcome to the first edition of Book Smart, my attempt at furthering your reading beyond this blog. 

Are you in the need of a good beach book for the summer? Something preferably easy to read, informative and funny? Well you're in luck.

Wish You Were Here is your answer. No, not the Pink Floyd album. It's the second book published by
senior editor Leslie Simon. Remember her? She co-authored everyone's favorite piece of emo approved literature, Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide To Emo Culture

Well, she's back with a mission to give you all a bit of history on what makes punk punk, and where the best places in the country are to further your street cred in the scene.

Wish You Were Here is part travel companion, part history and all punk. Simon dissects everything from Washington D.C.'s hardcore roots, suburban Florida's pop-punk influence, East Bay's snotty punk scene and Long Island's heartfelt emo core. You'll learn about the bands you love, the bands they love and some bands you've never even heard of.

Simon's work is once again fused with humor throughout, which proves vital in those spots when she rants about Fugazi and Jawbreaker. Good bands, yes, but I think she could have kept it a bit more current.

What does work for Simon is her ability to map out each city by means of clubs, record shops, restaurants and bars. Complete with addresses and websites, this little book can give you a killer to-do list if you happen to be visiting one of these many punk hot-spots this summer. Trust me, I'll have this book in hand on my travels to Seattle in a few weeks. Easy Street Records here I come!

The great aspect of Wish You Were Here is that it's almost like a departure from the "emo" scene in general. It's a coming of age book. You can tell our author has grown up. She's right by our side rejecting today's endless stream of crap by getting back to the basics. 

Packed with illustrations to help relieve your eyes from all those damn words, Wish You Were Here is the perfect kick-off to your summer reading list. So go pick it up, like... today. Or just get it here.

My only gripe about this read is that Boston is no where to be found. Guess we're just too cool. But it balances out 'cause Leslie is hot, and who doesn't appreciate a pretty girl? Case in point.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Green With Democracy

Do you Tweet? If you do you're probably following someone semi-famous. You know, stalking their every move via Twitter. Well maybe you've recently noticed some of these celebrities' and musicians' default pictures turning green. Well don't worry. Your eyes are working just fine. 

These artists have joined in with another 160,000 plus Twitter users to stand up for Iran's fight for democracy. By "going green" with their photo they have publicly demonstrated their support for a fair election process.

Two weeks ago Iran held its 10th presidential election since 1979. Protests have erupted throughout the country after reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi lost to current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in what many call a rigged election.

Since then, internet sites supporting reform and a vote recount have been springing up daily. The Help Iran Election site popped up on Twitter asking supporters to turn their profile pictures green (the official color of the democratic movement).

And before you know it Twitter guru Mark Hoppus had his picture covered with the eery green filter. The idea has caught on quick too.

Following Hoppus' footsteps are Bayside's bass player Nick Ghanbarian, Anberlin's frontman Stephen Christian, Motion City Soundtrack guitarist Joshua Cain and indie-chick duo Tegan and Sara amongst others. 

If you'd like to join the cause, click here. Maybe now that green mohawk you were thinking about might actually stand for something other than a horrible fashion statement.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Food For Thought

Looks like the days of needing a backstage pass to meet your favorite bands are over. Or at least for the punk scene. Rather than taking advantage of private catering, bands today are inviting their fans for an after-show bite to eat at Denny's. Wait... Denny's? Seriously? Yep.

This new meet and greet fad is sweeping the nation, and probably helping sales for the greasy chain. So who can you
meet if you just so happen to stop by late night? Well, earlier this spring it would have been Taking Back Sunday or The Maine. Right now you've got a choice. Envy On The Coast, Ace Enders and Drop Dead Gorgeous are all currently holding get-togethers at the restaurant. 

I don't know how I feel about all this. It's cool that you can literally hang out with your favorite band without having the annoyance of getting kicked out of the venue, but at the same time it's Denny's. It's the dirty little place you and your friends went when no one had money or cared about their health.

Outside of just chillin' with your favorite band, Denny's also offers a full rock-star infused menu. Here's
where it gets scary.

Did you know that Gym Class Heroes, Good Charlotte and Sum 41 all have their own signature dishes? Yes, it's true. Good Charlotte put together the "Band of Burritos." Sum 41 rock the "Sumwich," and Gym Class Heroes cooked up the "After School Special" for all the hungry fans out there. 

Now, don't let the pictures fool you. We all know what food from Denny's really looks like. 

I'll admit it, when Taking Back Sunday rolled into the Denny's in Danver's Mass. last month I was
waiting. I did get to hang on their tour bus and scored a sweet autographed poster, but I left feeling sticky and overweight (though I did not eat while there!). 

So all in all, I suppose it's an alright idea. Bands can connect with their followers, kids can have an intimate experience with their bands and a struggling restaurant can make a few bucks. Just make sure you've got some Pepto-Bismol if you're going to partake in some of that punk-rock grub. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Best Boston Has To Offer

Well it's been about a year that I've been living near Boston. In that time I've been able to see a ton of shows in and around the city (not counting the four years of undergrad I spent commuting to the city to mosh). And in that time I've had the pleasure of being to some of the best clubs Boston has to offer, so I figured I'd let you in on some of my favorites.

House of Blues - Boston
The HOB just opened it's doors early this year, and has quickly become the gem of Lansdowne Street. Taking over where the Avalon and Axis once stood, the HOB boasts a 2,500 person capacity, three levels of viewing and at least
one bar on every level. So far their line-up has been nothing short of stellar. Jimmy Eat World, Bayside and New Found Glory have already taken the stage. Rise Against, Rancid, Taking Back Sunday, Anberlin and Envy on the Coast are all set to perform this summer. Intimate, yet large enough to support bigger acts, the HOB has got my vote of approval.

Harper's Ferry - Allston, MA
Located in the heart of Allston Rock City, Harper's stands as one of the greatest clubs Boston has to offer. It's small, so seeing one of your favorite bands play here is like having them play in your parent's basement. You can always
meet up with the band before or after the set. Chances are they'll be walking around the little dig. If that isn't enough to hook you, check out their bar. This place has got the cleanest, coldest and best tasting beer I've ever had from a tap. You won't be disappointed.

T.T. the Bear's - Cambridge, MA
This place is great if you're into the local scene, or just seeing live music seven nights a week. Every once in a while T.T.'s hosts a bigger act such as Rise Against who packed the small club last October. Check out a video I did with the band from that show here. The place is really easy to find too. Just a short walk from the red line, and located directly next to the Middle East, T.T.'s screams locality. A staple for any Boston scenster. 

The Middle East - Cambridge, MA
Speak of the devil. Yep, the Middle East, as I was saying, is yet another jewel in Boston's rock club line-up. Right on Mass. Ave., the club is easy to get to. Be sure to check out the upstairs for a drink and bite to eat before heading downstairs to the stage area. If you're of legal age feel free to grab a wristband and hang in the 21+ area. It's right off to the side of the stage, and gets you practically front row. They've got seats in the back for you, and a bar serving cheap beer and free water (trust me, free water is a big deal). You don't get that kind of deal in the Hartford scene. Rock on Boston.
Newbury Comics - Norwood, MA
In the mood for something acoustic? Want to meet your favorite band, and then shop for some vinyl? Well the Newbury Comics in Norwood has got you covered. It's huge, so you can get anything your little heart desires. And then after that feel free to watch a quick acoustic set on NC's small stage near the back of the store. Since the place opened up late last year everyone from Bayside to Rise Against and Taking Back Sunday have hit this place to connect with their fans. It's a little out of the way, but hey, isn't the journey half the fun?

Well, now you know where to go. So get off your ass, and start moshing. I'm pretty sure each one of these places has got a sweet line-up for the summer. Check it out... and then let me know how it goes. Have fun!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Digital Magazines? How Do You Read That on the Toilet?

It's no surprise that the field of print journalism is dying quicker than Sum 41's career, and as sorry as I am to say it, we in the punk scene are not immune to it. Last week our monthly issued Bible, Alternative Press, officially started an online version of its magazine. 

Now, even though it's quite cool that you'll be able to access AP virtually anywhere from your iphone, I can't help but think this might be the end of our hardcopy. This has been a trend lately in the industry. We as readers are slowly seeing the downsizing of the industry. A while back Rolling Stone Magazine, famous for its oversized rag, downsized to your normal run-of-the-mill 8.5 x 11 inch sizing.

Unfortunately, it didn't stop there. Apparently the idea spread around the entertainment industry, and soon enough we saw AP downsizing its very own specially sized magazine. 

They kept going, too. If you were a subscriber of AP before October of last year, you'd know that not only did you get your mag a week earlier than everyone else, but you also got a special subscribers only cover. Well, cross that off your list. In the craze to pinch pennies, AP decided to discontinue subscriber only covers. 

Personally, I think that's a bunch of garbage. Part of the reason I subscribed to AP was for that subscriber only cover. It was always the best looking picture, and was a great collectors item. (And we all know how everyone in our scene is a collector of something or other)

So what's to make of this? I guess we can complain over and over again, but I don't think anything is going to change. Fact of the matter is that we've got to get used to the idea that most likely, within the next few years, most of what we read will be online. 

But it's not all that bad. Hell, you're reading this right now, and... well... you can only get it online. Thanks for checking it out.
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