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I was the first kid on my block to get a skateboard. An older kid that lived across the street gave it to me. I think I was around 9. I didn’t know if he thought I was cool and different-hence deserving of something cool that he no longer needed. Or maybe he felt bad for me because I was a pudgy little runt that also had the misfortune of having to wear an eye patch-hence deserving of something cool that he could mentally write off as a good deed (he was kind of a delinquent).

But skateboarding was what I wanted to do. Most of my friends and my brother’s friends were super athletic; they played baseball, basketball, or football and of course all of them were amazing athletes. I loved those activities a lot too, but not nearly as much as they did. For some reason I felt that those sports required years of practice and … talent. And I was too impulsive to want to practice anything and talent wasn’t a think that I had.

But skateboarding was different. And it was a good reason to force my parents to buy me high top Converse All-Stars. You couldn’t have a skateboard without a pair of high top Converse All-Stars. Not in the late 80s anyway.

The board was called “Bone Crusher” and it was bright purple. It had a purple tail bone and black rails. And it was huge in comparison to today’s standards. But I loved it.

Until it sucked.

I must’ve fumbled around on that behemoth for a week before I decided that it wasn’t working. It was too cheap. It was too heavy. It wasn’t named after a pro skater. And all of those important facts made it impossible for anyone to ollie on. (I was convinced that even Natas Kaupas wouldn’t be able to make Bone Crusher airborne). And I mean, really, if a board wasn’t good enough to ollie on, what was it good for.

So, like I always did when I didn’t put enough time and effort into something I wanted to do, I whined until my parents bought me better equipment.

On a Saturday morning my dad took me to a place called Board Stiff. It was on Greenfield Avenue in West Allis, real close to the old Paradise Theater. The place smelled like heaven.  Or grip tape and shoe rubber. That toxic but clean scent is something I’ll never forget. We looked around for five minutes and then I found my board. It was the first Tony Hawk deck, made by Powell Peralta. I had seen it in Thrasher and Transworld and knew I wanted it before we even got there. Back then skateboards came in sizes and my 9 year old frame, short and a tad round, definitely needed a mini and not the adult large that we ended up purchasing.

My new deck was nearly as big as the Bone Crusher. But it was a Tony Hawk. And yep, I still couldn’t ollie on it.

But just as this incident – I always – ALWAYS – had to have name brand merchandise. I would settle for nothing else. Air Jordans, Z Cavaricci, Guess, etc, etc, etc. Today it’s nothing new. Beer. Coffee. They may not spend as much on a marketing budget but if the brand has proliferated into my psyche or found a way into my thoughts – I’m going to try whatever the product is at least once.

I’m a brand whore and I really don’t think it’s a bad thing. If products are marketed well and appeal to me – someone has done their job properly.

Found at Half Acre Tasting Room- Chicago, IL

There are few things in this world that make me laugh with joy like a little kid. You know when little tears well up in the corner of your eye but fail to move any further? Elvis is one those things and this raw footage of a 1972 rehearsal for “Burning Love” did just that. My appreciation for late era King continues to grow and the playing and vocals of this version of the song are a great example of why that it is.

Sidenote: My friend Kevin and I used to randomly sing parts of this song when we’d pass each other at work. His favorite: “it’s getting closer, the flames are now licking my body,” and of course the high pitched “girl, girl, girl (oooh, oooh, oooh)” part. He was cool like that.

I reviewed my life affirming experience at The War on Drugs show for Seizure Chicken and haven’t been able to escape the spell that the night put on me. After posting this, the lead track off their first record Wagonwheel Blues, I’m going to slowly walk away and make an attempt to put my brain back together.

Sidenote: Wagonwheel Blues was one of the last pieces of vinyl that I ever bought at Atomic Records (along with Weather Report’s Black Market, 2 rare White Stripes 7 inches and EPMD’s Strictly Business). I don’t quite remember how much buzz there was floating around about The War on Drugs, but I do remember that I liked the record cover and the price.

Enjoy this fan made video for “Arms Like Boulders.”

Well, this may be a little better than that Stones video of “Sweet Virginia.” An angry and angsty Dylan sings the Blood on the Tracks classic “Idiot Wind”  about his soon to be ex-wife who was apparently in the audience. This incredible performance is captured on the live album, Heavy Rain and is worthy of a million replays. Holy shit.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

I always forget how awesome “Birdhouse in your Soul” is. But when I do remember, its awesomeness clings to me like my old Ewok backpack that I used to only take off on weekends. Titus Andronicus covered the They Might Be Giants classic for the Onion’s A.V. Club covers project which now has me reminiscing about all of the cool people that I used to know that absolutely love this tune. Cheers!

Perfect song for a day that has left my eyes heavy. Slanted and Enchanted fills in as my favorite album of all time around every three months or so and “Zurich is Stained” is one of the reasons why. Malkmus has a way, a lazy phrasing that makes everything in the world seem right. Slack or not, things make sense when his words double as the underlying truth. To. Everything. I guess. Oh, and this video footage is pretty rad too. Later, Wednesday.



I’d be willing to bet that “Caravan,” my favorite song off of Van Morrison’s Moondance and one of my favorite songs of all time, is the sole reason behind  the nickname Van the Man.  The song is incredibly soulful, funky, and has incredible amounts of singalong-ability. It never fails to put a smile on my face or strain the hell out of voice. Happy Sunday!

Not to worry, the softness of this makes it Sunday morning appropriate. I’ve never heard a version of  “I’m Waiting for the Man” that I didn’t love. No exception here. I have to wonder though, did any of the Parisians on hand this night shout JUDAS at Lou and John? Probably nod….

This song and video are near perfect for midwinter doldrums. Currently snOMG is thankfully howling full throttle and blowing away the remnants of a too dead winter. “Tears Are in Your Eyes” is one of those tracks that opens multiple passages and tonight….it’s creating a new one. Enjoy. T//