Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The world is a vampire (but not a wussy Twilight one)

In addition to my parellel parking skillz (or lack therof), there remains one large part of my life that most people seem baffled by: my enduring and obsessive love of The Smashing Pumpkins.

1995: The Smashing Pumpkins squander their proceeds on eyeliner and sparkly things.

Now, when I say I love Lady Gaga, that love is but merely a fraction of devotion I have to the Pumpkins. Those of you who know my adoration of The Gaga are probably terrified right now knowing there is another music artist who I am even more crazy about...BUT let me explain.

I discovered The Smashing Pumpkins in the summer of 1996, 15 years ago. I clearly recall babysitting my cousins in Oregon one day when the much lauded music video for "Tonight, Tonight" popped up on MTV (back when that station wasn't filled with guidos and games about being quiet in a library (but seriously MTV, WTF? A library)) Anyway, immediately I was in love with the song, the band and the chrome dome beauty that is lead singer, Billy Corgan.

"Hey baby, wanna see my silver pants?"

This experience sparked a fire inside of me which led me to become an obsessive 13-year-old with a literal shrine to the band in my Dallas and eventual Boise bedroom. I spent all my "good grade" cheddar on The Aeroplane Flies High box set which was over $50. I wore that shit out. By then I had purchased every album the band put out, including rarities and crazy fans only merchandise. I remember being more thrilled than a Gaga in a shoe store when I discovered the band had been together since 1991 and thus, I had 4 years of music to engorge myself in.

Since that fateful summer, I have spent over $500 on various pieces of the band (yes, I actually crunched the numbers). This includes a VIP concert ticket and meeting my hero and eternal love, Billy.

"But wait, weirdo", you may be saying, "you haven't told us why this band means so much!" Slow your roll, readers! I'm getting to that.

Something very tragic happened in December 1995; my father died. In a lot of ways, I believe the Pumpkins kept me alive during that time and years after. Billy's music and lyrics reflected my situation at the time; I was depressed, angry, sad and basically acted like a punk for years. Songs like "Today" and "Thirty Three" gave me hope. All those songs created a storyline in my head and helped push the bad stuff out.

One song sticks out in particular. "Galapogos" from the Mellon Collie album ALWAYS makes me cry. No matter what. It's a gorgeous tale of being so in love that you can't bear to live on without the other. It sounds like there's some therapy needed, yes, but it's very Shakespearean in its idea. Also, the Pumpkins inspired me to pick up a guitar and write. The first song I ever learned to play was "Stand Inside Your Love" from the virtually flawless Machina album from 2000.

Most importantly, when I listen to their music, I feel as if I am home. I have never been as calm and peaceful as when I listen to the Pumpkins. It reminds me of where I came from and also that I'm still here which in itself is sometimes a miracle. It reminds me of my dad and it reminds me that there's always something beautiful out there to look forward to.

And that is why I love The Smashing Pumpkins. I hope you all love something as much.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"What the hell is a Lady Gaga?" - my grandfather (presumably)

It's been two very long, very crazy months since my last blog post. Since then the world has endured tornadoes, a devastating earthquake and a new Britney Spears album. Oh, the horror! But seriously, it's like I don't know what to write about anymore. I work at Wells Fargo, I process flood determinations (don't ask, it's boring), I hang out with my friends, I enjoy recreational substances, I read everyday and I've been watching the Franco/Rogen delight, Pineapple Express, a lot recently. ("I can see through my leghole!") You're caught up. Thrilling, isn't it?

But let's talk about the more pressing issue at hand: the new Lady Gaga album.

"I see all with my fake chin eye!"

I could write a New York Times series article on the cover alone but I'll spare you. But come on. It's her head crudely photoshopped onto a motorcycle with the words Born This Way emblazoned at the top like some battle cry. Yo, Gags, I didn't know you were born as a Harley! What a coincidence, I was born as a George Foreman grill! But my album is called Grill This Way (Knockin' Out the Fat).

"It doesn't matter if you love him or capital G-R-I-L-L"

Ok, enough about the cover, it's what's on the inside that counts. And what's inside is a mix of BDSM, techno, hardcore, rock and LOTS of Jesus. I don't know if the carpenter extraordinaire would like Gaga envisioning herself as Mary Magdalene, loving Judas over Him or calling Him a black runway model. I hope He's a forgiving person.

My favorite track is 'Heavy Metal Lover' which contains no heavy metal whatsoever. Instead, it's yet another rebel yell for leather wearing Harley riders and their 'chicks' to get drunk, cause trouble and possibly encouraging orgies? I can't really tell, there's too much autotune involved. Second on the fave list is 'Sciebe' which is German for 'shit'. What it has to do with this song about dancing and freedom, I have no idea. But the beat is a slick as an albino in a rainstorm. Rounding out the top tres, is 'Bad Kids', a opus to the weirdos, brats and punks aka Little Monsters. It sounds like Paula Abdul had sex with Duran Duran and then birthed this song.

Not all the songs are gems, however. 'Americano' is a pseudo-lesbian tale of an Italian Gaga who meets an American girl in LA. It's as convoluted as it sounds. Essentially, it's just Gaga shouting 'Americano!' over and over. My car stereo literally rejects it. I made a copy of the album for my car and 'Americano' was the only song to immediately start skipping. My Oldsmobile is xenophobic apparently or just know a shitty song when she hears one.

Overall, the album is pretty near perfect, bad Italian accents and saxophones aside. All it's missing is a guest appearance from an original stuffed crust pizza.

"Will someone scratch my nose for me? I would do it but I have WHEELS FOR HANDS"