Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union Needs a Re-Vamp

The living space I have been renting for the past three months came with a sitting area with a television that I have never once turned on. For some reason, tonight, right around 7 PM, I felt moved to “turn on the TV and maybe watch some news.”

I figured out how to bring up the picture with almost no trouble at all (which I thought would be a challenge,) and the very first channel I put on happened to feature the United States of America’s very own President Barack Obama delivering his State of the Union Address. It had just begun when I got it on. Weird. I honestly didn’t even know the speech was happening tonight, but it seems as though someone wanted me to watch it, so I did.

I thought the address was gay. A bunch of stiff, boring people in suits clapping when appropriate at a bunch of bullshit spewing out of a man who happens to be trained in public speaking and hand movements. Don’t get me wrong, I voted for the fella, I just think the whole government thing is a bit outdated. I kind of think he should have done the speech at MCU (formerly Keystone) Park in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, NY…see if those people politely agreed with everything he said. Or maybe he should travel to different cities and do a State of the Union Tour, personally addressing the real people of the country…that’s not such a bad idea.

It comes with interesting timing in my life that I would sit and watch/listen to the State of the Union Address, because the President is pretty much talking about what needs to be done to ensure that America is NUMBER ONE in everything in the world, and I just finished reading a very excellent novel that touched on this very topic, but in regards to when Communism was present in China.

The book I am referring to is “The Three Daughters of Madame Liang” by Pearl S. Buck. This is the third book I have read by Buck. Her stories take place in China and are what I would classify as historical fiction, though from what I recall she does not pinpoint specific dates. I speculate “The Three Daughters of Madame Liang” to take place in the mid-1960s and it gave me interesting insight into what it is like to live a life completely controlled and monitored by the government. At this time in the book the Chinese are not free to do or think as they please, but they still show a great pride in their people and believe they should follow through with actions that will benefit and add to the progression and rise in excellence of the country.

I don’t really see a dominance in the belief of nationalism at the present time in the United States, but maybe that’s just the scene I am associated with. Though that brings me back around full circle in this writing; the fact that I thought the address was antiquated, appeasing and unconvincing. Was it supposed to make me feel patriotic? Because it didn't. I think the whole idea of the State of the Union Address needs a re-vamp. Enough with the conventional, the masses are so far passed that. Show me something interesting. Show me something that will make me believe.

Having been inspired by all of this political contemplation, I have decided to change the name of my blog to Camel Culture!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NYE Weekend 2010 - Railroad Earth & STS9 - Denver Style

I had a pretty fantastic New Years weekend here in Denver.  I managed to squeeze in three nights of live music, though there was potential for four if you’re into Railroad Earth (RRE), which I very much am.  RRE was scheduled to play three nights (12/29, 12/30 and 12/31/2010) at the Ogden Theater, and from what I saw and heard the shows went well because they spontaneously announced a fourth show for Saturday Jan. 1st.  

My holiday fun started on Thursday Dec. 30th with the snow, as I left work earlier than expected to attempt to beat some hazardous road conditions.  My car and bags were packed for the weekend so I headed straight to my friend’s apartment where I had plans to stay the night after the Railroad Earth show.  Around 4:30 PM I ended up going to a hotel party with a crew that was going to see Widespread Panic and we partied pretty hard in a short amount of time.  

At about 6:30 I left the hotel by myself with handwritten instructions on how to take the bus to my favorite bar in Denver, Sanchos, which is oh-so-conveniently located right near The Ogden.  I successfully made it to Sanchos (after finding a full change purse on the ground!) and once inside the bar I immediately made a friend who was also going to RRE. We were chillin and talking for a bit, and then decided we would each order a cocktail and quickly down them before heading to the show.  Well.  About that.  I don’t remember exact details of the moment, or why I took my camera out and was holding it over my drink, nor do I know why my fingers chose that exact moment to fumble, but I do know that one second I was holding a relatively new and flawless Nikon Cool Pix point and shoot camera, and the next second it was swimming in a pint of Jack and Ginger Ale.  

Bye, bye, camera.  Happy New Year.  Nice knowing you.  Not the best weekend to go camera-less, but it happened, and now this blog lacks personal graphics because of it! Hope I can replace it sooner than later.

The Railroad Earth show on 12/30/10 was simply amazing; at least I thought so.  I spent the entire night dancing and smiling in my special shirt made just for the event.

I was very happy with the setlist on Thursday night!  I squealed with excitement when I heard the notes to “For Love,” I still can’t stop listening to “The Good Life,” and I was brought down two other New Jersey memory lanes during the last two songs.  Though popular, I enjoyed hearing “Long Way To Go” because it took me back to my college days when I had this shitty yet cherished job working for a landscaper on the weekends with friends. My friend Cory and I would sometimes ride together and we liked to play that song on repeat en route to and from work.  The song“Hard Livin’” will always ring true in my heart, as I remember singing that tune to myself at a specific job, on many a Sunday mornings, working on a new plan (hello, Colorado), and hoping I was being forgiven for all that hard livin’….

I was loving the Railroad Earth show so much that I told the person I was hanging with that I was selling my New Years Eve STS9 ticket and coming back to The Ogden for RRE.  They had a beautiful female backup vocalist that night named Sheryl Renee and I was enjoying her soul signing so much I told myself, “If Sheryl is going to be here tomorrow, I am going to be here tomorrow! Fuck STS9!”  I even debated leaving the RRE show early to go sell my STS9 ticket outside The Fillmore, but then I realized I didn’t even have the ticket on me, nor could I pull myself away from the music early.  

(Want to hear the show? Stream it here for free! http://www.archive.org/details/rre2010-12-30)

After the show I started walking down Colfax by myself at 2AM in 5-degree weather, in the snow, gripping a container of mace, en route to my friends and ready to take on anyone that fucked with me.  Being that the exposed parts of my face were icicles and I wasn’t sure how far I was walking or how safe it was, I quickly decided it best to take a taxi and made it back to my friend’s.  When I walked in Kevin’s front door I was greeted by a Border Collie named Gogi that I had met earlier in the day and I am CONVINCED the dog said “Hi Lauren” when I entered.  I swear he said it.  I am not normally one to believe in the supernatural, but I heard it and I will believe it for the rest of my life.  That is one smart pup.

Back at Kevin’s I put my STS9 ticket on craigslist and included my phone number, saying the first person who texted me WON (as in, could buy my ticket for the sold out show.)  When I woke up at 10 AM nobody had yet texted and I decided to delete the ad, keep the ticket and carry on with my original plans because the people I wanted to party with were going to STS9, so I followed the flock.

STS9 at The Fillmore was fun, but compared to Railroad Earth Thursday night, I just wasn’t in love with the show.  The venue was sold out and during the first set my crew was up close and it was just way too hot and crowded for my liking.  I hate being at shows when people constantly walk by me and that kept happening.  It was a horrible cycle every five seconds of finding a little space to dance and starting to get into it, then to be interrupted so somebody could pass by.  I was annoyed. I was also kind of bummed that I wasn’t at Phish at Madison Square Garden, NYC, with about 100 of my friends.  Phish played Halloween AND New Years runs in my homeland and I missed both because I done gone moved to Colorado. I don’t regret moving to Colorado (and I did a three night Phish Colorado run in October…), but I definitely felt a tug of homesickness knowing the party, scene, music and vibe going on only 40 miles from my home on New Year’s Eve…  

Toward the end of first set I got most of my crew to move toward the back of the venue where I had room to whirl and swirl and be my happy little dancing self.  My mood and experience picked up during intermission when Amy and I went on a little adventure around the venue, and all of second set was thoroughly enjoyed due to space, dancing and fun people…especially after I received the best New Years kiss ever from my little Mississippi belle.  

I am happy to report STS9 did a New Year's countdown and dropped a bunch of balloons.  No theater group or flying hot dog, but we at least got balloons.

We thought about going to the late night show, but it was so damn cold out and the bus directly outside the venue that took us straight to Amy’s looked so inviting that we weaseled our way onto the overly crowded vehicle that was giving free rides in honor of the holiday and went back to Amy’s to carry on with our little party.

I woke up Saturday Jan. 1st feeling pretty good and decided to go to the last Railroad Earth show at The Ogden, only because I love them a lot.  The show was a little slower, as I’m sure both the band and audience were feeling a bit lethargic after all the festivities that went down the previous few nights.  I was also happy with this show’s setlist and I had fun dancing but definitely would not have considered my energy to be at a peak level.  

I am glad I attended two of the four RRE shows in Denver, but I kind of wish I went to all four.  I’ve been listening to them nonstop and I am already wondering when I can see them again.

“Just when you throw the towel in, it all works out fine…everybody, everybody, everybody give (those) boy(s) a hand…”

Thank you Denver, and Railroad Earth, and Sound Tribe, and my friends who let me sleep over and who are fun and interesting and awesome…I love you all!

I hope everyone has a fantastic year! I am feeling good about it and I am happy to be starting my year in Denver.  I think it’s gonna be groovy…!

The music made me nostalgic and slightly homesick, as the band is from northwestern New Jersey, an area I like to tell people is “the best part about the state” and an area I have spent a decent amount of time in and know many, many awesome people native to.  I thought about the potluck dinners I used to go to, the drum circles, the live music, the pure energy…I thought about seeing Railroad Earth at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg and feeling the wooden floor shake from all the magnificent dancing going on, I thought about what the area looks like where Railroad Earth is from and I felt like I loved the band more than others because I KNOW WHERE THEY’RE FROM and what that means to me can not be taken away.  New Jersey to Colorado…YEAH!

$tring Chee$e Rant

I feel like I am going to cry at work right now and as usual, it’s over money.  I was all excited to buy two pre-sale tickets for String Cheese Incident’s Winter Carnival, and the website said they would be $55, which included a $4.00 service fee.  Sweet.  I made sure I had $110 in my bank account, watched the clock like a hawk all morning and clicked to buy tickets the millisecond the magic hour arrived.  I was very, very disappointed to find that there were even more service fees than I expected, putting me over my budget to buy two tickets, so I tried for one.  Since the website wanted $10 per order for shipping, one ticket for String Cheese Incident was going to cost me $71.99.  Did I want to confirm my purchase?


I love, I mean I loooove me some String Cheese Incident, and I really, really hope and plan to see them in March, but $72 for one ticket?  Ughhhhhhhh.  So absurd.  All these fucking concerts are absurd.  Furthur is coming in February and those tickets aren’t much cheaper.  It all makes me feel so frustrated and upset because I don’t have extra money to buy tickets in advance and I don’t even understand or support the fact that ticket prices are so high.  Fuck that.  I refuse.  I'm treadin' deep water here.

Why do I constantly spend so much money supporting other peoples’ passions while neglecting my own?  I’m forced to practice very humble living so that I can see the same bands perform?  I sleep on a damn air mattress.  If I put concert ticket money into a piggy bank I could carry out with some much larger events or trips, most likely inspiring me more or altering my life more than Cheese’s Winter Carnival can provide. And I’m sure I can make the $72 go a lot farther than one thee-and-a-half hour indoor Cheese show.

Fuck that.  I’m just pissed.  Only trustafarians or M.E.M.P.H.I.S-ers can afford to keep up with these show prices.  What about us cubicle dwellers who sit for 40 hours/week, dreaming about dancing, having fun and feeling free, but living paycheck to paycheck and unable to afford the damn ticket prices?? 

Ugh.  I think that’s all I have to say for now.  I’m sure I will still see SCI in March, but only if I can justify admission price. 

Where there’s a will there’s a way….

Monday, January 10, 2011

Colorado Residency - Meant To Be?

Something cosmic happened to me today and I do feel the need to share, but first I must back track! 

To put it briefly and lightly, in January 2004 I came on a snowboard trip to Copper Mountain, CO and at the end of the trip said goodbye to my ex-boyfriend who was a great love, and who was staying in CO with a new lover.  I was so incredibly heartbroken the last two days of the trip, and on January 10, 2004 I flew from Denver, CO back home to New Jersey where I would continue with college, miss my ex-boyfriend and be scarred from my Colorado trip for the next couple of years. 

Now, fast forward seven years, it is fair enough to say that ex-boyfriend and I are on good terms, and he lives with his wife and their son in a mountain town in southern CO.  I saw him and his wife at a Phish concert in October, and he told me that if I ever wanted to come stay with them and go snowboarding this winter, I was welcome. 

Now, to change the subject.  Last Monday I had off work and decided to utilize the day by finally going to Motor Vehicle to surrender my NJ driver’s license and obtain a CO license.  Here in CO the DMV gives you a temporary paper license and I was told the hard document would arrive via mail in 7-10 days.

Today I could not go into work because of hazardous road conditions.  Later in the afternoon I decided to walk to the nearby DMV to submit my documents and receive CO license plates and registration.  On the walk home from the DMV I decided to take a cell phone picture of myself holding my new license plate, showing my friends I was an official resident of this great state.  I sent the picture text to several people and carried on with my day.  I proceeded to do a little exploring around the neighborhood and arrived home to find my CO license had arrived in the mail, same day as I got my plates! What perfect timing.

Several hours later as I turned the handle of a door, I suddenly had the idea to send the picture text to aforementioned ex-boyfriend, being that he lives in CO.  I wanted him to know I became a resident, all by myself, and that I still love CO even after the bad/sad experience I had with him here.  So I sent him the picture, he responded, we sent a few texts back and forth, and then he asked me when I was coming to visit their mountain town. 

I told him I don’t know when I will go to visit, but I am considering it, and the fact that I can even consider it means a lot to me.  I mentioned I would have to carpool and he told me of a ride share site.  I said maybe I’ll come in February, and then I made dinner.  It was sometime after dinner, back in my room when I decided to check out the ride share site, when it dawned on me:  today is January 10th, the day I left CO in 2004 a crying, pathetic, broken-hearted mess.  And now, today, January 10th, 2011, I am back in Colorado, loving it the max, received my CO ID and license plates AND made potential plans to go visit with this dude and his wife that it took me many years to get over and be able to reach the point I am at now.

So I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty a freakin cool and cosmic story.  It’s the icing on the cake of my already convinced mind that I am supposed to live here.