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the beautiful destruction

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

RECORD CLUB: THE BEGINNING

RECORD CLUB: WE ROLL DEEP
Pictured: The Record Club players (RTM, Mshell, and Mikeast).

[CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ENTIRE PHOTO ALBUM]

Several months in the making, RECORD CLUB held its inaugural event this past weekend. "What the hell is RECORD CLUB?" you're wondering. It's awesome, that's all you need to know. Ha. No really, it's a gathering of friends and like-minded folks interested in discovering new music and sharing their own finds with the people around them. Sounds nerdy, right? Well, sort of. But to make things interesting we throw alcohol in the mix and a substantial amount of dancefloor sizzlers.

There are rules too. Each guest has to bring two songs, and they better be good, because nobody likes to get booed (just kidding). Once the songs are all assembled the real fun begins: Everybody listens. It's kind of like a book club, just without all the reading... and with a substantial amount of booze.

The RECORD CLUB website with playlists, downloads, and photos will be up and running shortly. We'll keep ya posted. Until then... enjoy the photos.

Coming soon... RECORD CLUB 2: ROCKTOBERFEST

MOUTHFUL OF MISERY

OUCH MOTHERFUCKER! OUCH!
Pictured: The largest and most painful cluster of mouth ulcers I've ever experienced.

Some people are born with dashing good looks, a bottomless pool of creative skill, or even superior intelligence. Me? My story is different. I was seemingly dealt a hand of bent and tattered playing cards dealt from an entirely different deck (Possibly Beezlebub's personal deck?). You see, since I can remember (i.e. my whole damn life), I've been cursed with mouth ulcers. Eww. I know, disgusting right? Sure. When I talk about this with anyone, they usually grace me with the widely intelligent and moronically blatant response: "That's a form of herpes you know." Their face is usually scrunched up as they say it, and a look of disgust wells up in their eyes. Sure motherfucker, it's herpes. Great job. I'm sure your mother is proud of you; all that hard-earned money spent on schooling you and your sharp-as-a-spoon brain. Collect your prize at the door and please don't return.

Sure it may be a form of herpes, but I've been battling these bitches since I was a youngster. It's not like I'm some hobo who goes around sucking on loose change, snacking on urinal cakes, or randomly licking things that most people wouldn't pick up unless wearing a hazmat suit. Nope, I don't. Truth be told, I'm a fairly cleancut fella who just happens to have been dealt a stale, mold-covered misfortune cookie by the man above (or below... nevermind, scratch the God reference).


Last week though, I woke up to find that a colossal batch (yes, a batch) of ulcers was forming on the inside of my bottom lip. This is rather odd. Usually one ulcer pops up, then creates the perfect party environment and subsequently invites a group of its friends to set up shop and tear holes in my lip or cheek. But this, this was abnormal.

This all occurred while I was on a trip for work, a trek to Vancouver. My last night in town I drank a bit much, came back to the hotel and fell asleep (yes, I'm a wild man). Before I went to sleep, I had not one single ulcer in my filth-ridden cake hole. However, when I woke up, I had this fucking constellation of ulcerated masses on my lower lip, teeming with pain.

"How did it get there?" you may be wondering. I was thinking the same thing. That's when I recalled the night before, the alcohol and its wonderful numbing effect. Well, I used to think it was wonderful. After countless Heinekens and a flurry of Tequilla (To-kill-ya) shots, I was feeling rather OKAY, but a little tired. I had that nice tingley/numb feeling that you sometimes get after drinking whiskey. You know, that feeling when your skin seems impenetrable (to bricks, mortar, people's jaw bones), like some sort of force field is encompassing your body?

Well, it seems I must have been chewing on the inside of my lip as I slept that night. What did I care, I couldn't feel anything. I recall the iron taste of my own blood, the somewhat shredded skin stuck in my teeth. But the rest of the memory got misplaced during sleep, thrown out with the rest of the nocturnal trash.

The only evidence of this fleeting memory is my big puffy bottom lip -- the one that gets in the way when I eat, drools on its own accord, and winks at passersby as I desperately try to keep it tucked in my mouth. Co-workers stare at it, kind of like they're waiting for it to perform, bust out in song like Michigan J. Frog or some shit. No friends, these ulcers aren't the fun kind, they're not entertainers. Oh wait, no ulcers are fun.

Damn you minion-of-evil-who-created-mouth-ulcers! Here's a proposition: We'll meet in Hell and I'll arm wrestle you like Sylvester Stallone in the classic film Over The Top. And when I win, I'll get to drill holes in your bottom lip with a salt-tipped DeWalt hammer drill. Deal? I didn't think so.

Friday, August 26, 2005

SORRY SO SLOPPY

So, I suck at updating this blog lately. I apologize. I'm in the throws of deadline insanity at the moment... literally not enough time to think, breathe, eat, or do anything fun in between. But, I will have an assload (yes friends, an assload) of interesting and exciting stories in print when it's all said and done. Let's just say there are some cover stories, monster features, exciting collabo projects, and yes, a new book in the works. Plus, I just did an interview last night that could very well be the origin of a book idea I've been wanting to do (legitimate style through a publisher) for a long time.

With that said, I'm planning on a rather substantial update soon. Michelle and I are heading to Germany in early September and I'm hoping to get some time to update this place while en route to castles, beer festivals, red light districts (just kidding, sort of), and other assorted and sordid destinations. We'll be on a whirlwind tour of sorts -- traveling from Frankfurt to Cologne, down the Rhine river into the Black Forest, over to Munich for the opening day of Oktoberfest, up to Berlin and ending in good 'ol Amsterdam. It should be incredible, and I'm rather stoked.

So, now that I've spilled my guts, I best get back to work. Enjoy the weekend, breathe in the fleeting warm air, and try not to piss on anybody's car door handles (really, I promise I've stopped doing that).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL

POISON CONTROL IS HAUTE

NEW WEBSITE RE-LANCHING SOON.

YOUNG & RECKLESS ALMOST SOLD OUT. BUY THE BOOK BEFORE ITS GONE FOREVER.

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION, STILL FREE.

BIG UPDATE TO GET POSTED HERE SOON. JUST GOT BACK FROM VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA AND HAVE TONS OF PHOTOS.

PEACE [IS] OUT. WAR [IS] IN.

Monday, August 15, 2005

LISTENING BOOTH

Hood, the band I'm yammering about below
Pictured: Hood, a quartet of London boys made good.

Spent this past weekend getting caught up on all sorts of things: odd jobs around the house, freelance work, planning our trip to Germany, and listening to all the free music I've compiled over the last several months. Out of about 100 CDs, I weened things down to a really good stack of about 25. As always, I'm inundated with hip-hop releases, most of which are not worth a listen. Not because the records are terrible, but because they are boring and formulaic.

Lately though, I've been getting some really good experimental and electronic releases from the likes of Warp, Mush, Schematic, Kranky, Ghostly, and so on. The list for this batch of work goes on and on. Though, my most recent (though not exactly a new band or album) favorite are The Books. This duo is so fresh, and their latest album Lost and Safe is truly the cat's meow.

However, the most refreshing album I stumbled across this weekend was from the band Hood. Now, I had heard of this band before, but in the context of my towering stack of free music, the album design looked more like that of a bad hip-hop artist than an atmospheric rock band with a penchant for writing catchy hooks and well-crafted melodies.

Hood's latest release, Outside Closer is really nice. It easily lends itself to the post-rock moniker, but has a great deal more energy than the likes of Tortoise or Sigur Ros. This latest album is on Domino. I suggest taking a listen if you're looking for something new to rock in the iPod or even your old-fashioned CD player.

Monday, August 08, 2005

FAREWELL MR. FERRER

THE CUBAN CROONER: IBRAHIM FERRER
Pictured: Ibrahim Ferrer, deep in thought.

This morning I read that Peter Jennings has died of cancer at age 67. Which is, indeed, a sad bit of news. He's a familiar face, a prominent fixture in American life. However, as I'm scrolling through the remainder of the morning news, I see a small blurb that mentions a name I know very well: Ibrahim Ferrer. The headline made my stomach sink: "Singer Ibrahim Ferrer dead at age 78."

Sure, most people probably don't care or even know who this man is. But for me, he and his fellow musicians were (are) an incredible inspiration. Ferrer was one of the guiding voices of the critically-acclaimed, Grammy award winning Buena Vista Social Club album and film. Which, if you've never heard the album or seen the film, do yourself a huge favor and pick up the boxset.

I first heard the Buena Vista Social Club record in New York City, sometime in the summer of 2000. Michelle and I were visiting our friend Jen. It was a Sunday morning and we were eating breakfast when Jen put the record on. The opening track "Chan Chan" begin playing, and I was instantly hooked. The music was beautiful but melodic, full of fire. You could hear the history and the life experience in the vocals and raw instrumentation. There was heartbreak and sorrow, but also happiness and joy in the music.

Several years later, the music played at our wedding. It was that profound of an album. I still play the album in fairly regular rotation. However, as I write this, I realize it's been sometime since I last listened. To learn more about Ibrahim and the Buena Vista Social Club, please check out the links I've included above. The obituary from the Associated Press is slightly informative. However, I'm sure better, more fitting tributes will surface as the news spreads.

Farewell Ibrahim.

Friday, August 05, 2005

SHOP TILL YOU DROP

TARGET IS HAUTE
Pictured: Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal posing for the camera just before dining on a Super-Pretzel at the Target snack bar.

Last Thursday, retail monster Target opened its Brooklyn store in a Hollywood-style, red carpet affair--complete with photo ops, a conservative selection of "hip" celebrities, and a noodly-looking band with funny haircuts [Click here for comprehensive clusterfuck coverage].

"What isn't wrong with this event," you may be wondering. And, if you are still thinking that way, good for you, I suppose. But don't think I'm going to allow you to cut in front of me in line the next time I see you at Bed, Bath & Beyond. And, if it's Christmas time and you try that shit, look for a knuckle sandwich to your windpipe. I mean c'mon, you're way of thinking is old-fashioned. If you ask me, every store opening should be a red carpet affair, complete with self-righteous soccer moms hitting into people with their carts and dads walking around with cell phone ear pieces and Greg Norman polo shirts. And sure, throw in some local celebrities and maybe even a kids charity drive for good measure (preferably a charity that doesn't deal with the mentally retarded, they don't photograph well).

Retail is the new social scene after all.


Shopping can solve so many problems, why can't you people see that? We all hate terrorists, right? Well then, get out and shop, buy stuff, support America. Nothing makes an Islamic extremist angrier than an American getting a good deal on a set of high thread count Egyptian cotton bath towels.

"Fuck you Bin Laden, I've got a 40% off coupon for Kohl's and I'm not afraid to use it."

Speaking of people who hate us and want nothing more than to see us suffer brutal and agonizing deaths, where will you be when the world ends? I hope I'm in the self-checkout at my local grocery store scanning my no-carb bread, trans-fat free muffins, and age-defying skin cream.

Wake up motherfuckers.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

UNICORN MOUNTAIN

UNICORN MOUNTAIN
My article about the upcoming comic/literary anthology Unicorn Mountain appears in this week's City Paper. The full story is included below.

Mountain's Range
Writer: Matthew Newton

An anthology, when compiled just right, is like a good mix tape. For example, if you were to arrange songs from Can, King Crimson and Yes in the perfect order, you’d strike art-rock gold; but cluster Sabbath tracks in a poor arrangement and you’ve prematurely blown your load -- soiling the potential for a stoner-rock mix-tape opus. That said, variety is critical. Without it, the listener -- or in the case of an anthology, the reader -- can become downright bored.

The creators of Unicorn Mountain, a new Pittsburgh-bred comic/literary anthology and music compilation, thrive on variety -- placing science-fiction- and fantasy-based comics alongside personal essays, true-life tales and a 20-song compilation CD.

“I got the idea to do an anthology last summer when a bunch of friends left Pittsburgh for Chicago and other cities to further [their] artistic pursuits,” says Curt Gettman, editor and publisher of Unicorn Mountain. “I wanted for there to be something that would give creative people artistic opportunity here and build a sense of community among local creators.”

Gettman, along with dedicated collaborators Joe Deferrari (graphic designer), Shahrzad Samadzadeh (nonfiction editor) and Tim Brown (compilation organizer), began work on Unicorn Mountain late last year.

“A group of us got together at Arsenal Lanes last fall and hashed out a 12-step plan for world domination,” Gettman (half-jokingly) says. “Joe and Shahrzad joined the editorial and creative team later and helped turn an ambitious ‘project’ into something a bit more real.”

Boasting contributions from more than 70 creators -- writers, illustrators and bands -- the debut volume of Unicorn Mountain is an ambitious project showcasing the work of both emerging and established local talent. Poster artist Mike Budai and writer Alicia Ledden contribute a story best described as “Home Alone meets Brothers Grimm:” Jeff Shreckengost illustrates an epic sword-and-sorcery tale; and Justin Cummings, who self-publishes the taxi zine Junket, offers a story of theft and late-night taxi driving.


The anthology -- which also includes musical contributions from such bands as Harangue, Midnite Snake, Vale and Year, and Conelrad -- is 130 pages long with a print run of 3,000 copies. And while the influence of artists including Jordan Crane and Brian Ralph, and publishers such as Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly, is noticeable, the work in this debut anthology is startlingly fresh and strikingly original. Asked to describe Unicorn Mountain to the uninitiated, Gettman’s response is twofold:


“[Unicorn Mountain is] a mountain fortress towering 15 miles high over the valley of steel!” he exclaims. “Either that or a comic/literary/music anthology for people who like the idea of comics but think most of them are crap.”

Unicorn Mountain launch party. 7-11 p.m. Friday Aug. 5, Live music by Vale and Year, and Giant Squid. ModernFormations Gallery, 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield. Free. 412-362-0274

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

REBOOT THE SYSTEM

ATOMICA  CINEMA ISSUE

This month's issue of Atomica features an article I wrote about experimental film and video artists Eclectic Method, Motomichi Nakamura, and Takagi Masakatsu. I thought some of the crowd here might be interested. Plus, I don't usually have a PDF of my writing available (Thanks Motomichi). If you happen to read the article, I'd like to hear your thoughts, as I'm thinking about putting up a section on the blog that acts as a sort of online writing portfolio.

Click here to download a PDF of the article.

COUNTING SHEEP

Wide awake and the Tylenol PM still hasn't taken hold. The powder blue pills rarely settle my mind, but I try anyhow. All day it's been racing, my mind that is--hindering me at work, drugging me as I speed home on the Turnpike, distracting me at home. It's like I've got this nagging urge boiling beneath my skin, but I can't place what it is.

I'm troubled, bothered by something that's seemingly invisible. Sure, maybe it's the depression. I've felt awful lately, like something is hooked into me, anchoring me to the ground. Waking up has been increasingly difficult. The weekends are becoming shorter as a result. But I don't want it to be this way... should probably seek help. I almost don't care enough though. Oh well. Rumor has it that life's tough, so I'll try to stick it out.

Allow me to retract my previous statement regarding the Tylenol PMs I ingested. They are working. Finally. My eyelids are itchy from the incessant heat, and seem to weigh a pound or two each now. Everything is slowing down. I wanted to talk about my recent turmoil, my internal struggle as it were... been thinking alot about finding a pastime that yields more socially-responsible results. "Such as?" you may wonder. Maybe some work with the Peace Corps., or possibly an Amnesty International program of some sort. That's what I'm thinking... have to look into the matter in more detail though.

However, right now, sleep is what I need.

Monday, August 01, 2005

ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL

Well, not quite. But high school has been on my mind as of late. My 10 year reunion is approaching and I'm conflicted as to whether I should attend. I didn't technically graduate, as I dropped out in the beginning of my junior year, so I'm not sure that I'm actually welcome [which is a long and sordid story for another time].

My friends and I have talked about going, clowning all the people there, getting drunk, and acting like fools. But in real life, high school reunions are kind of like everything else--boring. When I imagine a reunion, I think about an event held in the gymnasium, not some pseudo-hip downtown restaurant. I picture my friends and I walking the halls, reminiscing, drinking 40's wrapped in brown paper bags, breaking into lockers, raising hell.

Who the fuck wants to pay $75 a dinner to hang out with people you didn't like 10 years ago? You stay in contact with the people you like and excommunicate the rest. I mean, seriously, what are we going to do, "network" with each other, exchange business cards, share pictures of our children, muscle cars, time shares, and above-ground pools? Fuck off.

People just want to talk in canned, adult language: "Oh, you really turned out well," "no kids yet?" or maybe "Wow, somebody packed on the pounds," "my kids are little monsters," or "Robert just got promoted to sales manager." I'm bored just thinking about it.

Our reunion even has its own website, what high-tech bitches we've become.

Last week, while visiting with my nephews, I looked through my sister-in-law's yearbooks (we graduated together). We all laughed at the peoples' haircuts, the ridiculous teams and clubs (rifle team?), and all the crazy-looking people we went to school with. But there was also an overwhelming sadness in those pictures. Revisiting that time period, looking at the faces of people I had all but forgotten, tarnished the golden nostalgia I sometimes assign to that time in my life. You want memories to remain fluffy and bouyant, full-of-fire. However, to view things in such a way, you need to lie to yourself, just a little bit. At least I do.


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