Michel Gondry is my hero... aka... Some awesome videos and my charmed life...

It’s been a while since I did a music night, so let’s do that. I love making lists, and making lists while listening to music is even better. This week I’ve been jonesing on some Michel Gondry, so that’s the theme for these tunes. These are not necessarily my favorite or my top 5 or whatever but they are the ones I want to listen to/watch tonight. Gondry was always a favorite director of mine but since I own a hand-drawn sketch of me done by the man himself (for real! See picture below), I’ll ride for Gondry til I die.

If you don’t know who Michel Gondry is, he is the director of one of my favorite movies ever (“The Science of Sleep”) but is probably most known as the director for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” He has directed a myriad of amazing music videos so I’m choosing from those tonight. I know, I know, this list could just be all his collaborations with Bjork, but don’t worry, it isn’t. There’s so much to choose from, so let’s get going!

“Ride” - The Vines

Now this isn’t a crazy music video by any means, but I do miss/love the Vines. Their time atop the music world wasn’t long for this world but as a fellow Asperger’s, I can’t help but feel for Craig Nicholls (lead singer/songwriter). He is a brilliant musician but clearly struggled a lot. I hope he’s doing better now.

“The Hardest Button to Button” - The White Stripes

For sure, “Fell in Love with a Girl” is the more popular Stripes choice but this is such a cool/simple/brilliant idea. It’s so much fun to watch and was clearly a labor of love for the band/director. Gondry has such wonderful music taste. Man, I remember a time when the Stripes were my favorite band on the planet. They are still up there and they certainly put on some of my favorite live shows I’ve ever seen. It is strange to think of the first time I saw them (with about 200 other people) to the last time I saw them (fucking Madison Square Garden!). What a band. Jack White is truly a singular talent.

“A Change Would Do You Good” - Sheryl Crow

Still weirds me out that Sheryl Crow was a backup singer for Michael Jackson… Anyways, why does the OTHER VERSION of this video exist? This one is so much better and has so many famous people in it (Ellen, Jeff Garlin, Molly Shannon, Gail the Snail, or whatever her real name is, Andy Dick, etc.). It’s so silly and extraordinary and clever that I can’t help but forget about the song that’s playing. I miss when people used to invest in music videos like this.

“Hyperballad” - Bjork

What an incredible song. What an incredible video. Such a sad song though. It’s sometimes hard to listen to. But that’s not the case tonight.

“Everlong” - Foo Fighters

Man, that second Foo album was a killer. And this may be my favorite Gondry video. It’s so fucking imaginative and wonderful. And, it features his obsession with large hands (see the sketch of me below for more large-handedness). I’ve literally watched this video on repeat for hours. Maybe I’m the weirdo but damn is this fun.

“Fire on Babylon” - Sinead O’Connor

A very haunting tune indeed, but I actually watch equally for the video. The childish settings and themes placed against some truly terrifying imagery. There’s some dark shit in here. Takes the song to places I don’t know if Sinead even knew existed. The whole thing is fucking awesome. I know Sinead has taken a lot of shit from a lot of people but I stand by her originality and brilliance and bravery in songwriting and life. Also, never gets enough credit for her outstanding voice.

“Like a Rolling Stone” - The Rolling Stones

Ummm, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones? Yes, please. And throw my man Gondry into it? Hell fucking yes please! I don’t think I’ve ever seen this effect employed in another video and definitely don’t even have a fucking clue as to what it is. All I know is that it’s fucking awesome.

Anyways, I’m tired and you should enjoy those videos and the sketch of me below done by the man himself. Weird, right? But one of my favorite directors and writers on the planet drew me. ME. What the fuck? Sometimes I think my life is pretty fucking awesome…

(dictated but not read)

Michel Gondry Sketch.jpg

Brett Hundley and the year 1997 aka... man, I feel old...

1997 was an amazing year, and I'm not talking about Super Bowl XXXII...  Which, I'm still not sure happened...  I'm talking about all the amazing music.  "I'm a bitch, I'm a lover..."  Nope, not that one...


Green Bay Packers Recap:  


Well, not a great start for Mr. Brett Hundley.  He seemed very reticent to throw the ball downfield, and when he did, the results were not good.  He did have a good scramble drill throw to Jordy; which I believe was Jordy's only catch on the day.  Cobb, who might be our fiercest competitor, had only 2 catches.  Davante had 2 as well for maybe 10 yards total.  Pretty brutal.  If you would've told me that Aaron Jones, the rookie, who plays with the vision and patience of a top running back prospect, not of one drafted in the 5th round, would have 130 yards and a touchdown, that Brett Hundley would rush for another TD and that we would intercept Drew Brees twice, I would've said we had a chance.  Watching the game, we hardly ever did.  Even the interceptions only came after the Saints walked it down the field twice in a row.  BUT, I, unlike a lot of people, it seems, do not blame the defense.  They played admirably despite the Saints holding the ball for over 13 minutes longer than us (which, was never mentioned during the broadcast.  Seriously, why do you think our defense couldn't stop the run in the 4th quarter?  Also, my favorite broadcast moment of the day, when one of the guys said something along the lines of "Well, the one thing you miss when you lose Aaron Rodgers is..."  The ONE THING?  The only acceptable way to finish that sentence is:  "AARON FUCKING RODGERS!!"  He even has developed his own noun since there's no way to describe the things he does, routinely, that make you forget how to speak.  I started saying this years and years ago, and it seems to have caught on.  The only way to describe the things he does is to say that he does "Aaron Rodgers things."  Before him, Brett Favre would do things that would leave you speechless, both good and bad.  But, what he did was simply "magic." Sorry Majik...  But, Aaron is so talented, not better than Favre, my favorite sports hero ever, never to be topped, EVER, but Aaron is more talented, and the things Aaron does can only be described as "Aaron Rodgers things.") and our offense doing everything they can to thwart a decent showing by the defense.  Yes, the defense couldn't get it done at crunch time, but our offense needed to do ANYTHING to help them out.  Anyways, bye week up and I still believe in Brett Hundley.  He has the confidence and courage I like in a quarterback.  He just needs to throw the ball with that same confidence and courage.  He'll be OK and, therefore, so will we...  


p.s. - I am a shareholder so I'm allowed to say "we" when referring to the Packers.


This Week in Music:


Tonight, I'm at the Best Western Inn/Motel, just off I-5 in Roseburg, OR.  Listening to the late night traffic roll by is soothing, in an odd sort of way.  Sometimes, you get the fancy Marriott in Bend, sometimes you get the BW motel just off the freeway.  I've only heard two cop cars go past, so we're doing OK.  Probably just drunk drivers but here we are.  I've stayed at much better and much worse.  This'll do for the night.  But, while sitting at the local bar attempting to be friendly and polite with the bartender and waitress, who would have fit right in at any bar in Portland since they had no desire to talk with anyone they didn't already know, especially me, and who not once asked if I would like another drink (I deliberately didn't ask for one to see how long my empty glass would be left unattended.  A full 35 minutes until I asked for the check is the answer.  Then, they finally asked if I'd like another.  No, I wanted one a half hour ago, but not now...), I overheard the waitress was born in 1997.  I know this because she twice, very loudly, proclaimed it since she could not pour or serve alcohol to the good people of Roseburg.  Seems like at a bar that would be integral to the job, but apparently they were OK with her just serving grub and standing around half the night watching others serve drinks.  The comment caught me off guard, as she looked the same age as me, but I immediately started thinking about what I was doing in 1997, and, of course, what music I was listening to.  The first part was easy.  In 1997, I was playing basketball and baseball (still too young for football) and just starting to imagine liking girls.  Also, my voice was dropping, years before everyone else, so I was being mercilessly mocked for that; until a few years later when they finally experienced that same awkwardness and I already sounded like a man and mercilessly gave it back to them.  Fucking dicks.  I'd like to say I took the high road but I didn't.  Kids are cruel.


The second part of that was much more interesting.  I thought back to records I fucking burned through during that year.  We've already covered MY LOVE OF THE PRODIGY, so let's take that as read and move on.  Goddammit, 1997 was a fucking awesome year.  We had:


- the Foo Fighters and Michel Gondry teaming up for "EVERLONG" which is still one of my favorite music videos

- Marcy Playground being fucking weird stoners and one hit oneders (bonus points for anyone who gets that reference), making every little boy, especially this catholic-raised boy, "feel funny" by saying the word "sex" in a song.  MARCY PLAYGROUND - "SEX AND CANDY"

- The Verve being the epitome of British cool (which was way cooler than American cool), well, since Oasis was done making brilliant records by then, after all two of them.  I couldn't stop listening to this shit for months on end.  THE VERVE - "BITTER SWEET SYMPHONY"

- Again, as a young boy turned on by a woman saying the words "naked on the floor," I loved this song.  Yes, it was a good tune, but I especially loved the idea of woman naked on the floor, though I did not know what that would actually look like, yet.  NATALIE IMBRUGLIA - "TORN"

- These fucking guys... Later, in my middle teens, I was obsessed with ska music.  I desperately wanted to play those all upstroke, 1-4-5 chords in a ska band.  It was mostly due to this fucking song which introduced me to how fucking awesome it was when guitars, trumpets, saxophones and trombones met and fucked and made beautiful music babies.  THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES - "THE IMPRESSION THAT I GET"

- One of the songs that, just like the Prodigy, I hated the first 20 times I heard it then fell madly in love with.  Still the dumbest fucking band name ever.  CHUMBAWAMBA - "TUBTHUMPING"

- And, of course, how could I not mention this...  We were all still sad, even young white kids from rural, Southeastern Wisconsin who didn't fully understand...  PUFF DADDY AND FAITH EVANS - "I'LL BE MISSING YOU"


But, there were three records I could not stop fucking listening to:


1. Rage Against the Machine - "Evil Empire" (from '96 I know, but I was too young for it when it was released.  Probably was still too young a year later, but, oh well.  I could write 10,000 words on this band and probably will someday.  I love them so much)

2.  Third Eye Blind - Eponymous

3.  Wu-Tang Clan - "36 Chambers"


I'd like to talk about the last two in particular.  It was quite a divisive year for me and one that I've never particularly recovered from, for a number of reasons.  But, suffice it to say, those were very different records and I couldn't understand why I couldn't love and appreciate both.  Let's start with "Third Eye Blind."


I grew up Catholic.  My grandparents were Catholic, my mom went to Catholic school, we did Catechism growing up, were afraid of a vengeful God, were constant disappointments to Jesus, who died for our sins, didn't have enough money to give to God so He would love us, and on and on.  When we moved away from Oconomowoc, the town my mother and, subsequently, my sister and I were raised in, we stopped going to church regularly.  It was nice and allowed me to sleep in before watching Packers games.  I loved it.  Though, to be fair, most churches made sure to end before kickoff as we all know what the true religion is in Wisconsin.  But, when I was 9 or 10, I began to get very curious about all of this "God" and "Jesus" stuff once again.  A new kid at school, Andrew, was very religious and, at that age, I didn't know what I was.  But, he was so sure of his faith that he inspired me to attend his church.  It was a very small gathering, at first, in a local shop.  His dad was the preacher and it was non-denominational; they accepted all, even Catholics.  His dad did music-inspired sermons, using popular music of the day and relaying messages based off that.  I loved it.  I loved music and Andrew's dad seemed like a cool guy, who happened to love Jesus.


It was Andrew who "reintroduced" me to Third Eye Blind.  I say "reintroduced" because I had heard those fuckers before and hated them.  I hated "Jumper" and I hated "Semi-Charmed Life" so I couldn't stand these assholes.  That singer fuck was so smug.  So fucking smug.  But, then I finally listened to the whole album with Andrew.  Songs like "How's it Going to Be" and "God of Wine" started to change my mind.  Their next album "Blue" would seal it up, but they could fucking rock and not just be super fucking corny; though, they knew that was the way to make money.  It was smart.  I couldn't stand some of the hits, but the rest of the albums were actually good.  Seriously, even with that smug ass singer fuck.  


Truth is I found, and subsequently lost, my religion through music.  His music-driven sermons drew me in and then a multitude of things pushed me back away.  One, I could see the way Andrew's dad lorded over the household.  His family, especially Andrew's mom and sister, were dealing with self-esteem issues that seemed wrought by his father, the pastor or preacher or whatever the fuck he called himself.  It (probably/hopefully) was never as bad but reminded me of the way my dad made us all feel, especially my mom and sister.  I hated him for it and will never forgive him.  That wasn't all he did, but we'll save that for my (future) therapist.  But, I could see the same emotional scars, the same shame and guilt and fear of letting him down in their family.  I started to resent his dad.  I hated when he was around.  The whole family acted differently.  Then, soon after I started to see this, Andrew's dad did a sermon about Pearl Jam and their version of "Last Kiss."  I'll never forget it.  It would be the last time I would go to that church and the last time I'd see his dad.  He sermonized against Rock N' Roll and how selfish it was to want their loved one to stay on Earth and how they lacked faith and how they weren't true believers in Christ and on and on.  First off, it wasn't Pearl Jam's song you fucking asshole.  They recorded it for a fucking benefit record.  Second, if wanting a loved one to NOT DIE is terrible than I'm a terrible person too.  God, I was so pissed at him for ruining religion for me.  Also, for years I couldn't listen to Third Eye Blind as it triggered this all for me.  Eventually, the Asperger's won out and I've compartmentalized it and don't feel emotionally attached to that memory so I can listen to the album again.  "Blue" is a better record but it's very nostalgic to fire up "Third Eye Blind" every now and again...


So, Wu-Tang.  I was WAY too young when "36 Chambers" originally dropped but I can't ever forget watching MTV2 late, very late, one night (my inability to sleep normally, not quite insomnia, but not quite not insomnia, started very early) and seeing THIS for the first time...  WHAT THE FUCK??!!??!!  The songs starts off so amazingly that I already fucking shot my wad 20 seconds in.  It gets better and better with each MC until I get to Method Man's verse.  It's so good and so unique and so unlike anything I'd ever heard, unlike anything any white kid from rural, Southeastern Wisconsin has ever heard, and so mind-blowing UNTIL (wait, is there no chorus?  We still haven't had A CHORUS.  What is going on?)...  HOLY SHIT...  1:52 in...  WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO ME?  I had never before, and very rarely, if ever, after, heard anything that rearranged my molecules the way Ol' Dirty Bastard's verse rearranged my molecules.  It was so unique and so heartfelt and so angry and so sad and so beautiful and just so fucking amazing that I didn't know what to do.  All the guys in Wu-Tang are awesome but Dirty was a different breed.  It's so sad what happened to him, but he left us some amazing, wondrous music that is hopeful in a weird way.  It's not hard to hear that music was his grounding commonality with us other humans and the rest of life was not his purview.  He was put here for one purpose and one purpose only, but being human, he had to balance somewhere and his brain could not handle life on Earth outside being creative and beautiful.  I get his pain.  I feel worse for those who loved him but could not help him...


But, the saddest part of growing up in rural, Southeastern Wisconsin is that no one else loved Wu-Tang Clan the way I did, especially the "friends" I had who I enjoyed Third Eye Blind with.  Not only did they not understand it, and the fact that some people live different lives and therefore have different stories to tell, but they openly and actively shunned it; and therefore, me.  They hated it and it was the devil and they couldn't figure out why I enjoyed it and how I could "listen to that garbage."  I was already mostly done with that crowd anyways, but soon found myself outside my other crowds as well.  My metal music crowd, my country music crowd, my Rock N' Roll crowd (yes, I judge people based on music interest, just as judgmental, I know, but I don't care.  Music is what I care most about) all shunned me as well.  I soon found I had few friends left.  My Punk Rock and Folk music friends never left, all 3 of them.  We stayed close. Apparently, Punk and Folk were more inclusive than other genres.  Which, kind of makes sense if you think about it but kind of not.  Oh, well.  After my old friends tried to fight the only black and Mexican kids (all 2 of them, 1 of each) in our high school and I defended them, eventually punching my old best friend of 6 years in the face, I realized I was much better off without those "friends."  It's lonely to give up friends but it's lonelier to give up oneself...


Anyways, it's late and I'm tired.  Goodnight for now and remember:  sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar eats you...