December 23, 2013
2013: The Year in Me

I probably got paid to jabber on about music more regularly last year than I had since 2006. Thanks to my editorsCharles Aaron, Rob Harvilla, and Chris Weingarten at Spin, and Reed Fischer at City Pagesfor letting me write these.

Some CD reviews from Spin (and an obit)

"Once the world contained four full-length Strokes albums. Now it has five."The Strokes’ Comedown Machine

"A pimp can have a midlife crisis too"Snoop Lion’s Reincarnated

"The album that Justin Timberlake is too famous to make in 2013"Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines

"Fuck yeah, we still need indie-rock bands"Sebadoh’s Defend Your Self

"A historic gift for immersing himself in sadness and heartbreak while simultaneously viewing it from an eerie distance"RIP George Jones

Some concert reviews from City Pages

"Not a n’goni or djembe to be seen or heard"Fatoumata Diawara at the Cedar

"Too young to play elder statesman, competing with fresher rap newcomers for our attention"T.I. at Epic

"in a defiant act of artistic maturity, Sean Tillman leaves his pants on"Har Mar Superstar at Turf Club

"Sometimes a veteran rock band will perform one of its old albums in concert, beginning to end"Dandy Warhols at First Avenue

"Avoiding rock’s frenzied drive up the fretboard toward ejaculatory liberation"Bombino at Cedar

"We were not dancing enough"Vieux Farka Touré at the Cedar

"Songs about fun that aren’t much fun"Kenny Chesney at Target Field

"Flattering lies can be an effective way to reinforce a girl’s affection for you"One Direction at Target Center

"Superstar as concerned, successful older sister"Taylor Swift at the Xcel

"Songs about women. Songs about guns. Songs about women with guns."—Miranda Lambert at the Xcel

"Sometimes spontaneity doesn’t come naturally"—Fiona Apple and Blake Mills at the O’Shaughnessy

"An exhilarating, irritating insistence on pattern repetition"—Oneohtrix Point Never, Tim Hecker at the Walker

"You’ve been a great audience and Drake would like to thank each and every one of you"Drake at Target Center

“‘She looks like a lizard.’ ‘Yeah, she’s like the prettiest lizard.’”KDWB Jingle Ball at Xcel

October 2, 2013
Zig-Zag-Zig Allah or Zig-a-zig-ah?

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Sixteen years ago yesterday I pulled into Minneapolis on a Greyhound that had left Philadelphia a day earlier and… well, I’d like to say I never looked back. In fact I’ve moved away twice since then. But I’ve lived here for just a little over half that time, and I plan to stay until I die or at least until Mayor Dan Cohen builds his downtown casino and I have to scoot across the river to St. Paul.

I was feeling my age as crushingly, desperately, and persistently as only a 27-year-old can. After a year selling cigs and Pick 3s in a Jersey convenience store my waist was the slimmest it had ever been (a size 29!) and my brain was its most frenetically scheme-ridden.

The journal above, begun on the bus trip, was my first project. The idea was to keep a diary in the form of letters to friends, which I would then photocopy and mail off. I’d been frustrated with how the act of journaling, of sitting alone and writing something no one else was meant to see, encouraged my maudlin tendencies, and I wondered if allowing my friends to peek over my shoulder like this would deëmofy me.

I abandoned the journal before Christmas, but not before writing something called “Notes on Creative Poverty” (which is basically about how libraries are cool and I should learn to cook) and more than one long passage drawing elaborate connections between the Spice Girls and Wu-Tang in an effort to unlock the secret of effective creative collaboration.

Of course, I probably wouldn’t have done this at all if I’d been able to anticipate that within a few years nobody would ever write anything ever again that everyone else couldn’t read instantly. And that being able to publish your thoughts instantly to strangers worldwide wouldn’t cause you to censor the whiny, weepy, whimpery ones, not even a little bit.