Friday, July 29, 2011

My beautiful friends hosted a poetry reading at a gallery in Denver last night. The gallery is displaying photography and each poet read the two poems they'd written, each poem inspired by a photograph. In addition to some great poetry and art, there was also lots of sweat and very little cross ventilation, a badass DJ, some musicians, and a plastic bottle of some sort of whiskey called "Mist." Definitely one of those nights that reminds me how lucky I am to have fallen into the CU Denver creative writing community. My peeps be going places.

I was listening to Don Omar's "Danza Kuduro" on my drive home tonight. It's a super popular song in South America right now, or at least it was when I was there a couple months ago. I heard it driving around with my friend in Chile, in every club and restaurant and café in Buenos Aires, in every taxi, and out my window at 3am. Listening to it while driving eastbound c470 home just solidified a thought I've been having for awhile now. If I can ever afford it, I will get a little apartment in Buenos Aires. Before I buy a new car or a house or any of the things normal people with a normal income can afford. I will have an apartment in Buenos Aires, so help me god, and then I'll never again have the sinking feeling that occurs when I realize I don't know exactly when or how I'll be able to get back there. In so many ways, that place is a home to me. More than Salt Lake. Almost as much as New York City. And I want a home in that city that I can call my own.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase. aka The UMS. [& a brief history of my love affair with Denver music]
[and in which I use some variation of the phrase "best show I've ever seen" about a hundred times]

The first local Denver band I ever encountered was at one of the worst shows I've ever seen in my life: Kings of Leon at The Ogden back in spring of '07. The most fratty asshole guys and skeeziest drunk girls I've ever seen in one place, jumping around and carelessly hurting the people around them while thinking they're "hard" cause they're "moshing" to a little baby indie rock[ish] band's poorly performed songs. At the end of the night, I had a bruise on my hip and someone else's blood on my shirt and I would have been furious about the whole thing had it not been for the mind blowing opening band from Denver: Born in the Flood. I bought their recently released LP that night and was obsessed from that point forward.

I started following Born in the Flood around with my best friend, N, going to every under 21 show they played. We saw them at some weird venue on the CU Boulder campus called Club 156. We saw them open for another Denver band we didn't care about up at The Fox in Boulder as well. Somewhere back in Utah is a little notebook with a list of all the Born in the Flood shows I've ever seen.

N got a job as a DJ at CU's radio station, Radio 1190, one semester and ended up going to a lot more shows to hand out 1190 fliers and represent the station at the shows they sponsored. One show he went to was a CD release party for Hello Kavita at the Larimer Lounge. I couldn't go because I wasn't 21 at the time, but N came over after the show and gave me their CD. We played it that night in my apartment and I immediately fell in love with a new Denver band. So that made two.

I saw Hello Kavita for the first time at The Bluebird a little while after I first heard their album. This is where I encountered Bela Karoli, who opened for Hello Kavita that night. I bought Bela Karoli's album and they quickly became favorite Denver band number three.

That summer, 2008, my brother turned 17 and on his birthday, he, N, and I drank a bottle of wine while parked outside the Mercery Cafe in Denver, then went to see Bela Karoli [and maybe The Wheel?] there. We stuck around for the band after theirs, some folk singer named Gregory Alan Isakov. That ended up being one of the best shows I've ever seen. Sitting upstairs in the tiny room that is the top floor of the Merc, the three of us were completely blown away by Gregory and his band. My brother and I especially. We each bought one of his albums that night and tried to see them play again every chance we had.

At the end of that summer, N and I discovered the Denver Post Underground Music Showcase. It was a two day event on South Broadway where we realized all our favorite Denver bands were playing at once. Born in the Flood, Hello Kavita, Bela Karoli, The Rouge, Gregory Alan Isakov, and other local people we'd heard of but had never seen, like Hearts of Palm. The shows were spread out over several venues, most of which were unfortunately 21+ [since I was still a tiny 20 year old baby at the time]. But somehow every band I wanted to see played an all ages show at some point during the showcase. I saw some of the best shows I've ever seen that weekend in some of the weirdest venues. Gregory Alan Isakov played solo with Julie Davis from Bela Karoli and Rachael Pollard [who did a weird, awesome acoustic cover of NIN's "Down in It"] at an oriental rug store. The audience sat on top of piles of oriental rugs while the three took turns playing solo versions of their bands' songs. Bela Karoli and Born in the Flood both played incredible shows on an outdoor stage that backed up against South Broadway Christian Church, and during my favorite BITF song, "Fate of the Underachieved," it started to rain just the perfect amount to cool us all down on that hot as hell August day.

N moved away and I continued to see our favorite Denver bands alone anywhere I could find them. There was a Gregory Alan show at The Gothic, various other shows at The Bluebird. I saw Hello Kavita play at a tiny little stage outside in the Denver Pavilions durning the 2008 DNC. When I finally turned 21, I was able to see everything because suddenly the Hi-Dive, the Larimer Lounge, the Meadowlark, all those 21+ Denver places were open to me.

One night, I went to see Sea Wolf or Port O'Brien or someone like that at the Hi-Dive with a friend. She introduced me to friends of hers after the show, some of whom actually played in the Denver band's I'd been in love with for a couple years at that point. This is how I discovered yet a new Denver band to love, Dust on the Breakers. I'd seen them play at a music extravaganza thrown at The Bluebird by Born in the Flood the previous December. I loved them immediately, but at the time they had no internet presence and no way for me to get ahold of their music. Until we became acquainted and they told me they were putting out an EP, the release show for which took place at The Bluebird. I listened to that EP on repeat through all the winter months of 2009-2010.

I continued going to The UMS every year after N moved away. I even volunteered to work the showcase in 2009. Attended 2010. And finally, this year, attended 2011. Aside from my first UMS experience back in 2008, this year's UMS was the best I've seen. It's probably something I could describe in words if I weren't lazy and hadn't brought a camera along with me to capture the action. The following photos don't always paint the bands in all their deserved glory, but I was more interested in showing the variety of venues in which these bands played. Because the best part of The UMS for me isn't necessarily seeing my favorite bands. I can see my favorite bands whenever they play solo shows around town. It's about having so much music, so many music lovers of all kinds, all in one place, on one street, wandering from venue to venue, discovering new music to love, mingling with musicians who are there for the same reason as the fans, while everyone sweats their asses off together in the too-tight space that is 3 Kings or the people-packed parking lot outside of the local Goodwill store. All the while, we are surrounded by everything that is Denver. Denver, the amazing city that gave birth to this festival, to these bands, and to the fans who love them.

UMS 2011:

Ok, ok, so I actually bailed on the showcase the first night, Thursday, because I already had tickets to see Fleet Foxes at The Fillmore [pictured below]. I should have opted for the UMS that night though, seeing as it has never failed me, whereas Robin Pecknold's lackluster show and a room full of disrespectful, asshole music "fans" made my night pretty miserable. Even though they played my two favorite Fleet Foxes songs, "Mykonos" and "Your Protector" back to back, I still went home disappointed.

And so on Friday, I began my UMS weekend. Day 2 of The UMS:

Tim Husmann [front and back view] at Delite.

The Centennial's one year anniversary at the Hi-Dive.

Achille Lauro at the Skylark. Guitarist played "The Final Countdown" quietly as the show was wrapping up.

The soundboard is an actual diner booth at The Skylark.

And on my walk back to my car at the end of the night, I encountered this mess of people in and outside of Delite, getting their hipster dance on to some band called ManCub.
A drunk [but pleasant] fellow outside of Delite asked me if I'd like to learn how to scuba dive. I asked him "where can you scuba dive in the desert?" and he replied in what he probably thought was a sexy or otherwise intriguing tone of voice, "everywhere, baby."

Day 3 of The UMS:

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake once again proved themselves to be Denver's sexiest band at their performance on the Goodwill outdoor stage.

After that show, I went over to the Hi-Dive to see Bad Weather California, but could only bring myself to stay for a few songs as sweat or some other liquid like it was practically dripping from the ceiling.

I took a break from the music ruckus and grabbed some smoked porter s'mores flavored ice cream from my friend Kevin who works at Sweet Action. Just another reason Denver [especially S. Broadway] is my favorite place to be in the summer. After eating and people watching at the Sweet Action bar that opens up into the street, I headed to The Compound where my friend Garret is a rockstar bartender, magician, and all around sought after dude. Freeloader that I am these days, I hung out there with him for awhile, then decided to go see Houses at 3 Kings. I only made it half way to the venue though because I ran into a friend on the street and ended up talking until it was time to see A. Tom Collins at The Mayan. The Mayan is a Landmark owned movie theater that served as a pretty interesting venue for the showcase. We were in line for a long time, which is how I ended up meeting some dudes from a band called Bear Antlers [I think]. While in line outside the venue, some fuckwad wannabe punks drove by and egged us. I only caught a little egg on my hands and shirt though. When we finally got in, we all sat in the back of The Mayan together and complained incessantly about how awful Bleak Heart Procession was. I pretended to fall asleep several times, legs splayed over theater seats, head flopping backward. My favorite tweets re: that awful performance are this one and this one[brought to my attention by @TheUMSLive]. Though I did run into approximately every person I've ever known while waiting for A. Tom Collins to begin. Even the woman who sells me clothes at Diesel in Cherry Creek told my mom the next day that she saw me at that show. Why did my mom run into her? I have no idea. Anyway, here's some photo action. First, A. Tom Collins. Then, A. Tom Collins after he'd invited everyone on stage to sing and dance.

Day 4 of The UMS:

Roasting in the summer sun as John Common played the smaller outdoor stage outside of Goodwill.

After sufficient roasting, my friend picked me up and we drove down to Steuben's to enjoy some Philly cheese steaks. I about died from heat, food, and festival exhaustion. Not to mention I'd done yoga that morning as well as the previous morning. My favorite weekend of the year is also my most exhausting weekend of the year.

I returned to the showcase completely full and half in a coma, only to be awoken by the beautiful music of Fairchildren, the band that tours with Nathaniel Rateliff [former lead singer of Born in the Flood].
One of my other favorite things about Denver's music scene is the amount of collaboration between artists. Pictured here in a fairly new band is Julie Davis and James Han who I know as being from Bela Karoli; Patrick Meese, who I used to know as being from Meese but who I now know from The Centennial; and Joe Pope, who is pretty much everywhere, but who I know first and foremost as the bass player from Born in the Flood. All of them sans Nathaniel, who is currently doing god knows what in Europe.

And then my favorite show of the whole weekend. Gregory Alan Isakov at the Goodwill outdoor stage.
I love this man's music so much, I even dragged R to see his show at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood when I was out there last summer. His most recent album, This Empty Northern Hemisphere, is one of my favorite albums of all time. I have the thing completely memorized and it is in my small collection of go-to comfort music. I've seen him three or four times since he released that album, and until this past Sunday night, I had never seen him perform my favorite song, "Evelyn." Hearing my favorite non-defunct Denver band play my favorite of their songs in my favorite city during my favorite festival and weekend of the year at sundown was beyond moving. Everything in my life seemed to come together at once during that moment and I felt infinite.

I was planning on catching Ian Cooke and Corey Teruya [of Hello Kavita] later that night, but by 9pm I was in that state of exhaustion where you feel like you single handedly downed a fifth of something strong while dehydrated and on an empty stomach after a four day bender. I hadn't had a thing to drink, but my brain and body didn't understand that, so I drove back to the peace and quiet of my valley, relaxed in the hot tub, and saw about ten hundred shooting stars overhead.

Other non-music highlights from The UMS 2011 were:
  • The dude who wore the same Arcade Fire shirt two days in a row.
  • All the hilarious comments about hipsters people were making on twitter.
  • All the hilarious hipsters themselves with their plaid and their snap button shirts and their ironic mustaches and their bags of goodies from Fancy Tiger.
  • The guy who gave me ear plugs at A. Tom Collins [since I was standing, once again, in front of the speaker].
  • Eating tacos from El Diablo in the icky grass outside of Goodwill.
  • Seeing hipster doppelgangers of everyone I know.
  • The fact that Reverb was posting photos of hipsters taken with the Hipstamatic app.
  • Seeing a bicycle locked to every parking meter [and anywhere else there was space]

  • Promising the dudes from Bear Antlers that I wouldn't take a picture of myself in the bathroom at the Hi-Dive after we deemed that was gross, then doing it anyway. [It was gross, hence the disapproving look I'm giving myself in the mirror filled with stickers.]
  • the sunsets
  • and this stuff...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Since my last television post back in April, I've finished The Sopranos, watched all of Mad Men, re-watched all of Arrested Development, and finished season one of The Wire just this afternoon. Now if only I could finish reading 2666 before the end of summer... I continue to be surprised when good television wins out over a damn good novel in my free time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recent purchases/acquisitions

Friday, July 15, 2011

Received my teaching materials in the mail today. Holy. Eff. I will teach people stuff. What? What.
"For him?" shouted Snape. "Expecto patronum!"
From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
"After all this time?"
"Always," said Snape.

--from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ben Folds at the Ogden last night. So much nostalgia for high school, for driving home on westbound C470, for a certain sexy piano player, for quiet nights listening to "The Ascent of Stan," for driving around this town screaming the lyrics to "Landed," for being 14, for being 16, for being 20, for everything beautiful that has filled my life.

Ben Folds playing "Landed." If you think I cried during that song, you're right.

Everybody knows
It sucks to grow up
And everybody does
It's so weird to be back here.
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We're still fighting it, we're still fighting it
You'll try and try and one day you'll fly
Away from me

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And in the spring I shed my skin
And it blows away with the changing wind
Movies I've seen this summer:

The Kingdom
My Afternoons with Margueritte
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
I Love You, Phillip Morris
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
The King's Speech

Not doing too well on my goal to see more movies, but I am doing a good job of watching movies in strange/atypical scenarios. For instance, I watched The Kingdom in Santiago de Chile with my non-English speaking friend while we ate take out sushi at his house. And I watched My Afternoons with Margueritte, a French language film, at a theater in Buenos Aires, which means it was subtitled in Spanish, not English. I watched Scott Pilgrim when I was alone in a hotel room in San Diego at my first ever conference in which I was presenting.

I suppose the rest of those movies were seen under the normal circumstances of a movie theater, netflix, or On Demand in my house. I don't know why I felt the need to provide all of this information. When I start organizing one thing in my life, the urge to organize permeates everything. If only I had a label maker, a notebook, and/or some colored sharpie pens at this moment...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I recently expressed an interest in lomography after trying to damage and mutilate disposable cameras in order to capture some interesting shots of my hometown. I found a pretty cool site with tips on how to go about this, but two cameras and two developed rolls later, I didn't have anything very interesting. Apparently I didn't damage the lenses or film enough, so I turned to the person who has been my mentor about pretty much everything else for advice on lomography. He provided me with some great books and a tutorial on how to operate an LCA and a Holga with various types of films.

I'm planning to start with a Holga, as they are much less expensive and I've pretty much run out of money. But maybe in the fall after I have some stipend money coming in, I can invest in an LCA. This LCA...

Drinks with J at Bull and Bush. Denver.

Drove up to Boulder. Found this.

& this

Later, my instrument was a beer bottle and a spoon.
Drove home down a dark and empty 93 at 3am with windows down and heat on.