Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Chop Goes Golfing

The Chop’s cousin is getting married soon. Thankfully, the best man actually followed our sage advice on How to Plan a Proper Bachelor Party, and Cousin Chop’s bachelor party today will be a progressive affair. We’ll be tearing up the Canton/Fell’s corridor later tonight, but the party actually starts at the ungodly hour of 9 am with a tee time at Greystone. We’ve never played golf before, so we’ll see how this goes. We’re an ace at Wii golf, so in our mind’s eye it’ll look something like this:

In reality though, it’ll probably look more like this:

Oh well. If we’re that bad, we can always sprain our ankle and ride the drinks cart to the 19th hole.

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Tomorrow: Buffalo Tom @ Black Cat

It’s strange when you grow up punk. Your musical tastes have to evolve eventually. At least a little bit. Three chords alone can’t sustain anyone forever. Over time, even the kid with the spikiest hair or the dirtiest pants will start looking to explore decidedly non-punk records, and those explorations can take people in some very different directions. HR, Daniel Higgs, and Tim Barry were all playing straight-up punk songs when they got their start, yet they’ve ended up scattered widely across the musical spectrum.

For us what came after punk hasn’t been such a long journey, we just went back to the exact same records we liked before we discovered punk rock.

Buffalo Tom *may* look significantly different from this photo when they play the Black Cat tomorrow. 9 pm Doors.

There were a few happy accidents that all occurred right around 1993 which led to our developing really, really good taste in music at a very early age. They were these:

  • CD’s were becoming wildly popular. They’d been around a couple years, but ’93 was when a critical mass of people finally owned CD players and everyone was collecting music voraciously. Programs like Columbia House were very popular nationwide.
  • Because of that, the music industry was actually putting out great records. It’s hard to imagine, but at one point major labels would seek out and sign indie bands and just let them continue to be great bands. It didn’t always work out for the best, but it was a damn sight better for everyone than the way the majors operate today.
  • Tapes were still in too. CD to tape dubbing was sort of revolutionary. People passed mixtapes hand to hand. They were serious business to make too, since they literally took hours to finish. No drag and drop. The quality was a reflection of that.
  • We owned the No Alternative Compilation and the Singles Soundtrack. Imagine being 13 years old and being able to know about all those bands without the benefit of the internet.
  • WHFS Was a thing. Anyone who is old enough to remember listening to HFS still misses it terribly. To this day we have trouble believing that there was a commercial radio station that was just that cool. They played Morrissey. They played Fugazi. They played the Replacements. Not late at night… at noon.
  • MTV Didn’t totally suck yet either. When you’re 12 you can’t really do anything cool. You ride your bike until dark, then watch 120 Minutes with your face about 6 inches from the screen. We never had cable at home, but at friends’ houses that’s exactly what we’d do.
  • We went to a very small school. When the school is that small, you get to hang out with kids who are a year or two older. Without the benefit of an older sibling, this is crucial for the development of musical taste.

Because of all these reasons, the first bands we were ever introduced to were actually some of the most incredible, creative, and influential bands in our lifetime. And as soon as we discovered the Misfits, all of that went out the window and we listened to nothing but punk for the next 10 years. Oi! Oi! Oi!

So once we reached a point in our own musical development where it became kind of absurd to keep listening to Jello Biafra make Ronald Reagan references, it was only natural to look back to some of these bands who, at 13, we knew about, but were ultimately way too young to appreciate fully. The Catherine Wheel, Dinosaur Jr, The Afghan Whigs, Pavement, Love Spit Love, Mazzy Star, American Music Club, The Breeders, The Lemonheads, and of course, Buffalo Tom.

Buffalo Tom is still a band. They’re not just ‘that band from My So-Called Life.‘ They’ve been a working rock band for a quarter century and what’s more, they’re as good as they’ve ever been. Some things never change.

Indeed, some things never change. They play the Black Cat tomorrow, and just like in 1993, we can’t go.

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Black Cat is at 1811 14th Street NW in DC. Mean Creek also plays.

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It Could Be Worse: Out of Town Fans Invade Camden Yards

The Orioles are about to wrap up a three game homestand tonight against division rivals the Boston Red Sox. These games have come right on the heels of a rain-shortened weekend series against the Yankees, and at this point in the eyes of most Baltimoreans, the scoreboard is almost irrelevant; we’re just happy to have all of these assholes clearing out of our city.

We’ve long been fatigued these many losing seasons by fans from Boston and New York trotting out the worst of their stereotypes in downtown Baltimore. The New Yorkers really are all arrogant douchebags with pepperoni breath and an undeserved superiority complex, fit for the Jersey Shore. The Bostonians are actually, to a man, a bunch of dumb, racist, fake-Irish loudmouth drunks. (It’s not their fault though, they were all molested by priests as children.)

But stop and think for a moment… it could be worse! With BWI being a hub for Southwest Airlines, fans from all over the country can fly here cheaply. Now that that dumbfuck of a commissioner is talking about expanding the playoffs, we could be only a few short years away from a league-wide schedule shakeup. In the modern game, geography matters little, and profit margins matter much. Imagine if we had some new divisional rivals with whom to contend…

Tiger fans give the phrase 'Dem Bums' a whole new meaning.

The Detroit Tigers. In the future, the Tigers will continue to exist, but only as the gypsies of baseball. The city of Detroit can’t support them much longer, and it’s only a matter of time before the MLB schedules them for 162 road games and 0 home games. It’s just as well, since the millions of people who used to live in Eastern Michigan are now scattered across the nation. They used to all camp in the Silverdome, until it was sold for about the same price as an inner harbor waterfront condo. Of course, none of them have jobs, so if we were divisioned with the Tigers, downtown Baltimore would become a functioning hobo camp every time they came to town. Parking wouldn’t be a problem, since they’d all arrive on boxcars, but going to and from the game would find each intersection crowded with innumerable Orange and Navy “squeegee men” and unkempt former Detroiters with signs that read “Will build Buicks for food.”

Hide ya kids, Hide ya wife. Diamondbacks fans are coming to town.

The Arizona Diamondbacks. Fans from other states on the east coast may be annoying, but at the end of the day they’re all sensible Democrats. There’s some common ground there. Arizonans on the other hand, are craaa-zzzy. They’re the worst kind of crazy, the armed and dangerous right wing kind. You wouldn’t be able to get past Fell’s Point without some racist vigilante stopping you on Eastern Avenue and saying “Papers Please.” Jowly old men will raise their arms no more than halfway up when home run balls “clear the danged fence.” And of course, there’s always the possibility of some lunatic being denied an autograph and going on a shooting spree at City Hall Plaza mumbling about how the Orioles are a ‘genocide ballclub.’

The Giants have the most fashionable fans in baseball. This is all official MLB merchandise.

The San Francisco Giants. An unbalanced home schedule against the Giants would be a decidedly mixed blessing. On the downside, all Baltimore could potentially turn into a classic South Park episode with a citywide smug alert. The JFX would be bumper to bumper with Priuses, and AT&T’s data network would suffer serious disruptions with that many fans staring at Brian Wilson’s dumb beard on their iPhones and iPads simultaneously instead of actually watching the game. What’s more, those hippies would do more digging through our trash than the Tiger fans, except that they’d be looking for compostables and recyclables instead of, you know, dinner.

On the bright side, all those gays would make Baltimore much more fabulous. Pink Giants caps are an entirely different fashion statement than pink Sox caps. Instead of Jeter and A-Rod gear, the vendors on Pratt Street would start hawking hats from Alexander McQueen and jerseys by Tom Ford. Lady Gaga would sing the national anthem before the game, and in the top of the third inning there would be a mad dash up Eutaw Street for the curtain call at the Hippodrome. Plus, Luke Scott would probably hate it. That’s always a plus in our book.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Six Dollar a Gallon Gas Edition

The Chop is a longtime lover and admirer of the Great Outdoors. Not like hills and forests and all that crap, but we like sidewalks a lot. We’d rather climb a rooftop than a mountain, and rather cool off in an open fire hydrant than some crummy lake. (People pee in lakes! That’s gross!) We’ve been noted as one of the area’s preeminent urban outdoorsmen, which mostly means that we like drinking outside.

It’s for this reason we’re so excited that the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally will be meeting at the Laughing Pint tonight, and availing ourselves of the outdoor tables. Beer always tastes better when it is drunk en plein air, and Democracy is always the more the merrier, so consider yourself invited. Just look for the big red, white and blue bottle on the table.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally meets at the Laughing Pint tonight. 7 pm.

We’ll be even happier when the meetings move back to Joe Squared, because we can easily walk there. In fact, we can walk to a lot of our favorite places and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing lately. We’ve only been averaging two car trips a week, and those being short ones, which is quite handy since gas is going to be SIX DOLLARS A GALLON very soon and forevermore.

Let’s talk about that for a minute, since with congress on Spring Break it’s one of the very few political stories happening at the moment. What is causing high gas prices? Well, what caused the fall of Rome? What caused World War II? What’s causing global warming? There’s no one thing you can point to to blame for the increase in gas prices. There’s not even any six things. It’s not Obama’s fault, not the refiners’ fault, not OPEC, not Wall Street, etc. It’s just the way of the world. The truth is that we’ve been overdue for six dollar gas for about a decade or two. We got (and get) a lot of free and cheap oil from the Kuwaitis, but not even that is a permanent solution, especially when it’s all burned up by humvees and jets in our other blood-for-oil adventure, which so far has netted us zero free barrels, and is unlikely to anytime soon.

So six dollar gas is going to be a fact of life, and we’re all just going to have to get used to it. If we sound a little smug about that, well, we are. We live in the city and like to walk. We’re even going to buy a bicycle when the time is right. We don’t even commute to work. When six dollar gas arrives, we’re fully prepared to put our shoe leather where our mouth is. We’re serious, and we wish everyone else was as well.

In the last few years in Baltimore we’ve seen a number of incremental improvements for car-free living. We have a Bike Czar now, new lanes and trails for cyclists, a Charm City Circulator, the MTA’s Charm Card, zipcars and the Red Line plan, which is coming- like it or not. None of these things are perfect, but as more people gravitate toward them with the rise in gas prices, they’re all bound to improve.

Perhaps the best part about the change that’s gonna come? We can drink. Liberally. After all, we’re not driving home.

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Chop Style: Cheap Sunglasses vs. Expensive Sunglasses

We did a basic discussion of the style points of sunglasses back in January. That post was mostly just a visual primer on what to do and what not to do, with no mention of specific brands or models.

We’re not going to get too specific today either. But now that Summer is right around the corner and the sun is becoming a regular fixture in the sky again, we are going to try to settle one peculiar question which has been bugging us for quite some time: Should sunglasses be cheap or expensive?

Does Sonic Youth wear cheap sunglasses? Does it matter?

There are two schools of thought on this, and both are equally correct. Those who favor expensive sunglasses will point out that most $100+ pairs of shades are incredibly sturdy. The little tiny screws won’t loosen over time and the lenses won’t pop out of the frames at random. Speaking of lenses, at that price you mostly get nice lenses that are polarized and U/V gamma ray resistant, scratchproof and all that good shite. When you’re shopping really nice sunglasses, you typically get what you pay for.

Cheap sunglasses are cheap. There’s no two ways about that. But sometimes cheapness can be a virtue unto itself. With $100, you can go buy a very nice pair of Ray Ban’s that you can wear day in and day out, or you can buy 15 different pairs of cheap knockoffs and have a pair that’s a perfect match to any outfit. You can keep your pricey shades for years, but that’s only if you manage not to lose them. With cheap ones, you needn’t care if you lose or break them, because they were cheap. You can replace them so easily.


The bottom line:
We might go ahead and invest in a really nice pair of glasses that we could adopt as a stylistic trademark if we lived in some place like LA or Miami, but this is a Baltimore blog and we’re talking Baltimore Style. We say keep it cheap. Enjoy the art of thrift, and spend that extra cash on a decent shirt.

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Stoop Storytelling @ Centerstage Tonight

After their one-off show at Hopkins a few weeks ago, The Stoop is back in its regular home at Centerstage tonight to present Culture Shock: Stories about confronting the new, strange, and often scary.

Here's a scene from Pleasantville, a movie all about confronting scary new culture shock.

We’ve written about the Stoop enough times now that we’re having trouble coming up with new angles. We thought we might just blog a story of our own about ‘confronting the new, strange, and often scary,’ but all the ones that came immediately to mind were ones we don’t really feel like putting up online. Some way to run a personal blog, yes.

So instead, for further reading go over to B-More Cultured, where Katie recently posted an interview with Stoop producer Jessica Henken.

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Centerstage is at 700 N. Calvert St. in Mount Vernon. Tickets for tonight’s show are sold out.

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Today is Easter

If you’re looking for us today, we’ll be out visiting family. If you’re looking for us tomorrow, we’ll be making the rounds of grocery and convenience stores buying up Mary Sue Easter Eggs at a discount.

Happy Easter.

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