Monday, May 30, 2011

The Message Is Obvious

The hell with the prostitution of new wave songs; when an utter classic early rap song, decrying life and the scourge of drugs on the streets of New York City, is turned into a fragrance commercial, it is obvious that money trumps all.
I was watching television about 5 minutes ago, and a commercial came on playing the easily recognizable introduction and musical bed for "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. The advertisement was for Lacoste "Eau de Lacoste," a new fragrance that probably smells like a combination of pissed-on dollar bills and crushed artistic integrity.
This isn't the first time the song has been used in a television commercial, because "The Message" was also used in a Kia Sportage advertisement. What's the old joke, we know what you are, we're just quibbling over the price? Artists certainly can sell their art how they like, and we, the consumers, can say when we don't like it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Better Now

The aforementioned crisis was actually solved about an hour after the previous blog post was written, so I will soon be back to more stuff on records, music, politics and other likes and annoyances.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Damn, Damn, Damn

I so hate a major screw up that I should have taken responsibility of that is costing us needless money and serious worry/tension.
So, there goes my concentration over posting these past few days. I actually have a post or two in mind (not forgotten for once), but that will have to wait until this crisis is solved.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another 'New Wave' Commercial?

Yet another television commercial is using a 1980s song as its music, this time with slightly rewritten lyrics, and I'm shaking my head a bit.
Travelzoo, a cheap travel website/company, is using a version of "Hey Mickey," an annoying pop song that because its lead instrument was a synthesizer and its singer/choreographer, Toni Basil, tried to be weird/strange, was lopped in as a new wave song.
The advertisement itself comes off as an adult-filled version of a scene from "Glee," so you know how much I like that, and having to hear this song again is painful for the 30 seconds the commercial lasts.
I just saw another ad using a great song by a great, nay, legendary protopunk singer, and I will get to that very soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Wave Mangling

I've frequently mentioned old punk, new wave and rock songs, mainly ones I like, that have been used in broadcast advertising in this blog, sometimes to good, other times horrible or humorous, effect.
Most of these songs used are by their original artists or the artists who made the song famous/popular, so sometimes, covers or reworkings can really catch one's attention, and yes, one has caught mine.
The version of the Human League's "(Keep Feeling) Fascination," by Rob Crow of the band Pinback (who?) in the newest Kingsford Charcoal, is absolutely awful and painful, an amazingly slow, mawkish acoustic rendition you'd cut someone off at an open mic if he or she sang it this way. And if you feel fascination from the charcoal or other substances you use to start your grill, well, you're worse off than help can revive.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Artvoice Tribute to Michael Meldrum

Among the tributes in words, music, print, etc., is a large one in this week's edition of Artvoice.
I was honored and humbled to be asked to write an extended piece as kind of an anchor for the coverage of the loss of our great friend, musician and organizer Michael, and I hope you get to read it to see us try to convey our thoughts for this lovely man, who will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dear Erie County Legislature Chair...

Dear Erie County Legislature Chair Barbara Miller-Williams:
I am in receipt of the invitation mailed to me by your campaign/supporters/blind leading the blind group, Friends of Barbara Miller-Williams, inviting me to your May 12 fund raiser. First, brilliant move, asking people to join Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, among the hosts; at least they know this will be a comedy event.
But, am I attending? I guess I need to remind you that on January 8, 2010, hours after you became the new chair of the Erie County Legislature, you fired me as the Director of Communications there at the end of a more-than 10-hour work day, giving me about 5 minutes to clear out my desk and leave.
So, thanks for the invitation, but this event, among others, just validates my thoughts about your utter incompetence. Thanks for writing; yours truly, Kevin.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bryan Trottier?

Since this week hasn't been enough of an emotional roller coaster ride, I went to my mother Sheila's house Friday to do some of the final work in emptying and selling her house, namely moving most of the rest of my late father Edward's record collection and part of the remainder of my vinyl collection here.
The house is now all but empty; in the living room and connected dining room, there is only a mirror on one wall, an abandoned cable television cable and curtains. The kitchen has only cupboards and a sink; the refrigerator, oven, microwave oven, table, chairs, telephone and its cabinet are gone. The bedrooms are also vacant. Downstairs, the remnants of the record collections, some very old posters, some cleanup items and garbage are all that is left.
Oh, and one other item I had no idea was there or even still existed. Next to the records on one shelf, I found my college intramural floor hockey stick, a "Bryan Trottier Signature Model 19" stick with a replica autograph on it. I can't find any brand on it, and the only other mark is "RIGHT-GARD" on the plastic blade.
I graduated from Buffalo State College in 1985, so this stick is at least 26 years old, and I know it wasn't purchased new in my senior year, so it is 27-30 years old. Surprisingly, it seems a little short for me now, about an inch less than optimal use dictates.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Michael Meldrum RIP

I am working on something more in-depth for both this blog and another publication, but it saddens me (and Val) to make note of the death of singer, songwriter, organizer, Buffalo music community and Allentown legend, and simply great person and friend, Michael Meldrum, who died Thursday.
Val and I were fortunately able to visit Michael, his wife Diane Gall-Meldrum and their children, Julia and Xander, in hospice care Wednesday to share our love and concern and sadly, say our goodbyes.
Michael was surrounded by family and friends, musicians and artists, on the last week leading to his final journey, which was the way he lived, and he will be sorely missed by the music and arts community, his family and friends.
It hurt to write these words, but sharing as much as we can about and with Michael and his family is the best way to address this sad time.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Love Is in the Air

As Walker Evans and I tromped around the West Side of Buffalo on our morning walk today, we noticed an increase in bird activity; apparently, our aviary friends are tired of waiting for spring weather to arrive.
In particular, we observed two birds in a tree on Richmond Avenue apparently starting their courting ritual. The female, all brown with slight darker marks on her wings, sat on a branch, while the male, the same body shape and size but with a brown head and black and sparking dark purple plumage, sang to/at her, flew around and landed on branches near her, puffed his stomach and preened for her. Both were a bit larger than a sparrow and maybe as large as a robin but slightly less, I believe. When I got home and had finished my coffee and breakfast, I checked online and it appears that the birds I saw were brown-headed cowbirds, which are year-round residents here.
Just to make sure, I am turning to my resident nature expert, niece and wonderful nature writer and photographer (and regular blog reader) Kimberly Hosey for her opinion on this matter. Kim?

Monday, May 02, 2011

John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra and Me

Well, another find in my father and mother's record collection has me shaking my head in amazement and appreciation.
I've written about cleaning out and selling my mother Sheila's suburban house here several times, and also written quite frequently about my late father Edward's (and apparently some of my mother and possibly grandparents) record collection. It is quite an impressive one of big band jazz bands and vocalists as well a lots of other jazz, classical and even Celtic music.
As I cleaned out the house and compile that collection, I have become a bit more familiar with my own vinyl collection, with much of it having been stored at my parents' house and slowly but surely making its way to our house.
So, as I was doing some cleaning and compiling this morning (in between some job searching), I found a cardboard box, 12 inches wide, 14 inches long and 6 inches tall, with the flaps folded over. From what I could see inside, it contained some old record jackets/albums of 33s and 78s. Nothing too surprising yet, considering the age of many of my father's records.
When I opened the box, I found on top of the other albums and jackets a clear plastic trifold holder with an old photo of President John F. Kennedy and the dates 1917-1963, obviously issued in memorial after he was assassinated.
Also in the folder is an old 45 in a plain brown wrapper with the words "'High Hopes' with Jack Kennedy" on the front and "Jack Kennedy" and "All the Way" on the back, and the number kb-2077 on the front and kb-2078 on the back. There is no record label listed and no other credits or explanatory information on the record or sleeve.
I assumed that this was a spoken word record, like so many elected officials, politicians and celebrities of that era recorded (hell, I also found a kind of flexi disc Red Skelton recorded in my father's collection), so I looked it up in the Internet to find out a bit more about it.
Holy crap; it turns out that this record is the legendary, rare recording Frank Sinatra made of his hit song "High Hopes," with new lyrics written by Sammy Kahn specifically for the 1960 Kennedy presidential campaign. On the flip side is the same orchestra and chorus, but minus Sinatra, with a Kennedy campaign version of "All the Way."
I have heard of this 45 before, but never actually seen it and never had any idea that it was in my parents' record collection. Admittedly, both were fans of President Kennedy (my parents being Roman Catholic and first-generation Irish Americans), but this record was never mentioned and was obviously put aside and protected. It makes sense because I have found a copy of the special edition of the Buffalo News from the day Kennedy was assassinated in my mother's items.
The amount of money being offered for copies of this record also gave me pause, so now the question arises, do we sell this and put the money toward my mother's continued care, do we keep it, let it gain value and sell it a little later, or do we treasure it as an amazing keepsake?
On the whole, this is another reason why music and music collecting has such a hold on me.