This Is The Voice

That time on The Voice when the music started and it was “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and the judges’ faces lit up, and then the guy on the stage, proceeded to sing the song horribly.

What I did walk away from it is how universally loved is that song. I mean I think Gwen Stefani BEAMED when she heard that intro. And, she’s right.

But Andy. Oh, Andy. C’mon. This is not a song on which you bring out your inner Roger Daltry.

Ya know? And, not to mention: I know you only have 90 seconds. But does that necessarily require rearranging the song until it’s barely recognizable?

Bye For Now

If you’re not a listener of The Howard Stern Show, then I’m really sorry about this. I don’t know how to explain Eric S. Lynch to you.

Suffice it to say that 12 years ago Friday, a young man called Howard Stern to stick up for an American Idol contestant of whom the KOAM had said needed to drop some weight in order to be a star.

Howard was more interested in the caller than his subject. “What’s wrong with you? There’s something wrong, right?”

“I’m a disabled person,” he replied.

I think you can hear the love in Howard’s voice immediately.

I think Howard knew right off the bat that in the jungle of Wack-Packery (forgive me, Eric did not like that term being applied to him), he had found a superstar. And Eric never failed to disappoint.

Any time I passed a radio and Eric was on the air, I would have to stop whatever it is that I’m doing and listen. I’d just have to. He was that compelling. Even when he was boring. Even when he was angry. Even when he was weirdly demanding. I’d just stop. And listen. Because I just had to know what was up with this ridiculously serious, horribly stricken little man.

And I sure ain’t the only one. Probably his most well-known fan was Jimmy Kimmel.

One of the greatest running gags regarding Eric was the Stern Show’s constant harassment of him to try to get him to “fly with balloons.” Howard today said he always saw the effort as a gag, and that he would never actually go through with it.

Not Jimmy. “There was no price I was unwilling to pay to make that happen,” he said on the show this morning. And, as they recounted on today’s show, the great joy in the gag was Eric’s refusal to relent. There was no amount of money, there was no promise of any kind of favors that could cause him to succumb to that indignity.

Of Eric, columnist Rob Eshman writes today, “Nothing was funny to him. In the Marx Brother-ian world that Howard created, he was a 3-foot tall, wheelchair-bound, severely disabled Margaret Dumont.

Well. I never.

The other miracle of Eric S. Lynch was how much he managed to parlay from being a regular Stern caller. He got a wide fan base out of the deal. He got TV parts out of the deal. Heck, he got laid out of the deal.

But the biggest miracle of all regarding Eric S. Lynch is that we had him around as long as we did. He told Howard early on his doctors did not expect him to live to 20. He was 39 when, on Saturday, his small body finally gave out.

When I saw the initial reports I didn’t believe it. Another popular thing to do was to start rumors on the Internet that Eric was dead. This time, though, the reports were from people inside Eric’s direct circle. Soon the story was picked up by TMZ, The Atlantic, and Variety.

Dig it. I said Variety.

I just wish Eric could read everything, all the tweets, all the serious news coverage, all the wishes. He spent a lot of his time feeling embattled by the Show. I wonder if he knew the swing of his gravitas, how far he reached and how powerful. I always called him my “favorite comedian.”

Quite a career you had there, pal. Bye for now.

Do You Remember…

Docmentary film maker. Actress. Singer. Talk show host. Advocate. Tracy Turnblad. Finalist, Dancing With the Stars. Poker shark.

My favorite famous age doppelganger.

Happy 46th birthday to Ricki Lake.

We’re in good company, ya know. Mother (of Invention) Don Preston is 82 today. Actor Bill Murray is 64. World famous chef and TV personality Anne Burrell is 45. Author Steven King is 67, and, speaking of authors, H.G. Wells would have been 148 years old today had he lived so long.

But Ricki Lake and I started this thing on the exact same day.

sixth birthday

I think that’s pretty funny.

Mrs. Skannotto

I have effusive ramblings today for a band that’s playing at Temple Bar & Grill tonight: Mrs. Skannotto:

Gents, I just frankly became aware of you as you are playing in my neighborhood tonight. I can’t make it. But I am glad to know there’s a ska band in Rochester and so I’ve been checking you out on Bandcamp. I listened to your previous works a bit and then to Outlier.

You fellas have been taking your vitamins, haven’t you?

Your page says ya’ll are “ready to take 2014 to the next level.” Yeah, you did it. Not to deride your previous efforts, but Outlier will be seen as the album when that little ska/ska-core group from Rochester really hit its stride. This thing reminds me a little bit of Hello Rockview is what I’m saying.

Then you end it by covering “Games Without Frontiers?” And doing it well? I mean, has Mr. Gabriel heard this? I think it would make him happy.

Outlier is not just a good album, and it is not just better.

Outlier is a great album.

Thank you. Have a grand time at Temple Bar & Grille ; I may stop in later to see if there’s any merch left.

Seriously. Go check the music here, then go see them if you can.

Ghoulish

I believe Urban Outfitters.

I didn’t when I first encountered the story. The story shocked me so, that a company would actually be selling this

and I was even more incensed knowing that, in fact, Allison Krause’s wounds were under her left arm.

This was Allison’s shirt, I believed, or, at least one that was designed to mimic a shirt she might have been wearing.

Cooler head has prevailed, however. Look at the seal.

That’s the seal of the state of Ohio.

Kent hasn’t used that seal on merchandise since the mid-1960s.

Go look on eBay. Google it. You will not find a Kent State shirt anywhere that uses the Ohio state seal. You can barely find merchandise that shows the Kent seal; I think they tend to reserve that for administrative communications.

I hate to say it, but I’m thinking the shirt is genuinely vintage.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid. That doesn’t mean it isn’t downright ghoulish and that somebody at Urban Outfitters doesn’t really need to get their crap together.

But I don’t think this was done on purpose. I think it’s a simple case of decisions at a retail establishment not being made by someone who is astute and discerning enough to know.

That doesn’t mean it’s not stupid, and it doesn’t mean it didn’t really hurt, especially for someone like me who spent many, many formative years in Kent.

Now that I’ve calmed down, however, I just can’t imagine that they did it on purpose.

Not sure if that helps.


I have to add that I was surprised and pleased at Kent’s proactive statement.

May 4, 1970, was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State family. We lost four students that day while nine others were wounded and countless others were changed forever.

We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.

We invite the leaders of this company as well as anyone who invested in this item to tour our May 4 Visitors Center, which opened two years ago, to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.

Whoever is running the joint now are not the same people running it when I was there.


The Least Informed People in the Mid-Atlantic

Since 13 years ago today, every time I hear a “test” of the Emergency Broadcast System, I wonder what in the wide wide world of sports that thing is even FOR.

Every bit of information I digested that morning was from CNN and the Internet, and 94 percent of it was wrong. The Mall was not on fire. There were no car bombs. The entirety of the District was not under siege. But I never even heard that wretched EBS indicator sound once on that day, and the Emergency Broadcast Service helped neither inform nor misinform me.

It could have been worse. I could have been riding in that white pick-up, one of the two least informed people in the Mid-Atlantic.

I don’t want to say that they were the least informed people in the world. I mean, there may have been some Tibetan monks or something somewhere who weren’t aware of what was happening, either.

But certainly, the two in the white pick-up truck who drove up alongside me, my co-worker, and probably thousands of our new friends as we exited Washington D.C. on foot over the Roosevelt Bridge and asked why everyone was performing this exodus, yes, friends, I would say at the time, they were the least informed two people in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

We pointed at the billowing smoke, the result of the attack on the Pentagon. We filled them in. It was strange having to get anyone else caught up to speed about something that, to me, had become rather obvious and overwhelming.

To get to one of the area’s Target stores, you drive right by the Pentagon, you know. I mean, it’s set back fairly far from the highway of course, but you are aware when you drive that way of its presence. It’s how you get to Old Town, too. I always hoped as I was driving by that nothing hit the fan while I was on that road. Because I was certain that the Pentagon had to have been the most heavily defended building in the world, and certainly, if it were attacked, and if you were driving on the Jeff when it happened, well…you’d see the rockets’ red glare.

How false this assumption was; that was one of the most surprising things to me.

That’s all I have regarding the day, I reckon.

Except.

Hole’s ‘Live Through This’

There is an unfortunate video making the rounds today of Courtney Love performing “Celebrity Skin” sometime in 2010. Her guitar and vocals are isolated and, shall we say, they do not sound good.

Well, here.

It’s an unfortunate performance to be sure, and fortuitous to be making the rounds just when I’ve been revisiting Hole’s breakout Live Through This.

This is quite a respectable work, maligned as it was at the time with the accusation that Mr. Cobain was responsible for it. I don’t buy that for a minute. Because its voice throughout is quite distinctive from that of Nirvana’s. Its imagery is uniquely feminine. And that’s something you just don’t hear in rock. Some of my favorite performers are led by females but don’t come close to capturing what Love does in her songwriting.

My favorite cut is probably due largely to the work of the late Kristen Pfaff, who plays the heck out of the bass on this thing. “Credit in the Straight World,” baby.

The album as a whole, though, is a big beautiful house of horrors, all from a decidedly feminine perspective. Or, as manager Mark Kates says in this oral history:

I remember sitting in that very small rehearsal room watching them and thinking, “No one knows how great this is. No one I work with has any idea how great an album this is going to be.” That was really special. I knew it would blow people away.

Influences I conjured up when giving this a rewind are rarely mentioned in connection with Live Through This, but I’ll say it anyway: Lookin’ at you, Liz Phair. Lookin’ at you, Velvet Underground.


Yes. I know it’s a cover.


I don’t think the band’s name means what you think it means. If anything, Courtney Love seems to think that the most obvious um, reference, is, well, a bit accidental.

In Euripedes’ Medea, when she kills the bride and her own child, she says “There’s a hole that pierces my soul.” [And] my mother’s this kind of new age psychologist, and I said “You know, I had this terrible childhood,” and she said “Well, you can’t have a hole running through you all you time, Courtney.” You know, and then [there’s] the genital reference, go ahead and make it if you will.

So there you have it.


Besides. Without Hole there might not be a Screaming Females:

“I would go home and print out tablature online for Hole songs I’d just make it up and figure it out. I don’t really know anything about music theory and I don’t know scales or anything… except for a couple basic things.” (Marissa Paternoster, in Rolling Stone)

And we all know what a cold, barren planet this would be with no Screaming Females, don’t we?