Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sucked Dry, But Hopeful

Yeah, school is sucking me dry. Kicking my ass around the block several times until I beg for mercy and then it bodyslams me and walks away laughing. But......it's over for a month on December 8. I'd forgotten what the feeling of semester break anticipation felt like. It's a big fat oaf of a party buddy, goading you on to put down your books and come to a kegger. I'm trying really hard right now to not listen to him and to just finish my work when I really want to run like hell and drink from the keg tap.

Even better than school being over, and the ultimate and perfect school's out/Christmas celebration is that El Vez is doing his Merry Mexmas show the day after I finish. I am giddy with excitement because El Vez's shows are always the most fun, positive experiences you could ever dream of having. What's better than an Elvis impersonator? El Vez! So, I just have to hang in there for two more weeks and then my Christmas can begin.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Grant Miller, you really put the gun to my head. All this time I've been lurking in the shadows with no clue as to my real identity. Well, here I am in all my furry glory. I'm a rockin' kitty with attitude and a totally awesome band. Check us out.

WTF, Lulu! (Super Secret Song From the Confessional)

So, I'm outting Lulu. Educator by day, freak by night. How do you find the time?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Two Years

Two years ago today I rushed to my parents' house knowing full well what was happening. Mom was in pain that they could no longer control and not breathing well. I arrived at their home to find an ambulance already in the driveway. I remember parking in the neighbor's driveway and running into their home to find my mom unable to speak and my dad and aunt in calm but nervous voices telling me that they couldn't take care of her pain anymore and that she had to go to the hospital. She'd been home under hospice care for the past few weeks with all of us taking turns caring for her.

I remember driving behind the ambulance with my dad in the car and letting him out at the ER entrance so he could be with her while I parked. I remember calling my husband and asking him to pray that my mom be released from her pain. I remember all of us trying to frantically find my brother to tell him to come immediately. I remember knowing in a most searing and painful way exactly what was happening.

At my mom's bedside in the emergency room were my dad, myself, my Aunt Carol (my dad's sister), finally my brother, and the minister who my parents were good friends with. My brother nearly collapsed when he came in. I've never in my life seen a grown man cry like he did that day, without any regard for who saw or heard his pain. I remember just holding her hand and stroking her head as they began a morphine drip that slowed her breathing until it stopped. I remember feeling relieved when she finally passed away after so much time spent suffering through her illness. I remember grey skies much like today.

The rest of the next few weeks were just a blur for me. A wake and funeral followed by joyless holidays, making the best of it all for my kids. What I didn't know then was how much I would miss her every single day. At first it just felt like a void, almost unreal. I had dreams where she was very much alive almost every night. Those dreams eventually ended and the reality set in.

My mother, you see, was the most loving and luminous person I have ever known. She was smart, fairminded, generous, and caring. Our family is not the same without her. I have tried to fill some of the emptiness that exists in our family, but I pale in comparison to her. I feel all of my rough edges when I compare myself to her. I feel my selfishness. My mom wasn't perfect, but she was one of those people that you couldn't say many bad things about.

So two years later, I am looking at myself and feeling sorry for myself and feeling angry. Angry is one of the things I do best. It's not always an external anger, but the kind that roils below the surface. I know in my mind that I am more fortunate than many to have had her as long as we did. I hate that I lost something so precious. I hate that it still hurts like it does. I hate that it has changed me. I hate that autumn is now one big season of bad memories. I hate that I feel like I'm sleepwalking through my life. I hate the hole that I can't seem to fill.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


OK, I'm a little slow on the uptake, as this was released last spring, but I have to say, "Holy Crap!" If you thought that Mission of Burma doing the reunited thing was lame, think again. This chunk of music is nothing short of spectacular and every bit as relevant as anything they put out the first time around. I now completely regret not seeking them out when they played the Pitchfork Festival this past summer. Oh, the concerts of regret. Three guesses what will be spinning in my car for the next few days. Well, I have to take a break from Naked Raygun every once in awhile.

O, Christmas Ale (sung to the tune of O, Christmas Tree)

O, Christmas Ale
O, Christmas Ale
O, how I love your bubbles

O, Christmas Ale
O, Christmas Ale
You take away my troubles

You are so dark
I can't see through
You are a perfect

O, Christmas Ale
O, Christmas Ale
O, how I love your bubbles

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Songs From the Confessional Vol. VII

NO DOUBT-Excuse Me Mr.

Perhaps we have forgotten that our shame can be outted. To play fair, I'll out myself first, 'cuz this is a doubleheader today ladies and gentlemen. The only thing I'll say in my defense is that there still aren't a whole lot of chicks out there. None on stage at Riot Fest to be exact. I've gone so far as to see them live....in an arena. Anyone who knows me, knows what that means. Hey, I had 90 minutes of sweaty bouncy fun. Nuff said.


Welcome to the club, Johnny! Enjoy your 15 minutes. No one ever said they had to be good minutes, did they?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Shake a Tail Feather, Baby!

I just turned in the final draft of my first big paper. Time for tunes!
1.Out of Step-Minor Threat
2.The Mule-Naked Raygun
3.What Are You Waiting For?-Gwen Stefani
4.Turning Inside Out-The Methadones
5.Slender Fungus-Tones on Tail
6.Dethbed-Alkaline Trio
7.Hella Good-No Doubt
8.Yesterday Never Tomorrows-The Stills
9.Seen Your Video-The Replacements
10.Helicopter-Bloc Party

For any of you looking for non-stop fun, I suggest trying out The Methadones. You can find them on eMusic. I recommend "Not Economically Viable." Have a groovy weekend.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Whoa Hey.........uh oh (Part Two-Not Just Boy's Fun)

So the second coming of Naked Raygun was at Riot Fest. I had really wanted to go to this fest in past years, but had no takers. This year there was no denying the attractiveness of the event with Naked Raygun headlining. Riot Mike who runs this fest always manages to come up with a great bill of bands, local, national and international . And I loves me some hardcore!

The show was already running late when we got there at 3, so we actually got to see a couple songs from Secret Agent Bill, who are a really quirky, funky and fun local band. Saw a few ska bands, all good fun. We were with Sweetness (my 12 year old daughter) who was not quite ready to explore the mayhem from any further than her seat. I had a really hard time staying seated for many of the acts. Had she not been with us, I would have run into the middle of the pack and bounced along with them for most of the show. But, I was there and happy just to see the spectacle and to know that the scene was very much still alive and in many ways, still as positive as it used to be. I was called an "old fucker" about three or four times over the course of the weekend, but meant in a very positive way. I kind of liked it.

The sets that I absolutely adored were 7 Seconds, The Blue Meanies, and Flatfoot 56. 7 Seconds were as tight as when I saw them years ago in a much smaller hall in South Carolina. Kevin Seconds is a very polarizing person in the hardcore scene. While many like him, there are some who find his brand of straight-edge hardcore irritating. I'm not one of those. The scene in Columbia, SC was also straight-edge in large part because of Bedlam Hour, the local heroes that were on the 7 Seconds label. Kevin made one of the best comments of the night. He gave a shout out to all the girls that support the scene, noting that while we were the minority, we were important and appreciated. They then ripped into "Not Just Boy's Fun." Lulu mistakenly thought this was about something else, as she had stepped out for a moment. It was good for a laugh.

Flatfoot 56 won the prize of the night for most unusual instrument, as they are permanently accompanied by a bagpipe player. That guy seriously rocked a kilt and a tam! This band also won the prize for best encouragement of crowd participation. Up until that point, everyone was bobbing around in an unorganized manner. Flatfoot 56 managed to part the crowd and have everyone run head on into the opposite side creating what looked like a scene from Braveheart. I also enjoyed the snarling blue collar punk of The Business. They were the real deal.

Right before Naked Raygun came on, also reunionized Blue Meanies took the stage. I lived in California for the entire decade of the 90's, so I had never seen them live. I know they had quite a rabid local following and I found out why. A little ska, a little jazz, a little Chicago-style punk and a whole lot of drama. They were handily the most polished act of the night, choreographed and tight. I loved the freak show spectacle that they were and Sweetness loved them the best of all the bands. If there was such a thing as roccoco punk, this would be it.

Finally, it was time for the swan song of Naked Raygun. I was on the edge of my seat. I was worried for Jeff. Would he have any voice at all? Would the crowd care? And then the mixed bag of joy and sadness started welling up in my heart again. Shows gone by played fast forward in my mind's eye as the stage was readied. Finally, the moment I had waited for all day was there. They began with "Home of the Brave." Something sounded wrong and about six bars into the song, Jeff stopped the band. Roadies swarmed the stage and mucked around with Bill's guitar and Jeff began ranting about his stupid cordless mic and the crappy stand it came with. If you've ever seen them live, Jeff uses the cord and stand as props while he sings, wrapping the cord around his wrist and pulling it taut across the back of his neck. He uses the stand like a staff and often lowers the whole contraption out over the crowd so everyone can sing along. To me, this is what a Naked Raygun show is about, the sing along. Hundreds of devoted happy fans singing ALL of the words to every song so loudly that half the time you can't hear Jeff.

When they finally got it all together again, the ripped right back into "Home of the Brave." This is when I realized that his voice was just as thin as it was the night before. He made it through the first four or five songs in decent voice and then it really started to fail. Jeff apologized, but then said, "Hey this is punk rock. It's good enough." The crowd cheered them on and gratefully, the sound at The Congress was much better than at The Subterranean the night before. Where his voice lacked, the band and the crowd made up for it. Jeff took several long breaks along the way to give his voice a chance to recover a bit before the next tune. He is a chatty ridiculously dead pan funny guy. The ultimate wise ass. On one of the breaks, Jeff called out the "spawn of Raygun" and all the band members' kids came out to toss out the free shit that they always give away. They finished up their set with the crowd singing a majority of the songs with feet flying through the air as crowd surfing was in full swing.

As for why Jeff's voice was blown out? The weekend before he had toured with his current band, The Bomb. While Naked Raygun may have rode off into the sunset, we still have time to have our socks rocked off by a Chicago legend. "I said, I got new dreams. I got new dreams and I'm gonna make them real."

THE BOMB-Rat Patrol (Live at The Madhatter in Covington, KY)
Gotta love it! Whoa Hey Ho!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Whoa Hey.........uh oh (Part One)

The chapter of my life that was Naked Raygun is now closed. They performed their last show ever at the 2006 Riot Fest. Riot Fest is a full day punk rock extravaganza that is held here in Chicago every year at the ornate but decaying Congress Theater. I got to hear some bands that I've never even heard of , some that I had, and of course, old favorites like 7 Seconds and Naked Raygun. I came away with some new favorites and some hope for the future as I sadly watched the swan song of Naked Raygun.

On Saturday night at the Pre-Riot Fest Bash, we had the pleasure of seeing Four Star Alarm, The Bomb (Jeff Pezzati's new band), The Briefs, and Naked Raygun. Four Star Alarm delivered a great set, a little emo, a little old school, entirely fabulous. Then, murmurs developed. Where was Jeff? No one had seen Jeff. I wasn't worried, because this is his usual behavior. He gets everyone worried and agitated and then shows up at the last minute. Finally, the crowd parted like the Red Sea and Jeff was escorted through and stepped on stage for his first set of the night with The Bomb. I saw a look of disappointment on Jeff Dean's face (the guitarist) and wondered what it was about. Then we all found out. Jeff's voice was thin and barely held out for his set with The Bomb. I was concerned. I quickly realized that everyone there was very forgiving and even though it wasn't perfect it was good enough and it didn't stop them from having fun. The sound isn't the greatest at Subterranean either, but when is it ever perfect?

After The Bomb, the next band up was The Briefs. While I've heard their music before, this is a band that definitely is all about the live show. Dressed in 1979 punk rock garb, looking like The Sex Pistols on acid, they ripped their way through an amazing balls to the wall snarling set with a very tongue in cheek sassy attitude. Great fun. The crowd then bristled with anticipation for the headliner of the night, Naked Raygun. They took the stage with their usual opener "The Strip." The sound was muddy in the room, and Jeff's voice was clearly on its way out. The crowd didn't seem to care and made up for Jeff's waning vocal abilities by singing along to every single song, just like they always do. That's the thing about Naked Raygun fans, they are a dedicated tribe. If their leader was failing, they picked up the slack. Were they perfect? Nope. Did everyone have a fabulous time? Absolutely.

I ask you, do these people seem disappointed?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thank You, Lulu!

Now I have a new word to yell at the drivers who piss me off and don't obey the rules of the road. Hey, I think this word may also be appropriate when discussing school administrators. Cool!