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05 February 2007 @ 08:39 am
So, I figured out, over the weekend, why Aerosmith stopped being relevant. Or, rather, when. Turns out, it all happened in 1993, which is funny because if I'm not mistaken, that's the year my dad and I saw them play in the Tacoma Dome.

Here's the thing, I'll go ahead and Nutshell Aerosmith for you right now. They form in the early 70s; there's a slow rise to fame where they peak in 1976 with their fourth album "Rocks"; hardcore drug use runs rampant throughout the band, anywhere from heroin and cocaine on down; their subsequent efforts suffer as a result, yet their live shows are still lauded by their legion of American fans; Joe Perry and Brad Whitford both leave the band by the end of the 70s, Aerosmith trudges on with replacement parts; 1980: "Aerosmith Greatest Hits" is released; they get back together by 1985 and mount a comeback; by 1989, they're back on top with their best album since "Rocks", entitled "Pump"; thereafter, they employ a number of outside song-writers to assist in their album making; their commercial peak hits in 1993 with the slew of Alicia Silverstone videos.

That's where we are now. In that same year, a little show on MTV entitled "Beavis & Butthead" dominates the pop culture spectrum; a soundtrack album is released featuring a number of Beavis & Butthead-approved bands; Aerosmith is one of these bands. They didn't have to do it, since Aerosmith's popularity had surpassed even their 70s glory years, but something compelled them. They also didn't have to put a brand new song on the album - "Deuces Are Wild" - but they did anyway. And, as it turned out, this song just so happened to be one of the best songs they'd ever released; and it wasn't even sold as a single.

I don't really know how this song came about - it could've been just a B-side from their previous album's sessions - but it would serve to be the prototypical "Aerosmith Song" for the rest of their career up to the current date. Everything they've released since has sounded almost exactly like "Deuces Are Wild". Hence why they've become irrelevent.

Aerosmith is now a factory band. Outside songwriters now helm the ship, providing lyrics and riffs for the band to dutifully perform. Music Making is no longer a creative process for Aerosmith, they've been reduced to a well-paid, high-profile Cover Band (fittingly, their last studio album was one solely comprised of covers of old blues songs).

In giving you the Aerosmith Nutshell, I made a point of noting when their Greatest Hits album came out. Aerosmith loves to tout how great they are, and since have released too many Greatest Hits-type albums to count. In 1994 - just one year after "Deuces Are Wild" - they released their second hits album, entitled "Big Ones". In this Volume 2 of sorts, they compiled all their hits since their big comeback in the late 80s, including "Deuces Are Wild". In addition, "Big Ones" offered two new songs, to appeal to Aerosmith completionists - such as myself - who already owned all their albums. Only, the two new songs were no where NEAR the calibre of quality to be deemed "hits". In short, they were TERRIBLE, with trite lyrics, bogus playing, and all the feeling and passion of sitting in your underwear in a doctor's office awaiting news of your prognosis. Sure, they followed the "Deuces Are Wild" model, but dammit! In one year, they'd gone from the Biggest Band In America to has beens. It's been a slow yet steady descent into utter craptitude since.

They release a new album soon - perhaps even this year - and I hope there's some semblance of a Return to Form. Disheartening is the word to best describe how I feel; Aerosmith has long been my favorite band, or one of them anyway.

But, I didn't get on here to talk about Aerosmith all damn day. Although, that's QUITE the lengthy introduction to the Meat & Potatoes of my discussion with you. I'm here to talk about my weekend, and the revelations clinging to its coattails. I'm here to talk about the One Track Mind of one Steven A. Taylor.

***


Like most of my ideas, I got this one while taking an Eight-White-Castles-Leading-To-Runny-Stool Shit. I'm 25 years old, soon to be 26; do you know what Alexander The Great was doing at age-25-soon-to-be-26? He was banging some sweet Roman pussy as King of Macedon! Well, I'm not one to toot my own horn, but I think Steven A. Taylor's pretty fucking great; maybe it's about time we just throw that in the ol' title: Steven A. Taylor The Great.

But alas, one cannot simply thrust that Greatness rank upon himself without doing anything to symbolically deserve it (just because we all KNOW I'm great, there will always be skeptics out there crying, "What have you done to earn such an honorific?"). Ergo, I've decided it's about time I, Steven A. Taylor The Great, take over the world.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "But Steven A. Taylor The Great, you can't take over the world with rugged good looks alone!" This is true. There are a number of ill-minded world leaders out there who'd object to my proposal of World Domination. So, I'm gonna just have to do it by going in the back door (that's what she said). I'm going to develop ... a website.

Not just ANY website, mind you! It's going to be an Online Literary Magazine, "released" (as in Updated) monthly, comprised of:

Short Stories
Opinion Articles / Criticism
Fake Onion-like Comedy Pieces
Biographies / Memoirs
Poetry
Pictures (photos, paintings, etc.)
And anything else that's creative and good, as deemed by me, thy creator.

I'll place an add on Craig's List, soliciting writers; I'll get some web space and my own domain name; I'll have stickers made - provocative stickers - and place them in bar bathrooms and wherever else they'll get noticed; and I'll commission some sincere Word-Of-Mouth from friends of mine. And, since Jenny's been thinking about something similar to this very idea, I'll see if she wants to go in as a partner on this, as she's got some pretty zany ideas that'll make this site different from all the other bullshit literary websites out there.

First thing's first, I need a good name. This thing will be made or broke all based on the name, as my guerrilla-style advertising methods depend on people being so intrigued by what little the stickers and such will say. After the name, I'll need to come up with a mission statement, which I think I already have the bones to as we speak. Essentially, I find it's bullshit that whether you get published or not depends on who you know rather than the talent you possess. Good writers are being excluded through obscurity. You can't get published unless you've already BEEN published or if you've won some damn contest. The bottom line is, there's just too much shit out there to wade through. My website will be devoted to sifting through the shit and discovering the nuggets of gold. Likewise, too many literary magazines are up their own asses with pretentiousness. People who take themselves too seriously bore the living shit out of me. If you can't laugh at yourself, if you can't take a joke, and if you can't take the heat of criticism, then fuck you, you're out of the fuckin' club! And third, there will never be a published hard-copy of my literary magazine. My life has become one of simplicity; there's too much shit in the world as it is, why add to the clutter? You don't save the magazines you buy, they just end up getting thrown out, unless you're a wierdo who keeps stacks and stacks of old TV Guides in your basement, in which case, get a fuckin' JOB man! As long as there's Internet, there's no need to have things printed out unless you need something to read while taking a shit. End of story.

This website is going to be my latest obsession; I won't rest until I'm garnering the respect I believe I deserve. And, speaking of obsessions, I should probably tell you how I came to this realization on a Sunday afternoon while sitting with my pajama bottoms around my ankles on the can.

***


Emily and I have this hobby of late to find cheap and/or free live music in the city. We've devoted a number of our Friday nights since the new year to this endeavor; this last Friday was no different. I found a website while at work that lists all (or a lot) of the places in New York City where you can see live music. When I got home that night, I narrowed the list down to those who stated a policy of No Cover Charge. The two of us settled on The Sidewalk Cafe - home of Anti-Folk Musicians (punk-influenced acoustic tunes).

On the way and while waiting for the next act, Emily and I had a lengthy discourse on The Nature of Reality, Philosophy, Quantum Physics, and The Existence of Free Will vs. Determinism (the idea that everything that's ever happened has led up to and causes everything that you and I and everyone else does now, that we have no control over what we're doing or what we're saying or what we're thinking at any time ... pretty heady stuff for a Friday evening; go watch "I Heart Huckabees" if you want a rudimentary lesson on Determinism vs. Existentialism). Needless to say, this wasn't your average Go-Out-Get-Drunk-See-Live-Music Friday night at the bar. And, as we sat in the back of the room, in the far corner from the stage listening to a couple of the performers, I couldn't help but think and take stock of my life and where I was going wrong.

I came to the conclusion that I'm a hypocrite. I feel like shit when I'm mired in a day-to-day routine of the Same Ol' Fuckin' Thing, where nothing ever changes, where I feel like I'm spinning my tires. However, I also feel like shit when I'm in a constant state of limbo, because then I feel like I'm not getting anything done, I'm neglecting my running, I'm neglecting my writing; so I NEED that routine, I NEED that schedule so I can say to myself, "OK, it's 8pm, time to start writing." In short, a little routine is good - it'll keep me from becoming obese - but I need to occasionally shake things up, otherwise I'll go completely insane and decide to move out to New York City on a whim ...

And that got me to thinking about chess. You know, the game of knights and pawns and kings and queens and all that checkmate fun. I like chess, but I'm fucking terrible at it. For one thing, I don't study the game, I don't play enough, and I make too many mistakes. But, my main problem, the reason why I'm no good at chess and probably never will be, is my One Track Mind.

See, I get this strategy in mind, I get to thinking, "OK, so if I just get my rooks out and move 'em this way, I'll be able to take his queen and place him in checkmate before he can say squat." Meanwhile, I'm so focused on what I'm trying to do, he comes around and kicks my ass in three moves. All because I wasn't paying attention, all because I was so focused on what I was trying to do, I was completely oblivious to anything else going on on the board.

In the Sidewalk Cafe, while listening to the Anti-Folk singers, I came to the realization that I employ this strategy to my everyday life as well. I get so dialed in on certain things - running, losing weight, saving money, getting out of debt, writing a novel, interest in a lady - that I suffer for it because my life loses that well-roundedness of diversification. And then I bitch about my routine dominating my life, so I go full-boar into something completely different as a change-of-pace, only to realize that this change-of-pace becomes the new routine. Not only that, but this One Track Mind aspect completely dominates all of my thoughts, preventing me from getting anything else done (see: every crush on a girl I've ever had EVER).

So, that's great, I've diagnosed the problem. That doesn't help me solve the problem now does it? What can I do to rectify this thing I've gotten myself into short of therapy? What can I do to get myself out of this rut - this rut of One Track Mindedness - and keep me balanced? How about a Saturday night that's unlike any other Saturday night I've ever experienced?

***


Not only did I make weird Spanish Jell-O and eat an asston of White Castle hamburgers on Saturday, but I devised an agenda. With my roommates preoccupied with other activities, I wasn't about to just sit at home twiddling my thumbs all night. On Friday, I received an e-mail from the mailing list I signed up for - an e-mail from a sketch comedy group called Slightly Known People. They perform on a weekly basis at Rififi's Saturday nights at 8pm. It's a $5 entry fee, two groups of sketch comedy, and at the end they stuff shots of alcohol down you for free. I got there at 7:30, got a couple beers, made a couple phone calls, laughed at the funny parts, drank one more beer for the road, and left to go in search of Part II of my Saturday night.

In preparation for my lone evening on the town, I looked up a number of bars where Jazz music might be performed for a reasonable fee of zero-to-few dollars. I probably had seven or eight places in the Village alone, with one long-shot all the way up on Broadway and 93rd. So, I took my list of bars and my very basic knowledge of the area (without the use of a map no less) and set out. And, place after place I was shut out. Either no one was performing, or the place didn't exist where it was SUPPOSED to exist ... regardless, I was running out of options. I made my way west and found the Blue Note, a guarantee for music, though for a fee.

The Blue Note had a doorman who told me that they have three sets of music on Saturdays, and the second set was running a little long. I specifically wanted to catch the late-night set for numerous reasons. I didn't want to get home until SUPER late, I wanted to see what the city was like at such a late hour, and I had word that the late set was cheaper than the other two. By this time, it was around midnight and I'd plenty sobered up - my evening started with four or five glasses of wine at home, three or four beers at the bar, a couple shots, another beer while I walked around. Therefore, it was mandatory to hit up another area bar for two reasons: to get my buzz back and to kill time until 1:30, when the next set of music was to start.

I don't know what this place was, but it was pretty well filled with people. Yuppies. Damn them to hell. I bought a beer, scoured the scene for some babes, tried to make eye contact to no avail, decided anyone I'd meet in a place like this would surely annoy me to no end, and left about a half hour later. I went and got a bite to eat across from the Blue Note, because I figured I'd eaten last at 2pm that day and because I really fucking needed to pee. Then, I noticed a slight line forming outside the Blue Note. It was around 1am at this point, so I got in and waited.

It was merely coincidence that the guy who got in line right after me was also white, because this was a predominantly black crowd. Classy, dignified, not your regular hood rat from Bushwick. Upscale, jazz-appreciating black folk. The Huxtables would be most at home among these folks. I would come to learn just how outnumbered I was upon entering the Blue Note after a painfully chilly wait outside. I was maybe one of a dozen white dudes in a sea of color, it was fabulous.

The doorman charged me $12 to get in; then I ordered a beer from a waitress upon sitting at a table, that set me back another $9 after tip. You better believe I nursed that bottle of Brooklyn Lager the entire duration of my evening. They finally got started at a quarter to 2 and things didn't wrap up until nearly 4am. It was amazing. They had activist poets, a beautiful singer fronting a swingin' band of piano, bass guitar, drums, and backup singers. Then, they had this a cappella group known as Universes. Two black guys on either end interspersing poetic verse while keeping the beat using only their vocal cords, another guy (either white or light-skinned mix) just keeping the beat, and this overweight black woman with a BOOMING voice. She was awesome. Their whole set was fucking great.

I didn't get home until 5am or so. The next day, Liz exclaimed how out of character that was of me to stay out all night by myself. She said she was another couple hours from filing a Missing Persons report with the police. I say that it's about time I do something out of character; I'd like to say this is the beginning of a trend. But, as we know, once you do something out of character enough times, it ceases to be ...

***


I only got about 5 and a half hours of sleep from the moment I got home early Sunday morning. Normally, I would've been sleeping in, but this was no ordinary Sunday. We're talking Super Bowl, holmes.

Jenny has this friend Brian who was thinking about throwing a party. I would've went, but things fell through and he ended up not having one. That left me with only one alternative: The Black Sheep.

While all my friends were back in Redmond, thousands of miles away, rocking the joint at Eddie's place, I sidled up to the bar a half hour before kickoff, diving into my first Yuengling of the evening. The day up to this point had been filled with thoughts of my impending website venture, but all of that fell by the wayside once the Indianapolis Colts kicked off to Devin Hester's touchdown-running self.

Highlights include representatives from Anheuser Busch handing out free bottles of Budweiser and Bud Light. A free beer IS a free beer. Also, the funniest thing ever: Old Man Fights. I don't recall exactly when, but I saw my favorite bartender looking to her right with concern. I followed her gaze and saw this old man with a cane sticking his face in that of another old man. This other old man had at least a half a foot on the cane-holding old man, but the little guy wasn't backing down. Nothing ACTUALLY happened, because my favorite bartender got in the middle and tried to calm the agitated elderly gentleman down. But, the old sourpuss he was, he kept calling the taller fella a "cocksucker" and a "faggot" and berated him for walking away like a "pussy" when the other bartender suggested it would be a good idea. I was SO hoping that he'd take a swing at someone with his cane. Just one! It would've made my year; I could've died right there had that happened. As it stood, he was simply escorted out of the premesis.

Oh yeah, and the game was pretty good too. That first quarter had to be, by far, the greatest quarter of football in Super Bowl history. Kickoff for a touchdown, a long bomb for a touchdown, a long run leading to a short touchdown, four turnovers ... and it took about nine and a half hours (seriously, I was already on Beer 5 with a minute left). The rest of the game didn't quite keep up that frenetic pace, but I was happy with the outcome. Bears fans in the bar were cheering at random first downs because their team was so pathetic, it was great. I was boisterously, of course, rooting on the Colts.

Which brings to mind the idea of Sports Bigamy. Obviously, I'm a Seahawks fan through and through, but over the years other teams have captured my interest for one reason or another. In my teenage years, I really liked the Atlanta Falcons. They had cooler uniforms, Deion Sanders before he was an annoying superstar, and Jerry Glanville, the coolest southern bigot coach in the last 25 years. More than anything, though, the Falcons were exciting. They didn't win a whole lot of games, but their offense was high-flying and you were almost guaranteed a close finish at the end. My interest in the Falcons has waned with the advent of Michael Vick and the Seahawks moving to the NFC, but that just opens up my renewed enthusiasm for the Colts.

I've liked the Colts since Jim Harbaugh nearly completed a hail mary pass that would've either tied or won the game against Pittsburgh in the year that the Steelers lost to the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. That's why I've had that Indianapolis Colts sweatshirt all this time. The Colts, like the Falcons for so many years, have been underdogs while posing a potent offensive threat. Even with Peyton Manning and all his oversaturation in commercials, I don't really mind the Colts. Until this year, they'd yet to get over that Patriots hump, so that made them endearing sort of. Now that they've won it all, ehh, I don't think I'll tire of them just yet. If they go on to become some fucking Dynasty though, you better believe I'll be rooting my ass off against them, no matter how much Tony Dungy looks like Dumbo.

By the way, show of hands: how many of you ejaculated in your pants during the Prince performance? Come on, be honest! That was, by FAR, the greatest Super Bowl halftime show put on by the NFL that I've ever seen. He. Fucking. KILLED.

But, more than anything, I'm just glad the Bears lost. All their whining about Not Being Respected and people Not Believing In Them, it was all bullshit. Yeah, you know why no one was taking you seriously as winning this game? Because you suck! When they tried to pull that crap in the Seahawks game - even though they were 9-point fucking favorites at home after a bye week - I gained a newfound hatred for this pathetic excuse for a football team. They're now up there with the Raiders, Broncos, Rams, Cowboys, Steelers, and whoever we're playing That Week. Fuck the Bears, fucking pussies.

And finally, allow me to finish by declaring my unwavering adoration for the aforementioned Favorite Bartender at The Black Sheep. Here's my reasoning: sure, she's pushing 40, but she's still got a really good body; and what's a man's number one concern entering a long-term relationship? Will she be able to NOT get fat as she ages! Well, she's aged, and she's damn fine. Plus, she's a football fan - and not one of these girly fairweather female football fans who just SAY they like football, I get the sense that she actually means it - and she deals with alcohol, along with breasts you're looking at three of my favorite things in life. Throw into the equation she's already seen me hammered in public and doesn't appear to be put off by it ... all I gotta do is make a move. Come on, young stud like me, she'd be a fool to turn all this down! Yeah, I should become a creepy regular who just goes in there to make small talk with her. She's gotta be a demon in the sack.