Blogging me

Rainy nights in Georgia

Brooks Benton sang about them and I love watching them from my screened-in porch.  It’s a simple pleasure, but watching, hearing, and feeling the rain while sipping a cool drink….. instant stress relief.  Enjoy.

Sumo deadlifts

No one will ever mistake me for a contortionist… I am definitely not a very flexible guy.   You can Imagine, then, how much fun it was to learn sumo deadlifts.  “Sumo deadlifts” are  — in essence — an exercise where you pick up a barbell from the floor with your legs spread wide.   It’s a great exercise, but it pushes my flexibility at the bottom.   The good news here is that until a month ago, I couldn’t bend that far without arching back (which is not a good thing), so this was a real milestone.  It was all in the legs and the butt

It may only be 225# in the video, but damn, it felt like much more.  

This browser cannot play the embedded video file.

Short videos from Ride

I admit it — I had a blast seeing Ride on Friday night and didn’t mind the 12:30am start time one bit.  I just caught a couple of moments with my phone (I really don’t like to be the guy who holds his phone up blocking everyone’s view, so I took both of these from the back of the crowd.)  Two things struck me about show.  One, the sound was incredible.  Yes, it was loud, but they controlled the volume so that it was crisp, clearly audible, and balanced.  How refreshing not to have each snare hit hurt your ears.  Second, watching the now forty-something members of the band work as a team was really encouraging.  They had success, lost it (for the most part), and realized that they make a team that can accomplish more than each of them can do as individuals.   The chemistry was clear and they actually seemed to be having fun.  

Video clips cannot capture the feel of a live performance, but just to give you a taste here are a couple for your viewing pleasure.

From their main set finale, “Drive Blind.”

And a very plesant surprise for their encore:  a cover of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Resources for music geeks

As will become very clear over the course of this blog, I am a bit of a music geek. Call it alternative, indie, or any of the (thousands of) sub-genres, I love to listen to new music and explore the more creative sides of the media.

The Web is an excellent source of information, downloads, videos, and more about music.  Here are a few sources, with my thoughts about each.

Pitchfork.  Probably the best-known of the alternative music sites, Pitchfork is a good place to start — all of the “biggest” alternative artists are covered, the news feed is pretty comprehensive, and you can always find new releases and their videos (or Soundcloud feeds) linked on the site.  That being said, the editors have been criticized, with good reason, for having pretty strong biases in their reviews.  From what I have seen (and I too am as biased as anyone), they are too enamoured by that which is the newest shiny object or the most extreme or even shocking example of its sub genre, versus appreciating quality with subtlety.  They blasted both Alt-J albums, but that band has skyrockted to success and won the Mercury Prize in 2012.  They seem never to pan a hip-hop/rap album and really give a free pass to pretty bland and mainstream music in that genre.  They praise extreme metal (black metal seems to be a favorite) yet criticize bands that have a less-extreme sound.  Look up the reviews and judge for yourself.

Stereogum.  This site sometimes feels like P4K’s eager little brother, but they do access some videos and releases that I couldn’t find on other sites.   Worth adding to your bookmarks.  They just revamped their layout, decluttering significantly, so it may be time to explore it further.

Mapped by What Surrounded Them.  Published by my friend Russ Beets, the site is 80% music and 20% his musings, comments, and pictures of bears (and not the ones with big teeth and claws).  If the sort-of NSFW content doesn’t bother you, then you will really enjoy what he curates — a wide range of videos and music tracks that are all worth a listen.  Russ covers “mainstream alternative,” electronic, and occasional dance pop.  Occasionally, I light up when he brings out some heavier rock as well.

Aquarium Drunkard.  This blog pretty much defines “eclectic.”  Look for very obscure vintage acts, R&B, indie rock, and fairly regular mixtape releases.   Because the site covers such a broad and obscure set of music, it has a learning curve (I was confused as hell by it for weeks), but if you are feeling jaded and weary of the same tracks, I assure you that he will present something you have never heard.

That’s my starting list — where do you surf to learn about music?

My first art “crush."

Much to my parents’ disappointment, I took a lot of art history classes in college, but from those classes, I developed a real appreciation for visual art.  I like most genres and painters (to varying degrees) but sometimes artists strike me as soon as I see them.  Raphael, Piero della Francesca, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and Frans Hals are classic artists that grab me, but with modern art, I find that it’s a bit more work… after all, I don’t have decades or centuries of curators helping me home in on the best work out there.

Mark Tansey, who arguably was at his peak in the 1980s and 1990s , is one of those artists.  I saw his featured exhibit in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in 1994 (yes, that dates me) and I saw my very favorite painting of his, Action Painting II, in the Museé des Beaux Arts Montréal two years ago.  I am still in love with his oversized, allegorical, monochromatic works that are instantly approachable, yet deep with meaning buried in symbols, scenes, and faces they display.


Action Painting II


The Innocent Eye Test


ABC of Design

Reliving my shoegaze days

I am a fan of a rather obscure sub-genre of rock music known as shoegaze.  Why “shoegaze?”  I have heard a range of stories, but the one that rings the most true to me is that the music is so dependent on manipulating the guitar pedals placed on the floor, that it often appears that the musicians are staring at their shoes.

Anyway, the early 1990s brought us three albums that sort of act as a Holy Trinity of shoegaze.  My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless,”  The Catherine Wheel’s “Ferment,” and Ride’s “Nowhere.”  I love all three, but have always been especially fond of Ride’s more sonorous, yet very fuzzy sound.

I get a chance to very-belatedly see them live on Friday — 24 years after they released their breakthrough album.  I am excited, but a bit concerned that I may find lots of nostalgia and not much good music.  Worth the risk, I say.

What I am listening to today

I was in LA last weekend and ventured out to a bar in Silver Lake.  The DJ was playing some really interesting music, including a remix of this single by Roxy Music.  It may be 35 years old, but it still warrants a listen.

The joys of launching a website at 47

This is an adventure for me, but one I am really excited to take.  We Gen-X’ers are immigrants to the digital age, albeit young immigrants, so I am definitely learning the language and will have a bad accent at times as I engage in the conversation. 

My plan is to post art, music, business, economics (especially behavioral economics), and whatever else captures my attention. Let’s see if I capture anyone else’s.

© Steve Ritchie 2018