Will you take my important quiz?
04/11/2012 • 11:00 am 0
Last month, I went on tour to Britain with So Many Wizards. It was fun!
We saw this guy rocking hard in the London Underground on our first night. I didn’t realize that he was missing a limb when I started videoing him.
The next day, we played our first show. Before we could play, we had to rent an amplifier using the Internet. We tried finding one on Facebook first, but we failed.
The Mexican food section at Sainsbury’s was predictably poor.
My favorite band of the trip was Brilliant Mind. We played with them at our second show, in Newcastle.
In Edinburgh, I saw a man playing with fire in the street.
Erik “changed over” at midnight in Edinburgh.
There was a Taco Bell at the mall in Manchester. We all decided to go because we’re all such fourth meal fanatics. Sadly, Taco Bell isn’t the same in Britain. My burrito was folded like an envelope, and the cheese was sharp cheddar! Everyone who ate the meat said that it tasted funny, but I think the beans were pretty normal. After that, Sergio and Nima decided to get apple pies at McDonald’s and it took a really long time. I didn’t get a picture of that.
After Taco Bell, we played a show. Sergio made a video of our soundcheck before that show. Boy, he can sure hold a camera steady!
Erik had a good birthday. That night, we went to a fast food restaurant and he was in such a good mood that he ate rice left behind by another customer. This video is from that night. We never drove.
In Leeds, Frank danced to R. Kelly.
I saw this sign in Liverpool.
This bird was hanging around near the “Elderly Crossing” sign. The seagull, not the fiddle-shaped bass guitar, is the official symbol of Liverpool.
Frank and I agreed that this was an example of “Too Much Information.”
The sleeping arrangements in Liverpool were not ideal. I had a hard time snoozing, but Erik, Frank, and Dave did just fine.
I saw this pink sparkly donut at a gas station when we were on our way to the airport on our last night. It reminded me of Sarah so I took a picture of it.
01/26/2011 • 1:26 pm 1
To the jerks who were at Taco Bell #026839 (Vermont and 8th Street) between 12:10 and 12:30 pm today:
Don’t be mean to the man who gives you your food. It’s not his fault that the Taco Bell that employs him was understaffed at the same time that you all decided to descend upon it. It can’t be very enjoyable to quickly squeeze sauces and fold burritos all day — why make things worse for him?
To the man who called the Taco Bell employee “boy” several times and then referred to the employee as “rude” when he didn’t receive “enough” hot sauce packets: the guy was not being “rude” to you. You referred to him as “boy,” loudly, at least six times. He’s not a boy – he’s middle aged, like you (and he also has a job, which means that he’s more of an adult than your drunk-looking-in-the-middle-of-the-day ass). Calling him “boy” is obviously demeaning, and I find it hard to believe that you aren’t aware of that. Because of your obnoxious behavior, he probably wanted to get you out of his sight before he felt compelled to punch you for being such a dick. If you weren’t such an asshole, maybe he wouldn’t have been in such a hurry and you would’ve gotten your precious sauce.
To the dude who got upset when his “for here” order came in a “to go” bag: it’s really unnecessary to call a stranger a “fucking bitch” because of a mistake like that. Besides, he didn’t take your order — so it probably wasn’t his mistake in the first place. Moreover, each of the tacos came wrapped in disposable papers that could have been unfolded on a table and used instead of a tray. That’s how I ate my “to go” order when I got back to the office, and it worked well.
To the fat teenager who approached the counter with an unwrapped hard shell taco, said simply “I ORDERED a soft shell” in a harsh tone, and then stood there angrily while the man made him a new taco: die, you shitstain, before you find a girlfriend and make more little assholes like yourself. The mistake might not have even been his — did you check your receipt? Maybe the woman who took your order entered it wrong. Even if it was his mistake, cut him some slack! He made like 100 tacos in fifteen minutes – would you be flawless under the same circumstances? It’s fine to ask for a new taco, but be more humble. Try a variation on this next time — “excuse me sir, but I ordered this taco with a soft shell and I received one with a hard shell. Could you please make me another?” You don’t need that many words, but a similar sentiment serves a double purpose — not only will the employee serving you feel better, but that employee will also be less likely to spit in your stupid taco.
To the homeless-looking woman who loudly complained that she should’ve “gone through the drive-thru, where it doesn’t take two hours to get three tacos:” you obviously did not drive here! The drive-thru wasn’t even an option for you — they don’t serve people who walk up to the window of the drive-thru, because doing so is a safety risk. Why are you in such a hurry, anyway? From the look of things, you aren’t on your lunch break and you don’t have anywhere to be (anywhere that might require you to look even remotely presentable, at least). And besides, your food didn’t take two hours. You ordered after me, and my food took fifteen minutes.
Anyway, the dude was working as fast as he can. They aren’t normally that crowded, and they probably could have used another employee or two. His job sucks already, and it sucked unusually hard at that moment.
Why make an innocent man’s life unpleasant? It’s only tacos!!!
12/18/2009 • 11:15 am 0
I wrote this for the “What is Happening…” zine, which was released in September to accompany the first Big Whup Industries Compilation. American Gil & the Major Dudes’ song “Lunchtime Riverside (Tucson Version, with John Thill and Golden Boots)” is featured on that CD.
For more about the band, see their myspace.
American Gil and the Major Dudes just announced their breakup, a development that has made writing this much harder than I originally anticipated. It’s one thing to write a nice article on one of the best bands in town. It’s quite another thing, however, to write that band’s obituary. And it’s awfully sad. Amongst my friends, the reaction to the news has been universal dismay. People really care about American Gil and the Major Dudes.
When I watched American Gil and the Major Dudes for the first time, I saw people that I already loved and respected doing impressive things that I hadn’t seen them do before. Lou – who masters poise and melancholy in his main act Voice on Tape – was a punk monster on bass! Sam, who I’d previously only known as a keyboardist, likewise floored me: “this guy can play guitar, too? And he’s that good?” I didn’t know the other two guys in the band very well back then, but I was similarly impressed with their skills: Sean can make his drums roll like the ocean, and Brizzah’s keyboard pop counterpoints in songs like “Lunchtime Riverside (Riverside Version)” sparkle and leap out of the song in such a crisp and compelling manner. These are genuinely talented musicians.
Oh man and they rock so hard! Because everyone is so good, they can be afford to be trashy and dissonant and nasty. They can do all that and stay palatable, which is difficult. Whenever I’ve seen them, it’s just seemed like so much fun. It would be so rad to be a part of this band!
And I haven’t even begun to talk about American Gil. He’s this big dude (and I think that with his name he kind of has to be) who barks and yelps and hollers in this voice that reminds me of… maybe Bikini Kill-era Kathleen Hanna, but less young and more of a dude? It’s hard to say. It’s pretty hard to describe his saxophone playing, too –it’s not like Clarence Clemons. Maybe Clarence Clemons in a meat grinder? Or Arnold Schoenberg conducting a heard of elephants? I’ll just say it’s avant-garde. Avant-garde and totally wicked!
The whole sonic world they’ve come up with together is so cool. The sound quality makes me think it came out of a studio, but in my head I picture the recording session for the “Tucson Version” of “Lunchtime Riverside” happening right underneath a giant saguaro cactus in the middle of the afternoon. It just sounds like that. Another song, “the High Seas Rhythm Poem,” takes me to a completely different landscape – although it’s far more otherworldly than the ocean suggested by the title. Over a relentless mechanical beat, Gil mumbles about being sick, sniffles, and wheezes in a way that sounds like it came right out of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell’s “Drop it Like it’s Hot” (the mouth-pops and finger snaps that come in later in the song make me think that was intentional, but I could be over-analyzing). Later he tells us, in his best drunken southerner voice, that he’s “Captain of the ship… plotting a course, plotting a course.” Honestly, it’s disturbing – yet somehow actually groovy. It’s ultimately very entertaining.
American Gil and the Major Dudes is certainly a product of its surroundings. Each of the group members hails from the Inland Empire, and that has marked their music. The lyrical substance of “Lunchtime Riverside,” for example, is precisely what one would imagine it to be – options for lunch in a pretty uninspiring desert suburb: Taco Bell and Farmer Boys. The Inland Empire is present in their sound, too. They remind me, a bit, of the two musicians who originally put Rancho Cucamonga on the map: Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. And there are analogues, too, between the band’s sound and what’s going on with their contemporaries in the region: Sam’s guitar line in “Quadro Booty,” for example, would go great in a song by Upland heartthrobs Abe Vigoda.
But that’s not to say that they sound like anyone else. They don’t. That’s why it’s such a drag that they’re leaving us.
Normally obituaries tell the “cause of death,” but I’m not close enough to the situation to know anything about that. I am glad to report, however, that there is surviving kin. Every one of these major dudes is part of at least one other musical project, and each of them is worth investigating.
Above photo from Gil’s Myspace, taken by Wild Don Lewis.