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Friday, September 24, 2004
The kid pulls through
The new comic is finally up after some teeth gnashing and granny wailing.
We may be slow Mexicans, but we always come through in the end.
Li'l Floaty Omie Head rants about getting beat to the blogging by a work colleague. It just... it stings, people.
There should be a new Space Monkeys! comic up right now, but it's not there and I don't know what PJ's doing. Maybe he's drunk, or developed wrist rickets or something. All I know is that after fleshing out the brilliant ideas for comics, my part of the process is done. I go eat ice cream and let my brother toil. Right now, I don't know where all that toil went. I bet it'll be up before noon.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
ACL: Day One
A better version of this entry was eaten by my laptop on Saturday. Fuck that laptop.
PJ arrived at my work around 2 p.m. and we were set to go alone, together, on a journey that began about six months ago when I Instant Messagaged him, "THE PIXIES ARE COMING TO AUSTIN!" We were going to the Austin City Limits festival. It was sunny. It was a Friday. Our backpacks were packed, I changed into shorts and a T-shirt at work, and soon we were taking a long walk down Barton Springs Road toward festive Zilker Park.
We passed this scrawling, scratched into a street post, which I took to be an immediate good sign:
That's right, man. Fukitol.
We walked and walked and walked and walked and before too long, one thing became clear: This was going to be a hot day. Not hot like a nice day in the park hot. This was to be a heat of deep and sweaty dimensions, a kind of heat I like call a Digorno's Pizza kind of heat. You know when you overcook a Digorno's Pizza a little too long and it's dark-brown crust has heated to the point where when you take it out of the oven and set it on top of the stove, it gives off these nauseous waves of nova heat and you can only stand back and put your pizza cutter away because you know if you try to slice it right then, sloppy cheese is going to dribble down between the slices and you're going to have goopy, hot, burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth pizza? It was exactly like that, a dizzy, awful heat.
Hell, I didn't care. I was just happy to be outside of an office in the middle of an afternoon on a Friday.
We walked some more, passing other ACL-goers with their backpacks and bottles of water, tattoos and smelly, smelly hair. There were shops set up along Barton Springs Road selling hats, cheap ($1) water, trendy T-shirts and jewelry.
Finally, we were there. The street was blocked and people were free to roam the pavement of Barton Springs as if it were 1 a.m. on Sixth Street. We rounded the soft curve to Zilker Park and began to hear rocking music from inside the fest grounds. On our left was a huge inflatable can of Heineken for some metrosexual giant somewhere and bikes, folks whillions of bikes just sitting there shining in the sun. It was the yellow brick road if bricks were bikes and roads only ran for one square city block. But perhaps I analogize too much and not well enough.
We exchanged our three-day tickets for red plastic wristbands. We endured the most casual bag check ever ("Water, blanket, camers? Cool man.") and then we were inside. And into another world. People walked mostly in pairs and trios, everybody in shorts or skirts, bare-chested men and skanky-topped girls. Fat dudes and anorexic girls. Dreadlocks (on white people: ew!) and dreadlocks (on black people: Cool, man.). People were grooving and cool, walking this way and that, carrying snow cones or the everpresent bottled water. We got a good vibe.
The Blind Boys of Alabama
I looked at the newspaper schedule, fishing it out of my backpack, and we made our way straight over to the Blind Boys of Alabama, the most accurately named band at ACL. Many, if not all, of the Blind Boys of Alabama are blind. They are also, I hear, from Alabama. They aren't fooling around with that name. What you may not know is that these boys play gospel as if it church were a carnival, making it so damn fun and cool and awesome that your pastor should charge a cover.
The main singer started off with: "First of all, it is hot in HEEYAH!" We all cheered in agreement.
He made an effusive point of mentioning that they'd won three Grammys and with their new album (recorded with Ben Harper), they were on their way to Number Four.
In the middle of one of their more rousing numbers:
Omar: Number FOUR!
PJ and Omar: WOOO!
Blind Boy of Alabama: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Eeeh-YEAH!
The lead singer made his way out to the audience as PJ and I sat and baked in the hot sun on the blanket I'd brought. He was blind, but that dude could move. PJ and I wrote down some ideas for new Space Monkeys! comics as the preaching and a'hollerin' and a'testifying continued. At one point, when we were sure the set was over, dude just kept on singing and testifying and rebooting the song until it had been about 15 more minutes and people were still trying to figure out if they were done.
They also wore these:
Freakin' black clothes and grey vests! Were they mad!? Naw, I just think they didn't pick out their own clothes.
Those blind dudes were cool, though. I was feeling the God there, especially when they sang "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun." That's just too cool for words.
We next saw...
I had no idea who this person was except for the description in the newspaper which contained words like "alt-country pin-up" and "New Pornographers." At 4 p.m. in the blazing heat, that was enough for me. It was also on the next stage over, so we mostly just adjusted our blanket a few feet and were soon listening to her nice voice, which I thought sort of reminded me of Nancy Sinatra or, more accurately maybe Maria McKee. Anyway, she was nice to listen to, but I had sweat mopping the back of my neck and we were pretty far back, so the most memorable thing I came away from the Neko Case set was this colorful quote from a guy sitting behind us and talking on his sell phone:
"Yeah, it's packed tighter than a turtle's pecker back here."
PJ has described the scene at the Solomon Burke set over on his site, but I'll add my bit here. I fell in love with Mr. Burke when we saw him at Conan O' Brien, completely by chance. I bought his CD soon after and my lady-wife and I enjoy the man and his sweet soul music.
All week, I'd been telling anyone who'd listen to me (like two people) that they HAD to go see Solomon Burke at ACL. I told them they should leave work early, ditch small children, whatever they had to do to see the man perform.
Man was I totally and satisfyingly right.
The man was in a damn four-piece suit with pink sequins. That's how much he loves us. They had to haul him across the stage in a wheelchair to get onto his big fake-looking, but nevertheless majestic throne, where he sang into a microphone with a rose help up against it. People mopped his sweat with huge white towels and he told us again and again, "I love you, Texas! I love you! Do ya feel GOOD? Did I make ya feel good?" He totally did. He even had his son pass out roses to the ladies in the crowd.
I was digging on the feel-good vibes, but got upset when Solomon kept doing medleys of other people's songs ("Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," "Stand By Me") instead of his own stuff. It looked like he was running out of time and I was beside myself (and it was hot there too) that he hadn't sung "Don't Give Up On Me," which is just a fantastic damn song. He invited people (read: skinny white folks) to come dance on stage while he emoted. Then he told everybody to sit down and he busted out with the song I'd been waiting to hear. It was a magical moment and it was the only time at the fest that I got seriously misty-eyed.
Oh. Then there was Beatle Bob. I do not like Beatle Bob, the guy who shows up at concerts and upstages musicians who seem to not even know who the Hell he is. PJ likes him. I do not. I think Beatle Bob is a lame-o and detracts attention from the artists he's trying to attach himself to like a pulpy tick. In this set, Solomon even gave the karate-kicking doofus the microphone to sing part of a song. Solomon should have stood up and kicked his ass off the stage. Enough said. I really don't like the guy.
Nevertheless, the weekend goal had been achieves: I'd already gotten my money's worth for the $80 tickets and it was only Friday.
OK, I'm rambling now. Some short bits:
They rocked. We were pretty far back, but they still sounded good and some work friends I met up with agreed that the mix of up-beat Scottish rock and a day that had cooled into a nice evening made up for the fact that one of their songs sounds like it should be a theme on a Super Nintendo game. (Mega Man?)
I like these guys and they played a good set. It made me like their album even more.
I had a good time bouncing up and down to their music.
Los Lonely Boys
All right. I know I'm Latino and all, but damn. These guys bore the Hell out of me. I'm sorry. They just do. I really want to buy this CD for my parents, but seeing them live... I don't know what I was expecting. It just seemed really kind of standard-fare Texas rock. Like nothing I haven't seen at a Jimmy Vaughn concert or that Los Lobos hasn't already been doing for 10 years. I know they're getting huge and that I'm almost culturally obligated to sing their praises. But, man. We walked out. We went home halfway through their set. Maybe I should give their CD a chance, but after a day of great sets from other acts, I just wasn't feeling the Lonely Boy Love. Sorry, eses.
And I'll conclude with these random photos from Solomon Burke's set featuring Solomon getting toweled down, Beatle Bob in all his hipster doofishness and random white folks trying to (trying to hard) dance on stage.
Stay tuned for Day 2 and Day 3 entries.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
More damn gravy
New Wednesday bonus comic over at Space Monkeys! A new ACTION GRAVY.
The job, the job, the job. It's getting easier and more fun. My Spanish is improving in leaps and, yes, even bounds. I now know the difference between "mas" and "más." I know how to punctuate and how not to use single em-dashes. I'm starting to be able to write cutlines for wire photos in Spanish.
When I think of where my Spanish was three months ago, where it is now and where I think it'll be in six months, I get this kind of cool feeling. Nothing teaches you to swim faster than being thrown in cold water and right now I feel like my is above the surface.
Monday, September 20, 2004
I'll agree with PJ on his newspost for today's new Space Monkeys! comic. It IS going to be a crazy week. I'll also add that this is the first of the three comics we came up with at the Austin City Limits Festival. The running theme is probably that there was lots of pot in the air.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Deann has always been very nice to me and many other blog-types. Go wish her a happy birthday.
The excuses entry
I was about 2/3rd of the way past a cool Day One update from the Austin City Limits fest when I popped in a photo card to grab some images to go with it when my computer locked up, eating the unsaved entry. Dammit. It was good, too.
So I'll re-write it for soon.
Tonight we saw The Pixies, Modest Mouse and Los Amigos Invisibles from Venezuela (who absolutely, and to my surprise, ruled), so I'm still reeling from that.
In the meantime, though, this goes out to my Austin peeps:
The Latino Comedy Project is doing a FREE (yes FREE) show tomorrow afternoon. If you're not gonna be at ACL fest (as I won't until late in the evening), you should come.
It's 6 p.m. at the Hideout, downtown on Congress Ave. Tickets will be made available at 4 p.m. at the Hideout box office.
We're doing an audition for HBO's Aspen Comedy Festival and would love to have an enthusiastic crowd watching. Come by if you can. It'll be a good set, I promise.
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