Soundtrack to Life – "Friendly" Competition

Hey look, it’s done on time. Betcha didn’t see that coming. Looks like a slow news week as there’s only one article seperating this one from last week’s addition. I’ve decided this week to go again with something a little more universal. Granted, I have a few songs that can go with this one as there’s a few different spins on this story, but I feel this is the better way of doing it. It’s another montage of stories. Enjoy.

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“Friendly” Competition

“West End Riot” by The Living End

Our story begins in the early 80’s in Barton Wisconsin on a little street known as Kettle View Drive. This spans many a year and many people are involve. So, to prevent a complication of matters, we’re gonna start with a cast of characters.

The Nichols family: My family. We’ve been on this street longer than any of the other families in this story.

Me – No introduction really necessary. Back then I was the neighborhood wuss.

Pat – My older brother, and at that time, rolemodel. One of the street “Ringleaders”

Tim – My younger brother and probably the strangest kid on the street.

The Bertram family: Our next door neighbors. Moved in a year or so after we did.

Nora – The oldest kid in the family and one of the oldest kids on the street. Barely got involved with our matters.

Sara – Same age as Pat. Also one of the “Ringleaders”

Barry – The youngest of the family. Same age as me, most competitive kid on the street and naturally, my arch rival.

The Briggs family: The farm family. All girls, all tomboys.

Michelle – Same age as Nora. Tended to stay out of our business, much like Nora.

Jackie – More or less Sara’s cohort. Same age as her. When the two got together, there was some conniving scheme afoot

Steph – A year younger than me, a year older than Tim. Barry’s cohort? No. Minion, yes. Whatever he did, she did.

The Driscoll family: The well off family. Moved in about ’93.

Angie – Same age as myself and Barry. Usually alright, but could really be a bitch at times. Particularly to me.

Ryan – A jock in training. Tim’s age. Often sided with Barry.

John – The youngest on the street. Prone to disobey orders.

All that said, let’s begin.

There’s a kid who was born and was raised in the west
There’s a kid from the east that never really fit in with the rest
Every week they would meet in the street with their friends
With the guns that they made and the caps that they stole they would fight
To their death.
This time, we’ll have victory
Last time, ended in a defeat
A town, becomes a battle ground! Battle ground! Battle ground!
West End Riot!
West End Riot!
We’ll be here next Saturday
With our guns and our heads held high
So listen up boys you’d better not cry this time

-We had our share of clubs and secret forts. Each one lasting little longer than a few days. What kid didn’t? At this time, the Driscolls hadn’t even moved in yet. Barry was the one always trying to organize the clubs. Often with some grand dream of a tree house. Those never worked. Mostly we’d nail some boards together and forget it entirely. For a brief time, we did have a club house. It was under the stairwell in the closet of the Bertrams’ house. But Sara ran that, and I believe she called it the I Love Buffalos club. She loved buffalos, can’t you tell? Barry started a few of the clubs with the soul purpose of keeping me out. So he’d set up some ridiculous set of rules for getting in, usually a task you had to accomplish. He was a big one for tree climbing, so we had to climb a specific tree a specific way. When I’d try, he’d insist I did it wrong. Petty little kiddy shit. Longest lasting clubhouse we had was a vacant barn on Steph’s yard. It cleaned up pretty nice and there was plenty of space to sit.

-Pat and Sara oft saw Barry and myself as their race horses. “My brother can beat your brother” kinda thing, so we were basically bred to compete with one another. Anything they could think of. Foot races in particular. To the tree and back! Up the hill! Down the hill! Around the house! Talk about building a rivalry. Sometimes he’d win, sometimes I’d win.

-Tag! Your it! So many variations we had on tag. Basic of course, and freeze. But we had to come up with other versions. TV tag where you’d be safe if you stopped and said the name of a TV show. I think we had tornado tag, where upon being tagged you had to spin until someone freed you. Funny, I don’t have a clear memory of that one. And our ever creative Toilet Tag. Upon being tagged, you had to squat down and hold your arms out in a circle. To be freed, someone had to sit on your arms and say “Flush!”. Yeah, we were weird.

-1 o’ clock, 2 o’ clock, 3 o’ clock rock!

4 o’ clock, 5 o’ clock, 6 o’ clock rock!

7 o’ clock, 8 o’ clock, 9 o’ clock rock!

10 o’ clock, 11 o’ clock, 12 o’ clock MIDNIGHT!!!

Our traditional mantra before a game of Ghosts in the Graveyard. This one was only played at night, and I was a whiny little chicken shit who was afraid of the dark. We played this at the Briggs’ house since they had an entire farm, complete with orchard. Basically, the ghost would hide somewhere in the yard and everyone else would go out looking for him/her. The entire neighborhood would play this one. Upon sighting the ghost, you were to yell “Ghost in the Graveyard!” and everyone would return to the safe zone, or Gool as we called it. Whoever got tagged by the ghost would join him/her in the haunt until there was only one survivor. Jackie and Michelle had an advantage in this game. They knew how to ride the horses. So, occasionally, our ghost could be spotted on horseback. Fun game to play though when you have a maze for an orchard.

-The Briggs family also had inner tubes for tractor tires. This served as a completely new game for us. Bounce around on the tube and try to stay on. I had one thing on my side for this game; weight. That’s right, aside from being a wuss and a chicken shit I was also the fat kid. And you always wondered why I’m so damn bitter. But yeah, fun little game.

-Ah pool parties. On any given summer, the Bertrams or my family had an operable pool. Never anything deep enough to go diving but we had our games. Marco polo was a constant. We also had these little yellow eggs that would sink. In each egg was a rubber alligator, but only one egg had the black alligator. Kind of a fun diving game, never too competitive. But if any of you ever had a circular aluminum pool, then you know what we did. Damn straight, whirlpool! Everyone going in one direction to get a strong current going. With like 7 people in the pool we had the current going pretty strong. But what would it be without a competition? We had one. Everyone would hop on a tube and begin rocking back and forth, causing waves. Last man standing wins. Again, my weight had much bearing in this game.

-We had bikes, and we had a nice, semi- steep hill. What do you think we did? I was all for it, until we started putting a ramp at the bottom of the hill. I remember watching Pat biff that one, big time. Didn’t hop off the ramp, so the bike fell on it’s side and he skidded over the lawn. Surprisingly, he wasn’t hurt.

-Fall was always fun. We’d rake together a pile of leaves and figure out some way of utilizing it. A big one was for Breakthrough and Conquer. That’s right, we were American Gladiator fans. We’d use the leaf pile as a goal. Pat, being the biggest at the time, was the hardest guy to face. Barry was just violent, especially when I was the opposition. Steph caught me by surprise a few times. There’s a big difference between a girl and a tomboy as concerns physical competition. Sometimes we just build the pile on one of the landscaping drop offs so we could jump into it. Good times.

See a bum on the street that you think you recognize
Young kid never looked so bad when he was only 4 foot high
Six o’ clock, runnin’ home, I don’t wanna be late
Another Saturday of sun and war, shared with our mates
This time, we’ll have victory
Last time, ended in a defeat
A town, becomes a battle ground! Battle ground! Battle ground!
West End Riot!
West End Riot!
We’ll be here next Saturday
With our guns and our heads held high
So listen up boys you’d better not cry
Boys will be boys playin’ up and makin’ lots of noise
Never used to talk about the future
Never thought that we’d have to care
So West End Riot!

In later years, we were older, so I was braver. But as such, the games got a little more intense, and new facets were added.

-We didn’t play much for organized sports. Occasionally, we’d have a neighborhood softball game, but that was once in a great while. We were big on soccer though. Rarely did a game end without a fight and someone storming off though. Barry and Ryan were probably the best players we had.

-Basketball wasn’t a big one, but we played games like Horse and Lightning all the time. I used to be a great shot, one of the better players in the neighborhood, but my skill has degredated over time. I remember hitting a one arm heave from halfway down our driveway. Barry dared me to try it again. I did, and on a total fluke I hit it again.

-Kick the Can. Alright, so it’s really more of a kids game. But when we were older, the game took on new dimensions. Particularly, strategy and stealth took on new meanings. Of both, I almost took it to an artform. I came up with places to hide that nobody had considered. They had an old wire spool, one of the large wooden ones. Nobody wanted to try hiding in it since it was right out in the open, and that was the beauty of it. I ducked in and stayed in the shadows. As John caught people, they sat on the spool. I caught someone’s attention, Ryan I believe, and as everyone got caught, he told them where I was. They tricked John into believing that they saw me in the orchard. When he went to look, I hopped out and saved the game. My favorite tactic was the simplest though. As John stood guard on the can, counting down to the begining of the game, eyes closed. I had one person creep up right in front of him while I stood behind. He opens his eyes, sees the one person to call them out and I kicked the can out from under him. Granted, he was just a kid, but that would have worked on anyone.

-Winter is another big time for competition. Anyone can have a snowball fight, of which we had many. But our fun was on the Bertrams’ sled hill. We’d set up a ramp of ice about 2/3 the way down the hill and hit it at high speeds on Sno-Tubes (inflatable tubes with handles). Steph had this knack for missing the ramp entirely though, and just hitting the garage. From these tubes, we developed a game. We also had the Tuff Tube, which was originally used for tubing behind a boat, was about 4 feet across. Three people would load onto the tube and glide down the hill. Those who fell off would be nailed by those who followed on the smaller Sno-Tubes. Every time I hit someone I’d lose the tube and go sailing. It was on one of these tubes that Tim ascended the garage and thought it would be a good idea to sled off. Nope. Big mistake. Rather than sailing off, he just dropped. Quite a funny sight. But it was on the sled hill that we manufactured our most devious device.

-Setting, snow covered hill. Mode of transportation, plastic tobogan. Goal, be the only guy to make it down the hill. We called it Sled Wars. Quite simply, we’d try to take each other off our sleds by any means necessary. Dangerous, yes. Fun, damn straight. Worst hit I took was due to Pat. Put me in a headlock and drove me face first into the corner of the garage. I only walked away with a bloody nose.

There’s a man who was born in the west workin’ at a factory
There’s a man from the east who now runs the whole company
How they’ve grown on their own not like the kids they used to be
Saturdays of sun and war are just fond memories.
West End Riot!
West End Riot!
We’ll be here next Saturday
With our guns and our heads held high
So listen up boys you’d better not cry
Listen up boys you’d better not cry
So listen up boys you’d better not cry this time!

Things have changed greatly since then. Ya know, I used to hate those days, how I got singled out and all. Now I just look back on those days and smile. Guess the old saying is true. “One day I’ll look back on this and laugh.”

The Nichols family: We’ve degenerated greatly. All the other families stayed relatively happy and together. Things just went sour for us.

Me – I’m no longer the coward I once was, and I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been.

Pat – He went from rolemodel to an example of what not to do.

Tim – Still a nut, but more down to earth now. He actually turned out alright.

The Bertram family: They’ve stayed a happy family unit.

Nora – Went off to college. Living in Madison I think

Sara – Also went to college. She was going to get married, but her fiance died last year of a heart attack. She’s been living back at home.

Barry – Became a pothead. Can’t say I’m overly surprised.

The Briggs family: The very portrait of the happy middle American family. They still own the farm and maintain it.

Michelle – Off to college. Don’t know where she went.

Jackie – Also went to college.

Steph – She’s cleaned up the tomboy persona, and her attitude. Also off at college

The Driscoll family: I never really kept up with them. They still live in the neighborhood, but I never talk with any of them.

Angie – Left town, I’m assuming college. Never really got along with her.

Ryan – Unknown

John – Unknown

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

Soundtrack to Life – Nights With The Crew

Yup, late again. I don’t intend on making a habit of this. What’s this week’s excuse? Lack of time once more. Seems like the only real time I get for online writing is what little time I get before work, the occasional evening/afternoon after work and the early, really early mornings, we’re talkin’ between 3 and 6 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. It’s a constant struggle. Everyone’s into Diablo once again, so computer time is restricted. So let’s see. Where do we go today? How about something universal. How about a song that most of us would have on our soundtrack? I’ll tell ya though, this one’s more for the punk crowd, but I think most anyone could relate. It’s all in what you think of when you hear it.

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Nights With The Crew

“Look What Happened” by Less Than Jake

And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try
And we’ll walk in circles around this whole block
Walk on the cracks on the same old sidewalk
And we’ll talk about leaving town
Yeah we’ll talk about leaving
I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try

There it was, late ’99, early ’00. Finally, I was finally being broken out of the boondocks. Called along for the little adventures that were planned. And there we were, four young men against the world. Myself, the recluse with a biting wit. Jay, the anti-establishment punk, looking for his escape. Musse, a bit of a worry wart but always a voice of reason. And Tim, who’s motto was “Live your life like you’re in a movie. That way you’ll look your best at all times.” Kind of an odd clique, that we were. Each of us occasionally taking cues from the others. We were like something out of movie, ya know, where each guy serves his own purpose and the team works together to achieve their goal. We were nightowls. We thrived at night. In fact that’s when most of the good stories take place. A lot of ’em usually followed a few hours at Webb’s downing cup after cup of coffee.

But that was it. Senior year. In a few short months we’d be graduates. A world of options ahead of us. So around this time, we kinda looked at it like the last big bash. Who knew who was going where or doing what. Jay was liable to pick up and leave, and from the looks of it, I’d be going with him. Musse was looking at schooling and Tim has always had the air of success around him. This very well could be the last hurrah. So we spent a lot of time out on the town, whatever town that may be.

We rode across that bridge all night
We talked our way through city lights
Traced all the lines, we’re killing time
Under those buzzing signs
From downtown to anywhere but here
Tonight yeah I swear to these rooftops
And just hoped that car would never stop
And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try
And we’ll walk in circles around this whole block
Walk on the cracks on the same old sidewalk
And we’ll talk about leaving town
Yeah we’ll talk about leaving
I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try

A tame night would include playing Tony Hawk, or Risk and watching a few movies. Still fun as we tended to throw our own commentary into movies. And anyone who’s really gotten into Risk knows what a four hour game can get like with a heated rivalry going on. But those are just the nights we’d stay in. Many a given night in West Bend, any combination of the four of us could be seen wandering around, just walking and chatting. Most of the time we were just griping about this town, and who at our age didn’t. Live in one place for most of your life and the scenery is bound to get boring. We’d take many different paths, just meandering across town, no specific destination, just going where the whim would take us. I enjoyed nights like this.

There aren’t many places to go that time of night, so ya gotta make due with what’s available. Webb’s, always a natural choice. It was fun just staying up late enough to go to Sandy’s Barton Cafe at 4:30 in the morning. Of course by that time we’d be in that pleasant state of loopy where everything is funny, including making the cream decanters moo at people. Another favorite stop was Pick n Save South. Open 24/7 with a little sitting area, generally utilized by the elderly, to have a snack or something. And so we’d go there, get some Little Juan burritos and a bunch of junk food and just sit there watching the late night traffic. A good portion of it was drunk/stoned teens making a midnight run for snacks. We’d just sit there getting dirty looks from store clerks and cracking jokes at the expense of eachother and any patrons of the store we happened to know. Other times, we’d just explore. Adam and Jay actually mapped out part of the sewer system they were able to access one night. The train tressle was also a fun little stop, a hole beneath the tracks where you couldn’t be spotted by the casual observer. Sometimes these little sprees of ours would find us climbing into bed as the sun rose. Yeah, those were the tame nights though.

We drove around that place all night
Passed closed signs and familiar sights
We’re moving by, killing time
Counting those center lines
With twenty-thousand lines left to go
That lead to somewhere I don’t know
It might be the time we leave this all behind
And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try
And we’ll walk in circles around this whole block
Walk on the cracks on the same old sidewalk
And we’ll talk about leaving town
Yeah we’ll talk about leaving
I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try

Okay, so we weren’t the wildest bunch, but we knew where to find fun when all else failed.

One night, Jay and I decided just to skate around town. But ya see, I’m a lame ass, and I don’t have a skateboard. But I do have rollerblades, so we were good to go. I could go some of the places he couldn’t naturally, but he was faster due to the fact that he’d been on his board longer than I’d been on my blades. Had a cop stop us as we cut across the highway. Come on, we were safe. So, just cruising along, Jay goes down a loading ramp at a store. See, I thought it was open on the end, not a wall of concrete. Did I mention I can’t really brake on my blades either? Yeah, fun time. But rather than slamming into the wall, I caught myself on the guide rail. Narurally, I was going at a good clip already, so my feet flew out from under me and I did a sideways superman into the wall before falling to the ground. Ow.

I was never along for any of their roof climbing exploits, though they did get caught for trespassing once. We got stopped by the cops all the time but they never had anything on us.

Ya know how sometimes a store will have free AOL CDs? Well Jay collected them. Seriously, he had a massive amount of these things. But to us, they weren’t CDs, oh no. They were Flying Discs of Death! I remember engaging in more than one Flying Disc of Death war in some parking lot in the middle of the night. Those little bastards hurt! Especially when they had chipped away into jagged edges. I was absent for the biggest of these wars which took place at Jay’s house between the basement and ground floor. The stairwell was a warzone. Blood was drawn on more than one combatant.

And then there was Tuesday Night Football League. The four of us teamed up with Gintner and BJ to have two three-man teams. Midnight football on the UWWC football field, full contact of course. Everyone got injured at some point. Afterwards, we the six combatants would stagger into Webb’s, getting odd looks from all the patrons.

Messing with anyone out on the highway is fun. I recommend Halloween masks. So little, but they say so much. We had a bleeding skull mask that Jay would wear during drives. Any time we got near someone, he’d press his face to the window until our fellow commuter would take notice. Some would laugh, others would just speed up. All in good fun.

One of my fonder memories would be of the snowfall of 2000. Jay and I had been up all night, everyone else had passed out. When we saw there was a nice coat of snow already on the ground, we tried to rouse the troops. By this time, it was about 3am, so nobody was moving. We proceded to step outside and have a snowball fight right in the intersection. It was the good kind of packing snow. After we bored ourselves with that, we built a snowman right on the bus stop. Just sitting there on the street corner. Let the kids figure it out. The snow hadn’t been touched, so we had to wander the town. We would slide down the hills and throw ourselves into the snowbanks that were up from previous snowfalls. We visited Tia, but of course she wasn’t awake, so we left a message in the snow outside her apartment. “Moo! 5:20am”. Naturally a cop stopped us eventually, but he didn’t really care that we were out so early, just cautioning us of conditions.

And lastly, a true sign that we live in a boring town. Jay was all about dumpster diving, so he’d look for the good spots to hit up. Pick n Save North and South don’t have dumpsters that are accessible, but they leave their baked goods that are a day past expiration in shopping carts out back. At least…. they used to…. eh heh heh! Myself, Jay and Musse visited the North store one night after working at the Haunted House. We checked out back, but there were no doughnuts or anything like that. But there were two shopping carts full of bread. Jay seizes the moment and shoves all the bread in back of Musse’s Baretta with me. The mere idea of carrying that much bread had us just rolling while he did this. As we drove around, Jay was dropping loaves out the window, throwing them where ever. We stopped at McDonald’s to visit Musse’s mom. Jay left a loaf on the roof of the car and rolled another up in the window. Upon leaving McDonald’s after our brief visit, Jay snatches up the bread on the car and nails me with it.

“What are you trying to do? Start a bread fight?”

Jay snapped his fingers and pointed right at me.

“Duuuude!”

We rolled out and found ourselves in the UWWC parking lot. No view from the road, no security cameras. Jay and I leapt from the car and began wailing on eachother with the purloined loaves. Musse joined us shortly thereafter. You can really only get one good shot out of a loaf of bread before the bag tears and slices go everywhere. Somewhere around 50 loaves of white bread littered the parking lot, left for the birds in the morning.

And there’s been a few times
That we thought it felt right
To take the westbound signs
And just leave town tonight
And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try
And we’ll walk in circles around this whole block
Walk on the cracks on the same old sidewalk
And we’ll talk about leaving town
Yeah we’ll talk about leaving
I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try

Ahh. Good times, good times.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

Soundtrack to Life – A Cautionary Tale

Well waddaya know, I’m late. It’s mostly my fault, though not entirely. I started at 5, got distracted watching Yu Yu Hakusho and Rurouni Kenshin, and left for my Jaycee’s meeting around 6. When I came home I was dead tired and the house was packed, so I wouldn’t have been able to touch the computer ’til past midnight anyways. Alright, so what can I say? These last two weeks, I haven’t exactly been “feeling it” as it were. I still have stories, plenty of stories. They just haven’t been clicking, ya know. I’m still holding onto a few of the bigger ones, and I’m sure I’ll write about them soon. But this week, I’m gonna stray from my usual style, and talk about how I got into a band in particular.

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A Cautionary Tale

“Dammit” by Blink 182

And so there it was. One year of highschool behind me. Suzan was still calling, but it wasn’t as bad as it had been in the previous months. My grades had suffered a little this year, putting me off honor role for a quarter or two. That bothered me, cuz that’s just the kinda guy I was. But it was cool. I was going into my sophomore year, which I’d been told was the easiest one to deal with. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it, but I really wasn’t stressing it.

I remember, heading into fall, MTV was going to air their first ever Sports and Music Festival. I still watched MTV all the time back then, so I was tuned in with whatever was going on. When commercials for SMF1 were on, there was one riff that opened the commercial and played throughout. It was a very catchy riff, so naturally, I wanted to know who did it. So, I watched a lot of MTV, not really trying to figure out who had the mystery riff, but it was always in the back of my mind. One day, as I sat there, I heard the riff again. This time when I looked up, there wasn’t a commercial, but rather three young men walking toward the movie theater. The info box in the lower left portion of the screen told me what I wanted to know.

Blink 182

Dammit

Dude Ranch

I got a good laugh from the video. Mark pining over his ex who had just happened to show up at the theater with another guy. Mark, Tom, and then drummer Scott Raynor screwing around, harassing the couple, all leading to a chase scene in the lobby. The song was just so catchy that I couldn’t avoid it. I went out and bought the CD just for that song. I also got Denis Leary’s “Lock and Load” that day, but that’s neither here nor there. And there I sat, with a brand new CD that I’d only bought for one song. This was stupid. Just retarded. So, rather than just listening to that song, I played through the whole CD. I loved the sound it had, loved the humor involved, and it quickly became a part of my usual line up.

The year moved on, and the sophomore year lived up to expectations. Classes were a breeze, Suzan wasn’t on my case as much, grades were back up. Things were lookin’ up. You’re probably expecting me to throw in mention of something going horribly wrong here, but nothing would go wrong. Not ’til ’99 anyways. I got more into the Blink CD, but I hadn’t even considered that they may have released other music already. That’s why I was a little surprised when Suzan gave me their Buddha CD for my birthday. This only increased my appreciation for the band, and I went in search of more material. Lo and behold, I managed to find a copy of Cheshire Cat at the record store not long afterward. To date, Cheshire Cat is my favorite Blink 182 CD. There’s something to be said about the emo sound to it.

Flash forward to summer of 1999. Early one May morning, while getting ready for school, I heard a familiar voice on the TV. I looked up to see three men running naked down the street. And then I looked at the TV. See, that’s a joke, you’re supposed to laugh you schmucks. But anyways, my belief was confirmed. It was indeed Blink 182 with their new single “What’s My Age Again?”. Immediately I began looking for info on when the new album would hit stores. June 6 is what the website said. I couldn’t wait. Imagine my surprise though, when I took a little bike ride on June 1 and found the album sitting in the CD rack at the local K-Mart. I don’t remember how many times I listened to Enema of the State that day, I just remember being happy with it.

I was happy for the memebers of Blink, I really was. A new album, airplay on MTV, and now their single was climbing the ranks on TRL. Wow, this is so cool! People are finally gonna know about these guys. More fans were coming out of the woodwork. It’s a good feeling seeing the guy you cheered for finally ascending the ranks and becoming well known. And then the band announced it’s second single to be……. “All the Small Things”? Why this song? Why would they do that? It’s the worst song on the album! They could have picked a far better single in my mind, namely “Adam’s Song” which came later, but I also would have liked to see “Going Away to College” or “Dumpweed”, even “Don’t Leave Me”. But no. It was “All the Small Things”. Okay, fine, no problem. At least they’re getting air play.

And then it happened. Something I’d always remember in regards to this band. I turned on TRL and got this….

“I voted for Blink 182’s ‘All the Small Things’ cuz Mark is hot! Woooooooo!”

What?! No! No no no! You little airheaded ninny! They’re a punk band, not a boy band! That’s not a reason for liking them! How dare you soil their name! But it was too late. The teenie boppers were digging their claws in and turning them from punk to pop. It was excrutiating watching little miss trendy walking down the halls of the school sporting a brand new Blink 182 T-shirt. I just wanted to grab these people and tell ’em “You don’t know this band! You never heard the old stuff!” It was just aggrivating to me.

I just so happeened to be in speech class before they released “Adam’s Song”. So I took it upon myself to inform my classmates about the band, and in doing so, show my Blink roots, that I knew who they were before Enema of the State and that they weren’t just the pop flavor of the month. I forget what I got on the speech, either an A or a B, but that was pretty much my final public plee, using the video for “Dammit” as a visual aid. I’d said my piece, nothing more I could do. From there, well, we know what’s become of them.

I guess I do have a reason for writing this. Lately, there has been a surge of bands appearing from obscurity and getting air play and more fans. Bands like Unwritten Law, and The Ataris. More noteably though, I heard “We’ve Had Enough” by Alkaline Trio on the radio just this past Saturday. Will all these bands walk the same path that Blink 182 did before them? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

Review: Rise Against – "Revolutions Per Minute"

I first heard Rise Against on the Fat Music Volume 6 compilation, with their song Generation Lost. Then I heard their song Heaven Knows on the Atticus II compilation, and I knew I had to get the CD. I thought at the most I would get a good album. Boy was I wrong. Instead I got an emotionally charged album filled with 12 tracks of hard hitting, fast paced, melodic, kick your ass, hard-core punk rock. While I haven’t heard it, they also have a previous album that was released in 2000 by Fat Wreck Chords, titled Unraveling. I’ve read great reviews on it, and I can only assume that if it’s have as good as their latest effort, then it’s sure to be a damn good album.

The first track, Black Masks and Gasoline, starts the album off with a bang. This song I’d have to say is my favorite. It’s fast paced, it’s got great melodies, and is just an all around good song. It’s a bit reminiscent of Pennywise, but that’s not really a bad thing. The song calls for revolution and for people to take control of their lives and live them as they wish, rather than as others wish them to.

Sample Verse:“Simply because you can breathe, doesn’t mean you’re alive, or that you really live. This life here has taken it’s toll, and she just doesn’t know, how much more she can give…but here, at the top of the world, I raise my hands and I clench my fists. They stand before me below, demanding the answers with flips of the switch.”

Another great song from the album is the politically motivated, Blood-Red, White, and Blue. It confronts many of our countries problems, as well as the world as a whole such as war, poverty, and our judicial system. The song starts out slow paced but quickly turns up the speed as Tim’s vocals kick in. He conveys his feelings very well through his voice, and you can tell that he’s passionate about the topics he is singing about.

Sample Verse:What did you have to say? Give me your logic, your definition, the words you twist to justify your position of mass starvation and blind airstrikes. Every problem is solved with a fight. Peace won’t be found, ’til we’re underground as long as we live without a sound.”

I could go on and on listing the good songs from this album, because honestly, I don’t think there’s a song on the album that I don’t like. Even the seemingly out of place Journey cover, Anyway You Want It, is pleasing to my ears. I know what you’re thinking, Journey? Yeah, I was skeptical too when I first heard about it, but it’s worth a listen. They did a very good job covering it. I would highly recommend this album to fans of Death By Stereo, Pennywise, and the punk legends, Bad Religion. In closing, I would have to say that this is probably the best album that I’ve purchased since buying Finch’s What It Is To Burn. What more can you really ask for out of an album? The songs don’t all sound the same, they offer several different styles in their music, and all of the songs are good. I would say this album is probably deserving of a good 3.5 stars, and that’s being modest.

Review: Days Away/Snapcase/Finch Show

Knights of Columbus
May 6, 2003

First off, let me say that I’m pretty impressed with the relationship these guys keep with their fans. The show was scheduled to start at 7:30, and the doors open at 6:30. So I figure, let’s get there early so we can get close to the front. Apparently everyone else had the same idea as there was a line halfway around the building when we got there about 5:45. We pulled in and saw the line of people and then we saw the bands tour bus’s. But what else did we see? The freakin band members all standing outside the bus, talking to kids, sitting and relaxing, and skateboarding around the parking lot. That’s hella cool if you ask me, because it just goes to show that they don’t think they’re too cool for their fans. I think that’s pretty awesome really. Now, onto the show.

We get into the building, which isn’t very big at all. Smaller than a school gym actually. That’s cool though cuz I prefer smaller venues over large ones. Finch was the only band listed on Drive Thru’s website, as well as on the tickets themselves. So we figure, $12 and we get to see Finch, not a bad deal. Once we get into the building, we see a t-shirt stand selling Finch, Snapcase, and Days Away items. So not only do we get to see Finch, we also get to see Snapcase and Days Away. Up first was Days Away. I had actually never heard of these guys, but if I remember right, they said they’re from Pittsburgh.(I think) No one seemed to be really into them, with the exception of a few cheers here and there when they would name their song. The sound from them wasn’t great, but they had an emo sound to their music. They put on a decent 45 minute set, but I was kinda of glad to see them go.

Next up is Snapcase. I have heard of these guys and purchased their latest album awhile back. They’re not bad, but not one of my favorites. People seemed a bit more excited to see them, and the pit livened up quite a bit although I steered clear of it for their set. While these guys aren’t one of my favorite bands, I love the song Coagulate, which happened to be the song they opened up with. I was pretty into their set, which went a bit longer than Days Away. The only songs I remember them playing though were Coagulate and New Kata. They were a lot more energetic than the opening band, which wasn’t hard to beat really.

Next up, obviously, fucking Finch! I love these guys, honestly. Their album, What It Is To Burn, was my favorite album of 2002. Well, tied with The Used, but yeah. They opened up with Grey Matter and really got the crowd going. Time to go into the pit and get my ass kicked, hell yeah! Let me remind you, this was only my second time ever in a mosh pit, and the first time was for GC/NFG so it was pretty tame. Now, I don’t remember the exact order they played the songs in, but I do remember what songs they played. New Beginnings, Post Script, Perfection Through Silence, Letters To You, Awake, Stay With Me, Project Mayhem, Untitled, and a new song called (If I remember correctly)Dark Marks and Blood Stains. When they “finished up,” they didn’t say bye or anything. They just stopped playing and left the stage, so naturally we knew they’d be back. The whole crowd began chanting Finch, as well as screaming for them to play Ender. If you’ve ever seen the guys live, then you’ll know that Ender is fucking awesome live. Don’t know what it is about it, but it’s awesome. So they came back out and played Ender, then went directly into What It Is To Burn before thanking the fans and ending their set.

Overall, even though I wasn’t into the first band and was only a little interested in Snapcase, Finch made it MORE than worth the $12.00 I paid for the ticket. The show kicked major ass and I will definately see Finch again when they come around.

NOFX – The War On Errorism

The War on Errorism, NOFX’s first studio album since 2000s Pump Up the Valuum.(45 of 46 Songs… was not a new album, rather B-sides and rarities) This album shows once again that NOFX is one of the greatest punk bands ever. In the three years since Pump Up the Valuum, Fat Mike and crew haven’t lost a step. They’ve also taken their first journey into CD-ROM, which so many other bands have done in the past several years. The enhanced version of the CD contains an introduction by Fat Mike himself, as well as a trailer for the documentary, “Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election,” which explores how the election was allegedly stolen by George Bush. There is also a special presentation called “Idiot Son Of An Asshole,” which I have yet to watch. The album art itself is a shot directly at Bush. It’s an American flag with the NOFX band logo, and a cartoon drawing of Bush with a clown face painted on. Upon opening the CD, there is also a cartoon drawing of Bush in a clown suit holding a bouquet of balloons with the caption “Somewhere in Texas, there is a village without its idiot.”

The album starts off with The Separation of Church and Skate, which also happens to be one of my favorite songs on the album. It begins with a Father asking his kids what they want to do today. “Do you want to go to the matinee,” he asks. “No,” the kids reply. “Do you want to go to the amusement park,” he asks them. Again, they answer no. Finally, “Do you want to go to the punk rock show?” Cheers all around from the kids as they pick the obvious best option. What follows is pure old school NOFX(see: Ribbed) . The song is about the mainstream success of punk rock music as of late. Sample verse:“When did punk rock become so safe,” the Mike questions as he implies that maybe they should put pads, helmets, head gear, and mouth pieces on the kids. “I want conflict, I want dissent. I want the scene to represent our hatred of authority, our fight against complacency. Stop singing songs about girls and love, you killed the owl and freed the dove. Confrontation and politics replaced with harmonies and shticks. When did punk rock become so tame, these fucking bands all sound the same? We want our fights, we want our thugs, we want our burns, we want our drugs. Where is the violent apathy, these fuckin’ records are rated G.” The ironic thing about this song being my favorite, is the fact that the very bands they’re singing about are some of my favorites. Go figure.

My second favorite song would have to be Mattersville. The song originally appeared on the Fat Music Volume 6 compilation and I enjoyed it then. It’s a slower, somewhat Ska-sounding song, which usually isn’t my thing.(funny they said they didn’t play Ska anymore) However, this song is really good. The song is a look into the future in the life of an aging punk. Mattersville is “a neighborhood for punks over the hill.” Mike sings about playing bridge and shuffleboard along with his fellow aging punks, as well as lawn bowling. Sample verse: “We got a blackboard with some rules and laws. Hefe’s got an 18 car garage. Most of the cars are smashed and so is Spike, twice a week on Karaoke night. Eric Melvin lives next door to me. Lime and the Locknecks head security. At the end of my cul de sac, Davey Havok’s house is painted black.” Yes, I can see it now. A retirement community for punk rockers.

Another good song is the punk love song, We Got 2 Jealous Agains. Don’t let the love part fool you though, cuz this ain’t no slow song. The song sings about looking into a girls record collection and finding all of the same records that he owns himself. Combining the two collections gives them two of each record, hence the title, We Got 2 Jealous Agains. Sample verse: “I knew you were for me when I saw the first Vandals EP. I found SNFU and cool I owned that record too. Seems we both had Social Unrest and sung she’s a pervert nurse. We both had the first pressing of How Could Hell Be Any Worse. So now we got two Earth AD’s and we got Two Killing Jokes. We got two Adolescents, two Peni’s and two The Crews. We got two Someone Got Their Head Kicked Ins. We got two Declines, two Damaged, and two Jealous Agains. I knew you were the one.”

Other standout songs are Medio-core, a song about the lack of creativity in music today, and Re-gaining Unconsciousness, which explores quite a few government issues and forcing people to conform to their deMOCKracy. For the most part, I enjoy just about every song on the album. There’s a bit more ska than I prefer personally, but it doesn’t take anything away from the greatness of this album. The band is taking a more political stance with some of their songs,(Franco Un-American, Idiots Are Taking Over) but there’s still the classic NOFX humor tossed in as well.(She’s Nubs, Whoops I OD’d) While this may not be an instant punk rock classic, I do see it getting plenty of play time in my own CD player.

Soundtrack to Life – The Pit

Ha! Just barely beat the deadline! Betcha thought I forgot all about this column today, didn’t ya?! What’s that? You hadn’t even noticed I post this every week on Thursday? You… hadn’t even…. thought about it today?……. Man, you guys are such kidders! Ya really had me going there! Anywho, as things have been today, I’ve been pretty busy. Stayed up ’til 5AM playing Final Fantasy Origins, so I woke up around noon. By that time, the drunken nimrod who I endearingly call brother had already taken root in front of the computer. By the time I got to it, I was already mapping my route around town today. Much running to do. All done now though, got home around 8:30. Guess what though. I have no idea what I’m gonna write about. That’s right. This late into the day, I’ve had all week to think about it, and I got nothin’. Well, I got something. I got a few stories I’ve been meaning to tell, just don’t know which one to use. Hmm…. It’ll come to me eventually, don’t worry. Hmm….. I know. Maybe someone sent me something so I won’t have to write it this week! *checks email* ….Nope. Hmm….. Ya know, I think I got it!

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The Pit

“Mr. Coffee” by Lagwagon

“Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place….” A pointless phrase to most, but to my little clique, it’s a phrase that draws up images of fantasy. An idea, a hope, a dream. A plan. Yes, a plan. But where do we start….

You talk to most any kid, any adolescent really, and they’ll tell you their town sucks. Their town is boring and there’s nothing to do. Most anyone you could meet will tell you that. Such was the case with West Bend, my town. Technically, I live in Barton, but Barton doesn’t have a post office, so all addressing for mailing purposes in the area is West Bend. In a city of 25,000 you’d think there’d be a lot to do. Sure, a coupla parks, two bowling alleys, a skating rink, a card shop/arcade, and Stocky’s Go-Kart track if ya got the money. No real hangouts though. Around 9 o’ clock most anybody looking for something to do is either cruising up and down Main Street, sitting at a friend’s house where they’re drinking or getting smoked up, or you do what we did. Get caffeinated.

In 2000, there were about 9 places to sit down and have coffee. Morning Glory was only open during school hours, to keep those damn kids out. St. Somewhere, which was very upscale and yuppie. Pinewood was more of a family restaurant, on the edge of town with high prices in some categories. Jumpin’ Java was more for the trendy kids. And then there were the diners. Sandy’s Barton Cafe was nice and we’d visit when we were up, seeing as they open at 4:30 in the morning and close shortly after noon. Perkins is good, though kind of on the edge of town and prices are a little high. Omicron, I like, but for me it’s more of a winter store; warm, comfy, more of a happy family atmosphere. Denny’s den was nice and cheap and the food was good. But the latter three all had the same problem. Sometime during the night, they’d close, not to open their doors again until morning’s light.

That’s why we chose George Webb’s as our hang out. Nice diner atmosphere, moderately priced food, excellent coffee, and all while staying open around the clock. We’d sit there for hours at a time, just a coffee, maybe some fries. We’d sit there with our friends and just chat it up all night. As sad and pathetic as that sounds, that was our fun. Getting together over a cup of coffee and just talking. But, all good things never last. Webb’s began having a higher traffic rate, and as such, more rules had to be enforced. First, you could only sit there for an hour tops. Then, they said you had to order more than coffee if you wanted to sit there that long. Then you had to spend a certain amount ($5 I believe) in order to stay that long. Lastly, they limited the “bottomless” coffee. More and more of the patrons were getting displeased, particularly the younger crowd. I’d begun hearing stories of people who’d been kicked out. For causing trouble, that I can understand. But for coming in with someone who had caused trouble, or for that matter, looking/dressing similar to that person, was absolutley ludicrous. In particular the “punk” crowd was targeted.

Our place was no longer our place. It had changed. We still came in all the time though. What else is open at midnight in this town? Wal-Mart and one gas station. That’s it. Jay (Aki’s brother) and I were frequent customers at this time of the night. We did have another favorite cafe though, and that was Fuel down in Milwaukee. It’s a wonderful place. Fliers and posters on the windows, patron art on the walls, patchwork tables and chairs, music playing over the system by some band most people would never know the name of, copies of The Onion in abundant supply, and bathrooms covered in grafitti which almost seemed to have been promoted by the owners. Fuckin’ awesome place, ’nuff said.

So there we sat at Webb’s. Another night, another pot of coffee. We began to talk about how cool it would be if there was a similar place to Fuel in town. “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place….”, we mused. We began listing everything that we thought would be awesome in a coffee shop. Jay began taking notes as we came up with more and more ideas for this dream joint.

-Music would be operated through a computer. A whole hardrive dedicated to mp3s. We’d leave an accessible playlist and charge for requests to play. A little more to put mp3s of your own on the computer.
-Open 24/7, naturally.
-Specialty foods depending on who’s cooking.
-The Wall of Souls. Basically offer people a chance to selling their souls and posting them on the wall.
-Our own Zine, where patrons could submit their works and we’d publish them.

My favorite idea was a little something I whipped up. If the place was a hit, like everyone who came there liked it, there’d naturally be questions about getting a job there. That’s where the auditions came in. Basically, submit our applicants to a series of torture tests and the winner got the job. My favorite idea in regards to this was holding a race across Regner Park while dressed in full scuba gear. Woulda been great fun. A while later the topic came up again. Jay pulled out the notes he took and we began talking about all we had thought up. It was only a matter of time before someone said it. “Why don’t we do it?”

And so we assembled. Myself, Jay, Tim, Musse, Sam, Tia and a few others. We had the plans on paper, we just had to figure out how to put them into motion. We began asking around town and started hammering out the who, what, where and when. Asking the restaurants where they bought their product from, mapping out more ideas, and of course, looking for a store front. As it was, there were two places downtown that were open for a new business to move in. One, a narrow shop with a large backroom. The other was much more spacious, so naturally we prefered it. We all started the job hunt and organized a request for a loan. We were gonna make it happen. It was well within our grasp. Sure it’d be a lot of work but together we could pull it off. Musse got to talking with his dad though, and his dad told him just how much it was gonna cost. Aside from the store, there was also the matter of insurance to worry about. Musse was our financial key stone and he backed out.

From there it all just fell apart. Morale went down the toilet. It was talked about less and less. We did meet someone however who had promised us he’d pay for the store front. Ya see, he was gonna get a country singing contract. He didn’t like singing country but that’s what he was good at. He had a bus ride down to Nashville in a few weeks. Oh yeah, I left out the part where dude’s a compulsive liar. Seriously, I haven’t met a more dishonest man ever.

And so there it is. A group of kids with a dream. A dream that never came true. I still remember the feeling of hope that we had, how we were certain that we could do it. And ya know, maybe some day, we still will.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

Interview: Too Short Notice

BP:First off, What is the name of your band and where are you from?
TSN:Too Short Notice, we’re from north jersey.

BP:What are your names and what do you play?
TSN:Shannon — Vocals
Matt — Bass
Fred — Drums
Pat — Trumpet
Jef — Guitar
Scott — Trombone

BP:Who are your influences?
TSN:All of us are inspired by different kinds of music. Our influences range from Reel Big Fish and Sublime to Aerosmith and Motley Crue.

BP:How did you guys form?
TSN:After a bunch of different line ups and changes here and there wegot together about a year ago. we all met eachother through different friends, we tried playing together and everything seemed to work!!

BP:Besides Skate and Surf, have you guys played with any other big names?
TSN:We’ve played with mustard plug and big d and the kids table a few times. we’ve also played with Bigwig, The Toasters, Catch 22, Ann Berreta, Fall Out Boy and a few more… they’re all big names to us!

BP:Do you guys prefer to play local home shows or do you like to go on tour?
TSN:We love to tour, pretty much we’ll play wherever we can! we love to do shows around here, just because the kids that come to our shows in jersey are so loyal it’s crazy! we love them for that, but yeah, we definitely LOVE to tour.

BP:Are you guys signed to a record company? If yes, what record company? If not, do you know of any record companies trying to get you guys to sign on?
TSN:We’re not signedto alable. I have no idea if any lables are interested! I hope some are! If you know of any that are…send em our way!

BP:Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
TSN:Yeah, we always listen to Snoop, drink red bull, jump around and get our blood flowing, get in a huddle,get focused and do a “whoa bundies” (kinda a little inside joke we’ve got)

BP:What are your guys’ future plans?
TSN:We’re going on tour across the country in July and August, so we’re trying to get everything organized for that right now. we’ve been writing a lot of new material, some of which we play at shows now. and we’re looking to go into the studio either in June before we leave for tour, or in August after we get back! so, keep an eye out for the new cd probably in the fall!

BP:Any upcoming tours?
TSN:yeah, like i said we’re going out in June and July, all across the country, so if you’re in the area come out and see us!

BP:If you could tour with any one band, who would it be?
TSN:Probably Reel Big Fish or Bigwig. They are both good friends of ours and we always have a great time hanging out with them.

BP:Where’d you get inspiration for your songs?
TSN:Relationships, work, video games…. pretty much everyday stuff!

BP:Do you guys plan do to the Vans Warped Tour anytime soon?(yes please do!)
TSN:We would love to! I don’t know if we’ll be around for that though!

BP:Alright, that’s all I got for you, now that I’ve racked my brains. Thanks again!

For more info check outTooShortNotice.com

Soundtrack to Life – Suzan

Well, it’s thursday morning, and once again I haven’t even begun my column. No real surprise here. I was gonna start it last night but I passed out in the computer chair — actually it’s a really comfy rocker — until about 6am when I went to bed. I have to get up early to write these things cuz otherwise I have to fight for the computer and privacy all day. As it is, I’m the only one up, and I like it that way. I won’t last I know. Around noon those damn kids are gonna start flooding in and taking over parts of the house. First this room, then the living room, and that’s where all the entertainment is. So I’ll be confined to my room, eyeing up various things that could be used as weapons. Anywho, I’ve got something huge in mind, but I’m not gonna start it today. Oh no. I think it’s about 5 parts if I can think of that many different songs for that adventure. Today I’m gonna tell a tale, one which some of you may remember hearing parts of. See, the whole relationship matter has been going through my head lately, so I figured I’d tell a story which fits the guidelines.

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Suzan

“The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe

Here it was, freshmen year. A big time in anyone’s life. That first year of highschool. Over the past three years, my disgust for society had begun to set in and I grew ever more jaded with each passing day. How could people treat their fellow man like this? I didn’t bother anyone. In fact, I went out of my way to avoid people. Still, someone always saw fit to fuck with me. Whether it be a passing comment or a whole series of stupid questions, I was there for their amusement.

In highschool, you gotta make your allies where you can. Check with your friends, see if you share classes. And if not that, find those with similar tastes and befriend them. Such was the case with my lunch hour. I had to take my Earth Science class in East for whatever reason when I was a West student, and that was just before lunch. I don’t know why, but for some reason in my own stubborn ways, I’d insisted on eating at West cafeteria. East cafeteria was just down the hall. If I so desired, I could have been one of the first in line. But for some reason I had to eat in West, which was a decent little jog from where I was. I shared this little powerwalking commute with fellow outcast Jim Schearer, who’d always joke that I was “slower than molasses going uphill in the middle of winter”. He and I set up our little niche in the cafeteria along with three girls from the freshmen class. We didn’t know who they were, but it was likely they were outcasts as well. There was Beth, a short, fat, young woman who didn’t even have a pretty face. Sarah, a larger fat girl with a bubbly attitude. Then there was Suzan. Shorter, skinny, staight blonde hair hanging past her shoulders, thick rimmed glasses and somewhat of a large nose. So she was the better looking of the three.

As days went by, myself and Jim got to know the three girls better, talking on a daily basis. Just idle chit chat and goofing around mostly. Now, as I’ve found, when women get together and one of these women sets her eyes on a certain man, the women work together to bring the two together. Such was the case with myself and Suzan. She asked me out one day. It had been the first time any girl had shown this much interest in me. I didn’t know quite what to respond. And so I said “I don’t see why not.” But, I had said so while walking away from the lunch table, as she’d asked me at midbell. She hadn’t heard me. I had the last two hours of the day to think about it. I mean, it seemed great that I’d have a girlfriend, but there was something in the back of my mind saying “no, don’t do it, it’s a mistake”. All I knew is she had my number and she’d give me a call. I got home from school and the first thing I did was turn on MTV, as was the common practice at the time. The first video to come on was “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. That was all the warning I needed, and avoided the phone for the rest of the night. I had to face the music eventually though, and got around to talking to her. I was just a stupid scared kid back then, so I did my best to guard her feelings and told her I didn’t know. Eventually, I told her I’d rather we just be friends. For most women, this would be deterant enough. But not Suzan.

As days, weeks, and months went by, she did everything in her power to keep me within striking distance, or so she thought. I had no interest in dating this girl, but she was gonna try anyways. To begin with, there was the phonecalls. She would call umpteen times a day, double digits at least, I shit you not. Thankfully, it was only at 10 minute incriments, as her parents had strict rules on the phone. There were times however when she’d get me when her parents weren’t home. I didn’t look forward to these calls. Try sitting on the phone, not a cell phone, not even a cordless, for a half hour or more, with little more than silence on the other end. Not fun. She actually called just as we started watching “Can’t Hardly Wait” once. I didn’t get off the phone until a while after the movie was over, despite the fact I’d told her I was busy. See that, that’s just obnoxious. Trust me, it gets worse than this. The pursuit was gonna require more drastic measures.

She would call sometimes, late at night. Late being 9 or later, as that’s when I went to bed at the time. Usually, it was just another quiet call, sometimes she’d tell me she was feeling horny. Not like a dirty call, just trying to pique my interest. But I wasn’t interested in this girl. The subject matter of any conversation got more and more drastic as time passed.

-Abusive relationships
-Being scared for whatever reason
-Feeling almost dethly ill
-Self abuse
-Lapses of unconsciousness
-Psychosis
-Multiple personalities
-Spiritual posession

It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. I guess she thought I’d take on the typical male “I’m here to save you” routine, but it wasn’t happening. It all was spiraling way out of control. And it hit it’s peak on January ’97.

I remember many facets of that day, but not the actual date. I remember we’d gotten food from Subway that day. I remember we were renting Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals for SNES. I remember that we’d been playing this lame Magic game for the computer in which there was a very limited selection of cards, you had to choose a hero, and you didn’t actually play Magic against your opponent. Mostly, I remember it was the day before the Superbowl. The Packers had finally made it to the big game after almost 30 years of falling short or just sucking in general. She’d called me up, depressed again. I’d played this game before, just had to help cheer her up. I couldn’t though, not tonight. She just wasn’t listening to me. She began to talk about suicide. We’d discussed this before and I did what I could to talk her away from the idea, and again, she wasn’t listening. I heard the silverware drawer open.

“Don’t do anything stupid.”
“You’re not here, you can’t stop me. *gasp* *sigh*”
“Suzan? Suzan?!”

Fuck. I was scared. I called 911, told them what had just happened, gave her number and address. They told me they’d call back to let me know what had happened. I paced and worried all night. No call. Fitfully, I managed to get to sleep. I woke up next morning, no call, still worrying. Finally, the phone rang. It was Suzan. She hadn’t done anything, she faked the whole thing. Part of me wanted to blow up, tell her to just fuck off, but I couldn’t. I’m too nice a guy to do that. I was just glad she was alright.

We still spoke after freshmen year, but we grew further and further apart over the years. By senior year, she was little more than a memory. I’d find out later that the reason she had vanished was because she was under psychological treatment. Can’t say I was surprised. We began talking again this last year, and actually do things together. Trying to save a friendship that never was I guess. She has improved greatly, though a few issues still lie beneath.

Though I’d heard “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt the day she asked me out, and she wanted to dedicate Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me” to me at Skate Country, there’s only one song that truly reminds me of the time I spent with her. “The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

File Sharing: Illegal?

File sharing…theft…free music…illegal…whatever you call it, programs that allow the transfer of MP3’s over the Internet are quite popular these days. They are also the cause of quite a bit of controversy as well. Should it be illegal? Who should be held responsible for the transfer of copyrighted media? The program designers or the program users? I got the idea to write about this when I read an article about how the record industry filed a $98 Billion lawsuit against 4 college kids. That’s a hell of a lot of cheddar people! What you will read here is mostly of my own opinions rather than actual facts. Enjoy.

We’re all very aware of the first program to come under fire for the sharing of copyrighted material. Napster. A federal judge ruled in 2001 that the program aided in copyright infringement, and order it to close. It’s been down ever since. However, there are still many other similar programs up and running as I type, that allow millions of people every day to download millions of MP3’s. Should this be illegal? In my opinion, yes and no. Before I explain my answer, let me state that I am one of those people who download MP3’s from file sharing programs. However, I’m also a person who owns nearly 600 CD’s and 9 times out of 10, I purchase the album after downloading material from it. I use it mainly to check out new bands or a new album. With CD’s ranging in prices from $14-17, who wants to waste that much money on a CD they won’t like? Not me. Now, the reason I say it should be illegal to transfer copyrighted material is because of this reason. If you download a complete album and burn it to a disk, with no intention of ever purchasing the artists album, you are taking money out of the artists pocket. Think about it, if a CD costs 14.99 and 1000 people download it, how much money is that taking away from the artists? $14,990, which is a lot of money considering most artists don’t even get half of the cost of each CD. That’s $14,990 more that the artist could have possibly gained had those 1000 people actually purchased the album. The reason I say no, it should not be illegal, is that I feel it’s more of a morals issue as opposed to a law issue. If someone really enjoys an artist, they should support them and help them out by paying for the album and rewarding the artist for their hard work and creativity.

Who should be held responsible for the transfer of these copyrighted songs? Should it be the program designers, or the people who use the programs? Here’s is an example…if you buy drugs and a police officer catches you, is he just gonna take you in for buying them, or is he gonna bust the dealer as well? He’s gonna take you both in, right? Same thing here. The people who design the programs are providing the service. They are, in a sense, the dealer. But if you take part, fully knowing that it could be illegal, then you’re just as guilty. Now I know some of you are saying, “but you said you download music from Internet file sharing programs.” You’re exactly right, I illegally download copyrighted music from the Internet. I fully know what I’m doing could be illegal. However, it’s not likely that they’re gonna come and rip every single person who downloads MP3’s from their home and take them off to jail.

The artists appear to be taking a stand against the issue as well. In 2001, the main reason for Napster coming under fire was Metallica drummer, Lars Ulrich. Other artists, such as Eminem and Dr. Dre, also spoke out against the program as well as file sharing in general. Now the artists are taking a slightly different approach, such as phony MP3 files uploaded to file sharing programs. One most notable would be Madonna. A user downloads a file, thinking it’s the latest hit song from Madonna. Once downloaded and played, the user finds not the song, but rather Madonna herself asking “What the fuck do you think you’re doing.” It seems as though the users are fighting back as well, as Madonna’s web site was the target of a hacker last week. The person hacked into Madonna’s web site and made her entire new album available for download to site visitors, as well as including their own message. “This is what the fuck I think I’m doing,” the message read. Well put.

In conclusion, I do believe that file sharing costs recording artists and labels money. $98 Billion? Hardly. There’s no possible way anybody could ever pay off a debt that large. I find the thought of them being sued for that amount of money completely ridiculous. They did, however, say that they would settle out of court and that the initial $98 Billion was just to make their point. Point made and point taken. What can record labels do to slow down file sharing? Probably nothing. A lot of record labels are offering free MP3s through their web sites to promote new albums, and allow the buyer to sample the music before purchasing the album. On Amazon.com, you can preview 30 seconds of some tracks on most albums before purchasing them. But is there a way to stop file transferring altogether? I don’t believe so. Threats of huge lawsuits might slow it down a bit, as was proved when several smaller file sharing programs shut down in the midst of the $98 Billion lawsuit. It seems the record industries scare tactics worked, if only for a short amount of time. However, I find it hard to believe they’ll ever put a stop to it. It’s kind of like the war on drugs, pretty pointless if you ask me. They’re fighting an uphill battle, one that I feel they just won’t win.