30 June 2009

Random Music Tuesdays: "You're The Only One" by Maria Mena

Okay, technically this a love song ... or at least a song about romantic relationships. But that's not how I was introduced to it. And that's not the message I took away from it. This week's song is about finding that person who gets you in ways that no one else in the universe ever possibly could.

Maria Mena's song "You're The Only One", from her 2004 album Mellow, was written as a love song. But this song was brought to my attention by First Brain. And he's the first person I think of when I hear it. Because to me, this isn't a romantic love song but a platonic one ... a song for those lucky people who have that person (friend, love, whatever) in their life who simply gets them ... no explanations, no excuses, no editing.

First Brain, this week's song goes out to you. I hope life treats you well and that you accept the best that life offers you.

Youre The Only One - Maria Mena

29 June 2009

Love ...

  1. requires constant communication and reassurance to flourish, much like how a plant needs light and water to grow.
  2. is alive and subject to the same rules as any other life on earth.
  3. is universal.
  4. should not be attached to strings but far-too-often is.
  5. , along with Time, can heal any wound.
  6. is painful and worth every moment of it.
  7. stands by you even when it isn't easy to do so.
... is not ...
  1. vacuumed sealed.
  2. universally understood.
  3. up for negotiation.
  4. to be taken for granted.
  5. static.
  6. limited to one plain of being.
  7. to be hoarded away like a life's saving because ...
... Love is best spent on others, and ...
... Love is what you bring into my life and I cherish it more than I can often express.

26 June 2009

In Memoriam

I know yesterday saw the deaths of two icons. But, at heart, I'm a musician and an entertainer so I have my bias. You will forgive me that (because it's my blog).

Michael Jackson, in his later years, was a target of ridicule and law suits. Perhaps it was justified, perhaps it wasn't. For the record, I have made my fair share of pedophilia jokes. Even counting all of that, Michael Jackson rises amongst the highest firmament of entertainment stardom. His songwriting, his singing, and/or his dancing has inspired countless performers after him. And his album Thriller is the best selling album of all time ... ever ... in the entire world, if not universe. He knew how to write. He knew how to sing. He knew how to dance. If he could have fit acting and ending war in there, then we'd call him a god.

Yet he is a god. He climbed to heights of fame and fortune and popularity that many of us aspire, in some fashion or another. He was not just America's, like Elvis ... he was the world's. He could weather any storm and still be loved.

And his music.

MJ was a musical genius. His songwriting. His ability to capture a hook. The way he could manipulate you into empathizing with the message he was trying to put across.

And his showmanship, to include his dancing and stage presence. What? It's been ages since you've seen him perform? You're too young to remember? Well, sift through these videos and witness the man who has inspired so many entertainers you see today. When he danced, MJ defied the laws of physics. I remember the first time the world saw the "Moonwalk". There was a universal gasp, followed by "How the F*CK did he DO that?!"

He wasn't perfect. But then, who among us is. What he was was good at what he did. And what he did was bring some joy and some magic into our lives. And that, my faithful readers, is enough to take a moment and reflect on who we are and what we are doing to influence those around us.

I mourn the loss of another innovator. I mourn the loss of another musical genius. I mourn the loss of another entertainer who will inspire another generation to keep the arts alive. I know you mourn with me.

I will leave you with the first popular music video (or popular music anything) my father and I shared. I don't quite remember how old I was ... perhaps twelve or thirteen ... but I remember being up way too late on a school night. I remember sitting in the living room with my dad. Just the two of us. I remember MTV being on, which was a major oddity in my house. And I remember this video coming on. My dad said something along the lines of, "This guy's a bit of a fruit. And I don't like this song ... it's pretty demonic. But he can sure dance." And he and I watched the entire video. It was the first time that my parents implicitly let me enjoy secular music. It was the first time I was permitted to enjoy modern music openly that I had enjoyed privately with my oldest brother. It was the first time I was introduced to the music of Michael Jackson.


25 June 2009

Oh, The Possibilities Of An Epic Fail ...

... even more so than some other films he's helmed. Don't get me wrong, his first two films were pretty darned good. But then ... well ... imagine, if you will, a high cliff and a roadrunner and a coyote. 'Nuff said for how he's fared since then.

Still, while he may have written the screenplay for the movie, he's working from the story from the television series. As long as he is faithful to the source material and doesn't try to get all creative and shit, I think he'll be fine. Because this series was one of my most favorite of all time. Hell, I was even pleased with the series finale. (And those of you who really know me know that I'm typically disappointed with how people wrap things up.)

So, as my personal motto goes, I'm hoping for the best but expecting the worst from this.

Don't you !@#$%^& disappoint me, bi-atch!

(Click here to see what I'm all worked up about.)

23 June 2009

Another Burton Masterpiece Coming Together

I'm a huge fan of Tim Burton, ever since he directed his first major motion picture lo so many years ago. His latest endeavor had been in the "next movie to be made" rumor mill ever since American McGee got his (deliciously) creepy hands on the material and fashioned a newer, darker story. Burton's newest baby seems to be coming along just nicely and I, for one, cannot wait until its release in 2010!

A Moment Of Silence

Our hearts go out to those in yesterday's MetroRail accident, especially the families of those whose lives were lost. It's a very rare occurrence in the D.C. area for anyone to die on the MetroRail system (not counting those idiots who try to kill themselves by purposefully jumping onto the tracks).

Yet, while this is sad and a tragedy, we would like to give throw our support behind Metro. With five rail lines and hundreds of bus lines carrying hundreds of thousands daily, it's a huge testament to the men and women who work for Metro that events like this don't occur more often. Ours is one of the safest (and cleanest) in the world.

18 June 2009

Really, PETA? Really?

You know it's a slow day at the office when you can't find anything bigger to speak out against than the death of a fly. It's not like the thing would have survived the month even in the most perfect conditions.

Am I the only one who thinks PETA jumped the shark on this? (Oh, yes, that pun was totally intended.)

17 June 2009

The Time Is Almost Nigh

Here we are, two more days a few short hours until the Blessed One smiles upon us fortunate few who have been deemed worthy for laying several hundred dollars at the Altar of Jobs. Upon hearing rumors that the All-Powerful Jobs would bless his chosen people with his goodness, I was excited. That was until I learned that I was not truly one of the chosen for I had not evolved enough.

Well, I am now appropriately evolved. And I am beside myself in anticipation of the glorious day! My only fear is that the line to the temple could be quite long, and I am not the patient disciple I once was.

Still, it is only once a year that our Most Benevolent One smiles upon us mortals. And so I shall wait for however long it takes the blessings to flow from Mount Macintosh to my humble symbol of devotion.

Praise be to Jobs and peace unto you.

09 June 2009

Random Music Tuesdays: Album Review: "Rocket 88 - Tribute To Ike Turner" by Mr Groove Band

I believe this is a day of firsts for The District Diaries' Random Music Tuesdays. I believe this is the first time I've featured an artist more than once. This is also the first full album review I've done. Ever.

I was asked by a good friend to take a listen to Mr Groove Band's latest offering and to share my thoughts on the album. (I may be mistaken, but this might be the first outside review of the album. Yet another first? How cool is that?!) So I received my advance copy and have listened through it once or twice (or a dozen times).

As stated before, Mr Groove was featured in a Random Music post almost a year ago. The band has been working on a tribute album to Ike Turner and, based on the response to "Papa Was A Rolling Stone", asked vocalist Darryl Johnson to do the heavy vocal lifting. The album is complete and is now going to press.

The album is titled Rocket 88 - Tribute to Ike Turner and will be distributed by ZOHO Music, a New York based independent record label specializing in latin/jazz, blues, R&B, and classic/southern rock genres. The band consists of Tim Smith (bass), Roddy Smith (guitars), Tim Gordon (sax and woodwinds), Donnie Marshall (drums and percussion), Tony Creasman (drums and percussion), and Darryl Johnson (lead and background vocals). Guest performers are Audrey Turner, Bonnie Bramlett, Rick Jackson, Mark Stallings, Rob Ickes, and The Groovehouse Horns.

Now I have to admit that I'm not terribly familiar with Ike Turner's music. While I did recognize a couple tunes, most of the album was completely new to me. On the whole, the album works. The band has a great mix of dirty funk ("I Smell Trouble", "I Wanna Take You Higher", "Come Together"), smooth soul ("No More Doggin'", "Rock Me Baby", "Nutbush City Limits"), and rollicking R&B ("Rocket 88", "Taking Back My Name") ... sometimes all in the same song ("River Deep, Mountain High"). The band rocked out on such a fun instrumental piece ("Funky Mule") that I found myself getting lost in it with every hearing. It was also a touching nod to include a toe-tapping piece by the man-of-honor himself ("Prancing"). The band does a great job interpreting the songs in ways that made me experience feelings that I didn't anticipate. And Darryl's vocals capture the meaning beneath the words and the notes, oftentimes laying it right on your lap and daring you to turn away.

But not every song on the album worked for me. While funky in that 70's sort of way (and I'm a man who likes his 70's funk), I didn't quite get "Bold Soul Sister". I can't put my finger on why exactly but that's the way it is sometimes. And this incarnation of "Proud Mary" just didn't hit the spot for me, not even close. While I understand that you can't make a carbon copy of a famous tune, I don't think it's too much to ask that it's a bit more honest (and recognizable) to the original. It's in their attempt to stand apart from Tina's shadow that the band has their only great misfire.

Still, two not-so-good songs out of thirteen is pretty darn good. Darn good enough that you should pick yourself up a copy of Mr Groove Band's Rocket 88 - Tribute to Ike Turner when it's released on 11 August 2009. I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Oh ... don't worry, my faithful readers; The Diarist got your hookup. You can get a taste of the album by listening to the selections below.


08 June 2009

Fire Chief, Surprised By Ash, Proclaims Sky Is Falling

Thank the gods that we have a top fireman who is watching out for public safety. The last thing this city needs is an epic-disater-in-the-making.
D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin yesterday ordered that all fireworks displays at Washington Nationals games be suspended until a safety review can be conducted, after fireworks debris landed on him as he watched a game, a department spokesman said today.

Rubin, who regularly attends Nationals games, was sitting in Section 130 yesterday when the Nats were facing off against the New York Mets. At the conclusion of the national anthem, there was a fireworks display as is customary, said department spokesman Alan Etter. As the debris fluttered down, it found its way to Rubin in his seat.
As you can see, Mr. Rubin had some sweet seats at first base, which are no where near where the fireworks are.

Now, I was a season ticket holder last year and my seats were in Section 141, pretty much directly beneath the fireworks. I had attended several games where the ashes fell from the sky onto us fans. And let me tell you, not once did any of us feel as if our lives were in jeopardy. Yes, ash is dirty. And, yes, it's a little startling the first time it happens. But that's how it goes sometimes. For Mr. Rubin to play the power card, covering it in the blanket of "immediate concern for safety", over something that has been happening for at least the past year (or longer ... I can't believe this never happened at RFK Stadium) is simply ridiculous and yet another example of our city leaders acting like that one kid in class who's put in charge while the teacher steps out for a minute.

Seriously. When will the insanity end in our local government?

05 June 2009

Sorry For The Delay, But My Transcriber Was Selected To Work In The Obama Administration

Now look here, Diarist - we are busy people with busy lives doing busy things with other busy people. We do not have the time to sit around and wait for you to post something worthwhile on this blog. If you do not get your shit together and soon, we just might have to go find somewhere else to loiter. Capite?

Sì, capisco. There's no need to get all Sopranos on me. Now, call off your cousin ... I like my knee caps in the front of my legs (and in one piece). Thanks.

I know I've been a bit M.I.A. the past couple weeks. (That's "M.I.A." as in "Missing In Action", not "M.I.A." as in ... um ... M.I.A..) I have also been a bit busy as of late. Last week saw me prepping for a new contract. This week (and many more weeks to follow) sees me traveling to the wilds of my neighboring Commonwealth. (I don't care how many multi-laned streets or how many Starbucks or how many buildings taller than ten stories you have ... if I have to drive and my commute is more than twenty minutes, yo ass is in da boonies!) So I have been a bit busy myself. That's life. We live, we learn, we adapt. So buck up and "Do The Darwin".

I do have some special posts that I need to write and put up here, the first and foremost being my first-ever album review. Just kick off your shoes (on the tile, not the carpet, thank you), hang tight, and make yourself at home. The white wine is chilling in the fridge; the red wine is on the rack, the liquor is on the bar; and the good stuff is locked up, so don't even think about it.

Unless you've known me por siempre or you have a crapload of time on you hands (and nothing else more exciting to do), I seriously doubt you've read everything on this blog. And if you have, I doubt even more than you've checked out every one of the fine blogs I've recommended there in that right-hand column.

I will post again. I promise. You have the run of the house (that's not locked down) in the meantime. Enjoy yourselves. And mind those dirty shoes.