"Let's experiment w/ captions, shall we?"

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but there's no rest for Mrs. Des Noise, the teacher (unusual, I know!)-- or for Des Noise either, of course. Is there ever? The two-day weekend certainly didn't feel like three days, but it felt like we packed in enough for them. After dinner Friday with my wife's family in honor of her birthday, a fun-filled Saturday peaked with ASKLAGANDAGANZA III, i.e., the third annual birthday concert for Vaudeville Mews booker Ladd Askland. If you weren't in the room to see the Poison Control Center headline that night, there's nothing I can say to convey what an un-self-consciously awesome time it was. Just, a roiling, fist-pumping crowd sing-along of spilled drinks and bodies flying back and forth between stage and floor. I missed Derek Lambert's opening set, but I did get to see him up there grinning, fighting to keep his shirt on, after helping PCC out as one of a rotating cast of two bass players along with Elliot Imes. I did get to see Ladd stage-dive. I saw PCC's guest drummer, Dave, who was totally coincidentally (no! really!) wearing a purple Northwestern shirt. I saw TJ win third annual Man of the Year honors (congrats, TJ!). I saw Patrick Tape Fleming do the splits, and Devon Frank, who had driven up from grad school in Missouri, rolling around on the floor with his guitar in the air. I saw Pat carrying Ladd's brother on his shoulders. I didn't see PCC drummer Donald Curtis (grad school-related conflicts) or bassist and past Man of the Year Joseph Terry (North Carolina)-- they were missed, but the crowd energy was better than New Year's Eve (but what is Asklandaganza if not better than New Year's Eve?). I also saw the Autumn Project, who I'd never seen before, and who put on a conversation-stoppingly loud, masterfully precise, slightly epic (but what is Asklandaganza if not epic?) set of emotion-wracked instrumental rock, "post-rock" really.  I saw Amedeo and @namedpipe and many other Des Moines friends, too. A dance party broke out; the DJ played Beck and Depeche Mode and early New Order.

  Philosophy Ph.D. students use their heads.

Sorry for the trivial post (went to trivia night with Bob Nastanovich at the Hessen Haus, too!)-- I wish I had a good quote from Dr. King to share on this important holiday (check out Pat's blog, or a Virginia professor's excellent column in the Register this morning, or your usual commentary sources, for that), or deep thoughts on all the tragic headlines. I'm thankful for what I've got.

Derek rocking out with PCC... he still has his sweatshirt on here.

The Autumn Project

TJ accepts his Man of the Year award. 



I hereby resolve not to be one of those bloggers who starts every blog post apologizing for the lack of updates. But I gotta admit, what with life and work and everything else, the posting on here is never gonna be super consistent-- I try to write only when I have something to say, not just constantly post mp3s and concert dates as done for $$$ by the more promotional blogs I still have in my RSS reader from New York. Still, I always feel like I could be doing more. So Kimberly Isburg's column in last week's Juice really struck a chord with me.

Isburg writes about how she used to consider herself an "overachiever," but 2009 left her more with items lingering on her to-do list than sense of accomplishment. She keeps thinking about that paint she bought in September and hasn't put on the walls yet. Or the unpacking she hasn't quite wrapped up since moving. The friends who are having babies, getting advanced degrees, earning promotions, "cooking gourmet meals on weeknights." And all that time wasted on social networking websites. (Which, a recent study says, lead to bigger and more diverse social networks-- duh. But they don't give me the same sense of satisfaction as having talked with somebody in person.)

Anyway, I could relate. 2009 was the first year when I didn't feel like I was making big leaps in either my business journalism or my music writing. I didn't have my work published in any new publications or take on any major new roles. I didn't compose any sprawling think pieces that someone could recommend for one of the Da Capo best music writing books. My most ambitious idea never quite came to fruition, making me just another annoying schmuck with a half-formed concept for a book, maan. And, like Isburg, I moved-- from Brooklyn to Iowa, in my case, meaning that I was also removed from a decent barometer of how my year was stacking up against those of my peers.

Then again, I had one hell of a year. I moved! I bought a home! I decided living 1,000 miles from my employer and the center of my music universe was actually an awesome idea! I met a bunch of new people, got my head out of my Brooklyn/indie bubble (sort of), and continued to write tons of stories and discover new music that moved and entranced me. I made it so I could basically walk across the street to see the Japandroids. I went to the 80/35 festival. I went to the Pitchfork festival. I saw more movies. I took time to read more. It may have been below zero around here the past couple of weeks, but with the skywalk and all the great restaurants and bars downtown, I have been spending less time in the cold than I would have had to in New York. A guy I met the other night at Hessen Haus, a Greenwich Village native, told me living in Iowa "feels like cheating," and he's right. So what if I still don't have enough shelves for all my books and CDs, or if I haven't put anything on the walls yet in my "office"? I won.

Then why do I still feel as if-- right now, while I'm productively typing these words for publication to my friends and neighbors and relatives and even total strangers-- there are a million other things I should be doing? Yesterday! In more places! Harder, better, faster, stronger! For great internet justice...

Isburg's resolution this year is to give herself a break. I don't know if I can do that. In fact, I probably can't. But it's good advice to remember.

Lots going on here lately, not much I can comment on interestingly at length. Poison Control Center, Christopher the Conquered, and Wolves in the Attic sounded great as usual during the New Year's bash at the Des Moines Social Club (whole scene was a little crowded, though). Hanwell, a band out of Newton, Iowa, were a nice surprise at the Vaudeville Mews the other day, peppering their set of Wilco-tinged rock with covers of songs by the Kinks and Elvis Costello. I stopped by the Mews again Saturday night to check out another local band, Cleo's Apartment, who I recall being really fun this summer at 515 Alive, but as I realized the show wasn't going to start until the a.m. hours, I resolved to catch them next time instead. Lame, I know. But give me a break.

I noticed only too late they were giving away free pancakes.

UPCOMING: Asklandaganza on Saturday at the Mews (I'll be there fer sure), Pentagram 01/26 at the Mews, Jemina Pearl 02/05 same place, Headlights 02/23, A Sunny Day in Glasgow 03/04, Zoos of Berlin 03/28, Electric Six 03/31, Morning Benders 04/09. At bigger venues, Brad Paisley plays Wells Fargo Arena on Friday but I'll miss due to the cost and Mrs. Des Noise's birthday, Tim McGraw 02/13, Black Eyed Peas 03/25.