a special sensitivity

August 30, 2005

So I ended up at Guitar Center today.

I promised myself I never would, but sometimes your snare strands are BOING!ing all about the place and Music Go Round is out of 14″ snares and you’re going out of town in four days and need to do something about that. So I went into this Home Depot of music stores, headed for “Drum Town” or whatever they call it, and was immediately overwhelmed by the spectacle before me. I felt a bit like Saul on the road to Damascus, suddenly blinded by the shining light that could have been my maker or could have been dozens upon dozens of well-polished cymbals. I glanced around, looking to see where in this sea of ridiculously expensive kits I might find a homely little 14″ snare. My eyes finally fixed upon a rack of them behind the counter.

Behind Taylor.

Taylor was my sales representative. He reminded me of the type who works at Radio Shack. What I mean by this is, he was pushy as fuck. When I told him I needed a 14″ snare, he immediately asked if I needed any special sensitivity or anything. No, I needed a snare. One that would make my snare drum rattle. I’m not that picky about these things. I really wished I could have just grabbed one off the rack myself, but there was a counter between me and my goal.

So, after a short bit of discussion, he brought me down the “run of the mill” (his words) Gibraltar snare, priced at $10.50 (a bit pricey, but, as noted, I was desperate, else I wouldn’t even be in this place). He asked if, while I was at it, I might want to “update” my snare side head. No, I did not want to do this. Mine is fine. “When did you change it last?” he pried. I thought for a moment, then made something up, because I’m not good at thinking on my feet in pressure situations. “Six months ago,” I replied. He was finally silent a moment. Then he recovered.

“It’s always good to have an extra one!” he noted.

No. No, Taylor, I do NOT want an extra head. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, and buy it from someone I like.

So he rang up my snare, which rang up at $7.99, a much more reasonable price. It was probably a ploy to make me feel like I was getting a deal, but I assure you it did not work.

We then began the Personal Information Tango, in which I permitted him to step on my feet at first, giving him my name (I was paying with credit anyway, so he’d be getting that) and my address at my parents’ (likewise, he had to check my ID against my credit card, since I might be using someone else’s card to buy a $7.99 snare). Then he asked for my phone number.

Phone number privacy is a big thing with me. I inherited a certain paranoia about phone numbers from my parents. I’m not too good at talking on the phone in the first place, and I really feel like unwanted calls are a major invasion of my daily life, so I resist giving my number to anyone I’m not friends with. And I’m not really friends with Taylor.

“Dude,” he said when I told him I don’t give my phone number (Taylor always calls me dude), “No one’s gonna call you. I promise.”

I didn’t even bother with the “Then why the hell do you want my number?” route, because it shouldn’t be necessary. “Do I need to give you my number in order to buy this?” I asked, knowing I didn’t.

“Naw, but no one’s gonna call you, dude.”

No, Taylor. I’m not giving you my phone number.

At which point he hopped on the phone, where someone had been holding, waiting to hear him call them dude, as we waited for my receipt. I turned down a kindly offer for a bag, then exited, having my receipt stamped by the bouncer dude at the door.

What a rude bastard that Taylor is. If I felt like I could have gotten a snare elsewhere before the end of the week, I would have just cut that transaction where it was and left. How is being condescending toward one’s customer a habit that doesn’t get a person fired? (I might point out that it’s a trait that’s fairly common in music stores, and bike shops as well.) But alas, Taylor had me suckered against my will and took advantage of it and thrashed me against the wall with his superior drum knowledge, nice hair and overbearing personality.

It all makes my love for Music Go Round a bit greater. They may be a little Jesus-freaky (at the Monroeville store, at least), they may not always know more than anyone else about a given query, but they don’t offend my special sensitivity to rude bastards, and it does not go unnoticed.

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midwest invasion

August 28, 2005

So, in more detail:

We’re playing two nights next weekend in two different cities. Those cities are called “Chicago” (in the state of Illinois) and “St. Paul” (in the State of Minnesota).

Friday night, September 2, we’re playing at the Spareroom Gallery in Chicago, with Sharks and Seals, Russian and maybe Scalpels? (I think that’s the one. There’s also a band called Scalpers I guess. Let’s not mix them up.) That’s at 8:00. If you are of that city, please come and shake my hand. I will be the one hitting drums and probably bleeding.

Saturday night, September 3, we’re playing at Big V’s in St. Paul. I guess the show is at 10:00? And we’re playing with a band called Build My Gallows High, and I would presume others. If you are of that city, please come and shake my hand. I will be the one hitting drums and probably bleeding.

I don’t think we’ll have a lot of time for doing stuff other than driving, and maybe eating breakfast, but if you have any suggestions as to things to do in either of those places, do drop a line. I’m looking forward to the expedition.

update the punx

August 26, 2005

Apologies if I’ve already used that post title. I don’t think I have, but it feels a little worn. I’m sure I’ll start doubling up soon. I only have so many cute phrases in this brain.

I’ve got, as Emma would say, bunnies in my brain right now, as it is past my bedtime AND I’m jumpy with caffeine AND I just got off an hour-and-a-half-plus marathon of answering Roboto emails for Mike while he’s away. So this will likely be short, but hey, I owe you one.

Speaking of Emma, SHE IS BACK from her two-week trip and I’m stoked. I was doing pretty well without her at first, but that’s because I was massively busy, and after a bit I began to miss her sorely (Emma, for those of you not In the Know, is my roommate and, er, BFF). There have been bonecrushing hugs in the past several hours, I assure you of this.

The show last night was super despite the fact that Growing ended up broken down in New Jersey. Three locals, one basement, zero dollars. These are my favorite shows. We didn’t even get in trouble for being too loud.

I’m excited about the upcoming weekend trip we’re doing to Chicago and Minneapolis, which I’ll detail more quite soon. It’s next weekend (Labor Day weekend). I’m pumped that in Chicago we’re playing with two or three bands that I ACTUALLY WANT TO SEE (this is quite a rarity when you’re playing out of town) and that Hopper has previews running in the weeklies in both towns and that Hopper is in Chicago now after all and I might actually get to see her and regardless I’ll be seeing other Chicagoans whom I love. I’m down because my hi-hat cymbals are currently in Philly due to my own stupidity, my kick pedal is currently broken because it’s not that great, and also because of my own BRUTALITY, and I lost my duffel bag so I need a new one, AND I need a new snare for my snare drum.

Speaking of ambivalence, tomorrow is my last day at my job, which is nice because I get some time off, and not so nice because it’s sort of an indefinite time off. I’m hoping to get something lined up right soon. But as it stands, I’ll be, er, CHILLIN’ for a few weeks. Expect/demand good writing in September.

There are more ruminations ruminating . . . I shall put them in writing for you soon.

letting fury have the hour

August 23, 2005

So, while I was carting around between Pittsburgh and the suburbs thereof on Saturday, some people in Oakland protesting military recruitment were being shot with tasers and bitten by dogs.

I knew about this ahead of time but I guess I was busy and this sort of action isn’t the type of thing that necessarily turns me on lately (it CAN be, but isn’t necessarily). But, while it’s good to be taking slow, everyday type steps toward the kind of world you want, it’s also important to sometimes have something tangible to do to make you feel better about living in the country/society/world that you live in. It’s a matter, I guess, of structuring and targetting that tangible thing so that it’s at least somewhat constructive (not to say that the protest on Saturday wasn’t constructive, I think it was). I was recalling recently the Student Strike we organized in early 2003 at the beginning of the new Iraq war, and how it was targeted and structured and kind of even constructive. What a feelgood action.

In retrospect I’ve definitely been feeling down that I didn’t really do much to help out this weekend, and haven’t “helped out” all that much lately, for lack of feeling like there’s a place where I can feel right plugging in. It doesn’t do much good to sit and mope about, so I suppose I should just work toward doing more in some capacity — getting reinvolved in Indymedia, which I’m currently working on doing, should be a start. And since I’m about to get kicked out of my job and won’t have a new one for at least a few weeks, I should have some time to do it well. I’ll also be working on a zine with some essays and perhaps some retooled blogpostation. Hopefully I’ll manage to actually take advantage of this time; even though I haven’t been full-on depressed like I have been in the summertime in the past, and I have a lot of things going on and a lot of things going for me, I’ve been feeling lately like I haven’t been able to motivate myself to do some important things.

So, here’s to kicking myself in the ass and getting stuff done. Perhaps you’d like to kick yourself as well. Or, you kick me, I’ll kick you, we’ll call it even. Listmaking this week, checkmarking next. Right?

oh yes, a show this week

August 21, 2005

Forgot to mention it, but it just came up last week so don’t get mad at me.

We’re playing a show this Wednesday (8/24) with Growing and Tusk Lord/Droopy Septum (Mike Kasunic and Ryan Emmett, both of whom rule) and Sabres (Keith Bryner, who also rules) at 5700 Wilkins Ave. $5.00, 8pm, “go round back.”

I’ve not seen Growing but heard very good things. I’m into the lokills. No reason not to come if you’re around.

so many orchids

August 21, 2005

The trip to Phipps coincided nicely with my current slow-but-sure digestion of Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, which is treating me quite well. There were loads of orchids in bloom, ones that looked really “pretty” and garden-ish, ones that looked like faces, ones that wouldn’t generally be considered all that attractive but they were so delicate you couldn’t help but fall in love with them.

And bonsai as well. I’ve been into bonsai for a while but tried it a couple times and just couldn’t keep up, and killed the poor things. I missed out on the Bonsai Society’s show this summer (working the Arts Festival . . . and barely getting paid . . .), but maybe I’ll get one next year and try to not make it die.

Also Friday night, said Girl and I went to this party in Shadyside(!) where I was prepared to feel uncomfortable, but then all the Punks showed up for whatever reason and IA complained a lot and it was funny so it wasn’t so bad.

And yesterday Mikey and I tried to go see that Miranda July movie at the Manor but the projector was broken so we chilled at 61C and watched the amazing storm through the glass. Then I went to the Roboto show and saw Del Cielo, who always put me in an excellent mood.

And now, I’m chilling at my parents’ and doing laundry and doing yard work a little and using the internet (did I mention that our stolen wireless is gone and we have to dial up at my house now? Lame.) and relaxing.

More later.

garden report

August 19, 2005

We’ve been doing a decent job this year of keeping up with the garden as a household–we each tend to pick up one another’s slack at the right time. The tomatoes are slithering out of control nonetheless, and the beans seem to be succumbing to some sort of disease, but in general things are in better shape than they were last year.

Q harvested a good portion of the potatoes (not a bad harvest, considering. Potatoes take some work). We’re finally starting to get some tomatoes. I just harvested some MORE basil (Emma has made gallons upon gallons of pesto so far this summer. I think we’ll dry this batch for seasoning). Fall crops should go in soon. Some lettuce, some spinach, perhaps some more peas.

One of the things in the garden that pleases me the most is the couple of volunteer nicotianas that grew up where we had a huge patch of them last year. I had fully intended planting some nickis this year but forgot/got lazy. So one or two plants popped up anyway, to give me my fix of that ol’ nickertianer scent (this is the part where you wish there was a smell function on your computer).

Expect more botanical nerdery in the near future, as I’m planning on finally going to Phipps, for the first time ever (with a Girl, nonetheless!) (but let’s not jinx this!). I have been living the life of a plant poser for all too long. We hit the National Botanical Gardens whilst on tour, and it was pretty great, but I’m pretty sure Phipps is a bit bigger. Take that, DC.