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October 27th, 2004

random stuff [Oct. 27th, 2004|09:43 am]
Okrzyki, przyjaciel!
1. Lucas wanted to go to a show @ Gabe's, which is 19 up, so I got dragged along. I was not in the mood -- work night, bands I've never heard of. But I'm glad I did, because the lineup -- '89 Cubs, Neva Dinova, and The Good Life, was really compelling live. These guys are all part of the Omaha scene that's been blowing up over the last couple years, led most prominently by Bright Eyes, the Faint, and Cursive. Neva Dinova was probably my favorite -- great, evocative midwest pop performed by a 3 guitar front line, but seeing The Good Life was one of those 'I'm seeing them in a shithole today and they're going to be effing huge tomorrow' sets. Tim Kasher has a perfect indie-pop voice -- whisper-to-a-scream dynamics always in service to the song. His delivery reminds me a lot of the Cure's Robert Smith, but instead of makeup and rats-nest hair, he's a square-jawed midwest boy in a trucker hat. '89 Cubs, besides having the best band name, were the noisiest in the best sense of the word. They obviously went to the School Of Rock when Sonic Youth were on faculty, but they are well-infected with the Omaha 'write-real-songs' virus, and I'm a sucker for big, noisy rock and roll. Somehow a nicely evocative melody makes the giant noise freakouts even more effective.

Omaha. Who would have thunk it? Thing is, I've done something most of y'all have not, which is actually GO to Omaha. There's NOTHING going on in Omaha ever, except, apparently, a music scene with a unique sensibility. Maybe it is because Omaha is all slaughterhouses and insurance companies that a scene like this can develop. Iowa City occasionally has years where a lot of exciting music is going on, but because people come and go based on the academic calendar, IC never seems to keep any scene going long enough to cohere into something that rates attention from the rest of the world. The House/Techno scene a few years ago was HUGE, and has devolved to maybe 50-100 people who will come to shows regularly. There was a fantastic hardcore/punk scene going for a couple years, centered around shows at the Theta Beta Potato house, and that's mostly gone. Omaha isn't a college town, and it has a relatively low cost of living, which means dedicated musicians can keep it together for longer.

2. Last weekend (and next) I'm canvassing in Centerville, Iowa for America Coming Together, which is a supremely odd way to spend time -- knocking on doors and talking to strangers about the election. The goal is to get out votes for Democratic candidates. Centerville is a quiet town of about 6000 souls. I walked the south side of town, which is a bunch of small, worn-out houses on weedy lots. A lot of people not home, and more than a few who were there and didn't come to the door. Based on my tour, I think I know where the town's meth labs are. I talked to a lot of people who are registered independent, and the majority of them were undecided voters. Yes, I guess they do exist. I was at a loss to sway them really -- like, what motivates a voter who piles up their trash on front porch and has five rusting washing machines in the back yard?

I was surprised by the number of people we talked to who said "I can't vote, I'm a felon." I really don't understand those laws at all. So someone goes to jail for doing something they shouldn't; when they get out of jail, what's the rationale for denying them a say in the government? If anything they have a more intimate acquaintance with the blunt business end of the government. I don't have much use for violent criminals, but the majority of people I know who have been in trouble with the law were mostly good souls who fucked up. A blanket denial of voting rights seems really harsh, and if you look at the demographics of convicted felons, brazenly racist.

On a less ideological note -- it was sunny and 70 degrees, and there are an insane FUCKLOAD of those japanese beetles that look like ladybugs, and those fuckers pinch.

I've got some pictures of the deep Iowa countryside that I'll post if I have the energy ...
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