In Defense of Your Average “MILF”

Soldiers in the first World War coined an acronym, FUBAR, which means “Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition.” In Vietnam, the acronym SNAFU was entered into the lexicon, which means “Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.” In a world where Janet Jackson’s nipple can cause lawsuits and Congressional hearings, you would surely have expected these words to lie outside the bounds of polite conversation, but it is not so.

In fact, these two acronyms – entangled as they are with the word “fuck” – have become so much a part of our vocabulary that Washington reporters can’t wait to use the words, uncapitalized, in the middle of serious articles. “Casting Color Snafu Has Parents Seeing Red,” for example. That is despite the fact that these two acronyms are certainly known and understood for their definitions by a goodly number of people in positions of responsibility.

But the newest colloquial acronym which features the dreaded F* Bomb has met with stern resistance and outright, pearl-clutching shock and horror. Citizens reportedly representing women express utter disgust as this vile new word-mashup spreads its foul influence across the Internet. That new acronym is MILF, which means “Mother I‘d Love to Fuck.”

And the fight has reached a fevered pitch for the “Milf Deniers,” or whatever you’d like to call them. Tori Amos recently released her newest album, entitled The American Doll Posse, which includes a track called Big Wheel, that also uses the dreaded “M* Word,” or “M* Acronym,” which ever phrase suits your fancy. Media outlets of all stripes, fearing the repercussions, have vehemently resisted the expression of this word at any time of day or night, and have redoubled their efforts since the release of this repugnant new song. The Tori song is edited on the radio, edited on MTV, and NBC has gone so far as to make her change the whole song for the David Letterman show. I’m sure Dave was depressed by that: Dave *loves* Tori.

But what is it about this new word which makes it so positively verboten? If “snafu” is OK at a White House press conference, why is “milf” not OK for the David Letterman Show, of all things? I’ll explain why I think it is not at all wrong, and actually positive, after the flip. Flip.

Angelique Kidjo: Djin Djin

I’m not sure whether it’s a sign of the strange world we live in, or the strange world that I live in, that I can walk in and out of a record store completely bored but I consistently find music that fascinates me at a coffee store. Criticize what you will about Starbucks, but their music selection is consistently great.

Point of order, Angelique Kidjo: Djin Djin, a collection of duets with the famed, unrivaled Afro-Pop queen herself and some of the biggest names in American pop. This includes the man who, for my money, is the unrivaled balladeer of Rock: Peter Gabriel. We all have our favourites, but who could argue with the magic that is The Chamber of 32 Doors?

This album continues the bold tradition of Angelique’s amazingly growling, passionate singing style and the driving beat that straddles the line between the hyper-modern electronic sound and instruments that trace their roots back to the furthest reaches of human existence. Its neigh-on impossible to pick out favourites, better that you should give it a listen, yourself.

Ubuntu, Baby! / Lilac Festival / Reef Tank

It’s a big weekend here at the Belknap household.  Sarah and I have been working on a new reef tank for the last few weeks, and things are going great.  Salt-water fish tanks are something akin to farming in many respects: it’s all about having patience and letting things happen little by little.

We bought the tank a few weeks ago, got our place in the apartment cleared out, found an acceptable table for the tank (it’s a 24 gallon AquaPod so we used an old sewing table we got at a garage sale) and filled it with water.  We spent the next two weeks getting the temperature and salination balanced out, and yesterday we got our first reef rocks.  Now, we just stare at the reef rocks with amazement.  Funny how such simple things can be so exiting.

Soon enough, we’ll have the tank stocked with blennies, gobies, sea-horses, maybe a shrimp or two and some corals.  Little by little, things begin to come together. . . .

Meanwhile, a friend at work gave me a copy of the Ubuntu operating system trial CD.  It’s basically a full-functioning version of the operating system that loads directly off the CD so you can check it out.  Rottenchester, Paige and I were discussing Ubuntu’s benefits and pitfalls earlier this week.  My major concern is my new printer, since almost every other thing I do on this computer has an analog on Linux.  However, I suppose I’m going to need to dual-boot for a while, because I’m finding that the only really good Windows emulator for Linux costs about $190 bucks.

But damn, I love the look and feel of Ubuntu.  And I am positively dying to get away from Microsoft.

And of course, this week is the Lilac Festival!  I’m psyched to go and watch the BuddhaHood play at 12:30 this afternoon.  I’m thinking that they’re going to have a hell of a crowd this time around, since the weather is amazing for this time of year.  I’ll be bringing back some pictures of the show and other things, and I’ll be sure to post them to my Flickr account and share with the group!


Rochester-Area Schools: Exceling in Music

It’s nice to see something good about local schools that doesn’t involve sports. Jay-Mac is great, but I personally loathed jocks in the first place, as long as we in Rochester are discussing our traumatized educational pasts. . .

It turns out that many local high school districts have rated in the Top 100 Best Communities for Music Education in the last two years: West Irondequoit, Gates-Chili Schools, Rush-Henrietta, West Genesee and Pittsford schools.

American Music Conference

Carlsbad , Calif. (February 27, 2007) ? According to the results of the eighth annual “Best 100 Communities for Music Education” survey, repeat recipients of this prestigious distinction cite increased enrollment in and funding for school music programs. While music education has been linked to higher SAT scores, math grades and future success in life, the survey also found that many students hailing from a ‘Best 100’ community have continued their musical pursuits professionally as educators, or playing for renowned symphonies, opera houses, orchestras and on Broadway. Several former students have even become acclaimed recording artists, including Outkast, Bob Seeger, Iggy Pop, Tanya Tucker and Isaac Hayes.

Of course, it goes without saying that these schools are all suburban schools, with non of the accolades given to Rochester City Schools, specifically. But, if perhaps local communities found a way to build on this strength, we might all grow stronger.

We don’t need to hold hands to do it: when I attended Bloomfield Central Schools, the band was active in regional competitions. . . and I mean viciously active. It was the one thing in my life I ever felt genuinely competitive about.

But I don’t remember anything happening in Rochester or even Monroe County, though. One of the bloggers east of here could probably tell me where the Buckwheat Festival happens, and that was one competition for small-school bands. There was also the Gorham Pageant of Bands. (BTW, Bloomfield HS, 1989, thirteen out of thirteen first-place trophies, bay-bay!)

But am I wrong? There don’t seem to be any genuine local competitions that I can ever recall nor that I can find in a Google search. Shouldn’t the home of Eastman School and Hochstein and Lou Graham (No, man. He’s cool!) have a big-ass high-school band competition? Ensemble, Concert, Strings, Solo, Marching, Jazz?

Think how economical this kind of thing would be for the City of Rochester or the County of Monroe to pull off compared to all the fly-by-night ideas we’ve had in the past! And how good for everyone involved! It’s easier on the gas consumption for local bands to compete here; area gamesmanship would build skill, competition and camaraderie among area schools; the esteem of being the home of Eastman would increase local suburban kid’s respect for the city. The list goes on.

Best of all for urban youth, Rochester city kids would have something local to compete for that demonstrably contributes to their education. There’s nothing wrong with sports, and they build a certain degree of character as well. But you won’t blow your knee out playing oboe (unless you really, really suck!). You don’t need to be in the to 1% of musicians in the entire United States to have a career in music, and you don’t need to have a career in music to have something worth appreciating.

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Simple Things

So, I got a package in the mail a few days ago.? It was from John Sacheli, a local musician who has been known to post on this here blog.? A while back, I covered a show he played at Daily Perks Coffee House, and I’d told him I’d be glad to review his new album when it came out.

So, guess what was in that package?? You guessed it, John Sacheli and the Spirit of Ontario, Simple Things.? So, I made a road copy (I never keep studio CDs in the car) and I’ve been listening to it to try and figure out a tact to take with it.? What an amazing album!? I’m still trying to get the basics of each song, what I want to say about each one, but you can bet I’ll be writing up the review this weekend.

Look for it, and while you’re at it, go see a John Sacheli show and hear this great music yourself.? Get an album, I’m sure he’d appreciate it.

An Evening of Devall Music

My Friday night this week was, unlike most weeks, spent listening to good music at Bolder Coffee House with Aaron Deruyter and his friends visiting from California.? But then, everything feels different this week, what with getting let go at my job and all. . .

Yes, that’s right.? As of Tuesday of this week, I am officially unemployed.? Welcome to the wonderful world of IT, I guess.? The week has been kind of up-and-down, since I really didn’t enjoy the shambodic mess of a company I worked for, but unemployment is sort of a drag.? Still, my opinion of my situation is largely positive, and I’m looking to roll this over into a new position closer to my skill set.

But enough wool-gathering about things I can’t change.? The point is, I got a chance to see Aaron play and meet him in person, since we’ve talked so many times online.? It was also a chance to bug him about writing for the page, which he’d talked about before.

My first impression of Aaron’s music was much different than the music I heard tonight.? What is on his page is much more “country-ish” than he played.? Tonight, the music was more accessibly folk-styled, and hearing him perform it with two other gifted vocalists was amazing.? The first piece with all the musicians together (they had played each their own separate sets first) was a song called “Labor Day,” which is a thoughtful, whimsical portrait of fall in Upstate NY.? It was an appropriate choice, since while chatting with him, Sarah, Aaron and I all agreed that things just aren’t the same with out or Rochester four seasons.

Of course, the missus being a teacher and all, we had to cut the night a bit earlier than I might have hoped, but it was good to see the inside of Boulder since the repairs and even nicer to see Aaron.? If you get a chance, you should check out his music some time. . . . I hope that’s enough of a plug for him to convince him to get going on an article for the site, angst or no!

Milestones to Change to “High Fidelity”

So, my friend and sometimes-poster to this blog, John Sachelli hipped me to the fact that Milestones was changing hands a few weeks ago, but I didn’t really get a chance to blog about it. It’s probably as well that I didn’t, and there’s a great article in the latest City discussing the new owner and the outgoing owner.

It seems that, contrary to rumors, there will continue to be live music at Milestones, albeit under a new name. And what a name. “High Fidelity.” Before I get into the positives, let me just point out this one negative. The name sucks on so many levels. “Pretentious” is an adjective that comes to mind, yet despite the high-flown intentions or perhaps because of them, “lame” also comes to mind. With a name like that, you can only appeal to vinyl snobs and baby boomers, neither of which is where the money’s at in the first place.

But, OK. I’ve bitched about it. Nothing I can do to change it, anyway. Now for the good news: the new owner, Joe Gizzie, is a musician himself, and the former owner is opening a non-live music bar further down East Avenue. As I see it, this is good in a number of ways.

For one, I think most anyone I know who’s played the Milestones stage in the last few years would agree with Mr. O’Leary that the club has been in need of some new blood and new exitement. It’s been in kind of a holding pattern recently, still putting in good bands, but not really giving them any real reason to return. There is something to be said for the need for live music club owners to be almost as creative as the musicians that take the stage, and that has been missing recently.

At the same time, while O’Leary may have been losing his taste for Milestones and booking live bands (to be honest, as a musician, I think I can actually appreciate this sentiment.? We’re nothing but trouble.), he has been very active with the East End Fest planning, and having him move farther down the street might hopefully drag the Fest further down the street and open up at least one more stage.

I’m sure that I’ve lamented the East End Fest’s recent paucity of original, local bands more than once on this blog in the past, so I shan’t dwell too much on it here.? But the Milestones stage tended to be one stage that could be relied upon for at least original music, and he usually followed that up with something good inside after the Fest was over.? Granted, his contract upon leaving Milestones reportedly stipulates that he cannot have live music at the new location, but I don’f know that this will necessarily extend to an outdoor stage during the East End Fest.

So, hopefully, Milestones gets a shot in the arm that it needs – albeit with a questionable name – and so does the East End Fest, a celebration which I never used to miss until it got hopelessly lame.

Reflections on the Rochester Music Scene, or lack there of…

Editor’s Note:? Please welcome John Sachelli to the blog, everybody!? John’s a local singer-songwriter who plays in The Spirit of Ontario.? I’ve been bugging him for a while to post something to the blog, well, here it is!
I sent this out to people on our mailing list, but I thought it might make for a good blog on here as well…
Hey Friends. If you usually just skim over these, I hope you’ll take a second and read this one. At the risk of pissing people off, I thought it was something that needed to be said. If you really know anything about this band, you know that beyond just playing music, we like to talk about things we feel are important too.
The part below by Devall Music was a blog on myspace the morning after our show at Milestones which drew an amazingly large turnout of 25 rock and roll fans… WTF Rochester?
I’ve read it over a bunch of times and together with actually being one of the bands in the show he’s talking about, it has really has made some impact for me.
I realize we’re nobody… the other bands are about the same or maybe even more as far as buzz about them goes. Aaron (Devall) used to front Pompous Pilate, which to my recollection was sort of a name around these parts. This is not about, “oh, but we’re all so good,” or anything like that… it’s just a sadness about the lack of a scene around here, and I’m as much to blame for it as you all are.
For as much as I claim to be a huge music fan, I admit I’m a little hesitant to rush out on any given night and pay $5.00 to see a band that I’ve never heard of before – believe me if that’s the biggest reason you’re not at the shows then I can sympathize… but honestly, it’s also painfully pathetic and really has more to do with venues not screening their bands carefully enough.
If you knew that any band playing at Milestones, or wherever would at the very least be decent, you could feel safer about going out. But chances are you might end up at the bar and the band that night just plain old sucks… and if they’ve got a lot of friends and managed to get a good take at the door, bet your ass that same shitty band will be back again. It has nothing to do with the quality of writing or the music, or anything that’s actually important.
So take it for what it’s worth fellow Rochestarians, this blog may be a little harsh… a little painful, but on the whole, I have to stand up and agree.
We’re not a cover band. We aren’t into Metal. We’re not a Hardcore Band. We’re not this lame version of Punk that’s out there now, or Emo, or anything else that’s trendy. We’ve really only got about 2 songs that I can see anyone really being able to “dance” to… Maybe it’s the reintroduction of electric guitar, but we seem to have even alienated the cliquey Rochester folk scene as well – a group that was full of encouragement less than a year ago.
Lenny Kravitz had a song back in the 90’s called Rock and Roll is dead. At least around Rochester, it’s not hard to feel that way.
But this music has been down and out before… from plane crashes to drug overdoses… almost being washed away by the tidal wave of disco… savagely raped by the bells and whistles of MTV… tripping over itself trying to replace Nirvana and Alice in Chains in the second half of the 90’s…
…Down, but never out.
The real fans of this music know what I’m getting at.
“Hey, Hey, My, My,
Rock and Roll can never die
There’s more to the picture
than meets the eye
Hey, Hey, My, My…”
~Neil Young~
See Ya in ’07
Date: Dec 8, 2006 9:33 AM
Subject You have something to learn.
I feel so proud to have been a part of an amazing lineup of musical acts last night in Rochester. There were three band that played full sets at Milestones and every band had something original to offer. I am sorry for a few things.
1) The venue. I remember playing at Milestones when it was the elite Musical venue in western New York. I can remember standing in front of 150 strangers on a Weeknight. Now it is like a ghost town. I was told by good friends that the club was recently sold and it’s future is uncertain.
2) You people pretend to be music fans. You dress in black and act bi-sexual to make people think you have deep artistic roots. You spend hundreds of bills on shitty bands that suck lamb ass and waste the evenings chatting on cell phones, glued to the tv.
Do you realize that the ROCHESTER MUSIC SCENE IS DEAD and Rochester is to blame?! And it is not only the youth… They are the big problem, but hey 30 somethings, you would have a lot more energy if you would spend an evening relaxing in a music club instead of drinking like a 19 year old in a dance club.
Seriously… I have now joined the sickly large group of people who are happy to have said, “goodbye.”
To few dedicated people who came out and felt as amazing as I did- THANKS. For The musicians who inspired me last night- Thank you. To you lame, lame people who dare say that you support Rochester local music, no matter what groups you have been affiliated with and what they have done for this scene – It is dead.
Thank you for killing something I grew up with. Have fun at the Penny arcade!

The Atomic Swindlers, Kickin’ it in the Studio

I just got an email from Harvey Abouelata, The Atomic Swindlers’ manager, updating media outlets about their progress on the new album. The email included a taste from the new scratches on the album, and while I’ll not overstep my privilege and share, I can tell you things are sounding great for the new album.

A few of the songs fans may know from the live performances have made their way onto the album, including Lotus Ghost and Into the Strange (for which I put together a video that you can see here). I’m really pleased to see that It’s Over is making the cut, apparently. I don’t think I’ve heard this but once, at their last Milestones performance. It’s a great anthemic peice with a lot of that great Ziggy Stardust sound you expect to hear from the Swindlers.

I’m really itching to review the new album, and more importantly, to go see them play again. Soon, Tommy! Soon!

Show Some Love for Upstate Music!

Celebrate Upstate can use your help!! Order a CD online for personal use. Order another as a gift! Do you know a local business who is interested in the local economy and/or local arts? These CDs make a great gift from those businesses to their clients or employees too! Putting together a gift basket? What is better than a holiday CD? Please do your part today to support local musicians, artists and charities!! Contact AND Pass this along via bulletins, blogs, group posts, emails…. whatever you can do to help! Thanks More info at : toll free 877-256-0627 Andrea Whitcomb [] Click here to email NOW Thanks! Joyous holidays to all!!! Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the Celebrate Upstate CD Release at Barnes and Nobles

Syd and Billy at the Same Time?

Man, I am just totally bummed out today, and driving my fiancee nuts listening to See Emily Play over and over again at maximum volume. Today it has been announced that both Syd Barrett (driving force behind a young and vibrant Pink Floyd until his mental and drug problems consumed him) and Billy Preston (the legendary “Fifth Beatle,” who played keyboards for both The Beatles and The Stones) have died. I can’t keep my mind off of Syd, especially since I started playing his music again quite unexpectedly about a week ago.

It bears mentioning that poor Syd is actually lucky to have been alive much past his 30s in the first place, and spent much of his life in quiet obscurity thereafter. But a life in obscurity is really not such a bad thing, especially when fame takes such a toll. I dearly hope he experienced a peaceful end of this life. In some ways, there is no more inspirational musician for me than Syd, whose lyrics ~ even by the time he’d reached his limits ~ fueled my imagination and lifted my psyche. It is sad to see someone suffer so much to have delivered us such wonderful gifts, but I don’t know that his lyrics would have been the same without the acid that eventually consumed him. I’ll get yelled at for saying that, probably by someone who has never done acid and doesn’t know.

He was among the first to push popular music out of the realm of pulp and into a larger world of expression. Rock music up to this time had been largely the stuff of teen dreams and sock hops, but when these kids ~ many of whom were classically-trained rich kids from the UK ~ got guitars in thier hands, they demanded that thier music be taken seriously as art. Without Pink Floyd or the Moody Blues, where would music be today?

New at

On Saturday of this Independence Day weekend, I went down to Daily Perks Coffeehouse for a roundtable of five young songwriters and had a great time. There is some truly superlative talent to be found in this new coffeehouse music scene, so check out this article and find out about a few of them!

The Five Easy Pieces ~ An evening of music at Daily Perks:

The setup for this show ? The Five Easy Pieces, as MC and songwriter Roger Mahle dubbed it ? was a spotlight on five young local songwriters and their music in kind of a ?VH1 Storytellers? format where they described what inspired each piece before they played it. This was interesting enough a setup that I bailed on another coffee house gig a few blocks away at Bolder Coffee House with my friends Kalu James and Mike Temple in their band Chea, and neither Sarah nor I were at all disappointed in our choice.