Monday, September 24, 2007

A New Vision for Virgin America

I am a political virgin. I know far less than I should, and probably can't fully comprehend what I'm missing.

I am what America needs.

Not me specifically, but the country as a whole, or at least those interested in politics, should take a step back and see things through the eyes of those with no political ambitions--see how corrupt (both legally and morally) our system has become. Only then can we make a fresh start on Democracy.

I use the term "virgin" intentionally to allude to the strategy of Richard Branson and his Virgin brands. In each market his over 350 companies occupy, Branson and his senior staff knew nothing coming in--they were virgins. And in nearly every market, they have succeeded, at times immensely.

When industries have been around for a long time with a single route of progression, with very few jumps or bumps, they are vulnerable. Same goes for government. America, while only a country for a relatively short period of time, has a government that has undergone few major changes since its inception, and has gone down a steady path into turning government into politics--a path that now leaves us incredibly vulnerable.

I read a post today from a canadian asking where our third party was. While third parties don't often win, they tend to be more progressive and can win some swing votes from both sides of the aisle on certain issues. In a time that will almost definitely prove a turning point one way or the other in America's (and the world's) future, we need someone who will completely reshape our thinking--someone who comes in with fresh ideas, rather than just a cleaner political path and more fundraising on the campaign trail.

I had high hopes for Obama--after his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I couldn't wait til he ran for president. He had my vote, no matter what.

And he may, still, but only as a compromise vote (the kind I feel like we're getting accustomed to making). But he's had the opportunity to be completely fresh with new ideas and direction and a positive attitude (a spunky virgin, if you will), and I fear he's been dragged down into the politics.

Now am I about to run for office? No. I'm not the right kind of virgin--I know nothing about government and policy. We need a virgin who's been looming in the shadows, doing his or her homework, and formulating the best revolutionary (rather than evolutionary--we've gotten really good at fighting the previous war) ideas to make our country great again.

I truly fear that if this doesn't happen, America might fall from superpower status within my lifetime. I try not to buy into all the scare media, but regardless of the day to day coverage, there's no denying that we've made more enemies than friends (if any friends) in the past decade. Many countries don't like us much right now, and frankly I don't blame them. We have a lot of luxury here that's easy to hate, especially when it's shoved down your third world throat as we try to "liberate" you from our high horse.

Anyone who's willing to get down from that horse and pull his or her own weight in changing our country and its relationship with the rest of the world has my ear, and potentially my vote. My guess is those capable are probably political virgins. Don't be scared to step into the ring--lord knows we're tired of hearing the same two sides going at it, and so is the world.

Friday, September 14, 2007

a religious experience

so i know i promised a blog about religion and God and all that yummy goodness, but it got a little late and i can't help but write about how incredible of a band manchester orchestra is. i just got back from my second of theirs.
the first time i saw them, in february, there were maybe 10 people in the casbah at tremont music hall in charlotte. now, after tours with say anything and brand new, and last week's appearance on the late show with david letterman, they drew closer to 400 as headliners.
if i had to describe the show in a single sentence i'd say this: they are the only band i have ever seen who has been able to start a pit and have an entire room go 100% silent (not a whisper) all within the same song. the passion that lead singer/guitarist andy hull puts into his music is unmatched by anyone i've ever witnessed. even my favorite bands to see live, kaddisfly and less than jake, look like they're going through everyday routine compared to hull's embodiment of a tortured and constantly questioning mind exploding through music and song. the band began the show (after a 1 song solo intro from andy) getting their two "poppy" songs off the table ("wolves at night" and "now that you're home") before delving into the depths of all that is manchester orchestra. half the set is comprised of andy singing over plucked electric guitar strings, while the other half is an arena-rock-level show, replete with 3 layers of guitars, bass, keyboards, and lots of toms and cymbols from the back of the stage (though it should be noted that the separation of solo and all-out could happen many times within the same song). hull ended the main set (before the solo encore) with a powerful (understatement) rendition of "where have you been." after screaming variations of "God, my God, where exactly have you been?" for multiple minutes, it was all hull could do to lean his exhausted head up against the microphone. the room was as still as a wooded pond at night--not a peep from anyone for the longest 3 seconds of any of our lifetimes til hull backed away and thanked the audience.
after a couple more solo songs (again, the room fell silent, enthralled by hull's every word), i was fortunate enough to meet up with andy briefly--he still remembered half the questions from the interview i had done with him in february. he said he loved that interview and now hates the ones that he does on a daily basis--which made me feel pretty darn special. we chatted a bit longer (he said he'd help click2remember any way he could), and i gotta tell you, he is an absolutely incredible person, through and through. even if you don't necessarily like the music, i really hope everyone will support these guys.
more on God tomorrow, or another day, but in the meantime, treat yourself to the genius and passion of manchester orchestra...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

thanks God!

A funny thing happened at Camille's Sidewalk Cafe in Plano, TX today...
I was just sitting there, quietly eating my salad and staring out the window, oddly enough contemplating what I would do if I were to become a stay-at-home Dad if my wife had a better paying job she was more passionate about than I, and this probably 45 yr old woman with a kind smile, brown hair, a little extra weight, and fairly fashionable attire (who I noticed had been looking at me for a little while) came over to me and struck up a conversation:

Her: “Excuse me, I don’t mean to interrupt your lunch, but are you Christian?”
Me: (thinking she was asking me my name, like I looked like one of her son’s friends from grade school all grown up or something) “No, I’m not, sorry…”
Her: “Oh, well, I was just sitting over there watching you and I had a moment of clairvoyance that God was calling you to become a millionaire.”
Me: “Really? Wow, that’s very nice, thank you!”
Her: “Yeah, it was really incredible, but it was crystal clear. Best of luck, have a great day!”
Me: “Thanks! You too!”

My friends and I have had a couple encounters with very religious folks at restaurants in the past (one resulted in a woman screaming "Are you coming home????" to my friend, the other was a much calmer encounter involving a woman declaring that Jesus Christ knew what the meaning of the hammerhead sharks on my roommate's t-shirt meant), but this woman appeared to be far and away the most sane and normal. She was just out doing some home decor shopping, reading a bestseller novel over lunch, when God spoke to her through me.

I have no good explanation for this encounter, mainly because I'm relatively ignorant on the subject of what makes people believe God talks to them (not saying it doesn't happen, just saying I don't understand it). It definitely has made me think, however, and I will more than likely be posting a longer post about my thoughts on religion in general tonight after the Manchester Orchestra concert (a band whose music focuses quite a bit on the struggle of whether or not God exists--from moments of certainty, to an instance of over a minute of screaming "God, where have you been?"). Y'all may not be ready for my wacked out religious thoughts, but hey, who cares--I'm gonna be a millionaire, right?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

you know you've grown accustomed to the south when...

a quick anecdote for those of you up north:
i walked out to my car this morning and was very tempted to turn the heat on. it felt downright chilly outside. i looked at my car thermometer and it read 68 degrees.
as i walked to my car to go get lunch, i wished i had my sweater with me. it wasn't very windy, but there was a distinct nip in the air. the temperature? 74.
apparently i can get used to this texas heat thing pretty easily. i'm gonna go play some tennis this evening to get warm. maybe i'll wear my courderoy knickers to make sure i stay warm.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

ty white: the musical

Everything's going great with the new room and roommate, though I haven't moved in there full-time thanks to my newly purchased queen-sized boxspring's inability to make it up the stairs. Hopefully that will work itself out this weekend and I can sleep in my new room on something other than an air mattress.
At any rate, many of Mica's (my roommate) friends are indie/artsy-folks and one of the first questions I always get is "what kind of music do you listen to?" The standard answer is "anything" or "a lot of stuff" or "no country" or "stuff you've never heard of." I've decided I'm sick of hearing/giving that answer and instead I give the answer "I was raised on three things: Classical, Oldies, and Punk. You figure it out from there." A bit crazy, I know, but fairly truthful. As a result of my new answer, I've been thinking back to the albums that really formed my musical tastes. There are tons of "favorite" albums I have (a few are others by the same artists below), or formative songs, but those can all be discussed later. Here is my list of albums that had significant formative impact on my musical tastes, albums that knocked me on my ass the first time I heard them, made me think "this is what music should be":
  • Stravinsky's Firebird: The first piece of music that really caught my ear and made me enjoy and notice music.
  • The Beach Boys- Pet Sounds: Yep, me and a bazillion other people in the world. Can't get enough Brian Wilson, no matter how insane he is now.
  • Green Day- Dookie: revived (or helped create? modernize?) pop-punk and sent Green Day to the top, where they've stayed--whodathunk anyone could do so much with drums, a bass, and 3 chords on a guitar?
  • The Cranberries- No Need To Argue: Unbelievable vocals--both tender and edgy at the same time, on top of impressive musical talent. I heard a cover of "Zombie" on the radio the other day and it made me want to puke--it was SO forced; The Cranberries' music flows so easily, regardless of whether it's aggressive ("Zombie") or passive ("Just My Imagination").
  • Less Than Jake- Losing Streak: The CD that made me love ska and the integration of horns in music. They remain my favorite band to see live--so many years on the road, yet still one of the most admirably entertaining bands around.
  • Motion City Soundtrack- I Am The Movie: Inspired the dance-pop-punk craze that's so popular today (see Panic! at the Disco or any number of copycats).
  • Kaddisfly- Buy Our Intention, We'll Buy You A Unicorn: What progressive rock should be--utilizing many instruments, ability to speed up and slow down on a dime, catchy elements, but always moving towards a greater musical goal.
  • Eyedea & Abilities- E&A: My introduction to white-boy underground rap. Sick combination of skills between rapper and dj that other rappers wish they could find with their producers/djs.
  • The Beatles- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: Yep, I'll admit it--I had never sat down and listened to Sgt. Pepper's until this past year. Needless to say, I was blown away.

So I guess it's still not overly difficult to classify what I primarily listen to: aggressive, yet poppy music that pushes musical boundaries, makes the listeners consider the music more carefully, and still pulls off a sound that's easy on the ears. I think I'll still go with "classical, oldies, and punk." It makes people think more.