Short Stories To Nowhere: What Money Can’t Buy…

At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money.

Our first choice was a jet-ski which was silly in retrospect as neither of us knew how to swim. It was more of a personal status symbol between our two-person minimum wage club. It was the tattered banner for the never-hads but always wants, eyes always hungry for what we needed and starving for what we desired.

For those that say money can’t buy you happiness, they’ve obviously never witnessed the child-like glee of a grown-ass adult on a jet-ski. Or if they have, then maybe they’ve just seen it too many times for it to mean anything anymore.

Anyway, as for our third choice when it came to spending that Texas Tea money: swimming and riding lessons, obviously.

Yet, life has a funny way of transforming your precocious wishes you knew you wanted into a twisted necessity you didn’t know about before.

The black liquid that Jerry poked at with his teal titanium metal hiking stick wasn’t oil.

Oil doesn’t grab and pull when you poke and prod it.

Oil drips and wets and stains.

It doesn’t sway and  undulate on your skin as if its creating its own sea upon your best friend.

And it doesn’t twist and snap bones.

It doesn’t cause your best friend whom you’ve known since 2nd Grade to scream enough for every critter hiding and surrounding to scatter in fear. Nor stare through you with iris-less eyes and stumble and move towards you with a rhymthm to haphazard to mimic.

This wasn’t oil.

This is was evil.

This was both unholy death and re-birth of my best friend.

And this was going to be either the end of him or me.

Survival is true but harsh.

Jerry beat me in a number of bike races around Eagle Point as a kid. He cheered me on when I made it on the College Wrestling Team. And he spent many bar trips with me as I replayed how my marriage crumbled into absolute failure.

Now, Jerry shuffled towards me, snarling and roaring at me like a violent mongrel. His arms clawed at me, gripping more air and murderous intent.

I stood frozen into a hitter’s stance with my “hiking stick” a worn down Louiville Slugger given to me by a brother who now only wanted me dead.

If I had the money to spend, I’d buy a way to fix Jerry.

I’d buy a way for me not to kill him, so he won’t kill me.

 

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Untitled Drafts #1

Have you ever been so tired that it feels no amount of sleep would cure you?

Just wanting everything to fade to black one last time.

Rest these tired and tried bones.

And give every poor soul whose had the misfortune of knowing you a proper rest and release from you.

Lord knows they deserve the freedom from you and your shenanigans.

It’ll pass.

This feeling.

You’ll bounce back.

Start the cycle over again.

See, now?

Better.

….

Have you ever been so tired…

News Junkie: North Korea Is Not Happy With The U.S.

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Welcome to the first ever News Junkie section where we take a brief look at the stories that caught my today while scrolling past the social media deep sea of clickable noise.

Whats in store for today?

How about North Korea, Sea Lice,  Robots falling, and a Luciferian Heat Wave.

They’re Not Happy With US

North Korea is unhappy with the U.S. I mean in the past decade I can’t think of a time when they haven’t been unhappy with the U.S., but amid recent sanctions from the U.N. that will make it harder for the country’s revenue through primary exports which includes coal, iron, and seafood, North Korea won’t fondly think of ‘Merica anytime soon.

The U.N. Sanctions are a response to the country’s long-range ballistic missile test on July 4 and July 28. North Korea blames the U.S.–many believe the sanction do stem from U.S. pressure–for the U.N. placing these sanctions, and according to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, the country would still “teach the US a severe lesson” if military force was ever used. The Country’s media organization later mirrored Yong Ho’s statements while also adding that the U.S. isn’t safe from an attack.

This turned into an after-school game of Command And Conquer so fast.

Soundbite:

We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table.”

—Ri Yong Ho

My Take: 

Tensions continue to boil between the U.S. and North Korea, with the U.S. treating the North Korea like a snotty teenager it will welcome to the dinner table when it feels its mature enough by dropping its nuclear weapon phase, and North Korea acting like said snotty teenager by threatening to rebel thinly veiled implied nuclear attack.

Sadly, none of this is surprising. In fact, the only surprising factor North Korea related was the mention of a brief interaction between it and its Southern counterpart. During a recent gala dinner in Manila, Philippines, which featured a bevy of global diplomats, Ri Yong Ho and South Korea Prime Minister Kang Kyung-wha had a brief conversation, which was probably just small talk but did apparently include mention of a more diplomatic talks in the future.

According to media in South Korea, the offer of talks from the North and hope of true diplomacy lacked any real sincerity. But considering that this was the first of any real diplomatic interaction between the countries, you’d have to consider this somewhat of a small victory.

Other Stories That Caught My Eye:

ATLAS (the robot) has Fallen

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In This Edition Of Why Australia: Sea Creatures Chew A Teen’s Leg

Lucifer Is Heating Up Europe

Gut Reaction: New Nine Inch Nails Video Plays On Video Game Urban Legend

There’s a couple of items to note with the new Nine Inch Nails Video LESS THAN which seems to also serve as the lead single for an upcoming EP later this month.

For one, the single seems to be way more hooky than the Not The Actual Events EP released last December which wasn’t bad by any means, but might have taken a few efforts for some fans to get into. Considering that came smack dab in the middle of retail hell where I witnessed a 65-year-old grandma cold-clock a 20 something Frat Bro for a 43 Inch TV and overnight shifts prevented me from frequenting bars to hinder my seasonal depression, I’d say Not The Actual Events was perfect mood music.

But it’s summer, rompers are in season for all, and a sweltering southern heat that could only be cured by an impeding Nuclear Winter or..um..lemonade calls for something with a little zip.

And LESS THAN has a type of With Teeth zip that I adore.

Secondly, the video is rooted on an urban legend about Polybius, an alleged game  from the 80’s in the arcades that was said to give players psychoactive problems.

I’d expect nothing less from the man that spent much of his downtime while touring in the 90s playing Doom, which led to him composing the music for Quake.

What I’m saying is a video like this not makes sense but should have come a long time ago.

Check out the video for yourself, though I promise there are no worries of night terrors or amnesia. Just maybe a hunger to devour the upcoming Add Violence EP on July 21st.

Take Off Your Pants And Jacket: Annual Pants Tour Show At The Hi-Tone

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Fourth of July Season in Memphis often leads to one question: Was that fireworks or gunshots I just heard?

This isn’t to stereotype a city that years ago was the top dog in city Homicides before conceding to better killers like Detroit and Chicago. The adage of stay in your lane can add miles to your life in this city, just as long as you know where to drive or park. And I was in the Mid-Town area, which in years, has transformed itself into the southern charmed hipster center of West Tennessee. Thefts and bulgaries are more common in that area than homicides.

Still, with the sun setting and while trying to cross the street to enter the Hi-Tone for a show of raucous rock, cheap beer, and wafting cigarette smoke, noticeable pops went off.

And as a result, I walked towards the venue a little faster.

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The night’s show was thanks to local Punk band and Smith 7 Records mainstay Wicker, whose annual Pants Tour has not only served as a multi-week showcase of local talent but has also placed its charitable heart on its sleeve. During Pants Tour, Wicker has chosen a charitable organization to give all their proceeds from the shows.

This year’s cause was for the Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Coalition which is appropriate given the political, social, and racial climate as of late.

July 1’s show featured a lineup probably as diverse as a Llollpooloza lineup, just without the huge ticket price.

First up was The Acorns aka the one-man act of Ryan Hailey aka a man, an electric guitar and a host of energetic, humorous, and catchy songs. My buddy Patrick, who is a guitarist for Wicker has shared many of The Acorns’ songs with me at work, while often going “..Oh, you’ve gotta listen to this one. I think you’ll appreciate it.”

And 9 times out of 10, I did (the 10th time I was too occupied with going to the bathroom, sorry dude, I’m only human).

Ryan is a creative machine, writing songs, joining bands, and even directing music videos. I don’t want to throw around the term creative genius or anything as that sounds to hoity toity, so we’ll just say “RocknRoll Robot,” and keep it moving.

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The Swansons were up next playing their final show but it was my first time seeing them. Naming yourself after the best character from Parks And Rec is grounds to become an instant fan favorite. The self-described sad rock stylings of this three piece would have you hooked. And then there’s a song like I Don’t Think You Hate Me, which sonically sounds like walking down a suburban culdesac dimly lit by streetlights before madly sprinting towards nowhere. Yeah, just my luck I discovered this band right upon its death. But I did the same thing with At The Drive-In and they’re back, so maybe I’ll be alive long enough to witness a reunion. Also, drummer Walker’s cymbal flying off his kit as he thundered into it, seemed kind of a poetic statement, given that this was their final show.

Or maybe I’m just reaching for a proper ending to a band I just met.

Goodbye Swansons, I hardly knew ye…no, really.

If the Swansons or their musical death dampened the mood, then Wicker picked it back up.

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I often fear being friends with people in bands because then there’s the threat of their band sucking. Patrick ( one of Wicker’s Guitarists) and I have built a friendship on a shared love of numerous great bands, alcohol infused commiserating on life, and pseudo-conspiracy theory podcasts. You know, good ole American male bonding. It would have sucked to have to lie to him about my enjoyment every time dude played his band’s music.

Lucky for me, I don’t have that problem.

I dig Wicker and their catchy punk shenanigans. And as cliché as it is to say that they’re a band you have to see live, it’s no less true. You’ve got singer Brain Vernon draped in American Flags like some makeshift Apollo Creed in an alley fight sing screaming his high register voice out, three guitarists and a bassist jumping and screaming like their having a throw-down in their own pit, and a drummer who hits with so much strength and precision, you’d think he’s in an MMA fight with the kit. So yes, Wicker is a band you should see live.

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Another act you should also witness are HEELS. Look maybe I’m biased with this guitar-drum two-piece because 45 minutes before their set, they too-sweeted me for my Kenny Omega shirt.

Maybe that bias continues because like me, they were happy to be at the show, but both had their DVR’s set for the NJPW G1 Special that was running on the same night.

To qoute Gallows and Anderson, they’re “Good Brothers.” But they’re also a good folk punk duo that also undeniably sound as if they were smoked in a Memphis BBQ pit parked next to a dive bar in an open field. They ‘re what I wish Alternative music’s current infatuation with folk would sound like, instead of just uninspired and boring. Also, the onstage banter between Brennan (Vocals and Guitar) and Josh (Drums) sounds like it was raised in the confines of a comedy club.

Finally, Grandpa Grew Trees closed out the night’s show, sounding like if Radiohead developed a crush on My Morning Jacket. Grandpa Grew Trees gave the sense that they are probably destined to be on a best of list from Pitchfork someday if they aren’t already. They were incredibly tight and while I would never take anything away from the other bands, they seemed more technical but without being unnecessarily heady.

While the energy in their songs were low-key, almost dream-like, it seemed like the perfect cap-off to a mostly high-energy show.