Everything is wrong with me
Thursday, January 19, 2006
 
email exchange, cars, playoffs, dhs, kid from brooklyn, music
My buddy Chris, who I went to high school with and who lives in Philly, sent me this email. I have decided to post the whole thing rather than edit it, lest it lose its flair. And my response is my email reply to him, also unedited. This isn’t because I’m lazy, but because – ok, well it’s because I’m lazy.

Mulgrew,

You're a nice guy... to a fault. "Cliff and the Lemmings" has got to be the worst name for a band i've ever heard and you know this. C'mon now, Mulgrew, you're better than that. You invented the f'n stage cape for crying out loud and now you're going to humor the idea of a band called "Cliff and the Lemmings"? If so, then strike my name from the Prep Student Council records because I just don't know you anymore. it's a poop name and you know it.

[Editor’s Note: Chris and I were on student council together. I was vice president, he was secretary. Or maybe treasurer. Also I wore a big fur cape in high school. And I was still one of the coolest guys in the school. And I am sadly 100% serious.]

Moving on... my brother and i were discussing the most awkward song to open up with as a new band. Scenario is: you just started a band. you're playing for the first time live and your family, friends, and a few people that just happen to be there all know that this is your first concert and what's about to be your first song. What song would you play to make people the most uncomfortable and awkward...? You have to rule out rap and all and slow songs (ie "lady in red" or some such shit) and you have to sing it DEAD seriously.

We came up with "Bangladesh" by George Harrison from the Concert for Bangladesh. I think you've heard it before and people would just be really, really uncomfortable and would just awkwardly sip their beers.

If your not feeling that scenario, what's the most inappropriate wedding song for the bride and groom to dance to that just has everyone giving the "What the f$%k?" look to each other. Once again, i have to go with "Bangladesh" even more so on this one. Either that or "Be Not Afraid" from the Catholic Church Hymns. Anyway if you're looking for something to write about on a day when you got nothing, use it.

I love you. when are you coming to Philly?

PS: Houlihan was always funnier than you... always.
And now my response:

Dude, first of all, it’s not that bad of a band name. If I thought it sucked, I would have said so. Let’s just agree to disagree.

Second, I take umbrage with your exclusion of all rap or slow songs. I understand by mandating this you are trying to prevent gimmes – easy songs like “Lady in Red” or “Making Love (Out Of Nothing At All).” But I’ve seen bands open up with slow rock songs. If a band opens up with U2’s “One”, that’s not a bad song. So for me to properly answer your first question, we have to remove this restriction.

My first thought was the song “Layla.” I don’t know why, but maybe because this is a very complicated song across the board – to play, sing, time, etc – and so if you butcher that song, you can really, really butcher it. Imagine a bunch of third-rate musicians trying to get through “Layla”, only one of the greatest rock songs ever? THAT would be awkward.

But then I realized something: that isn’t that funny. And that’s what we’re trying to do here. So I will see your “Bangladesh” (which is good, but too unknown to the average music fan), and I will raise you Ben Fold Five’s “Brick.” Nothing – and I mean nothing – will bring a room to a halt or otherwise fill it with awkwardness than a song about abortion. I ask you to again imagine, but this time to see a room full of friends and familiar faces with you as the lead singer, saying, “Let’s rock!” and breaking into that piano riff and starting off, “6am…Day after Christmas…” Awkward, mutha. Awkward.

As for the wedding song, again I’m inclined to go with “Brick” (it’s pretty much good for anything), but I’ll go to my back up: Liz Phair’s “Hot White Cum.” Another standby that can be used in any circumstance, if I were to see any bride and groom dancing to “My skin’s getting clear/My hair’s so bright/All you do is fuck me/Every day and night”, I would immediately stand up on a table, whip out my bird (or, in my case, cajole it out of the inside of my stomach where it has retreated like a frightened turtle) and start loving myself.

This also stems from a fantasy of mine. When I first started playing guitar, at any family function family members would try to get me to play something. I’d reluctantly give in and always played “Plush”, the easiest and most recognizable song I knew. Years later, when I heard “HWC”, I dreamed about breaking into it next Christmas when my Uncle Joe says, “Come on Jase! Play something for us!” The sound of my father’s heart exploding when he heard me singing “Give me your hot white cum” would probably cause a magnitude 4.2 earthquake in the greater Philadelphia area.

So thems my thoughts. If you are serious about the band opening with a non-slow song, reverse them: the band opens with “HWC” and the wedding couple dances to “Brick.” But that’s all I got.

I’m coming to Philly tomorrow [Thursday] but will only be there for Thursday night. Kyle is actually coming up to New York with me this weekend. I should be back in the area over the next few weeks – I don’t go back to work until Feb 13. But you should seriously get up to NYC. We have fun here. And by “we” I mean “other people”; I sit in my living room and wish I was somewhere or someone else.

And Kyle is not funnier than me. You said this only to hurt me, and mission accomplished you sonuvabitch.

Love always,
Jason Mulgrew
SJP ‘97
Student Council Vice President
Member of: Spanish Club, SADD
Once saw Joe Dugan (bless his soul) naked when changing at the pool

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I have learned something about myself recently: I like driving fast. I first learned this when I went down the shore for a week in December and spent some time speeding around the deserted streets, blaring the surprisingly good radio stations in South Jersey in the car. It made me feel both powerful and attractive.

Yesterday, I drove from Philly to NYC. I did this in my mom’s car. I needed to bring a car to NYC because I’ve realized something: I don’t use about 30% of my stuff, yet have moved it to four different NYC apartments in five years. So I’ve loaded the car up with this junk and today I’m driving back down to Philly, where I will put this stuff in my mom’s basement where it will stay until I die and she sells it on eBay.

But the point: usually it’s about a 2 hour 15 minute trip from Philly to NYC. This takes into account average traffic; if it’s worse, it could be much longer. But yesterday, I made it from my house in Philly through the Holland Tunnel in ONE HOUR and TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES.

I just realized that you all probably don’t give a fuck about the excellent time I made on my drive, but I shit you not when I say that this was easily – easily – the highlight of my week. It’s nice to know that I’m a man in some ways. For example, I’m not a real man in that I am terrified of bugs, the dark, and lightening and I am so mechanically deficient that I can barely work a microwave. On the other hand, I can eat up to 30 buffalo wings in a sitting and making good time on a trip is my life’s mission.

What sucked about the drive was what happened when I finally got back to NYC. I can park on the street outside my apartment from 6pm to 8am. I arrived at my place at 5:30pm. I parked on the street, figuring I wasn’t going to get a ticket only 30 minutes before the parking restriction was enforced. Wrong. $65 worth of wrong. Which is great, really great. I’m not sure if my rent check (paid on the 15th) will clear, so I might have to do my landlord – again. And this time, not for fun. So thank you, New York City Parking People, I have plenty of money to throw around. Cocksuckers.

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My quest for perfection in the playoffs this season took a major hit last week with the defeat of the Chokes – I mean, the Colts (zing!). My thoughts this week:

SEATTLE over Carolina
DENVER over Pittsburgh

I could be totally wrong here, but winning three times on the road in the playoffs is a tall order. And since I just said that, completely reverse my predictions.

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Though I have not figured out how to harness my “fame” into strange and exotic sexual encounters, I have learned to use it to my advantage in other ways. Last week, I asked you guys for suggestions to add to my “Dirty Hipster Stripper” playlist. And you mother fuckers brought it.

I don’t know for sure how many emails I got, but it’s definitely in the hundreds. This is both great and not-so-great. Great because by the time I’m finished, I’m going to have the greatest “Dirty Hipster Stripper” mix ever known to man. Not-so-great because it’s going to literally take me months to download, listen to, and properly process all the suggestions. Good thing I have a lot of time on my hands.

Some early thoughts:

- The first time I heard “Mood Swing” by Luscious Jackson, I creamed in my pants. Very dirty. Hipster enough. Stripper-licious.

- “Dirty Hot Sex” by Pepper was recommended by – I don’t know – 50 people. This is not a hipster song, it is not dirty, and it is not a stripper song. Not only that, this kind of music is the worst kind of music in America right now (or in the past few years). While I value the opinions of those who recommended it to me, and we still cool, I don’t know if we could ever hang out if you seriously like this song.

- PJ Harvey is one of the few people in the world who could write an entire album called “Dirty Hipster Stripper”. “The Letter” is fantastic.

- The Donnas are not capable of creating this album. If you are stripping to The Donnas, you are not old enough to be stripping.

- I don’t know if the person who suggested Rammstein’s “Stripped” was joking or not, but if he wasn’t, I think I should get his email address to the Sex Crimes Unit asap.

That’s all for now, but I will let you know of the full playlist when it is created. But please – no more suggestions. I have more than enough now. Why don’t you do some work instead?

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Do yourself a favor and check this out. Go to “Videos” and click on “Bat Day.” Not safe for work, but nothing like a giant, middle-aged Brooklynite yelling at the top of his lungs for your enjoyment. To think, the internet is such a magical place that it has made stars out of both this guy and I. What hath God wrought, indeed.

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Six Songs

“Episode of Blonde” Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello is my favorite artist of all time. This is in large part because he does both things very well: lyrics and music. Though he’s not the best at either, I think no one puts them together as well as he does. It’s kinda like when an NFL defense is 3rd against the run and 5th against the pass, but combined is 1st in the league in total defense. That’s what Elvis Costello is to me.

This song is not one of my favorites of his, but I have been struck by it lately. He almost, dare I say, raps through the verses, but the chorus, both music and lyrically, is damn near perfect (especially the last time around about 3:25 into the song when he really belts it out):

Did her green eyes seduce you
Or make you get so weak?
Was that fire engine red
That she left upon your cheek?
It’s such a shame you had to break the heart
You could have counted on
But the last thing you need
Is another episode of blonde
I mean, isn’t that just so darn pretty? Is this gay, that I’m saying this right now? Is it sad that I’m a 26 year old man and still use the word “gay” like I did when I was ten? I’m going to stop now.

“Throw Your Arms Around Me” Pearl Jam
If I sang this, I would be arrested (probably rightly so).

I will come to you at nighttime
I will climb into your bed
I will kiss you in a hundred fifty-five places
As I go swimming around in your hair

I will squeeze the life right out of you
I will make you laugh and make you cry
And we may never forget it
As I make you call my name
As you shout it to the blue summer sky

And we may never met again
So shed your skin, let’s get started
And you will throw your arms around me
And you will throw your arms around me
But somehow, it’s much safer when Eddie Vedder sings it. Another pretty song, one that makes me want to make out.

(OK, I’ll ease up on the softness. My apologies.)

“Walt Whitman Bridge” Marah
Marah – my god. Not only are they an awesome band, but they’re from Philly! And then they went and wrote a song about the Walt Whitman Bridge on their new album (which is spectacular). This song is pretty special to me, seeing as I practically grew up under the Walt Whitman Bridge. As a kid, my friends and I would take adventures to the bases of the bridge, where there’d be nothing but weeds. We’d drink Little Hugs juices, (try to) roast hot dogs and marshmallows, and generally just walk around in the weeds (this is how city kids feel outdoorsy). And in typical Marah style, the song is just downright haunting (“Your memory blows away” is some pretty powerful stuff).

I’m not really accurately getting into how I feel about this song and am doing it an injustice, but we’re over 2500 words for the post and I have to get the fuck out of NYC before traffic picks up. And yes, I know I’m selfish. But just check out the song.

“Stuck on You” Josh Ritter
It’s funny. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s funny.

“Lost In Time” Stellastar
I seriously don’t like this band. I don’t know why, but I’m just turned off by them. But of course then they go and release a heartbreaking song like this and I just want to crawl into the closet with a bottle of cough syrup and go to town. Yes, it’s that good. I’m not sure if it’s about a loss (as in a break-up) or death, but I heard it for the first time about ten days ago and since I’ve listened to it 31 times according to my iTunes.

“Does He Love You” Rilo Kiley
It sure doesn’t sound it at first, but this song is pretty darn intense. The singer (a woman) seems to be the friend of a married woman friend (who is pregnant) and also the mistress to her husband. What strikes me is how specific it is – I feel like by the end of the song the singer is going to start shouting, “Yes! This is about you, John and Linda Smart, of 103 E. 78th Street, Apt 2, NY, NY 10011! And the downtown antique shop is at 419 Broome Street! How does that taste, you assholes! Good luck with everything!”



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