Even Better than the Real Thing: The October “NOT BY U2” Song Challenge!

October. And kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall. But you go on and on…

Especially if, convinced that people are still demanding these song-a-day challenges, you keep on going and draw up an admittedly semi-obvious choice for October. But as Bono sang in 1981, “The trees are stripped bare, of all they wear [and] what do I care?”

This month’s challenge goes out to everyone’s favorite member of U2, Larry Mullen Jr, who was born in Dublin on Halloween 1961. Did Bono write “October” as a partial tribute to his bandmate? No, it was actually just a metaphor, if Niall Stokes’ book is to be trusted.

Anyway, download, re-post, like, and share this image, and have a great time. Apologies to any fans of U2’s more recent work, but and I don’t feel bad about the way I feel about “Songs of Innocence,” and they have billions of dollars.

My #Notfromthe80s Song Challenge Results

Another month, another set of 30 song challenges, some clearly better thought-out than others. I admit this one was perhaps my most challenging and definitely the easiest to mess up, given what a wide berth of songs (many of which are boiled into our collective pop subconscious) were prohibited. On several occasions, I caught myself being that guy – commenting the year of an 80’s song’s release under someone’s submission – but I don’t feel quite so bad, since I saw people jumping in to sound that buzzer before I even could. To me, that just means that these challenges have been building followings of people who feel an increasing sense of ownership, which is flattering as much as anything. Or, many people still have too much time on their hands. A little from Column A, a little from Column B.

Alright; to the tape!

  1. The Wailers – “Simmer Down” (1963)
  2. The Slackers – “Keep Him Away” (1998)
  3. The Donna’s – “Let’s Go Mano” (1997)
  4. The Steinways – “I Wanna Kiss You on the Lips” (2007)
  5. Blackalicious – “Sky is Falling” (2003)
  6. McLusky – “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues” (2002)
  7. Deftones – “Tempest” (2012)
  8. Belle & Sebastian – “The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner” (2000)
  9. Chuck Ragan – “Do You Pray?” (2007)
  10. The Bouncing Souls – “Kate is Great” (1998)
  11. The Chats – “Smoko” (2016)
  12. The Afghan Whigs – “What Jail is Like” (1993)
  13. Kacey Musgraves – “Love is a Wild Thing” (2018)
  14. Yo La Tengo – “Sugarcube” (1997)
  15. Run Maggie Run – “Lion Tamer” (2015)
  16. The Leftovers – “Dance with Me” (2007)
  17. Supergrass – “Going Out” (1997)
  18. Massive Attack – “Safe from Harm” (1991)
  19. Airbag – “Prefiero la Playa” (2001)
  20. Sly & the Family Stone – “Hot Fun in the Summertime” (1969)
  21. Masked Intruder – “Crime Spree” (2014)
  22. The Kinks – “David Watts” (1967)
  23. Rancid – “Time Bomb” (1995)
  24. Mustard Plug – “Beer (Song)” (1997)
  25. The Buzzcocks – “Orgasm Addict” (1977)
  26. Dropkick Murphy’s – “Going Out in Style” (2010)
  27. Reel Big Fish – “I Want Your Girlfriend to be my Girlfriend” (1998)
  28. Big Star – “Thirteen” (1972)
  29. Roxy Music – “Do the Strand” (1973)
  30. Aesop Rock – “One Brick” (2001)

Thanks to everyone who participated on multiple platforms this month. Tune in tomorrow at 8am ET for your October Song Challenge. That’s right…this train is still chuggin’ along and only stops at zoo station!

Presenting the “Not from the 80’s” Song Challenge!

Happy almost-September, everyone. I had a whole bunch of folks guessing where I was going to go with the September song challenge, so I’ve decided to throw a curve-ball and raise the stakes. I give you:

THE “NOT FROM THE 80’s” SONG-A-DAY CHALLENGE.

Will this one be more difficult? Probably. For a lot of folks playing along, the 80’s was a unifying time of (some would say obnoxious) monoculture, and honestly, a few of these clues apply to more than one song released during that decade. It was a funny revelation coming over drinks from a former colleague who came of age in the 80’s just how overplayed so many currently-beloved songs were. I mentioned how I had rediscovered Tears for Fears, and she said, because she was a teenager in the 80’s and forced to hear “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” 11 times per day, she can’t listen to them anymore.

The only rule for this month is somewhat straightforward: Your song cannot be released between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1989. Everything else is fair game. Granted, covers released in a later decade are technically cheating, but I can’t tell you how to live. Save it, share it, and don’t forget to hashtag it #NotFromthe80s. Have fun! Special thanks to Lisa LaDuca for her numerous assists with this one.

Calling All in Transit… It’s the “NOT BY R.E.M” Song Challenge!

Happy Birthday, Bill Berry!

On a related note, here is your Song Challenge for August, everybody.

There’s only one rule, and it’s pretty obvious. Download it, share it, hashtag it #NotbyREM, tell all your Gen-X friends (as well as those from other generations), call me a leper, and have a great time. Bonus points to anyone who still picks a song with Peter Buck on it, somehow.

NotByREMSongChallenge

My #NotByBillyJoel Song Challenge Results

At the outset, this one got even more traction than the Sonic Geography Song Challenge did when I released it via social media. I’m not sure what they says about the world of Sonic Geography, but I’m willing to accept the reality that Billy Joel’s music has more mass appeal than my research. Crazy, I know (I may be, too).

Anyway, here are the results from my own take on the challenge. In all honesty, I hadn’t queued up so many results in my head as I was writing it as I did with the other one in May.

For Reference:

NotByBillyJoelSongChallenge

  1. Pixies – “Tony’s Theme”
  2. The Spinto Band – “Brown Boxes”
  3. The Dismemberment Plan – “Girl O’Clock”
  4. The Afghan Whigs – “Uptown Again”
  5. The Housemartins – “Build”
  6. Descendents – “Weinerschnitzel”
  7. Bill Evans – “Lucky to be Me”
  8. F.Y.P. – “Die Young”
  9. Bob Dylan – “The Hurricane”
  10. Minor Threat – “Cashing In”
  11. The Clash – “Jimmy Jazz”
  12. Lifetime – “Airport Monday Morning”
  13. Minutemen – “History Lesson Part II”
  14. Jawbreaker – “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault”
  15. The Ergs – “Books About Miles Davis”
  16. Hunx & his Punx – “You Don’t Like Rock n’ Roll”
  17. Julia Jacklin – “Pressure to Party”
  18. The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Nine Million Rainy Days”
  19. Sick of it All – “My Life”
  20. Sunny Day Real Estate – “Pillars”
  21. The Bloodhound Gang – “Fire Water Burn”
  22. Replacements – “Love Lines”
  23. Misfits – “Bullitt”
  24. Minutemen – “Viet Nam”
  25. Pulp – “Sorted for E’s and Wizz”
  26. Throwing Muses – “Walking in the Dark”
  27. Chumbawamba – “Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire”
  28. Zwan – “Honestly”
  29. The Brian Jonestown Massacre
  30. De La Soul – “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays'”

Thanks for reading and/or playing. Tune back in tomorrow morning at 9am EST for the August Challenge!

It’s the Not-By-Billy Joel Song Challenge!

NotByBillyJoelSongChallenge

I try to keep all of the content on this website germane to Geography and my related research, but also sometimes…in the middle of the summer, I go walkin’ into admittedly dumb but fun ideas.

Download this image and re-post it on whichever social media account you would like with your pick for song of the day. The only rule is that it cannot be a song by Billy Joel.

Hashtag it as #notbybillyjoel so I can keep up on your selections. I’ll post my full list here, as I did with the #SonicGeographySongChallenge. I don’t know why I’m hashtagging that within the body of a blog post, but that’s just how we’ve been reprogrammed.

Happy July!

Come and get it, Boomers:

My Sonic Geography Song Challenge Results

In case anybody is curious, here are my personal picks from the Sonic Geography Song Challenge.

Reference:

SonicGeographySongChallenge

  1. Aesop Rock – “N.Y. Electric”
  2. Nass el-Ghiwane – “Labtana”
  3. The New Pornographers – “Letter from an Occupant”
  4. The Twilight Singers – “Fat City (Slight Return)”
  5. Radon – “Science Fiction” (I can’t imagine a 2 1/2 minute song with more references to Florida)
  6. Lord Blakie – “Steelband Clash” (Live Version was the only one available)
  7. The Go-Betweens – “Bye Bye Pride”
  8. The Topp Twins – “Untouchable Girls”
  9. Alizée – “J’ai en Marre”
  10. The Verve Pipe – “The Freshmen”
  11. The Jam – “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight”
  12. Queens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows”
  13. Fucked Up – “David Comes to Life”
  14. The Calypsonuts – “You Can Call Me Al”
  15. Miracle Legion – “The Backyard” (Live Version)
  16. Black Grape – “A Big Day in the North”
  17. Geographer – “Paris”
  18. Airbag – “Coleccionista de Discos”
  19. Jason Derulo – “Want To Want Me”
  20. Tom Waits – “I’ll Take New York”
  21. U2 – “The Ocean”
  22. Dead Milkmen – “Surfing Cow”
  23. The Afghan Whigs – “Crime Scene Part I”
  24. The Go-Betweens – “Finding You”
  25. Crass – “Sheep Farming in the Falklands”
  26. The Dismemberment Plan – “Spider in the Snow”
  27. The Wedding Present – “A Million Miles”
  28. OutKast – “ATLiens”
  29. Café Tacvba – “Eo” (el D.F.)
  30. Charley Patton – “Shake It and Break It” (narrowly edging out ? and the Mysterians – “96 Tears”)

Thanks to everyone who has participated over the past 30 days and is still going if they started late! I’ve had so much fun seeing what songs came to everyone, especially a handful of challenging days. I can’t wait to make another one of these.

The Sonic Geography Song Challenge

Happy Friday and Happy May, everyone. I was particularly inspired by the 30 Day Song Challenge that made its rounds on social media over the past month, so I decided to put my own (predominantly) geographic version together. Download the image below onto your phone/computer and post it each of the next thirty days (I know May has 31 days, but there were only room for 30) with a song that each cue brings to mind. Popular formats are via Instagram Stories and via Twitter (sharing YouTube links).

If you’d like, share it with the extensive hashtag #SonicGeographySongChallenge so I can see what you pick! I’ll share my full song list after the 30 days are over. Remember you can start this whenever you’d like and complete it (or not) at your own pace. Most importantly, have fun and let me know how you enjoy it.

SonicGeographySongChallenge

Heavy New Year from the Metal Parking Lot

Happy 2014, long lost readers! I do apologize for allowing to happen to my website what traditionally happens to websites for people involved in academia over the end of the year and holidays. I won’t let it happen for at least eleven more months.

This semester and year will be bringing a handful of great conferences (including the UTK Geography Research Symposium in February, the AAG in Tampa in April, and a few others I’ll be announcing as they’re confirmed) and projects, so get excited. Before I tackle any of that, though, I need to venture into the world of cult video on this week’s “episode” of Sonic Geography.

It’s no secret that, as D. Travis “Trav S.D.” Stewart wrote (2005)

“new technology actually encourages and facilitates the study of the past… in the centuries after the printing press was invented, recently rediscovered plays from the ancient world began to be disseminated throughout Europe, helping to spark an explosion of theater in the Renaissance. Similarly, by the 1980s, video- and audiotape technology, combined with the multifarious choices offered by cable television, combined to expose a generation of young people to a flood of “new” entertainment from the first half of the twentieth century” (p. 291).

(wikipedia)

So, of course, we should not be surprised whenever contemporary internet instant-archivist technology aids and abets the renaissance of certain cultural traces stamped by that aforementioned video- and audiotape technology. One of my personal favorite examples of this has been the reconceptualization and rise of Jeff Krulik and John Heyn’s completely unwitting 1986 verité masterpiece Heavy Metal Parking Lot over the past decade. HMPL has become something of a starting point in the conversation of “found video,” despite never truly being lost as it was disregarded for over a decade. By the early 90s, multi-generation VHS dubs of HMPL had made it into the hands of various cultural taste-makers, including, notoriously, Kurt Cobain. The internet made it possible for millions more regrettable-culture-fixated consumers to see the documentary.

For those of you who are uninitiated, the film is accessible online and only 17 minutes long, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I would recommend going to watch it right now, then come back here to continue reading.

I’ll wait.

NYdailynews

Now, wasn’t that ridiculous? People once dressed like that and acted like that. In front of cameras. HMPL has grown into its role as prototypical evidence that open-access, streaming video has directly impacted human behavior nearly world-wide. In 1986, if a pair of unaffiliated nerds walked up to a drunk/high you with a video camera, your instinct would likely be to perform rather than worry that your parents, boss, or millions of people would ever see this video one day. The geography of media access and approach has changed more in these past fifteen years than it had in the prior 100, and it has changed more in the past century than it had in the previous 10,000 years. At any rate, the drunken metal fans immortalized on that day in Landover, MD had little reason to suspect they would ever be…immortalized… as anything, especially not an image embedded to the right of this paragraph.

John Heyn and Jeff Krulik today (decibelmagazine)

Admittedly, I never saw this until a few years ago, well into my life in Washington, D.C. Fortunately, certain connections allowed me to strike up a friendship with one half of the tandem responsible for HMPL’s existence, Jeff Krulik. I always ran into him at cultural events around the DC Metro, and he always had some great news about his past and current projects popping up in places he never expected. As you’ll read from him below, the biggest surprise in his decades-long dynasty of public-access and all-purpose A/V dorkdom is that he’s still talking about these productions nearly thirty years after he and John Heyn decided to take some cameras and mics to the parking lot of a Judas Priest concert to see what would happen.

In light of Jeff’s latest locally focused rockumentary Led Zeppelin Played Here, I decided to drop him a line to say hello and ask him a few questions. The topic of media geographies came up often in my seminar on Public Memory, so I thought I would get some insight directly from the man whose ascent to cult icon status has been anything but linear.

First and foremost, WHY was there such a mystery whether or not Led Zeppelin, one of the most celebrated and popular bands in rock history, played the Wheaton, MD show in 1969? Were accounts that contradictory and was there no photo/video evidence? And why not (if not)?

(weta.org)

Led Zeppelin had just landed in the states not even a month earlier. Their first US concert was December 26 in Denver. They then just crisscrossed the country—some gigs were set up in advance, some in haste. Weeks earlier on this first tour–which concluded mid-February 1969–was the apocryphal January 20 concert at the Wheaton Youth Center outside of Washington, DC, but there is no documentation to verify that show, and the promoter only says there were 50 people watching Led Zeppelin perform in the youth center gymnasium. It’s hard for people today to get their head wrapped around this notion, of a failed Led Zeppelin concert in a small, modest location, without any documentation to back it up—no posters, advertisements, reviews, ticket stubs, etc. All we have are  eyewitness testimony, or the many doubting skeptics, to tell this tale, and I’ve gathered a lot of this storytelling in a nearly 90-minute feature length documentary.  

January 20 was the Wheaton Youth Center concert in suburban Maryland. Right now, the official Led Zeppelin website has the date listed as ‘rumoured.’ That same day also happened to be the Presidential Inauguration of Richard Nixon. It was only Led Zeppelin’s 26th day in the United States, and the first album had only been released eight days earlier on January 12. So nobody really knew who they were, and there are many factors that contribute to this event being a tantalizing mystery, almost a ghost concert, and that’s why I like it. 

Do you think this Led Zeppelin-mystery could have originated from anywhere but the Washington DC area? What was it about DC that created this legend?  

I think this Led Zeppelin-mystery could indeed be from anywhere, and indeed there are a few other unconfirmed concert dates on that first tour, but I think what helps with my story is Richard Nixon and inaugural events, although it’s not really germane to the story, just a tasty happenstance. My goal for the documentary was to really be about the emergence of the rock concert industry, focusing on the mid-Atlantic and MD/DC/VA area specifically, and I think that’s largely been achieved by the response from our screenings. The concert industry was basically being invented at that time, and everything that we now take for granted—ticketing, promotion, security, safety, large venues, booking agents—had very humble origins. And what was happening at the Wheaton Youth Center was in many instances being replicated all over the country.
I know I may have asked you similar questions on the podcast, but how has the internet-shrunken world affected the way you approach film-making today rather than back in the day?

I honestly haven’t changed my approach behind a camera when I’m shooting, or concocting what to film or how to film—but distributing  my work is another matter entirely. Internet online video has revolutionized  all facets of bringing eyeballs to your work. When I was starting out, you couldn’t even project video in theaters (which is why Heavy Metal Parking Lot developed such a life by VHS tape trading), much less blast it out in moments to a potential global universe. Unfortunately, everyone else is doing the same thing, so to say there’s a glut of content out there is a huge understatement. But honestly, it took a lot of work back then, and it takes a lot of work now. And it was always competitive trying to generate an audience. And as much as film festivals, and especially the big name ones, carry great cachet, it’s incredibly difficult to secure a slot. So getting notice can come from other ways, most notably the internet. But often times the shelf life can be cruelly short, as another video, or hundreds more, are immediately ready to garner attention. 

What’s the most surprising thing about the Heavy Metal Parking lot bootleg diaspora/dissemination (so to speak) that made it back to you? Location? Person (Nirvana notwithstanding)?

I think the most surprising thing about Heavy Metal Parking Lot is that I’m still talking about it almost thirty years later. But that’s a good thing. No complaints, just a nice surprise. John Heyn and I will always be grateful for the ride, and hope it will continue indefinitely. I’m also always thrilled to hear from our ever expanding on-screen alumni, the Heavy Metal Parking Lot family. I dream of having a bona-fide reunion one day, and film it, but until then you have to settle for stuff like this and this.

Do you think Public Access had a heyday in the 1980s or any time else?

To be honest, I can still flip cable channels and stop dead in my tracks on a public access channel and watch, often bemused, or at least curious enough to try and Google some background particulars. But I think the only reason you could consider it something akin to a heyday is because there were few other options to watch really far out, weird, and eccentric content on television. Nowadays, it’s everywhere on your computer, and conventional TV watching as we knew it has been turned on its head. I will say that the public access community television from my perspective is still happening and viable, and if people want an outlet to expressive themselves, I can think of no better way. 

For more information on Jeff, consult his IMDB or follow him on Twitter.

I interviewed Jeff in 2010 for a podcast I was working on at the time called The Big Takeover Radio Show (no relation to the magazine), but I’m having difficulty finding that recording on my old hard drive. If anybody reading this may still have their digital hands on a copy of Season 5, Episode 15 of that and could email me at sonicgeography (at) gmail, I would be forever grateful. My radio archives have been down for over a year now since I blew up my old website, but they still exist and are available upon request. Hopefully more will be uploaded and made available via the iTunes store or just directly from SonicGeography.
And if anybody has access to the 1997 Krulik gem Ernest Borgnine on the Bus, please do share.
Sources Cited

Stewart, D. (2005). No Applause – Just Throw Money, or The Book that Made Vaudeville Famous. New York: Faber and Faber, Inc.