A New Yorker's First Time on the Fort Lauderdale Bar Scene

Categories: Essay This

Thaymmie/A. Cotto Photography

Living in New York City was exhausting. My wife and I lived there for eight years and loved it. However, its intoxicating alchemy of history, culture, cuisine, and attitude was a fuel that ran low as ever-increasing rents and cost of living hit heavy.

Southward ho we went to the Sunshine State. Now resettled in South Florida, we are eager to plunder its nightlife to see if there's more to this area than sun, sea, and shuffleboard. The neon glow of Miami seems like a culture shock we're not yet ready for. A night at nearby Fort Lauderdale seems like a proverbial dipping the toe in the water.

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In Defense of the Banjo

Categories: Essay This

Christina Mendenhall
See, the Avett Brothers are doing it.

Probably because of the movie Deliverance (or maybe old Bugs Bunny cartoons), the banjo is still seen today as the instrument of the slack jawed yokel. A stringed tool that can be mastered by anyone no matter how closely related their parents might be, nor how many jars of moonshine the picker might have imbibed.

The second most mocked subculture (after hillbillies) has also lately taken up for the banjo. With the actors Steve Martin and Zooey Deschanel having picked up the instrument, the banjo has developed cache among hipsters along with other old-timey novelties like handlebar mustaches and unicycles. But the banjo has a certain dignity with a long history.

See also: Les Claypool on Duo de Twang: "Expect Two Guys Hanging Around a Campfire, Cracking Jokes and Bullshitting"

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The Pixies' New Song "Bagboy" Sounds Like Weezer

Categories: Essay This


Two weeks ago, I mocked the Pixies for sending out a press release that Kim Deal had quit the band. What was there to quit when the band hadn't toured in years and had only recorded one new song in the past two decades? Then last Friday, The Pixies mocked us back with a new song and corresponding video titled "Bagboy."

Throughout the weekend, I listened to Bagboy over and over struggling to form an opinion on it. My immediate reaction was it sounded more like Weezer with a drum machine than the Pixies.

See also
- Kim Deal Quits the Pixies and Other Meaningless Reports

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What a Would a World Without Bob Dylan Look Like?

Categories: Essay This

Old fans of Marvel comic books will recall a series titled What If in which Uatu the Watcher, a giant baby-faced alien, would peek into alternate realities and tell readers what the world would be like if Peter Parker was never bitten by a radioactive spider or if Bruce Banner's pants didn't stretch when he became the Incredible Hulk.

Usually the smallest difference would create a butterfly effect that would mold a vastly different world from the one we were used to. In the spirit of Uatu and with the Americanarama Festival coming into town tonight, let's take a look at what our world might look like if Robert Zimmerman had never decided to pick up a guitar and become Bob Dylan.

See also: Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Bob Weir: Their Influence on Culture Extends Way Beyond Music

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Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Bob Weir: Their Influence on Culture Extends Way Beyond Music

Categories: Essay This


Climb high enough on the tree of American rock 'n' roll history and you will reach two branches, one marked Elvis Presley, the other Bob Dylan. Every band since these two titans first strummed a guitar has been influenced by one or the other.

Climbing higher up Elvis' side, you find rhythm and blues and gospel; higher on Dylan's side is country and folk. One could say the very white Elvis' musical forefathers were black and Jewish Dylan's quite vanilla. Elvis brought the theatricality and showmanship, whereas Dylan brings the soul-baring authenticity.

As polar opposite as these two legends seem, choosing between them is not an either/or proposition; sometimes the branches intertwine. Elvis was also influenced by country and Dylan by the blues. It is easy to forget that the Bob Dylan who seems so confessional is really hiding behind a stage name phonier than any of the dance moves Elvis learned during an impoverished youth in Tupelo and Memphis.

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Chris Brown Is Painfully Tacky, But Always Cooler Than Drake, Even When It Comes to Aaliyah

Categories: Essay This


No one can deny that Chris Brown is a dude seriously committed to tackiness. But as a Breezy apologist of sorts, we gotta say, he's always less tacky than Drake.

Yeah, Drake dresses more subtly, doesn't get stupid rowdy every time he gets side-eye at da club, and he didn't tat a pic of his ex that he beat up on his neck. But he did tattoo Aaliyah on his back, and that whole obsession is more than a teeny bit creepy.

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Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's "Accidental Racist" Is Cripplingly Awkward

We have all, no doubt, suffered through an inarticulate moment or two in our lives. And while there are truly few things as frustrating as searching for the right way to put something and coming up short, it is generally better to not say anything at all until the thought is thoroughly baked. 

Unfortunately, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J have not yet mastered this concept and have collaborated to put together the track "Accidental Racist," an entirely unnecessary and unbearably awkward musical dissection of the perennially simmering racial conflicts that plague Americans -- namely due to the popularity of the Confederate flag as a banner of pride and symbol of heritage for Southerners. 

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Billy Boloby's Last Stand? West Palm Musician Battles Crippling Disease: Part 2

Categories: Essay This
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By Billy Boloby

Always the optimist, I looked on the "bright side" - I didn't have to worry about Crohn's screwing up my performance schedule. But then I thought about all the traveling I did over the years and how much I took it for granted. I looked back on the Mute-Ants' two month-long tours. All of a sudden, all that seemed impossible. How did I ever travel the country in a van, eating food from diners and convenience stores without a care in the world? Simple answer: I didn't. The guy who did all that stuff doesn't exist anymore. 

And that was just as true for everyone else. 
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Billy Boloby's Last Stand? West Palm Musician Battles Crippling Disease

Categories: Essay This
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I really hate battles of the bands. I mean, besides the fact that my bands never won, it's just a reminder that we're all doing this shit for selfish reasons, despite what anyone says. Yet for some reason I always ended up competing. I just wish my final performance wasn't another losing battle. Then again, it's an apt metaphor, considering it was my battle with disease that sidelined me in the first place.

On August 29, 2008, my band Pots 'N' Pans competed in a battle at the North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art. We didn't win, nor did we deserve to after my mediocre performance. For anyone not familiar, I was the frontman for several bands throughout the years: The Happy Accidents and Mute-Ants in the '90s, and Billy Boloby, the Bittercups and Pots 'N' Pans in the aughts. My shtick was being very physical, like Olivia Newton John (well, maybe not, though I did wear leotards for a couple of Mute-Ants shows, unfortunately). But at the MOCA battle, I wasn't at 100 percent physically, or even psychologically. 

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PSY Brings Gangnam to Fort Lauderdale; Dominates YouTube and Pop Culture Worldwide

Categories: Essay This
"With this new album, I just wanted to make something that was purely comedic -- something that could make people laugh like crazy even in the midst of all this global economic slowdown," PSY, the "Gangnam Style" Korean YouTube phenomenon, told CNN earlier this year.

Learning how to "Gangnam Style" really is so much more fun than thinking about the looming threat of PSY's nutty North Korean neighbors defying the U.N. Security Council and testing rockets capable of incomprehensible destruction.

In the United States, where a good chunk of the country peacefully turns a blind eye to anything that isn't summarized in a Facebook status, human rights violations, poverty, and hunger play only small supporting roles in the YouTube generation's collective, augmented reality. 'Cause if it ain't on YouTube, it ain't important.

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