Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bob Dylan Dream #6724

I walked past a classmate as Michael and I grabbed a seat on the B43 bus to Northampton. He turned around and upon recognising started chatting about the assessment due on Thursday. I told him I had spent most of Sunday and Monday reading, so that I would have all Wednesday to complete it when he interjected, "I think it's due tomorrow." "Oh shit," I replied, "that's going to make for a long night."

No matter, after jay-walking in front of some cops (ooooooohhhhh, rebel) we made it to the Pearl St ballroom to see Ra Ra Riot. The first band had a bass player who looked just like Australia's finest cricketer, Simon Katich, but with a ridiculous hipster haircut. They were followed up by a Mexican band with a look-alike Jason Schwartzman on falsetto vocals.

Ra Ra Riot were the reason we were there, and when they all took the stage it was astonishing to see how young they all are. It's remarkable that they've taken indie tunes and added a mini string section to their sound and a sign of their maturity. Better yet, the string section is hot, like off the scoville scale type of hot. The cellist was sporting a nose ring (not a stud) and had a brilliant voice when she was allowed to sing.

After a cliche'd encore, the band came out and sang the appropriately titled 'Massachusetts', though it wasn't as strong as the album. They ended on my favourite, 'Run My Mouth', and despite the rain and impending essay, I was chuffed with their set.

On the way back from the concert I saw my first skunk, who was polite enough to stink up the joint. Once back I checked my syllabus, saw the essay was due the next day, grabbed my stuff and set up for a long night. With a Dr Pepper accompanying me, I managed to churn out the majority of an essay within a few hours. It's amazing what a bit of pressure will do to you, as I have never written anything academic so quickly. The quality may have been debatable, but the quantity was all there.

Exhausted, I pushed through the next day. I relapsed into Football Manager again, and after a few hours I was ready for bed. That was all until I received a text message saying Bob Dylan was playing UMass for $29. From then on I was frantic, searching for as much information as possible. I could barely contain my enthusiasm and was anything but idle until 2AM. Finally, once my head hit the pillow, the exhaustion of the last few days caught up and I fell into a deep sleep.

I was buzzing for most of today, not only was Bob playing a show in a theatre I can walk to, but one of my other loves, Rangers FC won today. I also received my visa paperwork, so I am now allowed to roam between the US and other countries (woo, the land of the free). It was all coming up Milhouse until I tried to pay my phone bill. American red tape caused some cancelled credit card payments, or so I was told. My card had been billed 3 times, leaving me overdrawn and with no source of cash. Well played Boost Mobile. So long as it is fixed by Friday morning 10AM (Dylan tickets!), this Bob buzz will keep me going.

Bruce Springsteen - I Want You
Here's the boss singing one of my favourite Dylan songs. It's something special and American's would value this piece of culture higher than their constitution if they knew what was good for them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hombre Lobo

As her friend set up shop with a table full of tobacco and pre-rolled cigarettes, Gap-tooth heard Sam and I talking and asked where I was from. "Australia" was the simple reply that was met with, "oh my god, that's hot!". "Yes, it is a hot country," was the reply, which was met by her typically American attempt at the Australian accent. "I can do an Australian accent!". As if my first reply wasn't enough, I had to react bluntly, "No you can't". With that, the conversation was over, and Gap-tooth went back to her cigarette rolling crew and left Sam and I to ride the Peter Pan bus to Boston.

Blood on the sheets, Bob Dylan's hostel tribute album
Again New England put on a marvellous show. It is officially Fall, and on cue the leaves have changed to a myriad of shades of purple, red, orange, yellow and green. The forest's that line the Mass Pike make an otherwise ugly highway fairly bearable. Well, the leaves and Sam's stories. He once spent a whole month sleep in/on a cardboard box when he was seven.

Once we made it to Boston we immediately set off to find our hostel in Everett. Again, there was a limited choice for accommodation so we were forced to settle for Backpackers Budget Rock. After a trip on the subway, a bus and some google mapping we finally made it to the place, dropped off our bags and immediately turned around.
Soiled mattresses out the front of the hostel
Sam & I disagreed with the hostel's definition of 10 minute to the Wellington subway stop, but got there regardless. On the train Sam managed to hit some old lady in the face as she tried to get up, but his brummy accent and scruffy hair seemed to avoid trouble. Sam opted for his first foot of Subway for the night as we paraded around down-town Boston.
We went to Boston Common, as I attempted to take a photo of a particular monument for a friend, only to discover every tourist's nightmare, scaffold. After this setback, we walked around to the Theater District, in search of the Royale Theater. Again, google mapping found us at the place and when we walked past we found out the times for tonight's show. It was just after six when we checked and it was lucky we did because Eels were going on at 7:45.

We stopped by 7-11 for some quick refreshments before making it back in time for one of the openers. Walking into the Royale was like stepping into a high class brothel. There were chandeliers, leather couches, walls painted in gold and everything draped in a soft, dull, red light. The night's opening act was actually a ventriloquist, so Sam and I were suitably confused. We sat out her set, as well as the solo acoustic female singer-songwriter who followed. We were there for Eels, and Eels only.

When Eight o'clock rolled around E hit the stage on his own. I was so upset about missing them in Sydney, but when the bearded figure strolled onto stage with a bandanna, sunglasses, white coveralls and a Danelectro my disappointment was usurped. E played three songs on his own, before the of his band joined him in a staggered version of Prizefighter.
The rest of the band had attempted to equal E in the beard and sunglasses look, though no one really comes close to the dog faced boy. With all the members on stage, the band went through songs from their most recent trilogy of albums. E apologised for the openers, and at one stage even handed out ice-cream to the audience.
When they weren't going through the new songs, they rehashed a few of their older tunes in a completely different style. Mr E's Beautiful Blues was played along to a rhythm of 'Twist and Shout' and 'I Like Birds' was sped up. Last year I made myself a compilation of my favourite Eels songs, and out of the 24, they only played two in the set. Regardless, it was still amazing and completely justified the $50 bus fare, $45 accommodation and other various costs.
Maracas guitar.
Sam and I walked through down-town on the way back, where inside Boston common a Christian group was holding a bunch of placards and preaching to the public about sins. Worse still, they were using a young boy as the lead preacher. Now it's one thing to blatantly call people sinners, but brainwashing, then employing a 10 year old to stand around and scream at 10pm is absolutely atrocious. It was a pitiful thing, and in another context, employing a 10 year old at 10PM would be cause for police intervention outside the name of 'god'.

Inside the subway, an overweight home-boy was behind his keyboard busking. When no one was looking he would turn his attention from his keyboard and instead try to sell pirated dvds. America's approach to entrepreneurship is something to behold.
unfinished hostel art. the fingers still have pencil lines

Once back in the hotel, Sam and I settled for some tea and a few games of pool. We were interrupted by the occasional mouse as well as watching one guy get walked in on twice in the toilet. I have to say, that this hostel was probably the worst one I have ever stayed in. It was a compete clusterfuck, out in the middle of nowhere and absolutely filthy. It was an unfair punishment for not booking accommodation earlier.
Van Gogh's unicorn.
We were more than happy to leave the hostel the morning after, so we quickly got our stuff together, checked out and went back into the city. Sam's two feet of Subway converted into two feet of faecal matter, and the rest of our day was littered with his pit-stops. Not to worry though, we did find time for me to grab my winter coat as well as a teeth-whitening kit (on Sam's encouragement).

We broke up the day with a stop at Wendy's, an underwhelming burger experience. Finally, we found a spot at Boston harbour and did some people/dog watching for two hours, giggling the time away.

By the time we made it back to Amherst, we headed straight to the dining halls for a rushed meal. Immediately after I showered and met up with Alex, Dicky Peach and Jess before heading up to their building. When Dicky and Alex's room-mate failed on their beer mission we decided to embark on a round taxi trip to grab some tall cans. After sinking a few, we tried to head to Hobart for party.

Max and Michael were already up there, and through their provocative texting we persevered through the crowds to try to get to a party. All of sudden - while on the phone to Michael while Max is screaming my name in the background - I am met by a wall of police officers in riot gear. They were angry, and yelled at us to immediately turn around, with their raised batons a constant threat. It was enough of a deterrent, and I wasn't going to try to argue/sweet-talk my way out of the situation. It astounds me that people see this as an appropriate measure, when all it seems to do whet people's appetite for violence.

On our approach back to the rooms we stopped by a school and proceeded to play on their slippery-dips and swing-sets. I had achieved a decent level of height on the swings and when I tried a flying dismount my landing gear was uneven, resulting in a sore left-buttock today.

Once back in the room, we ordered some food, with Dicky Peach and I splitting a chicken, bacon & ranch dressing. Upon demolition, we saw the base of the box had almost gone translucent due to all the grease. It was a minor miracle my heart didn't stop in my sleep, but it would have been a satisfying way to depart.

Tonight Michael and I explored a new carpark with our skateboards. It was an ideal ending to a day where I had my nose between books, getting all my work out of the way so I can see Ra Ra Riot tomorrow night. It's a tough gig for some of us.

Sonic Youth - 100%
Thurston and Kim live in Northampton and it still shatters me that I haven't met them! Anyone, after a conversation with Matt last week I decided to revisit the album Dirty. It's absolutely phenomenal. Better yet, the film clip has skateboarding.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Live Long and Prosper over your porno collection

"You should tend to your children", yelled a heckler from the crowd as 'The Sea and Cake' paused between songs. The heckler was one of the few in the crowd without a wristband indicating he was 21, surely he was the one who needed tending to.

Northampton's Calvin Theatre is a magnificent place. Imagine Sydney's Enmore Theatre, but if someone actually took care of it. Matt, Michael and I all managed to get into the general admission area in front of the stage where for the first time in Massachusetts, neither of us was out of place for wearing skinny(ish) jeans. The general admission area only sold enough tickets to fill the seats behind the dance floor, leaving an empty looking venue when everybody got up the front for the bands.

The collective that is Broken Social Scene made it on stage at 9:30. I lost count of how many members were on stage at one time, but it appears they have a revolving door policy on who comes and goes. Beyond that, they also switch instruments throughout the set and all seem freakishly proficient at each as well. Hell, there aren't many bands who can get away with four guitars at the same and not have sound as cluttered as my old share-house.

Immediately I started feeling funny at the knees when Lisa Lobsinger came on stage. It could be the nose ring, the slightly ginger hair or the fact that she is a wicked singer, but my god, she is something else.

The band played 7/8 Shoreline (it's in 7/8, amazing) third in their set and it superseded any live song I've heard this year. There was something about the harmonies, the brass section at the end or the hipsters who couldn't nod their heads in time that culminated in a sonic assault of awesomeness.

Next up was Fire Eye'd Boy, another personal favourite that was immaculate in its live rendition. Forced to Love was third, and the flute driven melody rounded out my three favourite songs of theirs early in the set. Surely the rest would be boring right? Nup!

They kept swapping instruments and dynamics throughout the set. At one stage a few members of the band jumped off stage and made their way through the audience sharing hugs with their followers. Michael was lucky enough to get one and after 10 minutes, the rest of the band was ready to play more songs while the singer was still spreading the love with the crowd.

They closed off their two-hour set in a typically artsy Broken Social Scene way. The trumpets were blowing air and opening the valves, making sounds like birds as the rest of the band kept their rocking sauce flowing (sorry, that's a bit too Jack Black).

It was a truly brilliant show, and if you have to spend $1000 to see this band live, then you are still getting a bargain. They were unbelievable and the three of us (and half of Northampton's lesbian population who was at the show) left the venue absolutely beaming.

The next morning I had to wake up early for a judicial meeting for the 30 pack of beer incident. The person doing the ruling was lovely and very sympathetic to the situation I presented her with. I fashioned a story that I was visiting Michael after a day out to celebrate our new skateboards and school with a few quiet beers and had no idea about the quantity. It was a good story that earned some personal sympathy, but as expected I was found guilty of breaking the rules. In a Machiavellian and unfair way, I transferred some of the guilt back by claiming that this was always the case, and that my time shouldn't have been wasted over a stupid hearing. Now I'm on housing probation for a year ad have to attend to counselling sessions. It all seems a little severe given that I'm 24 years old, but for the sake of my year away I'll have to toe the line.

After that Ellen and I went to Northampton to check out some of the art galleries. We had shared a drunken conversation about art on the Saturday night where I forgot most of events. The focus on most of the places seemed to be on local artists, and for the most part things were great. Sure the prices were exorbitant - hardly unusual amongst the self-inflate art community - but there were a few I thought would like nice on my dorm wall.

There was a section in the back that was fairly hidden from the general view. It featured an exhibit of Leonard Nimoy's photography. The first room seemed kind of tame, save for one risqué image depicting uber-femininity. The next room was a whole other category. It was all tits. And whilst it was funny because Spock is a bit of perv, parading porn as art seems...illogical.

Today in class we had a debate over wikipedia's democracy. The side I chose was for democracy and proved to be the least popular, being outnumbered 15 to 9. Yet, because I had picked the same argument as some extremely clever people my team prevailed. One argument put forward was a typically American perspective, stating that democracy can never function under a monarchy. For the first time in a long time, I felt a need to stand up for my country, and odder still, the Queen. It's amazing what a bit of American ignorance can do to wind you up, even if I am a borderline republican in Australia.

Anyway, tonight at dinner Lee-Roy passed on his Jack Kerouac book to me. It was an absolutely gentleman gesture and as soon as he left the table I was more than happy to share the story with the girls at dinner, who seemed as equally impressed as me. This tops dinner from the other night, where halfway through he received a phone call from a friend of his affectionately known as Trotty...who happens to be a current English cricket player. This whole American university adventure is absolutely brilliant for odd cameos and making the world a smaller place and a constant reminder of how important it was for me to temporarily get out of Wollongong again.

The Weakerthans - Aside
I could give a blurb about how great this band is and why I love them, or you can do the right thing and find out for yourself. Serial.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I spent all my money on comics, skateboards and wings...the rest I just wasted

Despite Thursday's best efforts, Friday become one of those mornings where I got things done. My eagerness to move forced me to pick up my housing assessment, I swung by the journalism office to pick up my homework as well as picking up my textbooks that arrived in the post. I even managed to book my judicial meeting over the 30 pack of beer incident. All of this before a shower...yuck.

I met up with Sam and Richard and together, we pieced together more of the night before. These are more like footnotes to the night before, but a bit of fun nonetheless: Alex ended up at some random house, performing his usual beer stealing tricks before making tracks back to Amherst. Rumours suggest this was around 3 or 4AM. For some reason most of the bars in Amherst seem to only have one bathroom, with a single toilet to use. Richard and I saw past this, entered at the same time and as I used the proper receptacle, he instead chose the bin. Efficient. We also managed to wake the whole sorority house at 2:30 in the morning, by ringing the doorbell. Not yet satisfied, Richard, Matt and I would spend the last part of the night trying to catch a rabbit, but alas, it proved too rapid.

Anyway, that was Thursday, and Friday was to prove just as fun. After the dining hall experience, we ventured down to bottle shop to grab some beers and spirits. My skateboard would slow us down (the round trip took about 90 minutes), but we returned with adequate supplies and no reprimand from the five-o. Alex had just gotten out of bed - it must have been around 8 or 9 by now - and started the day with a beer. We drank our supplies of Narrangansett and PBR before making our way onto the Northampton bus.

After some minor confusion with details from Google Maps and a fellow bus passenger we finally made it to the Pearl Street Clubhouse. The room was more like a basement, with exposed pipes, black paint and a DIY air-conditioning job. It was dingy, sweaty and perfect for live music. Sam duly added that it was also the least baseball caps he'd seen. We arrived halfway into the second band's set, and we all shared a collective laugh when the Massachusetts hipsters started 'dancing'. Americans, it seems, are unable to actually dance. It's why the sluts only seem to grind, while the hipsters just flail.

Wavves came on stage and left just as quickly. Their set was only about 35 minutes, but it was a shit-tonne of fun. If we weren't planning on going out after it would have been perfect to get involved with the crowd, but alas, we chose the road less travelled, and did not leave covered in sweat.
Bieber fever

It was a shame, because we never really made it out after. The highlight of the bus trip back was Sam waxing poetic about how much he loves food. He spoke of haloumi and sweet bacon in a way that would make Jamie Olliver blush, but when asked for his favourite food, his morose Brummy accent revealed "baked beans and sausages". Once we got off the bus we met up with John, but behind him was a group of people with a ghetto-blaster and a megaphone doing some 'dancing'. There was a pink gorilla and other zany costumes as people flailed to some vintage INXS. We kept walking, settling for a bottle of vodka in one of the rooms before our planned night out. Once the bottle was opened Nicholas, Alex and Richard's suite mate strolled up. Upon his suggestion we ordered an American styled midnight snack...60 wings - 30 buffalo, 30 honey-mustard.
Our drunken mouths were covered in various wing sauce, looking like a room full of Ronald McDonalds as we all realised that the night was over. Satisfied and sleepy, I went to bed, knowing that I had to move the next day.

It was liberating leaving homicide Hamlin to become Lewis of Lewis. Seriously, the building I leave in is named after me. Though I missed travelling around and living out of a bag, I won't lie, it felt nice to put my clothes on hangers and my books on a shelf.
Happiness is a stocked bookshelf.
The boys and I went on another wander to the bottle shop again, reliving scenes straight out of prohibition. I still find the 21 drinking age here a remarkably poor idea. Everyone under-age drinks, it's a fact, but because it's forbidden, it's not taken to responsibly. So now, when I want to go and drink with my friends (who can all drink at home) I have to do so undercover, because there are so many bored policeman in this town waiting to hand out fines.

Richard and Sam can't organise their sock collection
So anyway, with our measly 6 packs in hand, we all headed back to a room to make a start to the night. After a few beers we received the call to head to Pufton, where a party was being held for Matt's 21st. The walk featured shared vodka from Anna, that was potent enough to knock her out fairly early. It also explains a lot of where the rest of went.

When we finally arrived at the party, we all took our shoes off, which proved bad news for Richard and Sam. The party was full of fellow international students, and within 5 minutes the tiny 1 bedroom apartment was wall to wall with people.

My tape stopped recording pretty early in the night, but from all reports everyone had a pretty amazing time. Judging by how I felt the next day I'm assuming I was the same. I really wish I had more to say, but for the most part I don't remember, nor am I proud...oh well, party life!
Stolen facebook photo proves I had fun

The next day was highlighted by a huge hangover (or as the Brits say 'hanging out your arse') and a little bit of spew under the shade of a tree I sought refuge under. Despite this, I put forward a Churchillian like effort and persevered with my homework. Eventually I shrugged the hangover off, met some friends in the dining hall and went through the forensics of the night before. It was agreed, we all got blasted, and indeed, had a blast.

Eels - Railroad Man
I absolutely adore this version of Railroad Man. I have never seen Eels before, and I was a trifle distraught when they announced a Sydney show the weekend after I left, but in the Mark Olliver Everett way, all that tragic seems to have pushed me to something better. Instead I'm going (hopefully) to see them in Boston on Friday. I know you're jealous, if not, you need to reconsider your musical tastes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

vs the World

God damn it Lee-Roy!

Seriously. Oliver, John, Lee-Roy and myself were sat at a table in the all-you-can-eat dining hall enjoying some banter (barn tare if you're English) when John received a message. Max had realised his licence could be misinterpreted by Americans, changing his birthday from October 5 (5/10/89, British date) to May 5 (5/10/10, the wrong way). Both he and Michael decided they'd give it a go, but I was reluctant to tag along.

Being the wisest, maturest and best qualified of the group, Lee-Roy said "I don't want to pressure you, but we'll only go for one beer". I  thought I could trust him, given his reputation for smoke-bombing nights out and bailing early. I agreed to go out for 'one', got my jacket and met everyone at the bus stop.

We entered an Irish Pub, with everyone getting their identifications checked before Max. He showed his licence and his student I.D. and was in. We all did our best to hide our grins at outsmarting the system, but as soon as he sat down a guy comes over, taps Max on the shoulder and asks "Are you Max?" The colour washed out of him, but the guy said they were in the same politics class and the crisis was averted.

Max went to the bar, ordering a pitcher of Bud for the group and immediately forgetting the tip. Worse still, my one beer had just turned into rounds. The banter continues with the rounds. By about 5 the jukebox was playing Oasis and the security had come over to marvel over the way we spoke. As a collective we decided to leave, heading for Monkey Bar, Amherst's trashiest watering hole.

'It's $5 each, but I'll let you all in for fifteen", said the security. No thanks. We instead went to some other bar in-between (there are only 5 in Amherst) and continued the rounds. After a segue outside, we ventured back indoors where the karaoke was playing. John felt all-sorts of patriotism arising in him and requested Midnight Oil. Michael and I had consumed the requisite amount of beers to join him. Together we mumbled and groaned our way through 'Beds are Burning' as the room quickly emptied and the mics were turned down. It was hardly a performance to write home about, but one drunk guy at the bar was pretty excited by it.

We went back to Monkey bar before close, waiving the cover charge but getting the cream of Massachusetts' finest stumbling around and grinding anything that moved. The 15 minutes we spent there was enough, and given that every bar here shuts at 1 the party continued out on the street.

Max and I were suitably unimpressing some girls on the street, though he was willing to give up his jacket for one of them. Again, after some pressure I relented and followed suit. When they inevitably left, I grabbed my jacket, rolled down the sleeves and hid an American flag stolen from someone's lawn up it.

God damn it Lee-Roy, my one beer had turned into a whole night out.

The next day Michael and I went into Northampton. I bought a second pair of shoes, some comics and tickets to Wavves and Broken Social Scene. The city has a reputation for being the lesbian capital of the East Coast, but it took us a few visits to even realise that. But enough of that, after doing some errands Michael and I have seemingly got most of our shit together here. We even managed a skate in the evening. Word.

Lee-Roy and I went to dinner at the Asian section of the dining hall last night. It was a very civil affair and eventually ventured into the larger area for some coffee. Once in there we immediately saw John again. Not long after Alex, Richard and Sam joined, with Max not long before. Within a few minutes he had decided to go out again...but only for one right Lee-Roy?

The plan was to go into Monkey Bar early, while it was a restaurant and they don't check identification. It also circumvents the cover charge and is a pretty nice place with the lights on. Same decided to sit the adventure out, but Alex and Richard joined Max in some under-age drinking (though it's legal in their home country). We all sat around the bar, while the girls from Essex and Oliver sat at a neighbouring table, enjoying an under-age dinner. Matt, the birthday boy, joined us later on.

My cultural assimilation was complete with a few Bud Lights and right on cue, the lights went down and the place turned into a filthy nightclub. We stuck around as the girls in short skirts arrived separately to the baseball caps. Everything became super crowded and the dance floor became a sauna. Richard and I were pulling off the types of moves that should have seen us removed, while the locals around us just grinded (ground?) each other, because no one has rhythm.

Max had been using his London charm on a group of girls and it had worked so well that he was going to buy them all drinks. I started talking to one, and when she asked me to get her one she seemed shock with my refusal. I added, "it's poor etiquette to ask for a drink, you should know better." Jog on. Besides, this is an American college town, the next pleasant girl with a nice smile is only round the corner.

There was more dancing, more grinding, some banter between over enthusiastic Americans and time spent making sure the Essex girls were behaving. Lee-Roy made up for his arm twisting by buying a few drinks and being an absolute gentleman.

The group had thinned out by the end of the night and eventually it was only Matt, Richard and myself left. There was some street walk charming before Max texted through saying he had found his way into a sorority. We did our best to join him, but there was a drunk girl crying that she was lost. She had somehow managed to confuse Amherst's two streets, and eventually Matt had to walk her to safety. Richard and I did our best to high-tail it to the sorority, but the drunk walk had caused some time confusion. Everyone bar Max and his companion had left. Matt caught up, but it was time to call it a night.

God damn it Lee-Roy.

I'm moving rooms tomorrow. I'm heading for a hall named 'Lewis", so I have no excuse for confusion. My room-mate here, Joel (pronounced Jo El), is an absolutely top guy, but no one in this building talks to anyone.

The Tallest Man on Earth - The Gardner.
His name is misleading, but his songs are brilliant. I first heard him on a mix-tape made for me by my mate Brenna, a lovely girl. He is touring Northampton in a month and again, I can't wait to see him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


"Frankie, I need directions to Mountain Park" is hardly the most reassuring group of words you want to hear from a cabbie, but with 8 passengers stuffed into a van, it can be the most hilarious.

I began my week with a class that focuses on the relationship between politicians and journalists. It is taught by an active congressman and that is an honour in itself. I don't mean to rag on the University of Wollongong or my education in Australia, but an opportunity like this one is something I would not be able to obtain on my home shores. Needless to say the workload for it is immense, but so is the opportunity.

That evening, myself and seven other international students all boarded a bus to Holyoke. After an hour we got off at the bus' final stop, Holyoke College. When a group of us began to wander around the campus looking for directions to Mountain Park a of us (the males) received some odd glances. Unbeknownst to most of us it is an all female campus, but that didn't stop us from almost crashing their dining hall.

After a half hour wait, a singular taxi pulled up. Due to our large number we requested two, but since Amherst and the surrounding areas seem to only have about 3 taxis (no joke) we all piled in. The 3 girls sat in the back, Alex sat in the front and Richard, John, Sam and myself - potbelly and all - managed to squeeze into two seats. The journey was punctuated throughout with the driver calling his colleague 'Frank' for directions. It would have been ominous had everybody (read: Sam) not been giggling the whole way.

Our detour through Holyoke's picturesque, typical New England streets took us past the type of houses you see in horror films. Large trees loomed over the lawns and seem destined to attract the tourists when 'Fall' actually arrives.

We finally made it to Mountain Park and they had set the area up like an outdoor festival, only this time there were no Australian Flag capes, blistering sun or excessive security. We found a nice spot at the base of the hill and settled in for the first two bands. It would have been perfect in the afternoon sun, but a New England Fall evening was nice in its own little way. We watched the rain clouds with anticipation, as they could have been a literal dampener on the evening. We began to get cold, and I soon realised my cardigan may not have been sufficient. I wasn't the only one with this problem as Sam eloquently stated to Richard "my shirt has pockets, your cardigan is just shit".

As Dum Dum Girls opened their set with a cover of 'Play With Fire' by the Rolling Stones the crazy guy behind us began partially involve himself in our conversation. They sang like the Sonic Youth songs by Kim Gordon but played their instruments like The Ramones. Beach House were up next and they were fairly ambient electonic music with a female singer who sounded just like the guy from Coheed & Cambria. Their stage show included some lit up pyramids, ala a discount store Pink Floyd, and though they were good, their set dragged on.
all professional photographers use 2mp Blackberry cameras.

We moved up front for Vampire Weekend. Though the park area was large, the crowd gathered was relatively small so there were plenty of good viewing vantages. I had heard from numerous sources that Vampire Weekend weren't that great live and that festivals/outdoor shows didn't suit them. Sam, who saw them at Glastonbury, even added "I could hear them, but I was taking a poo", demonstrating how high on the priorities list they were.

I will happily admit to being pleasantly surprised by them. It could have been the low expectations, the foggy New England night or my general appreciation for my American experience, but I thought the band was great. They didn't play Ottoman, but they more than made up for it with a Springsteen cover. The rest of their set was songs I'd heard on radio, but wasn't entirely familiar with. Still, it was nice to be surprised by how good they were. Indie/Reggae Paul Simon tributes are not for everyone, but last night I was more than happy to be involved.
A creepy old dude, and a guy behind him eating chips.

Our eight person taxi adventure was to remain a one-off, as getting back to Amherst was to prove a pain the arse. A trek down some streets led half of us to a taxi, while a few of us remained looking for another one. By chance we happened to stumble across one, and $40 later we were back in Amherst. The other lads opted for a late night dinner, with Sam offering more wisdom on pasta, "I always get the marinara, there's something wrong with the idea of 'meat sauce'". A similar crew of us are going to head to Amherst to catch Wavves on Friday. If it's half as good as Vampire Weekend, or even last Friday, it's bound to be an excellent night.

Ra Ra Riot - Run My Mouth
This band is playing in Northampton in two week and though I only discovered the album a matter of hours ago is going to make for an excellent evening. This is my favourite song from the album, which y'all should obtain.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Life is too short, to live without poetry.

Earlier in the week I had signed up to join the UMass Ski and Boarders club. I can neither ski, nor board but the opportunity to try - and cheaply - seemed too good to pass up. I'm determined to bash the piste, or whatever those gnarly folk yodel.

I partook in American traditions on Saturday afternoon after I shook off my late afternoon hangover. I was told by Max to head to the car-park opposite the football stadium and find the ski club. The walk from my room took about 30 minutes and the closer I got to the stadium the louder and smokier everything became. People were sitting around their cars barbecuing, drinking and tossing the pigskin. It was time to pop my tailgatin' cherry.

I found Max among the masses. Behind him was an improvised stage made up of the trays of some giant American utes/trucks. There was a d.j., plenty of girls dancing and beers getting tossed around. Better yet, the police were around and seemingly turning a blind eye to the whole occasion. I mention the ski club earlier as the biggest tailgate party was being thrown by them. Better yet one of the guys recognised me and immediately passed over a Bud Light. Brilliant, who needs fraternities when you can join the ski club instead?

After two Buds the police began to break up the tailgate. Oddly enough, only a minor percentage of tailgaters (tailgators) went to watch the game. Max, Bella and I went inside the stadium just in time for the theatrics to begin. Marching bands were followed by videos on the screen before what seemed like 100 players came through the banners.

UMass absolute killed it on the turf. My rudimentary understanding of the game was expanded as I continued to watch. Throughout I tried to get a U.S.A. chant going, but for the most part the crowd was silent, preferring to suffer through endless time-outs.
It's funny to see how Americans do sports and the theatrics I mentioned earlier has a big part to do with it. The marching band is massive, there's drum-lines, cheerleaders, dancers and even some shitty fireworks. I was expecting chants and crazy fans, but despite the tailgating everyone was quiet and reserved. The biggest cheer of the night came for the half-time show, which was well deserved.

After the game Max and I headed down the road for beers. There was plenty of cops around and Max got moved on for loitering as I bought two 6-packs of Narragansetts. As I walked past a police officer with the beer concealed in two bags he asked "No beer in those is there?", to which I replied "nope, and they're not open either". I don't understand why he asked, what I was doing was perfectly legal, both on and off campus.
Max and I walked through campus on the way to his room, but with the amount of security and police around we instead settled for the house on Sunset. I felt bad for using their house as a beer refuge, but in this nanny-state there were few other places to go.

We sat around for a few before deciding to head to a party Kevin knew of. We walked up N Pleasant st to 'Brick House', where we were immediately stamped like in a nightclub. Max and I went to the basement as there were rumours of stripper poles. What we found instead we were reinforcement poles and a crowd of people gathered around a d.j. We hedged our bets and began talking to a group of three girls before most of the party cleared out. The word 'cop' is a homonym, and one of its lesser known definitions means "run away". Apparently the police drove by and shone their lights on the party in some kind of warning sign.

We trekked up the road to another party, completely with another room with a d.j. (though this one had a blacklight). By the time our beers were done we decided that we'd had enough. The party dream for Saturday night had died...for some of us.

I gave Alex, Sam and Richard a call and after catching up on the night before (there was additional random conversations and writing my name in concrete) we decided to look for a party. We went back up the same street looking for Hobart, where the rugby team was having their party. We passed a lot of people on the way including Keri, who was an exchange student at the University of Wollongong last session, and is the definition of loveliness. Despite the exodus we persevered...of sorts, until we realised that the party had been well and truly shut down.

On the way back Alex and I did our best to strike up conversations with passers-by. An unfortunate group befriended us on the way back to NorthEast. I paired up with a girl who kept repeating she was from Portland, Maine and had been drinking wine at dinner since she was 16. I believed her, assuming she was talking about doing it non-stop as she was blotto by the time we met.

Not long after the night ended, despite all of the police and slight hangover my day had been fantastic and how great America is. You may have to graft to get a beer, but that becomes part of the charm after a while.

Vampire Weekend - Ottoman
Today I went for a trip out to Northampton to get a new pair of kicks. Instead I came back with some Scott Pilgrim books and some concert tickets. One of them is MATT & KIM, which I am ABSOLUTELY EXCITED FOR. The other is Vampire Weekend for tomorrow night. Anywho, this song is from a shit film, but it's my favourite of theirs.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Still amazed I didn't lose it on the roof of the place when I was drunk and I was thinking of you

Tuesday morning took me right back to 1992. It was my first day of classes in America and my stomach was doing backflips as I sat in class waiting for the teacher to arrive. He took the roll, couldn't play a video and let everyone go early. It was an entirely informal affair and my nerves subsided instantly. The rest of the day was repeated over and over, introductions, book lists and a list of expectations. I was shocked by the amount of work that is expected here, but then again, that's what I came here looking for.

I started Wednesday off with a dishevelled visit to the hairdresser. They work for tips here and I have never had a hairdresser get up so close and personal ever before. The routine resembled a lap dance with a bit of grooming thrown in. Satisfied with my new do, I tipped the lady pretty well and went on my way to the mall with Michael, but not before a visit to KFC.
KFC's distable.

Ever since it took over the internet, the KFC Double Down became a mountain I wanted to climb. This was to be my first and only attempt, as repeat ascents would cause my arteries to clog and my heart to break. Slowly, I wrapped my hands around two pieces of fried chicken breast that hugged cheese and bacon. Every  bite was a brilliant experience, filled with equal parts joy and cholesterol. Once I finished the burger it immediately took it's toll. I began to feel sleepy, greasy and cumbersome, though I had climbed my mountain, I lost part of myself up there.
Michael and I mallrat'd it up for a while, spending time in the gun section of the sporting store and trying out baseball bats. It's a great thing about America that I can go out to the local mall and arm myself for the apocalypse. However, that wasn't the intention and I left with a printer instead.

That afternoon I walked to Amherst's train station to pick-up Erika. I have only been gone for a month, but it's always nice to have a touch of home around. We tried to get a taxi, but in a city this small it is near impossible. Instead we settled for a bus and got Erika checked into the campus hotel. The evening was pretty quiet, with Erika being zonked from the past few days. I went to the library, did my study until 11PM and skated my way back to bed.
Kenny Powers

My Thursday schedule mirrors my Tuesday one, but this time there were no early marks. Some of the books I ordered online arrived before class and so I gave them a quick reading. Midway through one I fell asleep, waking up when class was meant to start. I got most of my shit together and headed for class. In my haste to get learned in class, I locked my key in my room, making my return a terrible pain in the arse. For nearly an hour I went up and down stairs and between buildings before I was able to get a spare key and recover my own. This American red-tape really got to me, as I don't understand the inefficiency of all their procedures.

Erika and I met up with Lee-Roy in Amherst for a few quiet beers. We went to the Monkey Bar, where Lee-Roy was enjoying his vegetarian ravioli in the nice atmosphere of the restaurant. We sat around for a few beers when the place changed completely. The rubber drink mats came out, the tables and tablecloths disappeared, the chairs were taken from under our arses and the security fence from the front came out. The nice Monkey Bar transformed into the dive bar I visited the week before. Crazy. The beer went from glasses to plastic cups and girls dressed like hookers paid the cover charge to get in. Immediately guys circled like sharks and every second person appeared to be a home-boy like character. There was a 30 minute window where the dive bar was great, but we quickly decided to get tae fuck.

We walked down the street to the Spoke, a quiet (still packed) bar. My accent worked a charm, scoring a free beer and proved a hilarious ice-breaker to random strangers (though not as good as my Danzig t). We stuck around until close, after I insulted some girl in a round about way she didn't understand. Lee-Roy had smoke-bombed it by this stage so Erika and I went to a house on Sunset, to hang out with the other internationals.

The house on sunset had taken a few of the guys under their wings, and they seem to be there all the time now. When we arrived there was a megaphone, that I then proceeded to have most of my conversations from. I crashed in the spare bed in Erika's hotel after this, enjoying a double bed for the first time in weeks.

Erika and I went to Amherst in the afternoon, meeting up with the English girls in a restaurant and watched them eat. I am still blown away by how tiny the city is, as you can practically walk from one end to the other in about 4-5 paces. After dinner Erika retired back to her room, not feeling well from an earlier meal. It would turn out to be an extremely wise decision.

I met up with Sam, Alex and Jess and together, with my skateboard, we went to the liquor store. After a two hour round trip we made it back to the rooms and started drinking. After sinking a few over an hour or two we went out looking for parties. We noticed people were walking the opposite direction and took some cues from them. Along the way a bright orange bollard caught my attention and looked like it needed to be tipped over....

Lights came on and out of his car, torch in hand stormed a police officer. Oops. He was not impressed with my post-modern approach to traffic apparatus and demanded my i.d. His partner approached everyone else, making them pour out their mixed drinks because "your friend is an idiot".
I pulled out my wallet, "Is an Australian licence ok?"
"sure...New South Wales eh?"
"Yep, that's me."
"Do you have any other i.d. or UMass card?"
"Just the card"
"O.K....Lewis, you're smarter than this."
And that was it. And I hope he's right.

Undeterred, Alex, Richard and myself headed for the South-West part of the campus. Having not learned my lesson from before, on the walk I got a bit mouthy and there was a misunderstanding between us and another group of bros. They began following us, looking to cause a bit of ruckus. Being savvy foreign students, we found the nearest big group of people and befriended them. Some frat guys told us all about their fraternity as the other group were now outnumbered and forced to 'jog on'.

Another house on Sunset had its lights on and a few people walking around. We walked in uninvited to the remnants of a gathering. Again, turning on the foreign charm we paraded around like we owned the house. I have a vague recollection of my meeting my dream girl there. She loved Jack Kerouac, Frank Turner and was all sorts of smoking hot. She seemed lovely, but I kept getting her name wrong and after a while we took our cues to head back.
Squirrel eating pastry.

Somehow only Alex and I were the only ones left standing. It was about 4:30 or 5AM when we stumbled across some people playing a late/early game of volleyball, which goes a long way to explaining my morning. I woke up to see Erika off, already clothed, but to a pile of sand next to my bed. I was still a bit drunk when I said goodbye. The time with her went by very quickly, but it was still a lovely visit. It was shame she missed out on such a brilliant night, but I doubt she has any regrets after seeing my state this morning.

Ryan Adams - New York, New York.
It's September 11 over here and there's not much that I need to say about that. However, I want to share this video anyway. When I first saw it I was a 15 year old who was massively into heavy metal. The film-clip struck me first, but very quickly I began to enjoy the song. It would be a few years later, but Ryan Adams very quickly became my favourite musician. So this song and clip, despite it's obvious 9/11 connotations, is a reminder to my introduction to Ryan Adams, and why I stopped wearing so many black t-shirts.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tony Hawk of Wollongong

Lee-Roy, Michael and I found ourselves in Northampton, having a few lagers and waiting to watch a baseball game. The game rained out, so we left fairly and grabbed a 12 pack for the road. We knew about the crazy open liquor laws in America so we opted for warm beers, rather than a fine in the mail...or so we thought. We tried to carry the beers on the bus, but the driver wouldn't allow them. So not only can you not drink a beer outside, you can't even carry them around in certain areas. We left the beers on the sidewalk, questioning the definition of the land of the free.

Disappointed, we stopped at another bottle shop and grabbed an 18 pack. The man behind the counter was happy to show off his fake I.D. collection (about 100) and we made the long trek from one end of campus to the other for a tiny party. We broke the previous open liquor laws on the way to a room party and retired to the common area in a cluster of rooms.

Two people came up and killed the party, telling us that drinking in a lounge room (behind a hallway door) is considered drinking in public, and proceeded to take our names and student numbers. Having taken down the wrong name for me, I left.

The next morning Michael and I went to Boston with Adam, the Polish gent from the other day. He has been living in Amherst for a few months now and is very fond of the area. He elected to take a scenic route towards Boston, offering comely views of New England. Street signs warning of moose were interrupted by woodlands and lakes. Just like the season, the leaves began to fall in a chartreuse like shade. Hedgehogs and squirrels littered the streets as road kill, but only made the New England experience more genuine.

Adam shared his stories of Gdansk, Poland and living in the States with us until we arrived in Boston's financial district. The most startling thing about Boston compared to other large US cities is how clean it is. It may have been quiet in the Financial District on a Saturday, but even the busier parts are kept immaculately tidy.

We walked from one area of the city to the other, passing through Boston Common, and walking along the shore. After an our of trekking, Michael made it back to the phone store, but only received bad news. His iPhone dream has seemingly failed, more American red-tape has killed off any inhibitions he had about taking it back to Australia.

We made up for the disappointment by picking up some skateboards at a shop up the road. Given the size of the campus we felt it would be a great way to get around. I might not be able to skate at the moment, but it's a goal of mine to be able to 'tear up' an empty swimming pool one. A Sylvester Stallone look-alike put together both decks and sent us on our way. The three of us stopped by a bar on the way back to the car for lunch/dinner and watched some non-sensical American sports.

After two hours we were back in Amherst, this time hiding from the rain. When it eventually we tested out our new skateboards in a car park. Embarrassment didn't show its face, but John, Alex, Richard, Sam, Max and Ollie (the other internationals) did. This time they had 60 beers and were headed for one of the residences. We elected to head to Michael's, and considering we were both over 21 we carried the beers.

Michael made it into the first lift, but I was stuck downstairs with a few of the lads. One of the residence staff saw me and went into a bit of a panic. He called for someone else and asked if the beers were mine. The guys with me were all under 21, so I said yes. I then had to go downstairs into an office and get the rules read out to me. Since America's drinking age is 21, it promotes a lot of reckless drinking. The residence halls only allow 12 beers per resident into the rooms, a rule I had no idea about. The staffer took down my details, told me I would be summonsed to a meeting and may have to go on probation or some more sever punishment. I apologised for my ignorance and claimed a familiarity with being treated like an adult had caused me to think it wasn't such a big deal. I had to pour 18 beers down the sink and chatted to the staffer along the way. Being completely sober and polite seems to have helped, as he intimated that he didn't feel I was being malicious with my intentions, it was just a misunderstanding. Within two nights I had my details taken down over trying to have a few quiet beers with friends. Nanny state.

After my interrogation, the group of us quickly got sick of drinking and living in Uni housing. A 30 minute trek up to Puffton for a party ensued. The estate was made up of houses that look like a combination of a trailer-park and cabins. Ollie, an Englishmen proved himself to be a gun at beer-pong. He was so good that we left him behind to keep playing when we called it a night. Alex, another Englishmen was trolleyed to the point of stealing a bottle of vodka from the freezer and having plenty of reservations about sharing it. The party had began to die by the time we got there, and after a while we all got jack of it and left.

The morning skate Michael and I planned was interrupted by the mass of people moving into the housing. There were cars and people everywhere and after one day, already felt skateboarder's pain. I tagged along to another group of English and played guitar and had dinner with them. Dashin, a 17-year-old Indian student came along with the group. He loved telling me about his 1.75ltr bottle of Canadian Club rye whiskey and his skills for obtaining anything illegal. After spending the afternoon and evening with them we headed up to one of the dorms for a party. One of the guys had filled his dorm with bottles of spirits and strobe lights. The room was full of more international students and lead us to another party up the road.

The 'kegger' was a 15 minute walkaway up a hill. The American's that escorted us were legless, struggling to make it up the hill without falling into the ditch that accompanied the footpath. We were met by one of the house's residents at the door and he told us about the gyroscopic fun-fare ride that anyone could use. It was one of those whirly devices where you sit in the middle and get spun around in every possible direction.

Inside the place was packed. It was like a typical American film, wall to wall of people with baseball caps and red cups in hand. Our accents charmed some people into getting us some free beers. Outside we spoke to an American who in between telling us about the 4 years he spent living and working in Pakistan, India, Germany and England was yelling "fuck off cops" to any flashing light that came near. After some banter (as the English call it) we went to the darkened room downstairs to collect our red cups and fill them up with terrible American keg beer.

The night got trashier as guys fought for girls, and drunk girls got excited by us who talk different. Dashin could hardly stand by the time we left, but after some persuading was sharing his Canadian Club around the circle of people. We went back to campus to look for another party but sensibly called it a night. Before Sam, a brummie, could walk Dashin back to his room, Dashin felt the need to urinate. Instead of finding a tree or somewhere secluded he proceeded to go in the middle of an open area, aiming side-to-side like a garden sprinkler.

It was a hilarious end to a top night, and a welcome change from getting 'written up' for having too much fun. Tomorrow is the first day of class and my lack of preparation looks to be coming back to bite me in my ba-donk-a-donk.
Thrashing the g-nar
This Weezer video is great. I adore this song so much and after a party I've had a mini Weezernaissance. Enjoy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Roll down the window and let the window blow back your hair

*Names in this story may be incorrect. I've met too many people for my dinosaur brain to deal with.

"We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star."
-Stephen Hawking

God damn it Michael. I came back to the room after the guitar lawn session and he wasn't around. No big deal, I figure he's around watching sports or something. Like everyone, I opt for the early night and try to get some sleep in this crazy heat.

3AM comes round and I've not long been asleep. Even laying still in bed is making me sweat more than any workout, so sleeping has been sporadic at the minimum. I wake to the sound of the door being pummelled by fists ,"Lewis, wake up, I forgot my key". A few seconds of grumbling occur, Michael tells me about his night before falling into an instant snore. Grrr.

The room stinks of sweat and booze the next morning. I leave Michael behind and go to the housing office with an English guy who wants to swap rooms with me. I have been assigned an all male dorm, and I'm desperately trying to get out. We attempt a swap before we move in, but due to American bureaucratic reasons - that are plentiful and frustrating - we're forced to stick with the current pointless, tedious and painful arrangement. Americans are beginning to piss me off at this stage.

After some pointless meetings and a group dinner a few of us bail on the organised, dry, Dance Party USA, to hit up a few of the local bars. Michael, Lee-Roy, Maks and Hannah all make the 20 minute walk through poorly lit streets and enter the Amherst Brewery. It's a nice bar, quiet enough for a conversation, all chairs face the tv screens and all the beers are made downstairs. 

We hang out for a round or two before Michael and I are left on our own to try out the other bars. The first once we try is an Irish bar and it is literally too packed to walk to the bar. The girls are all dolled up and pretty, but there is a wall of humans separating everyone from everything. We elect to leave the sauna like environment to go to the bar a few doors down.
My crackberry. I've turned into an incessant text demon. Also, Michael is flipping me off in the picture.

It's less busy, but only by about two or three people. I struggle to the bar to order a pitcher of 'bud'. Everyone has other ideas. Guys with arms bigger than my head cut in on me, and the size of their physique screams two words, 'don't argue'. I give Michael the money, he's bigger, and eventually delivers on the beer.

While the American girls go all out, the guys wear sandals, cargo shorts, polos and baseball caps. They all spend more time in the gym than between the pages of any book. There's high 5s and fist pumps all around, so Michael and I find a quiet spot, down the pitcher in record time and meet up with some Germans who know of a party.

We stop by another Amherst bar and it's a piece off shit. It's too trashy for all the d-bags and trashy American lasses. We stay for one drink before heading to some party. When we finally arrive we walk up a few flights of stairs into a room that is blaring music and drinks & sundries are being passed around. I go downstairs to find a bathroom, but everyone is being turfed from the party. I don't find the bathroom, instead settle for the side of the house. They should have been nicer to us.

On the walk back I'm trying to impress with my broken German while my brain is computing whether I made the right choice coming to Amherst or not. The town seemed a bit shitty, the bars were too busy and the people weren't great. It's 3AM and Michael and I get back and sleep.

We both get up early the next day. We have to leave our rooms and our friendly cliques of fellow international students by 8AM to move to our proper residences. I'm still bitter about the all male dorm, making the lack of sleep, slight headache and heat feel even worse. Instead of waiting around Michael and I head to the mall so he can buy a laptop. We get back around mid-day, when it is steaming. I walk to my new dorm, only to find I can't check in until 2PM. I grab all my belongings, sit under a tree and play guitar for two hours while my sweat dulls the strings tone with each chord.
WWII dorm

After some key troubles I'm finally into the room. It's bigger than I was expecting, but the shower is something out of a prison. If you want to shut the door to keep your towel dry you lose any light source. If you want to get changed you have to do it in a communal area. Boy am I glad I'm paying a premium for this...I'm really starting to turn on America and Amherst.

I go downstairs to the basement to wash all of my sweaty clothes and bed sheets. I strip down to my boxers, ensuring that almost all of my clothes get cleaned. Once the washer starts I then realise I'm wearing the boxer shorts with a massive tear in the arse (possibly blown out due to massive bouts of flatulence). All male dorm, arse-less shorts, this really sucks. I change into my board-shorts, they fit me in summer, but a month in the states is beginning to have some side effects.
Holy boxer shorts Batman!

I get all my stuff together and leave for a bus to Northampton at 6:30PM. I meet up with Michael, whose new computer has already been rendered useless by a virus. We get into Northampton and immediately check out the box office and local gig guides. Holy crap, there are some great shows coming up. Better yet, the place is only 20 minutes away on a free bus.

The whole town is great, people talk to the buskers and bums, the Mexican food is sound and there is hardly a baseball cap in sight. Better yet, Sonic Youth live there. Michael and I find a bar after eating some burritos. We sit down, start chatting to the bar tender and finally find a lager that satiates our needs in the heat. We spend the next few hours talking to some other people at the bar and watching sports we don't understand. It's a pretty great scene and we've found a place to see bands. All of a sudden, America seems like a brilliant place again.

Broken Social Scene - Forced to Love.
This band is playing Northampton soon and the video is absolutely amazing. If you watch it, you'll feel jealous that I'm going to see them