Saturday, December 31, 2005

Dead Flag Blues

The final hours of the year are upon us. Working till 10pm will be fine by me, but only because I made a killer mix especially to outline the details and events and moods of 2005: most notable tracks are The Godspeed song "Dead Flag Blues" as this year marked the end of me ever wanting to stay in this country. I will try to roadtrip across it to get a glimpse of some parts I always wanted to see, but ultimately in life, I will move out to either Greece, Italy or Switzerland. Three places I have visited and loved more than home... which is easy since New Jersey isn't exactly my idea of heaven on earth. Also on the disc is "How to Disappear Completely" by Radiohead hoping to erase out of my memory the depression I was in this past 365 dayts (give or take the few that I truly liked). Also, Jeff Buckley's "Lover You Should've Come Over" as I am finally putting that album to rest for a while since my broken heart has been mended by myself. I no longer need to worry about such problems in my life. Also, in accordance to that is E6's "Future is in the Future" since it is and the past is a big brick wall. Most importantly is Wilco's "What's the World Got In Store" since I am looking forward to what life will throw me next. Other artists include The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Lemonheads and The Who.

Then it's off to Carly, John and Jill's for a great night garunteed. They are three classy people and I am super glad they live in Collingswood. I send my best to the Ryan Carey party, because lord knows they will have an amazing time with that man. Ryan is one of the best people you can ever meet. His lust for life (one that he claims I have... that's kind of true although it was almost demolished this year) is greater than any man could ever ask for. He embodies the greatness of what optimism and love truly can be when harnessed correctly.

So let's drink to the salt of the earth tonight. Let's drink to them. And let's pour a libation for 2005 for it being a year of emotional growth and change.

Happy New Year! Welcome 2006. We are anxious for your arrival.

P.S- Here is the track listing of my mix for 2005. Just keep in mind that 2004 had two discs. So you can see how much this year was not favorable in my mind.

1. Godspeed, You Black Emperor!- The Dead Flag Blues
2. Radiohead- How to Disappear Completely
3. The Lemonheads- Hannah and Gabbi
4. Teenage Fan Club- Alcoholiday
5. Sufjan Stevens- Jacksonville
6. Wilco- What's the World Got In Store
7. Jeff Buckley- Lover, You Should've Come Over
8. Stephen Malkmus- Pink India
9. The Who- How Many Friends
10. Beck- Go It Alone
11. Belle and Sebastian- If You're Feeling Sinister
12. Brian Eno- Here He Comes
13. Electric Six- Future is in the Future
14. John Lennon- Bring on the Lucie (Freda People)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It's Pencil Rot

So writing my script has taken a halt and a half. But, the holiday's are almost over and the reading I have been doing (almost done Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman...thanks for the tip Lazor... effing great... also starting Confederacy of Dunces soon) has given me a new direction to retake the great drive of writing this script tentatively title Lack of Expectation. The story is about the expectations put on us graduates by family, elders, society and friends to become something after graduation. Why do we have to be something? Why can't we just be someone at this point in life and experience what we are doing right now rather than try to project what we will experience in a few months? It's a very Tralfamadorian way of looking at graduation.

Also, album of the year, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks' Face the Truth. Really great. I am going to finalize a top 10 in a few days after I listen to the contenders, but there is no way that this album is NOT #1 for me. It was a very interesting year for music and Loved lots of albums, but this one stands tall over the rest (maybe not too much taller than The Rave's Pretty in Black).

As a note to that last post, I had a lot on my mind when I wrote it (a lot that pissed me off and held me back) and I don't want to come across as asking for pity because LORD knows I don't need it. I say this year sucekd (which it did), but thats not to say there wasnt a ton of shit that I am totally grateful for (esp. my friends.)

Note to those who read this, don't take everything too seriously. Honestly, I write what I feel and if for some reason it gives you a weird impression or the wrong impression (which I think an earlier post may have done... the jury is still out on that one.) This blog is mainly for me to write a little about myself and the random thoughts that run through my brain. If you don't like it, don't read it.

Finally, a prelude to 2006. I am going to break a lot of hearts on New Years Eve because I have decided to stay in Collingswood after I work till 10pm. For three reasons:
1. I work at 12 noon the next day and don't feel like getting up early from somewhere that isn't three blocks from my house to drive home and get ready for work. If I stay near home, I have the option of walking home wasted, sleeping till 11:30 and rolling out of bed to go to wow for my short shift.
2. I haven't been seeing George Szczepanski as much as I want to be and (no offense guys) I will be seeing you for the Leo Retreat the next weekend. So I might as well milk time with Spank while I can. Carly, John and Jill throw a classy party and invite very fine guests with whom I also don't see nearly enough.
3. No offense guys, but a sausage fest can be saved for Leo Retreat Weekend. This weekend, I need to mingle with the ladies. It will be done.

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. 2006! Bring it!

Monday, December 26, 2005

I know you might never really understand: 2005 in Review

One week left in this godforsaken year. And yes, it has been pretty craptastic. There were some amazing times, I'll admit, but all in all... it sucked. I remember this time last year, I was looking forward to 2005 because 2004 ruled. 04 saw the end of a destructive relationship, the start of my first real adult relationship, the creating of strong friendships at La Salle, and a life-altering trip to Greece. That trip is basically the best and highest point of my life. A lot of soul seeking, reading (discoverd Slaughterhouse 5 on that trip) and relaxing (lots of Nick Drake and Neil Young.... oh yea... all my other cd's were snatched). Anyway, I need to stop letting 2004 bogart on my hate fest of 2005.

I deem 2005 the year of personal let-downs.

The afformentioned friendships had a giant fork thrown into their gears due to friends graduating and getting jobs. And, I'll be honest, I miss my brothers from time to time while wandering campus. Im glad for these chumps who are working stiffs and I love seeing them from time to time, but something has changed that will definitely change again when I leave that damn place at 20th and Olney.

The relationship I talked about ended abruptly. And I missed it dearly for about 5 months. Summer was lonely, hot, unfruitful and filled with me trying to fill a bottomless pit with dirt to cover up my depression. Don't get me wrong. Things like the Disc league were great diversions, but nothing works when you are heartbroken.

Things looked up in August. I had a birthday, I met new people (emo house rules) and made new chances to meet new people. And even though I did meet new people, I still couldn't get things off of my mind and in my own insecurities ruined both chances before they even started/ was looking for more than I should have been and scared them away.

Moving out of the apartment=Worst Idea Ever. Being home is sucking my will to live out of my eyeballs. I miss the Szczepanski brothers more than they possibly could ever fathom. I think if I stayed and had a huge loan tacked onto my life yet again, I'd be happier. Much happier.

Regardless, thats not too important in the grand scheme of things. This year is almost gone and 2006 is almost upon me. And if it gets worse than this, I may have to move out of the country to find myself. Greece is a possibility. I'll live on Nisyros for a year and get away from life. Live the simple life and enjoy the beauty of the world around me.

I'd like to thank the following people/films/things that made 2005 worth keeping my lungs filled with Oxygen:
George and Jack, Rob Ealer, Danno Somavilla, Dr. Ryan P. Carey D.D.S., Justin Leo, Nick Norlen, Stev Elev, Mike Muller, Kevner, Anthony Chwastyk, Simon Burger, Bill Drust, Amanda DiRienzo, Daniel Touey, Bill Wine, The Collegian Staff, Uber Street crew and constituents (Esp. Drew, Lou, Lazor and Taylor... so I guess thats everyone who actually resides there...) Warren Zevon's "Hasten Down the Wind", Jeff Buckley's "Lilac Wine", The Lemonhead's "The Great Big No", King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man", Malkmus' Face the Truth, The Raveonettes' Pretty in Black, Sam Adams Winter Lager, Basel Haydens, 'Cane, Trips to Bethlehem (few and far between, yet great times each time), Leo Retreat Weekend's, Pink Floyd reuniting, last.fm, the Emo House (parties and people), high fives, good meals, Arrested Development, The Giles ranch and company, and most importantly, my family.

It was a downer year, but im not going to let that get me down. Let's make 2006 a rolicking success. I have a lot to look forward to between internship, filming of my first short entitled Lack of Expectation, graduation, road trip, Jupiter and the Great Beyond.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Rock and Roll Fantasy

He just spend's his life, living in a rock and roll fantasy. Ray Davies wrote that. And that's my life. Stealing Warren Zevon and John Lennon's thunder, I, Pete Townshend, will hink on the guerro of renaming you fools. So here is my who's who for the current friends:
Neil Young- Drew Stephan
Jimi Hendrix- Ryan Carey
Bob Dylan- Lou Perseghin
Warren Zevon- Danno Somavilla
Notorious B.I.G.- Drew Lazor
John Lennon- Stev Lipenta
David Bowie- Jelone
Joni Mitchell- Sarah Deal
Janis Joplin- Colleen Jaskewicz
Grace Slick- Gwuxington
Madonna- Meg Magee

Don't like who you are? Suck it up, you're a legend.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Grace


One of my current musical loves (probably my most listened to album this year- 2005 was tough on my heart) is that of the genius of Jeff Buckley. He compsed only one album before tragically drowning in the Wolf River. That album, of course, is Grace, voted by XPN listeners as the 27th greatest album of all time and currently in my top 10. Within this album are the defining musical performances of the 90's between song writing, guitars, drums, bass and of course vocals. Buckley's words are so brilliant and his delivery is even better. And, in my humble opinion, the album covers a topic and a concept of some emotional break-up that we all go through when losing the love of our life. Here is my song-bu-song breakdown that shows its growth in heartbreak.

Track 1- Mojo Pin- A song about a dream, the singer is haunted by his loss in some of the most intense lyrics on the album. As the song starts, the music and singing are a whisper as if we are hearing him in his sleep speak of his loss. It slowly builds to a violent and scary interpretation of his torment as the music builds and the vocals explode. The best line, depicting in extremely beautifuly heartbreaking terms is this:

"The welts of your scorn, my love, give me more
Send whips of opinion down my back, give me more
Well it’s you I’ve waited my life to seeIt’s you
I’ve searched so hard for..."

Track 2- Grace- A lose interpretation on my thought, but this song to me seems to be sort of the break-up where he can no longer live with losing his love. It's hard, but he knows its true that its ending and in a terrible way.

"And I feel them drown my name
So easy to know and forget with this kiss
But I’m not afraid to go, baby it’s all because of you
But I’m not afraid to go, but it goes so slow, slow"

He loves her but knows its coming and he's trying to be strong for himself. God that feeling sucks.

Track 3- Last Goodbye- This song is him finally knowing, after trying to not be afraid of the end, but knowing it is. It is in fact the last goodbye, or at least we think it is by the convincing lyrics. He is finally "sure" that he is over this love of his.

"Kiss me, please kiss me
But kiss me out of desire, babe, and not consolation
You know it makes me so angry ’cause I know that in time
I’ll only make you cry, this is our last goodbye"

Sort of the head games we play with ourselves when breaking up. Kind of like it was our fault it was over and that it's "for the better." Oh how we try to fool ourselves.

Track 4- Lilac Wine- The first of three covers, this song is by far the most beautiful statement of what we all do to forget her (which is Buckley song b-side from this album.) We go to the drink.

"I made wine from the lilac tree
Put my heart in it’s recipe
It makes me see what I want to see
And be what I want to be

When I think more than I want to think
Do things I never should do
I drink much more that I ought to drink
Because it brings me back you"

He uses someone elses words to get this painful feeling across. We drink away the pain and want to forget our troubles. It's as if Buckley wanted to forget his troubles by not writing a song about it and using this one. Excellent choice.

Track 5 - So Real- After being drunk, we all go through nightmarish weird times when we remember why we drank... to ease the pain and forget her... but Lord knows that isn't going to happen. Now his nightmare isn't a dream as in Mojo Pin, but is reality.

"And I couldn’t awake from the nightmare that sucked me in and pulled me under"

The realization that it is all so real hits him hard. He loves her, but is afraid to love her. And it's because his heart is broken and the fact he knows its no longer a dream.

Track 6- Hallelujah- Second cover on the album. Pretty much, knowing things are real, we turn to something to help us along again. This time the words of someone else. Therefore the cover, but a fitting one. One where the composer/focus of the song is doing just that- asking for help.

"There was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do ya
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath you drew was hallelujah"

Remembering times before that were great. And now that it's gone, things just aren't the same anymore.

Track 8- Lover, You Should've Come Over- Greatest love song ever written in my new opinion. Love songs are a-plenty, but this one takes it. As much as you try to forget love, it's still there. Gnawing at your heart. This song is a plea to the love in Buckley's life (not sure who, but I will be researching this more). He confronts his ideas of love and such. And in the most beautiful words ever written about love, he simply yet brilliantly sums up what its like when you miss the one you love so much:

"It’s never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
It’s never over, all my riches for her smiles when I slept so soft against her
It’s never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughterI
t’s never over, she’s the tear that hangs inside my soul forever
Well maybe I’m just too young
To keep good love from going wrong"

It doesn't get much more brilliant than that. Someone who loves someone so much feels like they would give anything for the simple things to return. It's magnificent.

Track 8- Corpus Christi Carol- The last cover on the album, the only real reason I see this being on here is to set in stone (which is a lyric in this) the idea of his heart being torn to shreds. Here is an interesting line that I have a few thoughts on:

"And on this bed there lyeth a knight
His wound is bleeding day and night
By his bedside kneeleth a maid
And she weepeth both night and day"

Here is the notion of her feeling some sort of similar feeling and her seeing the damage she may have done in this heartbreak. Its really the only song I don't have my finger on quite yet.

Track 9- Eternal Life- Here is where we all question life when losing something we thought was everything for us. We all do it. We hate life after something we put our whole sense of being into. And then when it's gone, its almost like what else is there to live for?

"There’s no time for hatred, only questions
Where is love, where is happiness, what is life,
Where is peace?
When will I find the strength to bring me release?
And tell me where is the love in what your prophet has said? "

Also, this song is the height of intensity in the music. A total anger fest at why love is gone in any form on the world.

Track 10- Dream Brother- This is his final statement to everyone listening who has had the same loss as himself. WE are his dream brothers who live in this world of loss and despair. It's an amazing statement saying this:

"Don’t be like the one who made me so old
Don’t be like the one who left behind his name
’cause they’re waiting for you like I waited for mine
And nobody ever came..."

Simply saying- Don't do what I did (which is depicted in this album from tracks 1-9). The music and the song structure is a perfect bookend to Mojo Pin and is an amazingly touching statement to the listener.

The album as a whole is a great crutch. Go through a similar heartbreak with Buckley and at the end, know that it's not as bad as he felt it. We learn a beautiful lesson and we get beautiful music along with it. SO if you haven't heard Grace yet, do it now. Especially if you want a great emotional and almost spiritual experience.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Warren Zevon- 1947-2003


I've been a fan of Warren Zevon for years, thanks to my Father, Jack "Spacely" Tsikitas. My first exposure to him was in the form a cassette tape of his integral album, Excitable Boy. I remember hearing songs like the titular song, "Werewolves of London" and "Nighttime in the Switching Yard" and remember liking them for their funny lyrics and catchy riffs. As a kid, you don't appreciate great things, but who was an 8-year-old listening to Warren Zevon anyway? Also as a kid, my parents had the album Sentimental Hygiene on vinyl. This was great too with some even sillier songs like "The Factory" and "Leave My Monkey Alone." The innocence of those days made his music accesible to me since he was a genius at writing hilarious songs. Most of which had more meaning than my mind ever could understand, but I still knew it was great.
As I got older, I rememberd the music I loved and went back to this album and rediscovered the greatness of Warren. I went back to Excitable Boy first and found new songs that reflected more adult themes, like love and stuff. These songs, like "Accidentaly Like a Martyr" were much more meaningful to me than "Werewolves of London", but lets be honest, "Werewolves" is brilliant.
I delved deeper into his catalouge and found works like his self-titled album. Which is far superior to anything he has ever done since, although his albums after were great as well. When I first heard a song like "Hasten Down the Wind" or his masterpiece "Desperados Under The Eaves", I finally realized the brilliance that is Warren. I was moved by these songs that no song had ever done to me before and on a level of greatness that many of you humble readers don't know because, WZ is probably one of the most underappreciated rock and roll singer/songwriters of all time.
Why do all of this so many years after his death? Don't know. I wrote a song for WZ at one point that I would like my new musical project to take up. It's the best lyrics I ever wrote but they never went anywhere with Noringo. It's called "Play On, Desperado" and I really put a lot into it. I wrote it after I listened to his final, poingant and beautiful album The Wind (his best work since his Warren Zevon.) The song "Keep Me In Your Heart" made me weep a bit. I didn't know the man, but I knew his music and I knew this song was so personal that his family has a great gift in listening to this song and feeling good that their beloved man can be remembered in such a glorious way.
So do yourself a favor. Go and pick up some Warren Zevon and discover his greatness. It's pretty simple stuff, but its some of the best stuff you'll ever hear.

My Future Wife


Sometimes, I marvel in this woman's ability to make me swoon. And I don't know why I wanted to share that with the world right now, but my future wife is a beautiful, British babe who also can act in anything from Comedy to Thriller to Drama. I present to you, the Future Mrs. Tsikitas. I'll take on any man for this woman. Even though if you ever see The Shape of Things in which her character is the biggest BITCH ever, you still have to love her! God! That's all I got.

Thank you Rachel.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Artistry

art·ist·ry (√§rt-str)n.
Artistic ability: a sculptor of great artistry.
Artistic quality or craft: the artistry of a poem.

Art is hard. Yes it is. And art comes in many forms. A poem, a painting, a song, a film. And art is something that adds to our lives making it better and making life much more tolerable. When things are bad, how often do we curl up with a good book and a good record? The feeling of seeing a sculpture in which someone devoted their time chipping away from rock to get something out of it. These artists show us that things like a stone can be beautiful. A film can capture a feeling through images and words and sounds.

Here are a few of my personal favorite artists.

Michelangelo- Between the David (pictures don't do it justice, so here is another one to show you just how amazing it is) and his frescos in the Sistine Chapel, you don't get classical forms much better than this. Before you get too old, go to see these amazing sights. The aura you get from them is pretty much the most breathtaking moment in my life.

Kurt Vonnegut- No other author uses simplicity and hilarity to the best ability like Kurt. His novles that I have read (which isn't nearly enough) capture the human spirit in a wry and sometimes scathingly hilarious way. His finest work, and my favorite novel ever written, Slaughterhouse 5 captures some element of life that is amazing. Here is a great excerpt.
"Robert Kennedy, whose summer home is eight miles from the home I live in all year round, was shot two nights ago. He died last night. So it goes.Martin Luther King was shot a month ago. He died, too. So it goes.And every day my Government gives me a count of corpses created by military science in Vietnam. So it goes.My father died many years ago now -- of natural causes. So it goes. He was a sweet man. He was a gun nut, too. He left me his guns. They rust. "

The Who & The Velvet Underground- As for pop art found in the form of music, it really doesn't get better than these two bands. And for different reasons. The Who is one of the greatest rock bands. Their great contribution is found in their ability to make rock music that is both fun, loud and poetic. The lyrics of Pete, the howl of Roger, the insane backbone of John and Keith give their songs, albums and especially their live act a higher level of ability. Check out the following to understand what I mean: The Who Sell Out, Tommy, Who's Next, Live at Leeds and Quadrophenia. As for VU, the likes of John Cale and Lou Reed alone cause for brilliance. They never were huge, but they mixed the art of Andy Warhol (thanks to you, sir, for funding them and discovering them) with the raw nature of Reed's guitar work and lyrical abilities. Check out White Light/White Heat for the best of this raw nature. Also, check out the solo efforts of Reed (Transformer) and Cale (Paris 1919) and their tribute to Warhol (Songs for Drella).

Wilfred Owen- After having Butler's class in gothic literature, I found a new poet to love. And that is the works of Wilfred Owen. Haunting tales of World War I that are so graphic, yet beautiful, you don't know wether to cringe or read on. Died very young as most amazing artists do. Here is a personal fave of mine.

THE PARABLE OF THE OLD MAN AND THE YOUNG
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said,
My Father, Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb, for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven;
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Martin Scorsese- One of many filmmakers I truly love and worship. His command of his actors and of his settings is a fine thing to watch. After seeing Raging Bull on the big screen in Film History, I truly see what it's like to see shear visual genius. Also see After Hours, Mean Streets, Goodfellas and The Last Waltz for the full scope of his work.

Those are just a few. More will be posted everytime I go through new phases and what I love.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Light the Vigoda!

Never since Festivus has there been a holiday celebration as glorious as the one that Conan O'Brien show last night. I am not a huge fan of the holidays. It brings out some terrible things in people and I usual loathe working the holidays and shopping for the holidays. But thank you Conan for returning a cheerful smile to my face in this holiday season.
The opening skit of Conan O'Brien last night was about "Lighting the Vigoda". That's right. They found Abe growing on someones front lawn in Jersey, cut him down, brought him to New York and strung lights and a star on him. Conan and Nancy O'Dell hosted the Vigoda lighting cermony, had a song sung by Grammy Possibility David Cassidy, two ice skaters on the worlds smallest rink and the Reluctant and Underrehearsed Chidlrens Choir half ass some tunes. It was the most hilarious thing I've seen on Conan for ages. Then Triumph rolled out on a sled and humped the shit out of his sleigh dog-deer. Amazing.

Thank you, Conan. Thank you.