Obligatory End-of-Year Best of List (Part I)

Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31 each year, all bloggers are required by law to write some sort of list wrapping up the year. Out of fear of having by blog license revoked, I give you my favorite albums of 2008.

    10. Weezer: Weezer (The Red Album)  

    9. The Foxboro Hot Tubs: Stop Drop and Roll

    8. Haley Bonar: Big Star

    7. James: Hey Ma

    6. Jeremy Messersmith: The Silver City

    5. Mike Doughty: Golden Delicious

    4. Paul Westerberg: 49:00

    3. R.E.M.: Accelerate

    2. The Hold Steady: Stay Positive

    1. The Gaslight Anthem: The ’59 Sound

Reunited and It Feels So Good

Following a month-long buildup on Facebook, I met up with seven high school friends at a suburban sports bar last night. Throughout the day leading up to the get-together, I was excited, nervous and anxious to see how the event would play out. Would it be awkward? Would we run out of things to say? Would we no longer have anything in common?

I was the first to arrive. I promptly grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered a tall vodka and soda. I knew I’d relax after a couple drinks. A few minutes later, the others began to arrive. For 10 minutes, there was a steady stream of hugs and handshakes, smiles and small talk. 

It didn’t take long for my nerves to subside, although I couldn’t help but exclaim at least five times, “This is fucking weird.” Looking around the table at the faces of the people with whom I spent the better part of four years so long ago was a tad surreal. 

For five hours, we reminisced, talked about major events from the past 18 years and passed around family photos. Drinks flowed, as did stories. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. 

My only regret of the evening was that it took so long to get back together. As the evening wound down, we began making tentative plans to get together again—much much sooner than 18 years from now. 

During the drive home, I smiled with the realization that I still really like these people. I’m glad they were my friends way back in the ’80s, and I’m even happier they’re my friends today.

Best Writer in the Twin Cities

Our community newspaper, Roseville Review, is typically pretty dull. It includes the usual variety of local business profiles, high school sports reports and city council updates. However, buried deep within many issues is some of the most entertaining content you’ll ever read.

Whoever writes the police reports for some of the neighboring suburbs is a comic genius. This anonymous scribe takes turns routine traffic stops and domestic “situations” and turns them into brilliant, sarcastic gems. Behold some of his or her recent masterpieces:

A 19-year-old woman learning to drive Oct. 27 at Snelling and Roselawn avenues was arrested for no insurance, no licensed driver on board, and a loose child in a vehicle displaying revoked plates. Good start.

Thieves climbed over a makeshift pile of sheetrock blocking a garage that had no door Oct. 12 in the 3200 block of Country Drive and made off with two bundles of scaffolding. Relish the irony.

Washer and dryer coin boxes were rifled Oct. 31 at an apartment complex in the 100 block of Demont Street. Management estimated the “loss at $3,000-4,000.” That’s a lot of quarters.

You’re displaying license tabs issued to another vehicle, you have no proof of insurance, your registration is expired, what else can go wrong? How about driving after license revocation? An officer began developing writer’s cramp Aug. 16 at Hwy. 280 and Larpenteur Avenue.

Would-be tap dancers climbed up and kicked in the windows of a large excavator at a County Road B2 construction site in late June. Two intoxicated men found in the area with cuts on their ankles and shoe prints that matched those found at the crime scene were arrested. The 23-and 21 year olds, who admitted to being “dumb and drunk,” were charged with felony criminal damage to property.

Knuckle sandwiches were served up the evening of Aug. 8 at a Larpenteur and Snelling Avenue bus stop. A 25-year-old male victim told police he wanted to pursue charges and a 26-year-old man was cited for fifth degree assault.

I Quit

I made it through Band on the Run and just cannot bring myself to continue my latest project. I guess I achieved my goal of determining the precise point when Paul McCartney’s career became an embarrassment. It was April 1970, when he released his first solo album. Sure, he had some decent songs here and there, but most of his post-Beatles material is a steaming pile. 

Going into this thing, I figured the career turn occurred in the mid-1980s. When I was only 13, Spies Like Us and his cameo in that Tracy Ullman video left a long-lasting impression on me: Macca was a shameless dork. Knowing how great The Beatles were, I assumed the evolution from great to crap took a while. Not so much.

Why Do I Live Here?

It’s the middle of November in Minneapolis. We are entering the time of year when I ask myself and anyone who will listen why the fuck we live in this frozen wasteland. Fortunately, several nights each year, I am reminded. Tonight was such a night.

I live here because I got to see Prince play nearly every Friday and Saturday during the summer of 1995.

I live here because The Gear Daddies helped me survive being surrounded by a bunch of asshats in college.

I live here because I got to see the final Trip Shakespeare shows at The Cabooze and most of the early Pleasure/Semisonic shows at 7th Street Entry, The 400 Bar and First Avenue. 

I live here because I get to see Dan Wilson play several times every year.

I live here because I get to see The New Standards’ annual holiday show, when John, Steve and Chan get together with other talented Minneapolis musicians, like Jeremy Messersmith, Dan Wilson and Matt Wilson, for the most spirited show of the year.

I live here because Haley Bonar has the voice of an angel. 

I live here because there’s always a chance Paul Westerberg might show up.

I live here because I know the skyway don’t move at all like a subway.

I live here because Soul Asylum is still the best bar band in America, and the bars they still play are within 10 minutes of my house.

I live here because I drive by at least one Craig Finn reference every single day.

I live here because, like so many songs by these great musicians, Minneapolis is scratched into my soul.

Why Do I Punish Myself?

I may have to abandon my Paul McCartney project. I’ve listened to McCartney, Ram and part of Wild Life. Three albums in, and I’m trying to decide whether pills would be easier than taking a nap in the garage with the Buick idling. For every great song, there are at least eight that are either complete garbage or mediocre. I figured Macca’s career slide occurred sometime in the mid-80s. I’m starting to think it happened in April 1970 with the release of his first solo album.