Monday, July 30, 2007

FBO: 'The Delaware Trilogy (Part I)'


In New York City, where FBO makes its semi-permanent HQ base, music fans expect to see whomever they want on any given night of the week. Everyone plays here, and many people go. If you try to get seats -- as FBO tried for Arcade Fire a couple months ago -- you're lucky to get bad seats (as the FBO was lucky enough to procure). If you line up at 3am, you don't get anywhere near the front row -- press, VIPs, band family already has those seats: wanting to see a show in the Big Apple, where Rolling Stones and New York Times tend to make their reviews.

When FBO Representative Robert Reid was invited to see the White Stripes first-ever Delaware show at a 1871 opera house -- far more compact than Tulsa's Old Brady, with painted ceilings, fussy parlors to drink beer and talk with the gray-haired staff in cranberry outfits -- we quickly signed up for the Delaware/FBO symposium. The theatre looks like the place Abraham Lincoln should've been shot. The worst seat is by far better than anything you can get in most venues. FBO got second-row center.

Delaware was clearly excited about The White Stripes -- six albums old, and still making the drum/guitar two-fer sound fresh and yet ever-linked to the better riffs of early Zeppelin and more distant blues. A bar across from the opera house, on downtown's Market Street, blared White Stripes songs on a sidewalk speaker, as a mix of lawyers, accountants and bearded hipsters drank Dogfish beer in a slightly too fancy bar. Outside, a guy tried to sell tickets for $200 (which he 'bought on eBay for $100 a piece') when the cops weren't looking. Twenty-something hipsters genuinely wondered of each other: 'are you excited?' No one in New York talks like that before a TV on the Radio show. Nearby two pudgy 43-year-old men walked briskly to the bar, both wearing identical, brand-new White Stripes concert t-shirts.

After the 105-minute set wrapped up, the crowd left -- with the retired volunteer staff smiling and wishing you a 'good night' -- and stuck around Market Street to talk about the show and 'go get a beer at The Exchange' nearby. An associate in Wilmington, Ms Jamie, said, 'You better get a photo. No one's ever out on Market Street at this time.'

Other photos from the first part of the FBO's symposium in north and east Delaware follow:

The FBO thanks northern and eastern Delaware -- as represented by Phil Bangle -- for the tickets, and the playful introductory evening to the Delaware/FBO symposium and exchange. The FBO hopes the positive energy of that evening will carry over to future projects merging to the two in the future.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

FBO: 'Muting Iraq's Glory'

The New York Times put Iraq's shocking wins over Korea in the semi-finals of the Asia Cup, then 1-0 over Saudi Arabia in the final yesterday, on its front pages. But not the sports section. ESPN -- ever fond of piano-soundtracked sappy stories and playing up forced story lines that hover over the pitches of sport -- largely snubbed Iraq's unlikely win. Simply showing the winning header in the 72nd minute and finishing with 'the captain had some criticism for the USA after the game though.' ESPN went on to its Top 10 list of best plays of the week. After devoting much of their 90-minute show to questioning whether Barry Bonds deserves praise for the upcoming home-run record, they put his latest home run at #1. The Iraq win wasn't mentioned.

Iraq is playing with a collection of players scattered across the region. The winning save against Korea was made by their Shiite goalie, the winning goal against Saudi Arabia came from a corner by a Kurd to the Sunni captain. Fans in Baghdad talked about how the players should 'be our politicians' -- that they'd done more for uniting the country than parliament. C'mon ESPN! Get out the piano for this one!

For a nation in a very ugly war, it's nice to see some excitement, positive energy. That the captain called for the USA to leave Iraq -- perhaps remembering George W Bush's touting of the unlikely team's Olympic appearance a few years ago -- does nothing to soften the moment.

The FBO bans ESPN for four days.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, July 29, 2007

FBO: 'Presenting The Delaware Trilogy'

FBO Representative Robert Reid was invited on a two-day cultural symposium in northern and eastern Delaware this weekend. As part of the exchange, the FBO spoke in Delaware about failed bands and other failed projects at the ballroom of the historic Dupont Hotel (1913) as well as on Market Street downtown. Meanwhile FBO Rep Robert Reid attended a music performance and visited East Delaware, a parcel of land east of the Delaware River on 'mainland New Jersey.'

As a result this week is 'Delaware Week' for the FBO, and the FBO will be presenting the Delaware Trilogy, beginning tomorrow.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Wilmington, Delaware

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

FBO: 'Vote on the Worst Rush Songs'

We all agree -- all -- that Rush should be in the FBO, and actual, Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. So there's no danger in bringing up their WORST songs.

FBO Admin's vote is a surprising one, for many. 'FREE WILL.' Whilst Rush was on any available cassette deck in the mid '80s, I dragged my mom into the ins-and-outs of 'Permanent Waves' on a road trip across Oklahoma. Heading back to side one after a complete listen, she finally spoke up -- as Geddy wailed his screaming bits at the end of 'Free Will' -- 'OK, that's enough.' And she was right. I've never really listened to it again since.

I guess I prefer the 'softer side' of Geddy's vocal abilities.

Taking your opinions...

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Saigon, Vietnam

Thursday, July 12, 2007

FBO: 'Inducts Rush to FBO Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame'

Is there really any doubt that Canada's RUSH should be in the actual Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame? They're consistently among the top-drawing concert acts, and still churning out the digital stubs in their fourth decade (they recorded a triple CD set in RIO recently, and about, oh, a million people came out for it -- possibly the greatest thing in recent history: Brazilians listening to Geddy Lee screach 'I will choose free will!').

Known for overworked time signatures, overly thought out lyrics and themes, and album covers with kids and a naked-buttocked man, RUSH deserves the hall for making reasonably unique music -- occasionally inspired, never not sounding as something fashionably unlike their reasonably unique music, allowing scientific nerds a soundtrack, and delighting Canadians for decades.

According to Wikipedia:
Rush boasts 23 gold records and 14 platinum (3 multi-platinum) records, making them one of the best-selling rock bands in history. These statistics place Rush fifth behind The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, KISS and Aerosmith for the most consecutive gold and platinum albums by a rock band.
How can a band without a pop hit -- OK, 'New World Man' made #38 for a week in 1982 -- and those numbers not have some credibility? Particularly with Jackson Browne and Bob Seger in the Hall?

RUSH's Five Best Songs
1981's 'Tom Sawyer' is generally their best-known song but their best five songs are:

1) "Spirit of the Radio" (1980). There is no doubt this is number one, with the absurd burst of Van Halen lift-offs in the opening lick, and the reggae break, and Geddy generally not screaming too much. It's energetic and compact. People who don't like Rush tend to like this.
2) "The Body Electric" (1984). Alex Lifeson got a hipster haircut for this very under-appreciated album with nods to acid rain (before REM did it), a fake U2 solo or two, and a ska break-down. This underrated song's ending -- where Geddy sings 'the mother all machines!' the second time -- is a spine chiller, and the whole build-up part sounds a little like Pete Townshend's 'Rough Boys,' which is of course good ground to borrow from.
3) "Subdivisions" (1982). This mall-culture, teenage-wasteland single shocked us Rush fans back in '82. Not so much for the synths, but that someone other than Geddy got vocal duties. Alex Lifeson leaned to the mic in the video to speak 'subdivisions...' but -- the FBO hears -- it was actually Neil Peart doing the honors. **Note: Relistening to the song after the post, the FBO Admin regrets placing this so high. Consider 'Limelight' from '81 as an obvious replacement. --FBO Admin, 7/16**
4) "Cygnus X-1 (Part II)" (1978). Recently, in a California bar, FBO Admin heard the opening notes of the full vinyl-side song -- records were so good for that: 'cool, there's only one track on the whole SIDE!' -- and saw a bearded bartender air-drumming the Peart fills. The overlooked Hemispheres album inspires such. Imagine starting a five-song album with a 18-MINUTE SEQUEL to an already sprawling song ABOUT A BLACK HOLE. I wouldn't think there was that much to say about one -- it's weird, sprawling, consuming; avoid at all costs -- but Peart knew better.
5) "Fly By Night"(1975). Rush with a little three-minute song. If you play the D/D-suspended notes with a little swing (impossible with Peart on drums) it can almost pass as alternative rock.

Hall, put them in now (or apologize for Lawyers in Love).

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Hue, Vietnam

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

FBO: 'Salutes Journalist, Makes Fun of Him'

It's very good that BBC journalist Alan Johnston -- held hostage by in the Gaza Strip for four months -- was freed recently, but the event -- with time, and its effect on hair -- only illustrates -- with painful clarity -- a recent FBO admission that shaved heads fool no one. It almost always means: BALDNESS.

Photo of Alan after four months without access to a razor:

And 20 minutes after freedom:

The FBO is sorry it took an act of terrorism to prove a point, but the truth cannot be denied. As a result, BALDNESS is temporarily banned on this site. Balding visitors are welcome as long as they identify themselves [in brackets] by the percentage of their head that's balding.

The temporary ban ends on August 2.

FBO Admin
[11% bald]
Mobile HQ -- Hanoi, Vietnam

Thursday, July 05, 2007

FBO: 'Adopts Pet: Hanoi Turtle'

A crowd in Vietnam -- where the Failed Bands of Oklahoma are currently wrestling press coverage for failed bands -- either means a group of parents waiting for kids leaving school, or a fight. In Hanoi, there's a third option, if you see a crowd on the rim of Hoan Kiem Lake (Restored Sword Lake) in the center of town: someone's seen the six-foot-long turtle that many believe doesn't exist.

Hanoi's famed lake is based on a 15th-century legend of a massive turtle who first gave a sword to the (actual) nobleman/warrior Le Loi to fight off the Chinese, then after doing so successfully, Le Loi went boating in the lake with the sword, and the turtle came and snatched it back -- then disappeared in the murky depths never to be seen again. (When I hear of the tale, I always enjoy imagining the sound of the turtle snapping at the sword -- a non-threatening, but decisive, snap, re-claiming the sword that Le Loi may or may not have wanted to return...) One of the tiny islands on the lake is 'tortoise island' with a slightly leaning, picturesque tower built in rememberance of it. In 1993, plans were made to drain the lake until some protested to the government -- at a period when not many did; scuba divers searched for turtles and none were found. All this is fun and fine, but the catch is there really are VERY LARGE turtles in the lake. Or at least one. And if spotted, expect a large crowd will gather to look.

Walking by the lake today, I saw a huge crowd gathered on the lake's northern end. Looking in -- about the place where I saw a bloated dead rat floating amidst some garbage a couple weeks ago -- huge bubbles appeared. The suddenly, a head! The head of a massive turtle. The crowd 'oohed' as if spotting a dragon decapitating a llama, the turtle slowly moved toward the center of the lake -- occasionally showing its head again. I couldn't believe my luck. I telephoned a pal in Hanoi, Nam, who said 'What? I've never seen it in my life.'

Apparently sightings are rare. The following comes from a decade-old article that speculated that IF the turtle existed it would last much longer...

"This turtle is a fascinating phenomenon, probably the biggest soft-shell in the world and certainly the most endangered," said Peter Pritchard, a renowned turtle biologist. "People in Vietnam are treating it like the Loch Ness monster, but this is not a myth. People need to treat it like a biological thing — an endangered species."

But is the turtle related to the sword-biting legend, or just a passerby? Dr Ha Dinh Duc, supposedly Vietnam's leading 'turtle expert', believes it IS the turtle -- about 560 years old now. He said...
"Yes, that's right, the same turtle," said Duc, 56, a biology professor at Hanoi National University who has studied the Hoan Kiem turtles since 1991. "Some scientists don't believe a turtle could live this long, especially in a lake so small and with so many people around, but I think so."
The FBO believes in the turtle and formally adopts the turtle as FBO PET.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Hanoi, Vietnam

Sunday, July 01, 2007

FBO: 'Robert Reid in NY Times'

Failed Bands of Oklahoma founder Robert Reid has an article -- on BULGARIA -- in today's New York Times.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Hoi An, Vietnam