Friday, February 27, 2009

FBOrg: 'FBOrg to Oklahoma: Come On!'


FBOrg has been getting some flack for attacking the State of Oklahoma's choice, by 'free' vote, of the mandatory swap of license plates. Even though we stepped off the probation to defend Oklahoma City this week, we simply cannot understand the outrage amongst casual FBO observers why we've probated the state.

Americans, look at the facts.


is, without debate, a LOT MORE IMPRESSIVE, than

Oklahoma remains on probation for its two-week period.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

FBOrg: 'New Bands, Take a Look at Our Lives...'


'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.'

The above quote comes from Samuel Beckett's 'Worstward Ho,' as quoted in an interesting essay in the New York Times Sunday by Geoff Edward Nicholson, who tries to evaluate when 'prolific writing' is merely too much writing. He suggest writers, in these modern times, who churn out even a book a year -- if not three or more -- aim for more 'low end' markets. Serious stuff is less frequent. He mocks his own writing pace -- 20 books in 22 years -- at the same time.

How does that apply to rock music?

One of the great tragedies of the CD era was the death of the 'album' as we long knew it. When we opened the gatefold record, studied art that bands spent lots of energy, time and money to create, and digested a 'musicial journey' of 43 minutes -- where thoughtful bands rewarded us -- like masterful DJs of their own tunes -- with nice song segways and thematic rise/falls, as on a Rush record.

That's pretty much gone now unless you're into the indiest of music. Album covers are reduced to postage-stamp sized blips on iTunes (better to have a red smear with a white mark than 'Sgt Peppers' concepts now), $0.99 song downloads that break up the album whole, and CDs' extended format merely led to more junk on albums that come out less frequently.

In Tall Tales -- FBO's #001 member -- we took pride in the mass of songs churned out. Cassette 'albums' of 30-plus minutes of new music coming out each year. When the Nixons -- a band that rose in the Norman scene for its covers of 'She Sells Sanctuary' and sexy haircuts -- switched to original material, we weren't impressed. Their EP was called '6,' named for the numbers of songs that came out, so Tall Tales -- foolishly, in my opinion -- bitterly rebutted by naming our CD debut after its length '69 Minutes' (it was actually 66 -- and half the songs had been previously recorded -- we've recommended repackaging the CD).

(Sorry 'bout that, Nixburg.)

Pop songs, unlike novels, are received by a more forgivable audience -- we accept a 2:3 ratio from bands. Two great songs for three so-so ones (and even a stinker) is generally OK. Still, the FBO asks for some sort of balance between something like former Guided By Voices' singer Robert Pollard's 'prolific' recording of uncensored, unedited mini-songs that fill new CDs every six months, and a band making a 60-minute CD every three or four years.

The listeners end up losing.

We stick, and recommend to new bands listening in, with the Sam Beckett creed: fail often, fail better.

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

FBOrg: 'Obama Adress: Americans Trump American People'

Following the FBO's recent plea to refer to Americans as 'Americans' only, and not as 'American People,' we were pleased to see President Obama's address to Congress (and to Americans) tip towards the usage we suggest.

Our tally, counting references uttered by Obama tonight:




Meanwhile, there were repeated references of teachers, police officers, CEOs, students without the redundant use of 'American' too.

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

Monday, February 23, 2009

FBOrg: 'AP Writer Firmly Believes FBO Will Make Him a Better Writer'

The FBO and the state of Oklahoma has fielded a lot of criticsm lately. The former, from a goateed man in the Kansas City suburbs, the latter from the FBO and a Minnesotan writer.

The FBO wrote the writer, Jon Krawczynski, about the matter reported on Saturday and got an apology. The FBO accepts it and welcomes Jon, and his family, to the FBO site.

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

Saturday, February 21, 2009

FBOrg: 'Pausing Oklahoma Probation to Defend Oklahoma City'

We will take a short break from the two-week probation on Oklahoma to step up for Oklahoma City, which has been ruthlessly attacked by an AP writer who has probably never been.

As reported on the wonderful Okie-run Lost Ogle blog, Jon Krawczynski went off on Thunder Town. The Minneapolis-based writer makes a few valid points, but cheap shots blur any integrity to his piece (which should have been written back when the Sonics left Seattle). He writes:

Are there knotholes in the fenceposts ringing the Ford Center in Oklahoma City where kids can peek through to see the games?

Is there a pig that brings the game basketball out to the officials for the opening tip? If Kevin Durant tops 40 points in a game does every fan get a coupon for a buffet at the local Pizza Ranch?

It would be funny if it wasn’t so depressing.

Good one Jonnie. I responded directly to him, as Lost Ogle suggests, with this:

You probably have a lot of angry email from Oklahoma Citians -- which is kinda funny. Treasure the moment.

Maybe you've been to OKC, maybe not, but it's worth pointing out that it's America's most improved city in the last decade. Reviving itself after the downtown bombing -- remember? the town with all the dead kids. They did so with unprecedented enthusiasm by signing onto a sales tax to build libraries and canal, relocate musems, and actually put water in the river. They also upgraded the pizza buffets and clogged the holes in convention centers so kids, sadly enough, had to get minor-league game results by telegraph.

I wrote about OKC for some backwater town called Chicago. Never heard of it, probably don't even have horses, but I'll take any job.

Here's the link.

Oh, next time you're in Oklahoma City, skip the pizza and go for Vietnamese food on Classen -- better, more authentic than New York's Vietnamese restaurants. Pizza is so '80s.

It's also worth reminding Jonnie that Oklahoma was good enough for the Minnesota Vikings, who practiced in Tulsa's Skelly Stadium in the '70s.

--> Jon Krawczynski and his extended family are banned for three weeks. Or until an apology is made beginning, 'Oklahoma City, I was wrong.'

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

Friday, February 20, 2009

FBOrg: 'Is the Russian Press Free?'

Yesterday in Moscow, a jury took a couple hours to acquit three men -- two Chechen brothers and a Moscow police officer -- from any involvement in the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. All had been accused of low-level roles in the murder, including being a lookout and driver. According to the Moscow Times, the brothers shook hands with Politkovskaya's son, who congratulated him and later said, 'I believe these men are involved in the murder of my mother.' The New York Times article today said the three-month trial had 'cast a shadow over Vladimir Putin's Russia' and in particular the plight for free press.

Is Russia free? Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?

I visited the Russian Far East last summer, and stopped by Nash Gorod (Our Town), a newsy weekly in Komsomolsk-na-Amure (way to right on map) and spoke with a local journalist in his early '20s. As Russians do, he invited me for a long walk in the summer heat -- we passed WWII monuments and old housing blocks, and he -- in his mullet and parachute pants -- chain-smoking. His tone was serious the whole way, but welcoming, a perfectly comfortable setting to get serious. And I did.

Having just finished Politkovskaya's book Putin's Russia, I was curious his take on press censorship and bullying from the government, and he had a different take from what we hear in the West.

'Who can tell us what to write?,' he asked. 'No one. The only censorship we feel here is self-censorship. Particularly in a town like this, where I either know everyone in town or someone who knows them.'

He noted the only scandal he's had was regarding a business feature that went online -- thus accessible back in Moscow.

Since 2000, 16 Russian journalists have been killed, with only one resulting in a conviction, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

He did acknowledge one clear legacy of the past. At one point, shortly after passing a stoic WWII monument with chiseled faces in stone facing an eternal flame -- something seen in nearly all Russian towns -- he stopped to say, 'See those people there?' A mother, father and ten-year-old kid were walking by the flame. 'Those adults were taught that the US helped the Germans in the war -- it's not true, of course, but it's very hard for some people to unlearn what they've been taught.'

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

Thursday, February 19, 2009

FBOrg: 'Oklahoma Probation Two Weeks: Thunder VP Lacks Flare'

Last summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder -- who are a lot better than their record; no team has ever lost more games by seven or fewer points in the history of sport (we didn't bother checking the stats, but it's probably true) -- quickly discarded one potential name for the team: Bison. Yet Tuesday night unleashed a new mascot: Rumble the Bison.

We're not making this up.

In his rock-star introduction -- descending onto the court playing drums -- 'Rumble' danced to 'Everybody Dance Now' and missed two dunks, one a perilous back-flip from a 16-foot ladder towering over one basket.

The story behind 'Rumble' shows some actual inspiration though. Per a Daily Oklahoma story:

"Rumble is a bison that hundreds of years ago led his herd to safety only to be trapped alone in a storm atop the Arbuckle Mountains... Rumble was struck by lightning and suddenly walked on two legs like a man... Rumble possesses amazing strength and agility but felt alone until NBA players with similar athletic skills arrived in the Ford Center hundreds of years later."

Not bad. Yet Thunder's vice president of tickets and services Brian Byrnes messed it all up. (One wonders if the president of tickets and services wasn't available.) Byrnes confessed to the Oklahoman, "Even though it’s fictional, it takes the tone of a bison, the history of this community.”

Fictional? WHAT is fictional? Any real Thunder fan would tell you, Rumble IS REAL.


Perhaps Mr Byrnes should stick with tickets and leave services to people who give a dang. A proper spokesperson should INSIST IT'S TRUE. Eg, "It may sound like a camp-fire tale, but these are the sorts of things that DO happen in Oklahoma... unlike other states, such as Texas... here, magical things like this happen all the time..."

Speaking of which, the FBO has long believed the correct choice for a Thunder mascot is THE TIN MAN. The character would have an undersized cape with a 'OKC' on his back, and otherwise no distinguishing features. He would sit directly behind the opposing team and berate -- in PG-rated language -- the secondary players. Ie, Not a word would be uttered to Kobe, but hailstorms of gentle abuse would fall on fellow Los Angeles Lakers Sun Yue and Josh Powell.

THAT is how Thunder rolls in OKC, J-Pow.

Meanwhile, Brian Byrnes joins Oklahoma, and is on probation for two weeks.

--> It's worth pointing out that the long-running Golden State Warriors mascot is named Thunder. Kinda makes all this feel a little silly.

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

Sunday, February 15, 2009

FBOrg: 'Renamed Failed Bands Organization for Two Weeks'


Re-cap of recently made chilling mistakes:

--> Oklahoma gets its first-ever major sports franchise and names it for something that can't be counted or personified (Thunder) then half way through the season introduces a new side-court mascot (a buffalo!).

--> Oklahoma has the best state flag in the country -- the only one to openly tribute Native American culture -- yet, as previously documented here, skips its Osage battleshield motif for its Oklahoma state quarter (a dream fit for a quarter's back side) and goes for something 10 other states do: some bird. Nothing unique, nothing memorable, nothing for coin users around the country to say 'hey, I'm holding onto this one for a while.'

Now the last straw:

--> Oklahoma, which had the best vehicle license plate in the country (using the Osage shield to divide up the digits), is -- for the first time in 15 years -- rolling out a new one, with overly fussy 'Oklahoma' font (note the unnecessarily swooping 'K'), a distracting image impossible to decipher from the car behind.

Last year, the state opened up the license plate design to a vote -- see the following six choices -- and the worst one was chosen:

None of the above choices are better than the current one, and of the six none are remotely as acceptable as #1, yet the worst of the six (#2) was chosen. The only one with the image to the left, confusingly bunching up the six digits so cops can't easily look up runaway drunks' license information.

The last person who knew who Will Rogers was died in 1985, and cowboy motifs aren't a good call in the nation's most richly Native American state. But the winner is the worst of all. And it won, possibly, because state representative Ken Miller pushed for it. In a Daily Oklahoma article a few weeks ago, he said he favored the chosen one (#2 below). See evidence here.

Ken Miller is banned from this site for six years.

The image in #1 and #2 is from the Sacred Rain Arrow, a statue outside Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum, but the winning viewpoint is shot obscurely from behind, with a confusing cloud scene above making any clarity impossible from a distance of over two feet. C'mon!

License plates in Oklahoma remain a touchy subject. The state may never live down its seven-year mistake, on two separate plates, which read 'Oklahoma is OK.' Things got worse now.

The Failed Bands of Oklahoma renames itself the Failed Bands Organization for the next two weeks, in protest of continued mistakes made by designers, creative planners and mascot creators in the state.

Oklahoma, wake up!

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Tulsa, OK

FBO: 'More FBO Band Practice Footage'


This footage of the four-piece band The Failed Bands of Oklahoma was recorded February 7, along with demo sounds from the demo recording of 'Be In a Band.'

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Tulsa, OK

Friday, February 13, 2009

FBO: 'Evidence that Clint Eastwood Has Seen an Oklahoma Map'

This image (with Eastwood in the foreground to left) was taken from the film Hang 'Em High recently. Along with topographic-challenged scenery of an 'Oklahoma setting' later in the film. Definitely not filmed at the Wichitas.

Yes, it's a slow day here at FBO.

FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Tulsa, OK

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

FBO: 'Best Play of All Time'


New York City is a like a big mean bad boss. He yells at you, he ignores you, he takes your input for granted, he really could care less about you. And your feelings. You can't stand him. But every once in a while, he'll stop, look over, and say seriously, 'good job' and you'll reel in joy for a week.

New York is like this too. The taxes are high, the subways are crappy and prices are rising, the roads are third-world, the Manhattan public libraries are closed on Sundays to save The City money.

Then things like this happen, IRT: A Tragedy in Three Stations as featured recently in a New York Times story. Possibly the best play of all time -- taking place on subway cars and platforms, with a funny moustache. I like the guy in the background, who might be the person quoted in the article, who stepped on a subway just as the door closed and found himself a couple feet from the in-progress play. He told the Times reporter:

“I have to admit, this is pretty good stuff, man.”

I sadly didn't catch it. Check out their website here, which claims that the play 'some of the finest and most available actors of this generation.'

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

Sunday, February 08, 2009

FBO: 'Solves the US Coin Problem'

Quick: Name the first American HERO to appear on US currency.

The answer is Abraham J Lincoln. One hundred years ago -- that's 1909, and not farther back -- the 'Lincoln penny' introduced the first person's likeliness on a US coin or note, something that George Washington had decried as dangerously 'monarchichal', per a New York Times story today.

The fate of the historic coin -- which hilariously outraged defeated Confederate veterans at the time; hey, that's the spoils when YOU GET BEAT guys -- is hotly debated. It's frequently noted that the coin worth $0.01 costs $0.014 to produce.

The FBO offers a solution.

Presently the US dollar is broken down into 100 cents. Let's change that so that the dollar is divided into TEN CENTS.

* The penny will be worth one cent.

* The nickel will be worth two cents.

* The quarter will be renamed the 'halfer', and worth five cents.

* The dumb dime and dumb JFK half-dollar will cease to exist.

* The dollar coin, in various forms, will remain worth $1.

A bit on that last point. One of the great things about travel to the United Kingdom is that coins there actually matter. The pound -- the single greatest coin on earth -- weighs in a pocket, though only a bit bigger than a dime. It hangs there like 'I'm a bagel with cream cheese' or 'I'm a pizza slice.' You don't want to lose it.

The US needs bigger stress on its many many many dollar coins. There's the Eisenhower, the Susan B Anthony, the underrated Sacajawea and -- since 2005 -- a steady stream of US president coins (I've only seen the gold Washington and gold James Madison... I cannot wait to see the William Henry Harrison, who died shortly after becoming president after getting sick at his inauguration).

--> Suggestion: Please refrain from using $1 bills for the next four weeks. Only use dollar coins.

We are really happy, though, that the US has about 45 different dollar coins.

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

Friday, February 06, 2009

FBO: 'The Biggest Lies of All Time?'

By the back room, the kids all waited
To meet the man in bright green
Who had dreamed up the dream that they rest their hearts upon
He's the liar who lied in his pop song
And you're lying when you sing along

-- from Okkervil River's 'Pop Lie'

When I saw this photo -- of Okkervil River lead singer Will Sheff in a New York Times review of a hipster Brooklyn concert -- I sat transfixed. In admiration, fascination, embarrasment and rage. I've never seen a photo of a bigger lie in all my life.

Let's try to think of reasons why someone -- particularly with that sort of beard -- could possible justify such an expression:

a) a South Carolina private anguishing over one last charge up the hill at Gettysburg; it's been more than any human can endure (not to mention wearing wool in muggy July temps), and he knows success will not come, yet he stomachs-up in the name of South Carolina Glory

b) he's been hit in the back with a large board

c) he's a muscular dystrophy victim who has just been bitten by a rat or American gopher

d) or...

Well, I can't think of any other possible explanations. Except, said hopefully, sarcasm?

Listening to Okkervil River -- named for a short story by contemporary Russian writer Tatiana Tolstaya -- there are plenty of pokes at subjects of songs, which seem frequently to be the hispter quotient who fills their shows and downloads their albums. The Times compared one song to Dylan's take-no-prisoners swipe 'Positively 4th St' and you get a sense that pretty much everything works off the same. In Blue Tulip, his Gettysburg charge peaks with this line: 'with every single cell of me, I'm going to make you mean the words you sigh; you lie.' Other song titles include 'Pop Lie,' 'Title Track' and 'Singer Songwriter.'

So it's possible the photo is faux earnestness to mock the sweet Brooklyn night?

By the way, the band is pretty good.

Other lies include the back cover of REM's Reckoning where Pete Buck earnestly plays a piano -- an instrument he has no ability to play. We've already discussed how the Bass Player of Coldplay lies too.

A lot is said of Pennsylvania's LIVE lead singer Ed Kowalczyk -- for the unexplainable rat tail he wears, kung-fu stances, or shirtless appearance in early videos -- but a far bigger curiosity of the band is the guitarist Chad Taylor. Watch the video 'I Alone' (below). Try the 0:53, the fake smile at 1:06, the overdone back-up singing from 1:45 to 1:50, then -- this is truly unreal -- watch at 3:10 where he looks to the off-screen monitor to see how his hair looks as he sings along, fully believing in the 'we're Nirvana too' angst of their carefully chosen single.

It's also worth pointing out that the video appears to be one single long shot, with a few isolated shots interjected -- of Chad Taylor alone. Note how the other two members -- the bass player and drummer -- play game to the bad idea, though convey how they'd rather be touring the Hershey chocolate factory.

--> Tip: New non-failed bands, try not to do this.

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

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

FBO: 'Responds to O-Park, Kansas, Critic With New FBO Video'

Over the FBO's first three years we've seen -- over and over -- that there is not unanimous support for failed bands, or at least as represented by the FBO. But the attacks took a sharp turn toward a PG-13 rating last week when Tim Eldridge, the self-professed bassist and lyricist of (apparently a failed band) Acid Rage, from Overland Park, KS, peppered our comments forum with four-lettered denouncements. It gets worse on his, possibly, FBO-inspired site KANSAS BANDS OF THE PAST.

First of all, we warn family-oriented viewership from tracking this guy, who appears to be as fond of cursing as combing goatee hairs.

Second, we'd like to thank Tim for offering us insight on WHY Oklahoma failed bands, in particular, had failed.

Up till now, some of us wondered if we had been 'unlucky,' or hadn't struck the magic combination of melodies and chords, or lacked the right management or promoter. Not so, says Tim Eldridge -- who spends much of his new, infrequently updated blog devoted to Kansas City, Missouri topics -- it's because of geography. Kansas Bands of the Past founder argues that Oklahoma bands can't succeed because of their state.

Tim wrote on our Jan 26 post: 'Any good musician from Oklahoma has one thing in common -- THEY LEAVE THE STATE. I played in a metal band for years in Kansas City, and I can tell you one thing -- we can tear any Okie band a new one, any day of the week.'

In honor, we've crafted this video tribute to Tim. If you're out there, Tim, we'll be watching for more insight -- please let us know where we can find video footage or mp3s of Acid Rage too. We couldn't locate anything via the Internet.

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

* Lyrics to 'It's Kansas!' (not written on the back of an unpaid bill envelope):
'The bass thumps the quarters, playing off the drummer's snare. Our guitar soloist hits the pedal, while his nostrils flare. We play for the streets, and when we get back there, it's Kansas.'

Monday, February 02, 2009

FBO: 'Bans the American People'

If you hang on every word of people like Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, John McCain or 'the greatest political team on television' at CNN, then you're likely to agree with them that ALL of the following -- who live within the USA' 50 states -- are 'Americans.'

a) prairie dogs
b) crickets
c) gophers
d) lady bugs
e) pumas
f) blue jays
g) plankton
h) rattlesnakes
i) marmots

That's right. A gopher living in North Dakota is not just a gopher living in North Dakota, but also an AMERICAN living in North Dakota.

The reason we know this is the redundant use of 'American' to qualify the people who live within the USA's 50 states. 'This is a statement for the American people...' or 'the American people have responded' etc.

That's the same as in football, when time-filling announcers constantly refer to 'they need to work their way down the football field' or 'that was a super football play' or 'he gave him a real football hit there.'

We know it's football. Don't waste our time with the redundancy. And politicians don't need to assume we think they're referring to squirrels or mosquitos if they should ever say 'Americans' only.

Is it just us? It may be so.

A look at the Toronto Star shows only one use of 'Canadian people' as opposed to 'Canadians' that I could find: AND IT WAS A QUOTE BY AL GORE.

Meanwhile, our friends in England follow the redundant example. A recent Guardian article quotes PM Gordon Brown referring to the 'British people,' and there are scores of other examples. It's easy to imagine that politicians want to stay away from the slangy, overly informal 'Brits' for such statements, and because 'the British' isn't a countable noun -- unlike 'Americans,' 'Australians,' or 'Bulgarians' -- you can excuse the lapse.

We could find no examples in Australia's Age of using 'Australian people.'

Use of 'American people' -- when referring to humans who are American -- as anything but 'Americans' is banned.

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

--> By the way, since no one else we'll say it, the FBO will. Kurt Warner did not fumble with 0:05 left in Super Bowl 43. He still gripped the ball fully as it went forward. The Cards should have had another shot to heave it 44 yards in the end zone. Everyone loses from seeing a Super Bowl end -- with the NFL's best defense crowding around the best receiver (who is taller) in a corner of the end zone to win it all. That would have been something to see.