Monday, March 30, 2009

FBO: 'The Joy of Safe Pets'


NOT ALL PETS ARE BAD PETS
It's happened again. The critics are going after all pets, even safe ones, in the wake of a (non-safe) pet attack last month, involving a chimp ripping off part of a woman's face in Connecticut. It was horrible. (The chimp's owner even said it attacked the victim because she had "changed her hairstyle.") It should never have happened. After after recent legislation in the House of Representatives -- which we support -- such an attack from a primate pet shouldn't happen again.
--> Those who think Travis the chimp was a lone renegade should take in the cannibalistic 3:10 mark of this this BBC video; a 'grisly scene.')
And now some bloggers are lumping all pets, even gerbils and bunnies, with non-safe (aka exotic) pets like chimps, or camels (which kicked to death a woman owner in 2007), or a tiger (which nearly killed Roy of Siegfried & Roy in 2003).

These critics overlook the fact that safe pets -- clean, safe, affordable ones -- generally have a good history with humans, that is when humans are cutting off their tails or making them fight. Winston Churchill had his stray cat Margate, the Clintons had Socks, Roy Rogers had Trigger the horse, Plato had Seth the parakeet.

The FBO supports safe pets -- ones with carefully chosen names. And responds to critics with this video protest:

"THE JOY OF SAFE PETS"

video


That's right, you heard it correctly. The song features fake drums, four real bass tracks and fake claps.

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

Friday, March 27, 2009

FBO: 'Tall Tales Week: Day 5'

It's official!

Tall Tales WILL send a three-song cassingle to Carson Jones Daly featuring a hidden track.

Four-fifths of the band voted on which songs would go.

Simply put, Dan Fallis had the most reasoned ballot, offering a thematic choice with songs that focused on our troubled times. So tentatively we're going to follow his vote (not all things are fully democratic) and send off a cassingle with a hand-drawn cover for
TALL TALES
Soundtrack for a Recession [Please Rewind When Through]
The songs (with featured lyric) are:
  1. "TRUE" (from Pot Pie, 2004) 'Voted for this guy before he was a politician slob.'
  2. "NEW WORRY DAY" (from Damn Kat, 1991) 'I worry about my family, I worry about my friends, planes are always crashing and killing lots of men, I worry about the wars and the nuclear toys, I worry about the body and the way it's being spoiled.'
  3. "CEO" (from Pot Pie, 2004) 'Now they are saying that they no longer need me, I just couldn't please, told me to hand over all my keys... they escort me to the door, lost my job and now I'm very poor.'
  4. "NEOLITHIC NOBODYS" (from Crime in a Bucket, 1990) 'Fenceposts are following roads which are mowing trees and houses to the ground, as it gets older, the elites will get bolder, and start to burn the villages down. Here they come again, they take all they can, they're tearing down your house while you're alive.'

We will post a digital download version of the cassingle here when it's completed, and pass on any correspondence between Tall Tales and Mr Daly.

Meanwhile, here's a promo for the Tall Tales Box Set, due sometime between June 1 and January 4, 2010:



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

Thursday, March 26, 2009

FBO: 'Tall Tales Week: Day 4'

'UFO' VIDEO: THE WORLD WIDE DEBUT!
The best part about being in a band is thinking about band names, thinking about album names, thinking about album covers, and thinking about covers. Making programs for potential rock shows is another plus. The rest of it -- actually getting people together and working up parts -- is the hard part.

Oh, another great thing? Making videos.

After Tall Tales unexpectedly reunited, after a decade pause, for 2004's Pot Pie, they started working on a video for "UFO." Production began shortly after the CD was packaged, but has never been shown to the greater public till now:


video

Video/song notes:

* Dan JJ Fallis shot and edited the video.
* The video shot is the only time the full bound has "performed" the song together.
* The best lyric in the song: "they were found naked and very confused." Which is just funny.
* The original guitar parts of "UFO" were made by Robert alone in 2001 or so, then later filled out by the rest of the band -- in the meantime, he naughtily used the progression as a completely different song "Cougars at Cougars Park" by San Francisco's Tender Few, and to be included on a soon-to-be-released CD See Me Sigh.
* The best lyric in that T-Few song: "I'm such a pissed guy."
* The "UFO" video begins with features footage of the late, great Sprockett -- the namesake for Alan Hiserodt's Sprockett Records.
* It's the first Tall Tales video since 1993's "Suicidal Muppets."
* The first Tall Tales videos were "Ways to Stay" and -- this one featuring Dan walking by a train tracks --- "This Song's Not About Love," shot by Oklahoma video-ographer Michael Tico Lynch.


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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FBO: 'Tall Tales Week: Day 3'


MAKING IT
The goal was to be huge, have Rolling Stone ask us what our favorite new albums were, and to co-host MTV's 120 Minutes. There were a few times that Tall Tales thought they'd 'made it.' One was when Robert gave a demo tape of early recordings to REM's sound guy at a REM show in Oklahoma City in 1986. To this day, he swears he wrote on the outside of the envolope 'listen to this or it'll be the end of the world as we know it -- and maybe that's OK' -- or something like that. A year later, REM released 'It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).' We may never know if that was just a beautiful accident. Or prime-time theft.

Then in 1989, Tall Tales got the opening gig for the Fleshtones at Oklahoma City's Blue Note [pictured]. It was the eve of Robert's 21st birthday -- a cake was set on stage, candles melting wax into the frosting. Afterwards, we didn't even bother to watch the Fleshtones -- just figured that opening was enough for a record contract. [FBO finally saw the 'Tones in 2006 and adopted them.]

Around that time there were a few out-of-state gigs, including a disasterous Little Rock show that started, foolishly enough, with a soon-discarded new song called 'Problems Arise.' An amp fell over half way into it. An Austin show -- impotently distant from any SXSW timing -- turned out to be an all-ages 'anarchist benefit.' Later on there was finally the Virgin Records exec Andy Factor who'd listen and nod to TT music too. That was as close as it got, but a signing remained the elusive, leprechaun-guarded pot-o-gold: never realized.

Probably the most fun was when less was on the line, like the barnstorming three-day trip to Greencastle, Indiana -- to play an outdoor picnic for Dan Quayle's university, then a townie show where friends threw pitchers of (endlessly free) beer on Alan whilst Danny climbed above the bar while singing 'Sympathy for the Devil.'

Or maybe the show to protest toxic waste in Seminole, Oklahoma, where Tall Tales burned stuffed animals on stage to show the effects waste can have.


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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

FBO: 'Tall Tales Week: Day 2'

NEW VIDEO: "UP & DOWN"
Danny Fallis recorded this around 20 to 23 years ago on a four-track, and the synth-heavy, sell-out song ran out of tape before it was finished. It was never released. It's likely some members of the band have never heard it till now. The new video features stills taken on FBO symposia tours of the world, including trips to Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Colombia.

Lyrically it re-tells a chillingly true story.

This song will appear -- in a slightly longer analog version -- on the upcoming Tall Tales Fake Box Set free download tri-album.

Here's the new video:


video


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

Monday, March 23, 2009

FBO: 'Tall Tales Week: Day 1'



A WEEK FOR FBO MEMBER #001!
Twenty-three years today Tall Tales picked its name (Tall Tales). As things do in the 918, it happened in an upstairs bedroom of a South Tulsan's home: first drummer Chad Arnett's house, where early four-track recordings of songs like "Ways to Stay" and "Pictures" happened.

To celebrate, FBO annoints this week as TALL TALES WEEK, to celebrate the 23 years, to release a few new videos never before seen by the public, talk with Tall Tales members about the band, and to garner press coverage for the upcoming "Fake Box Set" -- a digital, free-dowload, three-"LP" collection of live recordings, B-sides, unreleased songs and alternate versions of the "hits" -- and a few "hits" as well.

THE MITCH NEWLIN INTERVIEW
Tall Tales always handed out programs at live shows across Oklahoma's counties. Nearly half of them -- for no apparent reason -- featured an interview with bass player Mitch Edward Newlin. He was immortalized for being younger than the rest of the band in the song "Hee Haw" ("Mitch is a child, going to be a while before he plays on Hee Haw"). Here's what Mitch, still not caught up with the rest in years, says about IT ALL:

Why bass?
Because everybody else wanted to play guitar and drums, and I can’t really sing. I’ve always loved bass, though. It speaks to me.

What was it like spending a summer living in a house in Norman with Danzig Fallis and Robert Reid, a year before graduating high school?
That was a trip. I loved it. I was poor as dirt and spend what little money I had on beer, so I ate a lot of bread sandwiches with Arby’s sauce. I think I lost 10 pounds that summer, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.


Do you remember your first practice with the band?
Hah! Do I ever. Mike Weiser [shown, left] walked in during practice and I thought he was there to kill us or steal our gear (sorry, Mike, but you scared me at little in the beginning). We played a few songs and Danny turned to me and asked what I thought. Everyone was staring at me pensively and I said… “I think you’re all fucked.” Everyone laughed and I felt my place in the band was secured at that moment.

How did you end up playing guitar on "Barrel of Fun," the last song on 69 Minutes?

I wrote the silly little tune, and somehow Rob and I never switched instruments back after going through it. I thought Rob’s bass work was brilliant and I was fairly excited about the way my tinkles came out on the CD. It’s a silly song but it holds a special place in my heart.

If you were going to send a three-song cassingle to Carson Daly of Tall Tales -- which three songs would you pick?

Good question. There is no doubt Carson would be a huge TT fan. Is this just for fun or can we make this happen?! Ok, here it is (in no particular order): "Checkin’ the Tide," "The Falkon Flies (Dies)," "UFO" and just because I don't follw the rules, I'd send him "Why Do I?" too.


FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- West Hurley, NY

Friday, March 20, 2009

FBO: 'Saluting the Women's Game'

One of the more important things in history is when, in 1976, Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau, promised that, "The 1976 Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby". The bankrupt city finally paid off the event 30 years later, well after Arnold Schwarzenegger proved him wrong in Junior (1994).

Bravado meets bust.

A couple weeks ago Oklahoma star Courtney Paris said she'd give back her $64,000 tuition if she doesn't lead OU to win the women's college basketball championship this year. She told the remarkable Daily Oklahoman a day after the statement: "I have a passion for our fans and university, and I want to do something special. That's why I put my scholarship on the table. I meant what I said."

Some like to compare this to infamous sports guarantees -- like Joe Namath's successful guarantee to beat the Colts in Super Bowl III, or disasterous ones like Matt Hasselbeck's overtime coin-toss 'we're going to win' boast vs Green Bay picked up on live mic for the stadium (just before he threw a game-losing INT/TD).

But read Courtney's words again, she is none of those things. She has made no guarantees -- she just offered motivation to her team, and put her scholarship on the line. That's pretty good. Particularly considering #1 Connecticut is considered unbeatable; they already defeated Paris' Sooners by 30 this year.

And $64,000 is harder to come by in the WNBA than NBA or NFL.

Speaking of which, we're told over and over how great the men's college basketball tournament is -- I prefer the NBA finals actually -- but few seems to mention the equally exciting women's bracket going on simultaneously. One could argue it's better -- with far less ego (can anyone name one player on Rutgers' squad slighted by Don Imus a couple seasons ago?), perhaps even more skills (eg the winningest coach of all time with Tennessee's Pat Summitt, or Courtney Paris' unbeatable streak of 112 double-doubles).

Perhaps the women's game should hold their event in the two weeks prior to the men's tournament for more attention, or after? As it is, it gets lost. Too lost.

The FBO will be closely following Courtney and the women's tournament this season.


FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- West Hurley, NY

Thursday, March 19, 2009

FBO: 'FBO Observers Anxious For Next Post'



FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- West Hurley, NY

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

FBO: 'Acknowledges Plan for New California State -- Shared by Farmers, Hollywood and SF's Castro Street''

WE WANT TWO STATES!
Angry farmers in California's Central Valley have organized into overlapping groups of secessionists --Citizens for Saving California Farming Industries (CSCFI) and another called DOWN SIZE CALIFORNIA, which is a bit of misnomer, as what they really want is to SECEDE into a new state (hilariously including Los Angeles and San Francisco), apparently to be called "JEFFERSON."

Everything about this is gold.

The CSCFI is led by Visalia-native/politician Bill Maze, who told the Fallbrook/Bonsall Village News that last November's Proposition 2 -- affecting the housing conditions of poultry -- was "the last straw." The proposition passed, though was rejected in 41 of the state's 58 counties. Maze blamed it on "agriculturally uneducated city dwellers."

Meanwhile, at the recent World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, the "Down Size California" booth was inundated with "multiple thousands" of visitors, according to their website.

The goal of both groups is to cut off 13 counties from California -- from Los Angeles to Marin Country, pockets of conservatism book-ended by the nation's most liberal cities -- and separate themselves from what Down Size California's website describes as "the imposition of burdensome regulations, taxation, fees, fees and more fees."

The left-over part of California, per their website, would be called the New Revitalized California.

WHAT DOES THE FBO THINK?
The FBO sees this a bit like the adolescent scheme of "taking your ball home" when a sideyard football game isn't going the way you want. But we can't help but admire the gall of trying to include the country's most liberal city -- San Francisco -- into the Republican-led Agricultural Xanadu. One wonders if this is the best time to ignore a democratic election and put up walls and pour millions into building a new capitol in Visalia. But we're open to hear more from them.

We've emailed Down Size California on the matter, and hope to post an interview here shortly.


FBO Admin
Mobile HQ -- Woodstock, NY

Sunday, March 15, 2009

FBO: 'Salutes Latest Non-NFL Football Attempt'

The saddest year in American sports history has nothing to do with steroids, dog fights or self-inflicted gunshot wounds. It was 2001, the year the XFL tried and failed to counter the non-failed NFL with a wrestling-styled brand of football. We were all for it. Just that they didn't go far enough to make 'extreme football' (see bottom of post for how it could have worked), and no players were interested in the antics -- they saw it as one thing: a chance to audition for the NFL.

Now that it, and NFL Europe, are gone, the UFL (United Football League) is giving a second option for pro football a try. They're starting smart -- rolling out with a manageable four teams (New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco), each led by prime-time NFL coaches (including Jim Haslett and Denny Green), and a short season (just October to November) with games on Thursday and Friday nights. Next year they plan to expand to Salt Lake City and MONTERREY, MEXICO.

Best of all, the UFL are employing some slogans that caught our eye:

"THE UNITED FOOTBALL LEAGUE IS ALL ABOUT U"

A little goofy, but the league means it. The "mission statement" claims the UFL goal is "to to fulfill the unmet needs of football fans," promising "an affordable, accessible, exciting and entertaining game experience."

Also, the UFL are already taking suggestions for TEAM NAMES. We hope this doesn't end up with something like the Las Vegas Gamblers or San Francisco Wind. If so, we will only have our lack of vision to blame. At least there's real hope that something truly interesting can slip by -- Las Vegas Cravens, San Francisco Football Club, New York Orlando-Haters, Orlando Sadists. Send your team-name suggestions here.

"WHERE FUTURE STARS COMES TO PLAY"
Unlike some leagues, the UFL understands its place: as a stepping stone to the NFL. Many great college players never have a chance to make the NFL. Some go to Canada, others try the 'arena' league. We wonder if the UFL's chances might be best in spring -- so that some could ship up to NFL teams after spring training injuries -- and NOT compete with the highly popular college football games on Thursday (and Friday) night on ESPN.

We will watch you. And we might even try out.

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


*HOW the XFL could have worked: go all out with extreme.

  • During the 1920s, initial possession in many "Indian league" football games held in Oklahoma began by whomever got to the ball first -- after it was dropped by a passing plane above. The XFL should have adopted this as a game-starter.
  • Defense are allowed to use mobile walls -- five feet long, three fight high -- one time per half. They can place them anywhere on their side of the line of scrimmage before a play begins.
  • The field would have three sand traps, and one de-fanged/de-clawed cougar permanently on 10-foot chain at midfield.
  • One team should have been billed as the "gay team."
  • The game would be broadcast on HBO so that announcers could use whatever profanity they wished.
  • A sprinkler system would go on/off incrementally at one 40 yard line throughout game.

Friday, March 13, 2009

FBO: 'Astral Week: Thankfully Ends Prisoner-Free'

On Lou Reed's fascinating Take No Prisoners double-live LP from 1978, 'Walk on the Wild Side' fills a side of the vinyl LP, lasting nearly 17 minutes, and never getting anywhere. He starts with a diatribe about why he's no longer bored with the song, and finally makes it to the opening verse ('Holly came from Miami, FLA') then immediately interrupts himself to riff on all sorts of things -- brontasauruses, 'I do Lou Reed better than anybody,' 'enough attitude to kill every person in New Jersey' -- then finishes the first chorus and breaks out to rant again -- why Springsteen is 'groovy,' liner notes in rock criticism, name-dropping New York Times opera critics, why critics shouldn't get free tickets -- then turns into the second verse about Candy -- pausing to explain each lyric ('this is true,' 'I really miss Candy', 'go write a Bible') -- and finally when the supreme back-up singers finally start the water-in-the-desert 'doo doo-doo' refrains, he quickly cuts them off, for a four-minute, pop-culture-psychedelic ramble on how the song got made, at the same time losing the small New York audience who had played along for eight minutes, laughing and yelling back, but eventually lose interest.

It's a mesmerizing self-destruction. On full view of the stage at the (now closed) Bottom Line -- and memorialized in vinyl. It finally ends after 17 minutes, with an open-chord fade: in the end, we don't actually know how long he kept it going that night.

It reminds me, in a way, of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, which, we're told, is one of the great albums of all time. To me it seems like listening in on a loner sprawled on a dog-food-scattered floor and wailing about his agonies, pain, lost loves and plain ol' confusion. Songs stem from tinkly acoustic guitars, often building off two chords. Most build up indiscriminately -- with flutes and strings -- sometimes six or seven minutes, apparently depending on the whim of the plump Irishman with a Florentine nose. He repeats lyrics over and over -- and the lyrics ARE frequently excellent. The band, jazz sessions players I hear, don't really know what's next -- just following as they can in a rushed, three-day recording session.

Many bond with it. FBO Observer Tom Caw recommends we all read Lester Bang's take, which is compelling. But, unlike other 1968 albums ('White Album,' Beggars Banquet), it seems like a long-since sailed ship to me. And I can't get past the overly soulful bursts from Van every third or fourth line.

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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

FBO: 'Astral Week: Message for Kings, Na-Na-Na-Na, Hey-Hey'



Yes, it's still 'Astral Week' at the FBO, and we really are trying to sit through and say something on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks by tomorrow. Meanwhile, we couldn't resist -- after many many years -- a return to Rush's 1977, seven-song epic A Farewell to Kings.

Here, Rush matured on 2112's juvenile futuristic concept -- 'what is this? a guitar?' -- without completely abandoning the Dungeons & Dragons crowd: in particular 'Madrigal's dragon slaying, and 'Cygnus X-1: Book One's overworked black-hole itinerary.

The album doesn't always work. 'Madrigal' -- even at just 2:34 -- is unbearable, while the disappointing opening title track telegraphs the pass, by introducing the feudalistic subject with Shakespearean guitar picking on a classical guitar. But the 37-minute album did produce the band's most enduring 'chick-friendly' song -- and most accessible song between 1975's 'Fly By Night' and 1982's 'New World Man' (their only Top 40 song) -- with 'Closer to the Heart.'

It also gave us one of their most underrated epics, with gorgeous segways connecting the dots of the 11-minute 'Xanadu.' Lyrically, Neil Peart once again looks way backward for inspiration, reworking Samuel T-Dog Coleridge's hit poem from 1797 'Kubla Khan': more or less a journey for immortality in Mongolia. (Yes, it's the same Sam who directed Iron Maiden to 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner.')

'Xanadu' was Rush's first serious show-off, multi-instrumental platform -- everyone does double duty in the musical sea of synths, wood blocks, bells, tom fills, double-necked guitars syncopating accents with staccato cymbal splashes.

It starts, mercifully, vocal free for a breathless five-minute musical trip that pulls us into the domain of Mr Khan. For two minutes, we wake into a meandering landscape of tapped guitars and birdsong, before the Ontarian trio lead us into a triumphant spider-crawl, King Crimson-esque riff backed by wind effects and big Neil Peart accents and tom fills. It then erupts into an upbeat, charging, faintly 'The Song Remains the Same' riff (with Alex Lifeson's open chords and superb Geddy Lee bass lines). Much is guitar driven, yet Lifeson shows restraint in allowing no solos in the 11 minutes.

You can almost dance to 'Xanadu' till it finally winds down to Lee's vocals ('to seek the sacred river Alph'), which plod over burpy synths, then shifting into a syncopated guitar/cymbal/bass accents in a harder chorus ('from an ancient book, I took a clue!'). Most of the vocals color dream-like, slower melodies -- an area best suited to Geddy's shaky voice, which gets irritating at higher levels (like the unlistenable wails towards the end of 'Freewill').

Conjuring Mongolian emperors in an 11-minute song at the same time stop/start punk rock and coked-up disco dominated radiowaves and livehouses? Not bad.

--> Sadly, it's a song that can't be downloaded as an individual song, necessitating a full $7.99 purchase of the album on both Amazon.com and iTunes.


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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

FBO: 'Astral Week: Solves Journalism Problem'

ANALOG KIDS, FEAR NOT!
Newspapers are dropping, as the recessions swells, jobs get cut and panic overwhelms long-running newspapers, like the Rocky Mountain News, who throw their arms up and abandon decades-old traditions.

The FBO has the answer: um, move it online.

Mid-sized cities shouldn't walk away from the tradition of newspapers, just move it online, cut back the staff to about 10 or 12, and focus only on local news. The site could have links to national and international stories of the day -- already papers like the Daily Oklahoman and Tulsa World are chiefly AP stories in most sections anyway. You'd have reporters on the police beat, government, arts, sports, business -- just like now. Advertising revenue would drop off, but so would expenses.

Speaking of which, the FBO is considering creating the Oklahoma City FBO, a rival option for news -- objective news -- to Oklahoma City's terrible Daily Oklahoman. Papers that attack other local media (see photo courtesy of LostOgle.com) like hockey players aren't really doing the community a favor. It's time for a more sober option in Capital City.

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

FBO: 'Astral Week: State Legislator Pleads to Italicize the Oklahoma Flag'


Tecumseh legislator Shane Jett -- apparently no relation to Joan -- has wasted energy, time and money to propose changes to the best state flag in the nation: by adding an exclamation point to 'OKLAHOMA' and, curiously, italicizing it.

This leads to all sorts of questions, beginning with how did this guy get elected?

Mr Jett tells the Tulsa World today

"I was just looking for a way to improve our image ... and get some good, solid publicity,” Jett said. Then, "It could give us hundreds of thousands of dollars in free publicity.”

Oklahoma!, of course, is the name of a punctuated Broadway musical written by two men who never visited the state. Many critics so far are focused on the idea of punctuation in a flag -- and we aren't opposed to that part of his proposal at all. Though reminding outsiders of the much mocked, ill-advised past slogan -- "Oklahoma is OK!"-- is not a good way to promote faith that Oklahoma has a clue what it's doing.

Far more troubling, and bewildering, is the idea of ITALICIZING the state name on the flag. Mr Jett appears to think that could help get publicity.

Two questions:

* Does italics attract more attention than plain fonts? No. Italics adds focus only when in embedded in a paragraph or sentence -- when it's alone italicized words are actually less clear to read.
* Is Mr Jett aware that other states DON'T FLY the Oklahoma state flag?

We appreciate Mr Jett's lateral thinking for ways to promote the state, but tinkering with a long-running flag that doesn't appear outside Oklahoma borders isn't a good choice.

We're surprised he didn't follow Florida's usage of a website on their license plate by putting www.travelok.com on the flag.

BETTER CHOICES
One consideration would be to put more visible visitor centers near the state border of major entry points -- I-40 at Arkansas and Texas, particularly -- and advertise free 60-minute scenic drives and detours around the state. Currently Oklahoma City has a wonderful visitor center -- which lies 10 miles or so north of busy I-40, and well AFTER visitors are into the state.

Signs should point to Oklahoma City's (poorly named) "Asian District" for its authentic Vietnamese restaurants -- a real break for drivers full on McDonald's. (While Oklahoma's at it, they should change the name of the area to what it IS: Little Saigon.)

Another option would be to make a better license plate than the confusing, un-artful one that was chosen. Perhaps making it sky blue like the flag would stress 'nice weather' in the state -- a color rarely seen on license plates.

Mr Jett, please contact us if you need any future, more thought out ideas for improving Oklahoma's image.

--> IF Oklahoma italicizes the state name on the flag, the Failed Bands of Oklahoma will permanently change its name to either Failed Bands Organization or Failed Bands of the Great Plains.


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

FBO: 'Astral Week: How the Van Morrison Interview Happened'

Last week we discussed Van Morrison's diss of failed (and non-failed) bands that had the tenacity to form in the years following 1966. We asked for an apology.

Tonight, by sheer coincidence -- a benefit from being semi-permanently based in New York City -- we met the author of the piece, The New Yorker's Ben Greenman, and asked him about how the piece was made, whether Van was a jerky as he sounded.

Greenman, who just finished a novel on a fictionalized version of Sly Stone (out in May), knows a bit of music. His favorite Stone song is an 'out of the way' 45-second piece that's 'not really a song' -- it's scary, about Sly floating or falling and looking to himself. Have to hear that.

He says that when Morrison's people contacted the New Yorker to have some sort of profile, the weekly rejected any idea of a Q&A type piece. 'Well, because we're the New Yorker, we could do that.' He and his editor came up with the idea of having him meet up at an East Village bar called Lakeside Lounge with a huge jukebox filled with 50s and 60s R&B songs -- the jukebox is on their website. Greenman picked the songs in advance -- songs he thought would get some comments from Van -- and they met.

Van's people had mentioned that they'd be documenting the whole thing -- that they are making a sort of 'short documentary' on the publicity campaign. 'At first we refused, then we let them because it wasn't that contentious of an interview.'

Greenman said he had about sixty or seventy quotes from him, but had to boil it down to a few for the 800-word piece. That he wasn't trying to diss the Beatles per se, and that he's not seeing new bands, but that 'not many 65-year-olds are watching many new bands.'

'The one about the Beatles being meaningless is the one that's gotten the most comments.'

We still want an apology.


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

Monday, March 09, 2009

FBO: 'Oklahoma Official Rock Song'

We don't know what to say about the fact that Oklahoma picked one of the softest Flaming Lips songs as the official 'rock song of Oklahoma.' The nominees were not particularly spectacular, and better the Lips than a particularly rambunctious number by Reba McEntire or Garth Dean Brooks, but the FBO remains upset that Oklahoma didn't consider any failed bands' songs (particularly Tall Tales' 'A Place in Oklahoma' -- hear it here).

We applaud the Lips for their charming song ('Do You Realize?') but must note that it's one that sadly lacks any connections, lyrically, to the state, and is perhaps most famous of the contenders due to its inclusion in a recent TV advertisment.

Other notables: Lips bass-player Michael Ivins of the band wore a Soviet Union hammer'n'sicle shirt to the capitol for the announcement.

--> The FBO noted the snub of the failed last September. Rolling Stone made fun of the event last week.

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

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

FBO: 'Jukebox Anti-Hero: Van Morrison'

We're not sure if this is OK or not, but we've never been fans of Van Morrison, regardless of his tenacity for his costume in Marty Scorcese's The Last Waltz, the send-off of the overly earnest band The Band. Morrison, with his stern expression and plump figure, squeezes himself into a polyester jump suit with fake diamond duds on the back. He does flying kicks at one point. It's awesome.

Morrison is having himself a little comeback, in the 41st anniversary of Astral Weeks, an album the rock-changes-lives critics tell us to download. They say, 'it's a soulful unclassifiable rock with jazz musicians,' like a prequel to Sting's Dream of Turtles of Blue. He's touring and -- following the trend of late to perform albums in their predictable sequential entirety -- playing it on stage.

In a little profile in this week's New Yorker (a magazine with incredibly written stories about, frequently, incredibly boring subjects), Morrison hangs with a writer and plays old obscure songs on an East Village bar's jukebox from well-known pre-Beatle rockers like Gene Vincent, Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Fats Domino. 'The Beatles were peripheral... meaningless,' he spits at one point. He's happy enough to tour but no longer sees shows. 'I've seen all the people I wanted to see... Why do I need to keep finding new bands when I have the originals?'

That pretty sums up why none of us can name -- or perhaps should even try -- a single Van Morrison song of the past 35 years.

'Best Albums of All Time' lists frequently put this one in the Top 20. England's The Times had it at No 3, Rolling Stone had it at 19 (and we're thankful, as they claim, that Van 'was never this open, and naked, again'), Mojo mag at 2. (Really? 2?) Time rambles about its 'mystic poetry, spacious grooves, and romantic incantations.' In a Guardian article -- London paper -- last year, they spoke with a psychologist who couldn't get enough of the eight-track disc from Morrison (story). The psychologist Adam Jesse J Phillips says:

'His voice is a thing of quite extreme beauty. What is extraordinary is the emotional atmosphere he creates in the songs and the sense that he is not even remotely concerned about communicating with an audience or a listener. He's just singing out his songs, and we are, in a sense, listening in.'

He adds:

'I don't think he has a clue what this music is about, other than it comes from somewhere deep inside him.'

This is funny. Rock singers look for answers -- how to score chicks, how to understand parents, how to make sense of life -- in about every rock song from Chuck Berry to the Jonas Brothers. Is it really that surprising that an Irish recluse didn't have life figured out at 23? And the statement, said in awe, that Morrison apparently 'is not even remotely concerned about communicating with an audience' seems to explain some of his jukebox theories from the New Yorker piece.

Per our psychology, Van may have issues.

But still we feel bad that -- after 41 years of its life -- we've never heard the album. Never really considered it. So, we volunteer to christen next week on FBO as our 'astral week' -- we'll listen and see if A-Dub is worth the hype after all these years. We'll judge it on a few factors including Van's cluelessness, the extremity of the beauty in his voice, and his snub of the listener's cares or concerns.

->Meanwhile, we politely ask Van to apologize for his snub of failed bands of the past 45 years.

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

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

FBO: 'Oklahoma Off Probation, Colorado On'

OKLAHOMA OFF PROBATION
The FBO is now restored as the Failed Bands of Oklahoma -- not Failed Bands Organization -- after our two-week probation. The FBO asks the state to consult us for future creative decisions. Otherwise, we may switch to FBND (Failed Bands of North Dakota), full-time.

COLORADO ON PROBATION
Meanwhile it's worth noting this profile of Luis Jimenez in The Wall Street Journal, who is responsible for the sometimes criticized, red-eyed mustang sculpture outside the Fred Jones Art Center in Norman. (We love it.)

The FBO hadn't realized the artist went on to create a similar mustang - standing on his hind legs - outside Denver's overrated airport, and that he DIED making it. Not while making, but FROM making it. A section of the fiberglass structure fell on him in 2006. It's now kickstarted a stream of hate, capped with a Colorado campaign to remove it from the airport - so that it's 'not the first thing people see.' One protest haiku states 'ugly devil horse/horrifies the traveler/shames our fair city.'

Upon opening in 1994, the airport in Denver - which killed off one of its long-running newspapers this week, perhaps unwilling to test out the idea of a solely online presence - has been long shamed. Since its very beginning, when a expensive automated baggage retrieval system went haywire. Per one report, 'Suitcases went flying like popcorn kernels, some of them breaking in half, spewing underwear in every direction.'

It should be noted, as the WSJ does in its article, that the Norman mustang was at first hated, but many locals were won over by the 'charisma' of the sculptor who met with 700 locals. Sadly he didn't have a chance to do so in Denver.

The FBO places Colorado on a three-month probation.

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

Sunday, March 01, 2009

FBOrg: 'Real Jason Bourne Backs FBO Claim'

Recently we compared New York City to a 'bad boss.' We're not alone. An incredible story in today's New York Times involves the bizarre story of a young New York schoolteacher, Hannah Upp (great name), who had a 'Jason Bourne moment' -- or rather a 'Jason Bourne three days.' Her memory, or identity, blanked for a few days -- she recalls nothing -- and she was found floating in the Hudson River by a sharp-eyed Staten Island Ferry driver. Somehow alive. It's not known how long she was in the water.

After recovering her memory, she decided to stick around New York:

--> 'I can't let New York win.'

That's a fascinating quote.

THE CONCERTS AREN'T KEEPING HER
Speaking of which, NYC would be a great city to see concerts (everyone comes) if you could only get tickets. I woke early Monday to get Leonard Cohen tickets for Radio City Music Hall. Radio City Music Hall had emailed me directly with the pre-sale links, via Ticketmaster, and they NEVER worked. I finally got through to Ticketmaster by phone, after a 30-minute wait (I really didn't want the tickets anymore, but felt bullish over it), and was told the 'presale tickets are all gone.' The site never explained it. And I had been trying to get tickets every half minute from 30 seconds BEFORE they went on sale, for half an hour. This means they sold out, more or less, in five to 15 seconds. Yet another case of the city trying to beat you.

Hannah, if you're reading, generally it's easier to go to Delaware to see shows.

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