#29 New Roman Times part 5: I Hate this Part of Texas.

16 I Hate This Part Of Texas

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Band dressing rooms are famous for their graffiti. Most of it is pretty is juvenile.  But on occasion there are gems.  A long standing tradition is just to simply write on the dressing room wall “I hate this part of Texas”.  This piece of graffiti is usually written in the dressing room at some venue outside of Texas.  My favorite incidence of this graffiti was on the wall of a dressing room in Bergen Norway.

As I was born in Texas i am familiar with your average Texan’s overbearing pride in their home state.  They don’t really know that most of us don’t sit around thinking about Texas.  Texas enters our mind mostly when there is a hurricane or  some other natural disaster.  Or mass shooting.    Sometimes I fear that this graffiti was originated by prideful Texans who view all the world as somehow a lesser part of Texas.

Other times i think this graffiti originated with bands who have played the notoriously shitty venues in Texas.  More than any other state the venues in Texas suffer from cramped or no dressing rooms,  bad PA’s and surly staffs.  Sorry Texas but it’s true.  I remember the first time i walked into the Liberty Lunch and thinking  “This is the famous Liberty Lunch”? It was December of 1985 and Camper Van Beethoven was  opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  The Chili Peppers being from LA had the total old school rock crew. So their crew used to working for Motley Crue or Night Ranger had staked out the entire Backstage.  The venue gave us some folding chairs that they placed along the wall along the side of the stage.  I watched the Chili Peppers thinking “that Flea guy is a great guitarist,  But why is he playing guitar parts on Bass?”  All the while Rock historian then just a journalist  Ed Ward was rattling in my ear about how “unprofessional”  Camper had been that night because Jonathan had complained about how cold it was in the venue and he couldn’t keep his violin in tune.  While the Chili peppers were “consumate professionals putting on a great show” full of stupid double entendres and flat footed funk that only a drunk UT Pi Chi might find revelatory.  I was polite but only because i had no place to hide from him.

In some ways Ed Ward was right.  The Chili Peppers were consumate professionals and were rewarded for that with massive success. But “rewarded” may not be the right word.  It’scertainly not the kind of success that i would want.  I’m not sure that i would want the kind of audience that  thinks “Yeah Yeah Yeah Oh No,  No No Oh Yeah”  is a chorus.  I mean what would i say to our fans?  What would we talk about?  “Hey i don’t like getting hit in the head with a stick,  do you?  do you like Ice Cream headaches?  I don’t !”

This and having your CD sold in a Starbucks is one of the most dubious distinctions in rock music.   It means your music and career has acquired the stink of faux of credibility;  the Pleather™ sheen of stylized rebellion and pleasant sleepaid gurgling of empty sloganeering.  Or as David Cross and  Bob Odenkirk so succinctly put it  “Break the rules,  but don’t really break any rules”.

Bizarre story.  I walked into a Starbucks in Grapevine California. It was december and freezing. The wind was blowing a zillion miles an hour down the grapevine and so know one would even dare to get out of their cars to actually go to the counter. The drive thru was packed but  i was the only one in the store.  At the counter was a Starbucks Compilation of Sonic Youth songs chosen by such celebrities as Marc Jacobs (the clothing designer!?)  Wow  that is so punk rock dude.  The Chicana behind the counter was pretty chatty and a little bit of a smart-ass so i thought she’d be good to engage in conversation. Holding up the Sonic Youth CD:

“Do you know who this band is?”

“No”

“Do you know what they sound like?”

Squinting “Are  they …were they..some kind of Boy Band?”

“Has anyone bought this CD”

“Not during my shifts”

” Do you know any of the celbrities that picked theses songs?”

“um…Portia de Rossi–Are you from Corporate Headquarter?”

“No i’m just an asshole”

Even Thurston Moore The Third knew how weird this was.  Check out how he keeps laughing nervously in this pitchfork interview.

Grapevine California. Sonic Youth Hotbed.

Camper Van Beethoven writes music that could never be played in a Starbucks unless the clerks managed to splice their iPods into the pipe that drizzles the music, like low calorie icing  in from the Seattle Headquarters.   And this is probably one of the top 5 Camper Van Beethoven songs least likely to be played in a Starbucks. Even if Portia de Rossi swore up and down cross-my-heart-hope-to-die-stick-a-needle-in-my-eye “this is the best song in the world” it would not make it past the censors at Corporate.  I’m proud of that. In fact i am proud that there is no song in my entire catalogue that could possibly make it onto a Starbucks CD. ( And i dare Starbucks to prove me wrong. he he)

Aside from that Sonic Youth mistake.  Which was weird enough that the Traders on CNBC’s Fast Money mentioned it in connection to Starbucks stock price, someone at Corporate in Starbucks is very good at picking out fake edgy bands like Death Cab For Cutie.  Band’s that are really the equivalent of 70’s mustachioed soft rock.  Bands “that break the rules but don’t really break the rules.” Bands that if they were ground up and loaded into shotgun shells that then a drunken Dick Cheney  fired in your general direction and one small piece of a Death Cab for Cutie song lodged next to your heart the doctors would not operate.  In a press conference in their spiffy white coats they would announce :

 

“The small fragment of the Death Cab For Cutie song is so innocuous,  so bland and devoid of roughness,  sharp edges or any dangerous ingredient,  we think the safest course is just to leave the fragment next to the heart.  Thank you.”

******************

I hate this part of Texas. What is this song?  in the context of the story of New Roman Times,  it’s our protagonist really high on some extra strong flower,  trying to get his Los Tigres contacts to put him in touch with either Mexican Intelligence services,  Grey aliens or The CVB.  He is going over to the other side.

Again what is this song.  Like post #1(The chemist said)  this is one of those songs that came about because Engineer John Morand was listening to a song backwards (The Long Plastic Hallway). He really enjoys doing this. He of course found an engaging melody and pointed it out to us.  Eventually we figured out we could sing “I hate this part of Texas”  to this Backwards melody.

It’s fun to be Camper Van Beethoven.

And as a Bexar county born son of Texas. I got to say this on behalf of  Texas:  If Starbucks were  based in Texas at least the damn CDs would suck less and they’d have a beef brisket BBQ sandwich.

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45 Responses to “#29 New Roman Times part 5: I Hate this Part of Texas.”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    I toil for a corporate retail establishment that has chosen to subject us to Trusonic selections. We have the obligatory DCFC and RHCP drivel. And four Taylor Swift songs per shift. At least they have it turned *waaaay* down to the point that I’m the only one who hears it enough to be annoyed by it. If the people at Trusonic actually listened to the lyrics, they’d get rid of a lot of it, since songs about dying girls and meth and already dead teenagers probably doesn’t actually provoke a lot of spending. But that’s assuming than anyone else notices the lyrics. I come alive for the one New Order song and one Pretenders song, and that’s really it.

  2. The Invisbles ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0186240/ )
    Portia de Rossi. I played John Lennon! (and did the music- http://jsegel.bandcamp.com/ ).
    At dinner one day she asked me about my “record label” (Magnetic) and I said, yeah I run a little label… into the ground! She said, you should say ” I own a record company” , it sounds so much more important than running a record label.

  3. Brandy Goheen Says:

    I have never heard of this, but being a proud Texan myself, I find it intriguing! You’re way too cool for starbucks, Dave, don’t you know that!!

  4. I’m from Texas and I live in Hawaii now.

    It is fully my intention today to go write “I Love this part of Texas” on some public restroom stall in Waikiki 🙂

    • Arg. Yep, I’m one of those douchebags who uses smileys. Ignore me. They’re doubly obnoxious when auto-translated into little pictures….

  5. ¡ODIO ESTA PARTE DE TEXAS! This album is fantastic.

    Might not qualify, strictly speaking, as dressing room graffiti, but my favorite rock-club wall-scrawl was at Cedar’s Lounge in Youngstown, Ohio. Back in the day, when we went to see the local bands play there, the Men’s Room wall read “YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO: BIG CITY CRIME WITHOUT BIG CITY CULTURE.” That was about right.

  6. I’m so out of it that when I read “Portia de Rossi,” the only thing I can picture is this:

    http://tinypic.com/r/29vatdi/4

    “the equivalent of 70′s mustachioed soft rock” — Heh; nice to know I wasn’t just imagining that.

  7. Chris Rathman Says:

    I did overhear Border Ska being piped in while dining at On The Border a couple months back.

  8. David…Starbucks asks you to put The Palace Guards on their counter. Millions of people a day will look at it (nice artwork, btw). You wouldn’t say yes?

    Did you know that there was a solo version of this:

    That – now that’s some Easy Cheese.

    • in fact yes i did imply that i wouldn’t care. that i would take the money. that’s why i “dared” starbucks to do it. read that a little more carefully. it’s supposed to be funny. get it?

      • which also doesn’t take away from my point. if your NEW ALBUM can be played in starbucks it probably sucks. it’s not the good groundbreaking wilco record that got sold in starbucks. it’s the later er uh.. we’ll you get what i’m talking about.

      • oh, i got the ‘joke’…

      • and as this is your home/blog…i just respectfully disagree with your take on Starbucks…and Wilco for that matter (save A Ghost is Born and Sky Blue Sky).

      • That wilco starbucks album is good? i don’t get wilco anymore. i never understand what he’s talking about. he sounds like there is no emotional attachment to his lyrics anymore. but that’s a matter of opinion. but it’s not YHF. that’s my point. only once something is smoothed out is it sellable in starbucks.

      • You would think that something like Summerteeth or their debut album would have been more sellable in Starbucks than the latest. But whadda I know about selling records.

  9. In the early 21st century, my sister and I went to a minor league baseball game in San Jose, CA. Like most minor league games, the crowd was a low key mixture of families, hard call baseball fans and bored teenagers. Between innings, we heard two of the most threatening songs of the 1970s, namely “YMCA” by The Village People and “Hey Ho Let’s Go” by the Ramones.

    All the kids danced to the YMCA song and clapped to the Ramones (as they do at minor league games everywhere). The subversive subtexts of both songs had been subverted in turn, and the songs were enjoyable pop fun, probably as they were intended–but it took a while. So I’m hesitant these days to say I know how a piece of music will be received in a few decades.

    • Last week I went to that same ballpark. The baby-boomer grandparents came down from the stands dressed in campy police, carpenter, etc, outfits of the Village People and led the crowd through the dance routine with a wink and a smile. I ate it up. Later, though I had that I want out of the circus moment. Can you have an irony hangover?

  10. lynn marie Says:

    “It’s fun to be Camper Van Beethoven.”

    l bet! I could not agree with you more about corporate products such as starbucks cds. can you imagine hooking up with your friends and saying “hey I got the new starbucks cd!” or could you imagine being in a band and saying “hey we’re on the new starbucks cd!”? I mean wtf? the people who market this shit are definitely scraping at the edges.

  11. Thābit ibn Qurra Says:

    Yeah we get it. Maybe the right word is “Thats a bad thing”?

    • hey thabit. i’m calling you out for posting under various pseudonymns. cookies. and ip addresses. wordpress has some groovy features. That’s troll type stuff. whenever people start doing this nothing good comes of it. If you want to participate in this blog commenting wise you got not have multiple pseudonymns. and it would be nice if you were actually use your real idently like the rest of the non trolls here..

    • i’m not sure why exactly i got your goat. you can’t be a shill for starbucks. maybe you pick tracks for starbucks occasionally? you don’t work for tone.com which is a ringtone company based in san jose. but your ip address is right in the middle of WHYY broadcast area. hmm. what show comes from that station?

      and you seem to have an issue with me and the references to mathematics. however if you’re just gonna randomly pull a mathematician from wikipedia for a pseudonym don’t pull one that is a mandeaen from Carrhae cause you could accurately say he comes from a long line of Nimrods. (in the biblical sense).

  12. Gotta say that this NRT section that was supposed to be (I think?) two parts and is now five could go on forever. Good stuff.

  13. Favorite line from the movie Juno:
    “Oh and you know what? I bought another Sonic Youth album and it sucked… it’s just noise.”
    I always thought I just wasn’t cool enough to understand Sonic Youth.

  14. And like Tommy Womack, I’m too old for Death Cab for Cutie. (reference to Alpha Male and the Canine Mystery Blood.)

  15. Matthew Ward Says:

    Starbucks sucks, period. Anybody ever heard of Sonicsgate?

    As for Sonic Youth, I love them, but they shouldn’t have ever released anything thru Starbucks. Funny story from Thurston Moore: Warner Bros once asked for a copy of Band Moon Rising and Moore recalls “And they called back and they said ‘Are you sure that this is the one we asked for, because this is just a bunch of noise–it’s just crap.'”

  16. Very similar Sonic Youth playing at Starbucks story the same had happened to me and a customer. I work in a place similar to Starbucks – well more akin to Wallmart’s (in the UK called ASDA). In December 09 Susan Boyle, winner of Britain’s Got Talent (or some similar talentless show) had released a CD. Customer comes up to me and wanted to talk to me about it. At that moment the music was playing on the store’s PA system.
    Being more into heavy metal than operatic singers, I was totally ignorant of this woman’s music. The customer now irate pointed to the ceiling, “this is playing at this very moment”.
    Now I can emphasise with the shop assistant’s point of view when Mr Lowery approached her with a Sonic Youth CD. For I had acted the same.
    Perhaps if this was Sonic Youth I would be more akin to this music, but Susan Boyle, I thought that was a cat being strangled. No offence to this woman, she does well, but it’s not my music.
    However I agree that if any music had been played through a store’s PA system, is a pile of donkey’s **** (dung?) but it’s the only way of getting music across to an apathetic audience and shoppers.

  17. I scored Dylan’s Victoria’s Secret CD at a garage sale for a buck. It was totally worth a buck. I will tape it to a bathroom wall somewhere and write under it “I hate this part of Dylan”. Afterwards, I’ll order the macho latte.

  18. Chaos Cowboy Says:

    David, I’m so glad to hear that someone else hates “Death Cab for Cutie” almost as much as I. (BTW – origin aside, that is a terrible name for a band, unless your band is the safest, lamest crap on the planet, in which case it is pretty spot-on.)

    The real question is, what do you think of “Band of Horses?” Am I the only one who notices that they write the most obvious, repetitive, neutered “rock” music in all of existence? Discuss…

  19. Dead Cats for Cubie?

    ps to Thābit: PWNED!!

  20. Dr. F Zen Hinkopf Says:

    Hmm. I face an interesting dilemma, having posted under a pseudonym. No overt scolding, and my posts continue to appear, even though I blatantly stole and anagramized Heinz Knopff for my postings. Maybe laying down that trail through here and facebook sufficed, or maybe Herr Lowery’s minions have checked and confirmed that I’m not a superfan, just someone who dug the idea of a nitcpicking academic personna. If there is lingering resentment, my meatspace representative is happy to bring a bottle of brown liquor to the Glacier show. Like I needed an excuse.

  21. Corporate taste is improving. I heard Fleet Foxes this afternoon while I was shopping at Publix Supermarket. Until today, the coolest music I ever heard being piped in there was the Lovin’ Spoonful.

  22. I’ve never heard any Death Cab for Cutie music. I don’t listen to commercial radio, so I fon’t hear much new music. For the most part that’s okay, but how do I know when I miss out on something that is really good? I know there must be *some* kids out there making good music!

    Brakes (BrakesBrakesBrakes in the U.S.) is a good British band that – to me – has more in common with Cracker than one might think at first. Over a beer I’d love to expound on this if I thought anyone wanted to listen. I hope they never make it REALLY big, for the kinds of reasons we understand from this blog post.

  23. I’m working backwards in time here and may have missed something. I know there were objections to ridiculing Starbucks but did anybody object to the portrayal of RHCP as trivial lyrically? Take for instance:

    I’m not sure that i would want the kind of audience that thinks “Yeah Yeah Yeah Oh No, No No Oh Yeah” is a chorus. I mean what would i say to our fans? What would we talk about? ”Hey i don’t like getting hit in the head with a stick, do you? do you like Ice Cream headaches? i don’t !”

    Now, I vociferously agree with the point being made here which i believe is that Camper Van Beethoven did not and has not lost its edge. True. However, RHCP is a pretty bad counter-example. Cmon, Under the Bridge, Californication, Throw Away Your Television ?!? I think if I ever met Anthony Kiedis I’d have more to talk about than Ice Cream headaches.

  24. bobbyjjames Says:

    Bob and David! Mr. Show! That was so funny! I still watch them over and over on my DVD set.

  25. unclefrank77 Says:

    Interesting post and comments. Even though I loved all manner of 80’s post punk music, Sonic Youth was one band I never got into.
    David, I remember about 10 years ago in a New York paper (the Village Voice maybe?) there was some kind of spat between you and Thurston Moore. He came across like a complete asshole.

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