Saturday, April 16, 2005

Shambu News 04.16.05

The Dissertation
the official newsletter of Shambu

http://www.shambumusic.com (free downloads, pics, gigs, and bios)
http://thedissertation.blogspot.edu (this newsletter on the web)
http://www.myspace.com/shambu/ (become our friend!)

SHAMNEWS!

This is a mighty exciting weekend in Shambuworld!

First, the lads will kick off their “One Day at the Rochester SPoT Coffee” world tour. Be sure to go all the way to the bottom of this e-mail for complete show details!

Second, Pete recently started up his own music label, named Exhibition Records, in order to put out the forthcoming Shambu album, as well as discs from other mega-awesome Buffalo-based acts. So yes, in addition to the much anticipated “I’m a Shambuzer” t-shirts, there shall now be “I’m an Exhibitionist” attire.

The first CD to be released under the Exhibition name is a compilation of local songwriters called Restoring the Structure. It includes solo tracks from Pete as well as Dan.

The CD’s release is causing quite a buzz- check out the wonderful article that Jeff Miers wrote for the Gusto section of this week’s Buffalo News: http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20050415/1046027.asp .

When you do, note the cheesiness of the press photo that Pete chose for himself.

Anyways, we’re stoked! And the CD release party is TODAY!

DETAILS FOR THE RESTORING THE STRUCTURE RELEASE EVENT:

1. Pete and Dan will each play the two solo tunes that they contributed to the compilation disc and then they’re going to bust out some Shambu jams.

2. The time and place:

THIS SATURDAY, April 16
Mohawk Place
47 E. Mohawk St., Buffalo
7:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
All Ages!
$3 DOOR, CDs WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR $2!

3. The other Restoring the Structure artists that will be playing tonight:

Jax DeLuca’s voice may hint of Natalie Merchant’s, but her brooding songs bear little resemblance, as she embraces art-folk and incorporates samples and found noise into otherwise sparse compositions.

Rachel Heckl has a gorgeous, convincing purity to her songs, whether she is pouring out the blues through a harmonica or floating a Joni Mitchell-like vocal over delicate fingerpicking.

Colin (Hogan) is a female songwriter from Virginia who won the hearts of Buffalonians when she came up for a month to intern at Righteous Babe Records and to demonstrate her percussive, Latin-inspired guitar work and full, inviting voice.

Mark Longolucco shares much in common with Pete Yorn, with his endearingly broken vocals and his fantastic drummer-to-songwriter metamorphosis.

Vox Humana (a.k.a. Vic Lazar) bridges yearning, intimate vocals with gorgeous finger work to create aural images that accurately reflect Buffalo’s 11.5 months of winter.

Brian Wheat subscribes to the lo-fi school of songwriting, as he applies whispery vocals, subdued, yet crisp guitar playing, and mild Appalachian elements to create a sound that will appeal to fans of Iron & Wine and Nick Drake.

Woebegone consists of Jeff Vincent and Ben Orsborn blending their voices to create memorable Guster-like hooks and harmonies with the earnestness of Bright Eyes.

OTHER UPCOMING SHAMSHOWS!

SHAMBU
Sunday, April 17
SPoT Coffee
ROCHESTER, NY (Yes! Shambu on tour!)
8:00-10:00 p.m.
All Ages
Free

SHAMBU
Friday, April 22
SPoT Coffee
227 Delaware Ave., Buffalo (Downtown, on the corner of Chippewa)
8:00-10:00 p.m.
All Ages
Free

SHAMBU
Saturday, April 23
Montante Cultural Center, Canisius College
2001 Main St., Buffalo, NY
7:00 p.m.
Shambu will perform during the intermission of the Second Annual “Mr. Canisius” competition! Then, stay in the city for:

SHAMBU
Saturday, April 23
Merlin’s
727 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
12:00 p.m.
21 and over

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Shambu News 03.28.05

The Dissertation
The official newsletter of Shambu

http://thedissertation.blogspot.com

Howdy Shambuuzers! It’s been a little while since the last full-length Dissertation, but we’re here to make it up to you with an edition packed with exciting news and a springtime cornucopia of gig announcements!

SHAMNEWS:
After hinting about it for the last three months, the Shambu lads now have a home in cyberspace! Get thyself on over to http://www.shambumusic.com for all the latest and greatest Shambu stuff, including photos, FREE song downloads, show announcements, and Shambumen bios. As a sample of the fun and excitement that awaits you, here is the Pete Burakowski bio section, in MadLib format:

To participate, please select the following:

1. Late 80’s/early 90’s electronic musical instrument
2. The name of a pop star
3. A chain restaurant
4. An illegal narcotic
5. An adjective
6. Another adjective
7. Another adjective
8. A Walt-Disney movie
9. Your favorite pet’s name
10. A body part
11. A Whitney Houston song title
12. A type of rodent
13. Another adjective
14. A greasy food product
15. Another greasy food product
16. A deep-discount clothing store

Then insert these words in the appropriate spaces within Pete’s MadLib bio:

In 1985, Pete first cut his teeth as the [1] player in [2]’s back-up band. Pete remembers fondly how he first got the idea to start his own band: “I was at the Canisius College Spring Fest a couple of years ago and I ate so much [14] that I went into a coma. When I awoke, I said, ‘I have to start a band as good as that [14]…just as soon as I’m done with this dangerously large helping of [15].’ Needless to say, I went unconscious again.”

His [1] playing was so [5] that [2] urged Pete to break away and start up a residency as the house band at the Cheektowaga [3]. So, Pete formed a nu-metal group called [9] Stab, featuring “[6]-lips” Mike Milazzo, “[7]-pants” Brian Dziewa, and “[13]-lover” Mike DiGiacomo. Mikey D was dismissed from the band because all he wanted to do was watch [8] and use mounds of [4]. A nation-wide search was performed to find a new band mate, which resulted in the selection of “Delicate [12]” Dan Reitz, who had submitted a demo tape of his reggae version of [11].

Pete gave the student commencement speech when he graduated from Canisius College in 2004. Now he’s a [10] model for [16].

Ah, the fun never ends with MadLibs!

UPCOMING SHAMSHOWS:

April brings a shower of Shambu shows to WNY and, holy smokes! The first Shambu tour date! Wowsers! Read on!

Pete Burakowski, Solo, with guests Brian Wheat, Tony DeRosa, Jax DeLuca, Mark Longolucco, and Rachel Heckl.
TOMORROW, Tuesday, March 29
Nietzsche’s
248 Allen St., Buffalo
8:00-11:00 p.m.
18 and over
$3

Shambu
THIS SATURDAY, April 2
8:00-11:00 p.m.
Pizza Plant
Transit Road, just south of Maple, Williamsville
All Ages
Free
(Don’t tell anyone, but there is a rumor that a certain founding Shambuman who’s last name may or may not end in iGiacomo may sit in for a few tunes. Not to be missed!)

Pete Burakowski, Solo
Wednesday, April 6
SPoT Coffee
765 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo (the smaller of the two locations, connected with New World Record)
8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
All Ages
Free

Shambu
Saturday, April 16
Mohawk Place
47 E. Mohawk St., Buffalo
7:00 p.m.
All Ages!
$3
Part of a Buffalo songwriter compilation CD release event. More details to follow!

Shambu
Sunday, April 17
SPoT Coffee
ROCHESTER, NY (Yes! Shambu on tour!)
8:00-10:00 p.m.
All Ages
Free

Shambu
Friday, April 22
SPoT Coffee
227 Delaware Ave., Buffalo (Downtown, on the corner of Chippewa)
8:00-10:00 p.m.
All Ages
Free

Shambu
Saturday, April 23
Merlin’s
727 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
Time TBA
21 and over

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

whoa! back in business!

Alright, so it's been a few decades since the last blog entry, but that's a good thing. It means that Pete has been busy with "work" and slightly less "unemployed and sucking off his family."

Shambu has been keeping it real, as well. Check out the band's new website at http://www.shambumusic.com for all of your rock and/or roll needs, including FREE SHAMBU DOWNLOADS! And, as a special bonus feature, check out what the following site has to say about the band's name: http://www.kabalarians.com/male/shambu.htm .

Friday, December 31, 2004

Shambu News 12.31.04

The Dissertation
the official newsletter of Shambu
http://thedissertation.blogspot.com

Well, it’s been a dandy of a year for the Shambu, featuring college graduation for most members, the band’s first studio recording, the departure of Mikey D, the band’s first television appearance, and coke- mounds of sweet, sweet blow.

This edition of the Dissertation features a recording update, upcoming gigs, and Pete’s “2004: A Year of New & Used Music.”

Thanks, everyone, for a splendid year, and may 2005 bring you health, happiness, and peace.

RECORDING UPDATE:

On December 20 and 21, Pete, Dan, and Mikey D returned to Select Sound Studios to lay down some guitar, piano, keyboard, and horn tracks. All that remains are some vocals and additional horns.

But, where were Brian and Mike M, you ask? Well, after downing a case of warm PBR, Brian said he had seen God, who said, “Screw Shambu. Start an 80’s hair band.” Later he discovered that “God” was his own reflection in the toilet and “God speaking” was Pete saying, “Screw you. Pull your hair back!”

Mike M was gambling his soul away in Vegas. When asked how poorly he did, he replied, “Well, I still have my pants,” at which point it was noted he did not.


UPCOMING GIGS:

PETE BURAKOWSKI (Solo)
Friday, January 7
SPoT Coffee
227 Delaware Ave., Buffalo (Downtown, on the corner of Chippewa)
9:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
All Ages!
Free!

PETE BURAKOWSKI (Solo), with guests Brian Wheat, Tony DeRosa, and Rachel Heckl
Wednesday, January 12
SPoT Coffee
Elmwood Ave., Buffalo (the smaller of the two locations, connected with New World Record)
9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
All Ages!
Free!
This is the third in a series of songwriter showcases that Pete is presenting at the Elmwood SPoT on a monthly basis.

SHAMBU
Friday, January 14 (NOTE: This show was initially listed incorrectly as January 15)
Central Park Grille
2519 Main St., Buffalo, NY (between Canisius and UB South Campus)
10:30 p.m.-12:30 p.m.
21+
$3 at the door

SHAMBU
Friday, January 21
SPoT Coffee
227 Delaware Ave., Buffalo (Downtown, on the corner of Chippewa)
9:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
All Ages!
Free!

2004: A Year of New & Used Music

2004: A Year of New & Used Music
by Pete Burakowski


This has been an excellent year for my stereo, but a painful one for my pocketbook, as I went on many a music-buying spree. Luckily, I have several generous and thoughtful gift-giving friends who know my tastes in music very well; otherwise, it would be living under a bridge for me…and I just can’t do that again. Anyway, the following is my list of the top 20 CDs to come into my possession in the last year. Only a handful of the following discs were released in 2004, but most are no more than three years old. Hope you find something you like.

20. The Bens, The Bens: The 4-song EP collaboration of two of my generation’s better indie-rock songwriters (Ben Folds and Ben Kweller) and the good-intentioned, but historically bland, Ben Lee. Even though “Stop!” is sup-par writing for Kweller, the Folds-penned “Bruised” is piano pop at its best, overflowing with ironically happy background vocals.

19. The Black Eyed Peas, elephunk: When the bass line from “let’s get retarded”/“let’s get it started” would get rolling, the club was sure to be jumping, and I was certainly no exception- what an infectious tune. The Latin textures of “hey mama” and the deep grooves of tracks like “the boogie that be” help make up for crap like “the apl song”. My mom likes these guys because they do back-flips in their live performances.

18. Sun Kil Moon, Ghosts of the Great Highway: Damn, if Mark Kozelek’s vocals on “Carry Me Ohio” don’t make you ache with sorrow, you deserve to be punched. Sadness rarely sounds so beautiful.

17. Belle & Sebastian, The Boy With the Arab Strap: Imagine the most well-balanced album you can think of, except with the volume turned down very low, and you’ll get an idea of what Arab Strap is about. From the mellow opener, “It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career,” to the lively title track, this is an album to embrace. Many thanks to Chris for hipping me to this band. Also worth listening to is If You’re Feeling Sinister.

16. Andrew Bird, Weather Systems: Since the beginning of December, I’ve been doing some work for Righteous Babe Records, the home of Andrew Bird. A former member of swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers, Bird combines Rufus Wainwright-esque vocals and compositional skills, Nick Drake moods, pizzicato strings, and whistling that’s straight out of The Good, Bad, and the Ugly.

15. Ray LaMontagne, Trouble: Producer Ethan Johns creates simple textures that allow LaMontagne’s soulful Van Morrison/David Gray-inspired vocals to have their well-deserved spotlight. See my full review of Trouble here.

14. Nellie McKay, Get Away From Me: Girish first introduced me to this very talented young lady (she was only 19 when she put this CD out). She put on a tremendously entertaining (but poorly promoted- what’s WITH promoters in Buffalo?!) show at UB and she was great to talk with afterwards. Read Girish’s review here.

13. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: 2004 was a big one for me and alt.country and, appropriately, Wilco. I know that I’m way-late in discovering this disc, but I’m very glad that I did. It’s a perfectly conceived album- experimental, expanding, diverse, chock-full of clever lyrics, and…CATCHY, something that is too often lacking in songs in their genre. If you really want to appreciate this CD, grab a copy of its accompanying documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which I am still holding hostage from Mikey D.

12. Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism: Thank god for the OC. Not only did it place 90210-quality babes back on the small screen, but it also has become a champion of bands that usually float just below the radio waves, such as Death Cab. Ben Gibbard’s voice could break into a whine, but instead it serves as the vessel for some wonderfully hook-filled melody lines. Fantastic production, from the programmed “Title and Registration” (which hints at the Postal Service, Gibbard’s successful side-project) to the stomp/clap/stomp/clap claps of “The Sound of Settling.”

11. Nada Surf, Let Go: The opening track, “Blizzard of ’77,” with its strong, confident acoustic guitar, is so pregnant with energy that you want it to explode into a full rock jam. But it doesn’t. Instead, it ends with longing and heartache on the line, “I miss you more than I knew,” and this is why this album is so sweet- Nada Surf will find resolution, but on their own terms.

10. Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand: Another Glasgow entry on my list (next to Belle & Sebastian). Of the new wave of New Wave rockers, these lads are the most entertaining. The very danceable, very fashionable, and downright fun “Take Me Out” was one of the best rock singles of the summer.

9. Rufus Wainwright, Poses: Thanks, Mikey D for introducing me to Rufus a couple of years ago and Danielle for giving me this disc. Poppy, a touch less operatic than some of his most recent stuff, and very witty. Highlights include the appropriately Mediterranean “Greek Song” and Rufus’ cover of his father Loudon’s “One Man Guy.”

8. Old 97’s, Fight Songs: In order to get me prepped for the 97’s’ rocking show at the newly reopened Tralf, Girish gave me a copy of this disc. Rhett Miller does a fantastic job of weaving Beatles-worthy catch lines into rolling shuffle rhythms. Few bands could fit a word like “Oppenheimer” into a pop-rock song, but the Old 97’s do, and they do it well.

7. The Bad Plus, Give: This trio rolled into the Albright-Knox last winter and gave one of the most rocking and rock-influenced jazz performances I’ve ever seen. Tight, passionate, and refreshing. The Bad Plus attracts non-traditional jazz fans with covers of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” and the Pixies’ “Velouria,” but holds its listeners with original compositions like the Latin- themed “Cheney Piñata” (great title) and the train-chugging tempo of “Layin’ A Strip for the Higher-Self State Line.”

6. Fountains of Wayne, Fountains of Wayne and Utopia Parkway: After falling in love with the brilliance of Welcome Interstate Managers, I decided (wisely) to pick up the FoW back-catalogue. This is a band that has a deep understanding of the dreams, frustrations, and daily thought processes of normal people, which they manage to relay through some of the most sparklingly bouncy modern rock. My favorite Fountains song topics include: the scuzzy biker who has the woman of your dreams (“Leave the Biker”) and the aggravation of driving a busload of old women to an outlet mall (“The Valley Malls”).

5. Andrew Bird, The Mysterious Production of Eggs: One of the perks of being of an employee at Righteous Babe is getting my mitts on albums months before their release, as is the case with Mysterious, which will hit the stores in February. Here, Bird retains everything that I liked about Weather Systems, but he and co-producer David Boucher convey a more genuine emotion than before. “Sovay,” with its lazy Rhodes and vibes, brushes, and whispery vocals, is the perfect mellow song.

4. The New Pornographers, Electric Version: The Vancouver indie-supergroup’s follow-up to Mass Romantic. A.C. Newman does an excellent job leading the band through this catchy, rocking disc, but the real star is Neko Case, with her enormous, full voice, which she delivers with the bold confidence and presence of Stevie Nicks on “All for Swinging You Around” and “July Jones.”

3. The Shins, Oh, Inverted World: Nick put “One by One All Day” on a mix CD and I was sold on this band. “New Slang” is absolutely touching with its unadorned vocals and loping accompaniment of acoustic guitar, light bass, and tambourine. They followed up with Chutes Too Narrow, a solid, but less-inspired album.

2. The Avalanches, Since I Left You: First released in 2001, Modular decided to re-release Since I Left You in the States this past spring. Under the direction of DJ Dexter, the Avalanches blend some mighty-fine disco-dancing grooves and create one of the most intriguingly odd tunes in “Frontier Psychiatrist.” See my full review here.

1. Kings of Convenience, Riot on an Empty Street: I’m so glad that I discovered this album in time for fall- the Simon & Garfunkel harmonies that these Norwegians mix with bossa and dance rhythms were a perfect match. My naturally autumnal heart remains somewhere within the soft, sublime piano line of “Misread.” See my full review here.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Hem Those Seasons

My friend Nick just created a post that talks about how he associates a Yo La Tengo album with two seasons. Here is an album that I think fits well with Buffalo falls and winters (reprinted from a Canisius College Griffin review I did last year):

Hem, Rabbit Songs (2000)

Many critics have punched themselves for how long it took them to recognize what a well-crafted album Hem’s Rabbit Songs is. However, with songs that seem to be associable more to a sense of space rather than time, it is no wonder that this New York-via-somewhere-in-the-Midwest band was accidentally passed over a few times before its proper recognition.

Singer Sally Ellyson offers an appropriately unadorned, yet convincing, interpretation of pianist/songwriter Dan Messé’s floating folk songs. The standout tune is “Idle (The Rabbit Song),” which features a hypnotic texture, constructed with pizzicato strings and nimble brushwork on the drums. Messé demonstrates a classic subtlety and gentle sorrow in his wording, as demonstrated in “Halfacre,” where he pens “I am holding half an acre/ torn from the map of Michigan/ and folded in this scrap of paper/ is the land I grew up in.”

Guitarist Gary Maurer teamed up with Messé to produce the album and the two spared no cost or effort to get it right, incorporating strings into most of the songs, and even working in a rich French horn solo in “Sailor.” This is the album that Norah Jones might have made if she were the daughter of Pete Seeger, rather than Ravi Shankar.

Best Albums

My friend Fred has started a flexible list of his favorite 50 albums, thus leading me to make the following suggestion:

Radiohead, OK Computer

A lot of people put this among their top albums, but here's my rationale of why it belongs here: Radiohead is the Pink Floyd of my generation- the band is accessible enough to have a popular following, yet complex, daring, compositionally huge, and experimental. In my opinion, OK Computer represents a brilliant crossroads in the band's career. This album combines the radio-friendly hooks of Pablo Honey and The Bends with a taste of the electronic sonic landscapes that Radiohead would come to rely more strongly upon with Amnesiac. I think that one the greatest compliments to the album was given by one of my favorite jazz musicians, Brad Mehldau, when he covered "Paranoid Android" on Largo- when you hear this tune in a jazz format, you come to realize how involved Radiohead was in conceiving each song.

If time permits, I hope to construct a similar list.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Shambu News 12.15.04

The Dissertation
the official newsletter of Shambu
http://thedissertation.blogspot.com

This edition of the Dissertation features some upcoming gigs, a recording update, and a cool piece by the very talented Daniel Falkner.

UPCOMING GIGS:

PETE BURAKOWSKI (Solo)
THIS SATURDAY, December 18
SPoT Coffee
227 Delaware Ave., Buffalo (Downtown, on the corner of Chippewa)
9:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
All Ages!
Free!

SHAMBU
Saturday, January 15
Central Park Grille
2519 Main St., Buffalo, NY (between Canisius and UB South Campus)
10:30 p.m.-12:30 p.m.
21+
$3 at the door

RECORDING UPDATE:

On Monday, Pete went into Select Sound Studios in Kenmore to begin recording several solo tunes, including:

Song for Mirka
Be Careful
Theory on Life
Lizzie
The Barber’s Son
31

Things didn’t always go smoothly. Pete’s self-assessment of his vocals on “The Barber’s Son”: “I sounded like a slopped up Anna Nicole Smith before TrimSpa. In other words, the best singing I’ve ever done.”

On Tuesday, the Shambu lads hit the studio, armed with some Yuengling “sodas,” and laid down drums, bass, and keyboard for the following songs:

Six Years
Business First
Bonfire
Primp and Preen
Lake Effect

Word on the street is that the band may have recorded a pair of old-school jams for b-sides. To keep them secret, but still give you a hint as to what they might be, we’ve randomly scrambled the titles:

inG And Juice
apper’sR Delight

Says a frustrated Brian: “Damn it. These stump me every time.”

Vocals, guitar, sax, trombone, and additional keyboards will be recorded this coming Monday and Tuesday. If time permits, the band also hopes to do a remix of Diet Pepsi, featuring a horn section, such as they displayed during their OffBeat Cinema performance.

AND NOW, THE GOOD STUFF:

“Excessive Happenings”
by Daniel Falkner

I’ve written this before somewhere. It was in an email or a letter or in an essay I wrote for some magazine. But I know I’ve written it before, because I don’t usually get ideas this clear so quickly. Usually I have to work it out; I have to coax it from my imagination. I have to trick it onto the page. But this I didn’t. I just remembered it and I decided to write it.

I’ve been having a lot of moments like this. Ones where I’ll remember something new: something I haven’t experienced before but I’m still remembering.

It’s all a kind of déjà vu, I suppose.

But that’s not enough. And I don’t want to just label it after some Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song. I won’t be that passive.

It will happen everywhere. A person will walk by me in the street and I will turn around as they keep walking. I’ll look at them, content that they will soon turn around and look at me too. We’ll walk toward one another and talk about that thing we did that one time.

Or it will happen at the library. I’ll be reading a book and then set it down, sure that I know the ending. I’ll even look at the last page. I’ll feel the edges of it with my fingers, as though it will tell me what I already know. I’ll pull the pages closely to me, and then push them far away. I’ll turn it sideways, and finally I’ll smell it—really shove my nose in it like it was a peach I wanted to see was ripe. But it will be nothing and I’ll set it back on the table, staring instead at the cover.

The whole idea of something happening before it has happened bothers me. Or is it that it has already happened and I’m just re-living it? How does that work? I would think it would actually be that it’s all happening at once, and soon the reel must end—snap—and it’s off to DiMaggio and Mantle in the sky.

Because I feel like I’ve done this before as well—sitting, writing on my laptop with my roommates screaming about a video game, Pearl Jam in the background. I’ve done it before, that’s true. Probably dozens of times. But like this? With my right leg straight on my bed and the kink in my neck and my left leg bent at the knee. It’s a terribly awkward position, but I know I’ve felt it before.

It happens in dreams. I’ll see people from the past. And for some reason I have control over knowing exactly who they are, even if I’m a little confused by why they are? Why am I twenty-two years old and dreaming about a girl I had a crush on in sixth grade? And, if this has all happened before, why is it that I see people now from the future and have no recollection of who they are?

This thing called time: the snapping of the fingers or the clicking of drum sticks to start a gig; the falling and rising of the hands of the clock; the shadows moving unknowingly on the ground. Who decided that it must be a forward action?

But that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately—Time. You see, I have these dreams where I’m driving down Main Street. It’s not a ghetto though, and I feel like I always have—never young or old. It’s sunny and the radio is playing static. There are all the nice things too, like sun and clouds and birds and leaves on the trees and people smiling as they walk down the sidewalks. There aren’t any other cars and the road is clear. But then I’m driving and its night. Blink. Night time. Like that. There are no people on the sidewalks and the street is a ghetto again. Nothing is open. There’s a light though. A car coming from my left. I watch it collide with the side of my car and I see the driver. It’s a girl with no face, and she looks young.

There are days when I’ll drive down Main Street, on my way to Wendy’s or the Anchor Bar and remember this dream—this déjà vu—this future. It’s a time sort of thing. And I don’t like driving Main Street anymore. I don’t want to meet that girl in the car with the lights. I’d rather it doesn’t become night time. I’m sure I’ll worry about it again some time.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A Month After the Election

A Month After the Election
by Pete Burakowski


I, like half of the nation, have been quite frustrated with politics in the States these days, but I didn’t have the whole “I can’t believe this happened” reaction to the presidential election. What liberals forgot was that this election (or any election for that matter) was not about whether a candidate was most capable, most intelligent, adequately experienced, appropriately flexible, or the strongest leader, but rather if he was PERCEIVED as such.

I feel that one of the biggest problems with the Democrats was that they either refused to or were incapable of dumbing down their key points into catch phrases. Talk to the average voter (who is not an academic or theoretician) about their rationale for voting and you’ll find that they just regurgitate watered-down, vague slogans.

Why is this? I believe that a lot of it has to do with the nature of our daily interaction with politics.

Expressing a conflicting political view is taboo in social conversation in the States. Thus, few people (regardless of political affiliation) are ever forced to restructure or reconsider their stance and whoever gets to them first gets the vote. When I studied abroad in Europe, I discovered that there is a much more open environment for such conversation in many countries, especially in relation to foreign relations. This led me to wonder, why the difference in social norms? My guess is that it has to do something with geographic size. If you travel 500 miles in mainland Europe, you may have gone through three countries. How could you not care about your relationship with your neighbors in that case? Do the same thing in the States and, from most starting points, you will still be in the same country (special note: the exceptions to this would be the blue states).

So, if you’re a liberal, how do you make a better showing in 2008? Find yourself a simple, easy-to-read, bumper-sticker-or-t-shirt-worthy phrase and plaster it everywhere, such as the wildly successful Republican “flip-flopper” and “God hates Democrats” campaigns. My suggestion would be “Donkey Party likes Kittens,” which may be false, but, remember, PERCEPTION is all that counts. If someone supports the Republicans, you could say "So you hate kittens, eh?" and then they're really screwed.

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