Song of the Month, April 2007 = Side to Side
(25 May 2007 at 21:43)
Boy I know I haven't posted here in a while but over at last.fm I have been keeping a little music journal which's only content is my "Song of the Month" club where I write snarky or gushing stuff about one song, my favorite song, each month. By recommendation and since I haven't posted here in a while here is my Song of the Month from April 2007, which is Side to Side.
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Carnegie Mellon University, where I go to school, has a gymnasium which is nice for basketball and everything and is called Weigand Gymnasium but it might as well be called Why Have Musical Acts Play In Here At All Because It Always Sounds Like Absolute Assgand Gymnasium. The high ceilings and polished hardwood make the whole thing an echo-y, muddled and sweaty mess. This venue can make you actually start hating your favorite band, I think. (Case in point: I went to see They Might Be Giants there about five years ago, who were once my favorite band, although at the time they were not, but I actually just left the show because it sucked so bad. And then I didn't listen to them for five years, but actually I think the new album The Else is pretty good.) I'm pretty sure the artists would just like feign equipment failure and go home if it weren't for the $30,000 or whatever that CMU pays for a concert and the well-meaning crowd who, because they live in Pittsburgh, have probably not ever been to a proper show where you can, you know, hear the music.
Anyway hip hop... like any white boy I like hip hop crossovers like OutKast but have never explored it in depth. I think Blackalicious is a real stupid band name. I actually happened to be walking by the WhyHave...AssGand Gymnasium when Blackalicious was playing in there last year and stayed for a few minutes, even though I am fully aware of the perils, and indeed the show was absolutely horrid. CMU cops started giving me scheiss because I had my camera with me at the time and this is apparently verboten so I left and filed Blackalicious in the mental DO NOT LISTEN pile (why do I always get so excited about these missteps?) until this year when my music sharing buddy nolacoaster hooked me up with his music collection at work. It does have stuff like Less Than Jake and Third Eye Blind (I won't even link those) so it's not exactly indietopia but I have an open mind policy now so I've been listening through almost everything that is not Ska or 90s alternata. You know what? Blackalicious is really great. It is less all over the map than OutKast but the production is really top notch; the songs complex and interesting and not all about cliche subjects; and Daddy Gabby really does have impressively fast lips. This album is worth listening to in its entirety and it has several very good songs (oh this is The Craft), such as Powers, World of Vibrations, etc. Each of those others had some tiny thing that annoyed me, so my pick is Side to Side even though it does has like carnival trumpets in it (but so does +81, right?). Cleverly arranged and hilarious lyrics.
Well, off to a good start I guess, but I did at the end realize I ought to get back to my dissertation so discussion of the actual song is a bit superficial, yes.
Most of my local friends know about this because I talk about it a lot, but I haven't really blogged about it yet (except for some oblique references that probably came across as jokes), but I am really doing it and I wanted to update you on my progress: I am trying to run every street in Pittsburgh. I call this "Pac Tom" because it's like Pacman on a larger map without any ghosts or Power Pills. "Every street" comes with a few caveats for this project:
By Pittsburgh I mean (for now) "continental Pittsburgh", which is what I call the part between the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers (roughly half the official area of the city, which is 53 mi).
I'm not running on most interstates or state roads without any kind of reasonably safe pedestrian access. (I'd estimate there are only about 15 miles of such roads.)
I'm not requiring myself to run any of the dozens of staircases that are officially marked as streets (!) although sometimes they are good shortcuts.
Other than that i'm really trying to cover everything, using on-line maps and my GPS device. Up above I've posted a map of my progress so far, with my tracks in red—click for a closer view. The colors are the various neighborhoods. I do insist that I'm running whenever I'm moving (no walking!) but usually rest a couple times during each trip. It's difficult to gauge how much I've done (since you can't really see the streets in that map) but I'd estimate that I'm about half way done. So far I've run about 530 miles (many of these miles overlap) in about 74 total hours. If you're curious about the specifics, part of the process of getting these tracks into Google Earth is uploading them to Motionbased so you can check out that list, at least as much as they'll show you for a non-paying user like myself.
I think this is a really fun and worthwhile project. Occasionally it can suck: injuring myself when 6 miles away from home can be a problem, or not being able to find any water (now I carry a little bit of cash so that I can ride a bus or buy some gatorade in a pinch), or running a grid of streets and then noticing that my watch froze twenty minutes ago and all the work was lost (grr!), or running miles down a road to find that there's really no way for a pedestrian to continue, and having to turn back. But it is vastly more interesting than running the same streets every day, and I've found so many cool things that I never saw before in my 9 years in this city, and never would have seen otherwise. I've also really improved my sense of direction in the city—I almost feel like you could drop me off in any place randomly here and I could find a short path back home. (But don't do that.) Pittsburgh has a lot of features that make it particularly fun: its topology in terms of roads (grids are rare) and elevation (it is very hilly) make exploring interesting. But when I end up eventually getting a job and moving, I'm pretty sure I'll do it again for whatever city that happens to be.
Last night for Cortney's birthday we had a murder mystery party. Even though nobody figured out who the murderer was I was voted the best actor for my role as the inspector! It was a lot of fun and happy birthday Cortney!