Ashrae Fax : Never Really Been Into It

ashrae faxEvery once in a while you happen across an album that surprises you. Maybe it doesn’t change your life or blow your mind, but it stops your brain from that constant run of streaming real-world problems. You momentarily just shut the cranial machine down for a half hour or so and allow yourself to enjoy some music. Ashrae Fax’s Never Really Been Into It is one of those shutdown moments for me. For its 40 minute run time I forget about responsibilities, deadlines, school obligations, and what I need to pull out of the freezer to thaw out for dinner. For 40 minutes I can take a load off in my mind palace and listen to Renee Mendoza sing in her Elizabeth Fraser-meets-Siouxie Sioux otherworldly coo. It’s a pretty nice place to be, my mind palace. Yep, there’s a mini-fridge stocked with craft beer and plenty of black lights.

Musically, North Carolina’s Ashrae Fax sound like they hail from Leeds in 1984, not Greensboro in 2014. That’s the beauty of this gothic pop band. The Synsonics-sounding drum beats and ethereal keys give the ears a taste of Cocteau Twins and Siouxie Sioux and the Banshees, with the black fingernails of Robert Smith. Having been immersing myself in the Cocteau Twins recently reissued Blue Bell Knoll, Never Really Been Into It is definitely giving me that vibe, with even a hint of This Mortal Coil. For those who worship at the alter of 4AD(like me), then Ashrae Fax have got your number. Besides Mendoza, the band also consists of Alex Chesney, Mike Soter, and Robert Parker. They all work together to create a dreamy, goth-coated pop melancholy that is made for getting lost into.

“Dreamers Tied To Chairs” is an exquisite piece of goth pop that’ll make you long for 1984 and late night summer breezes as the needle skimmed over Treasure. What’s nice about this album is that it’s not in a hurry. These songs take their time getting to the end, giving you plenty of time to get lost in them. “CHKN” sounds like what would’ve happened if The Motels had been on 4AD. Guitars that chime like primo-era Cure, right before Smith’s hair grew to Redwood heights and he still had some of those pop tendencies in him prior to getting so sad and angry. “The Big Lie” is more tense in its delivery, bringing to mind some contemporaries like The Soft Moon and Cold Cave, with Mendoza showing her fangs a bit. It’s like Kate Bush getting all post-punk on us. “You Make Me Question My Mind(in a thousand words about time)” is a quirky pop song that has the feel of a bizarro-world number one hit, somewhere in the days of ‘Alf’ and “it’s morning in America again”, hidden in the middle of a 120 Minutes broadcast. “Intexus” takes the Elizabeth Fraser likeness to a whole new level. Close your eyes, you’d swear you were listening to some lost b-side to Garlands‘ “Wax And Wane”. Comparisons abound, but only to give the uninitiated a reference point. You can’t go wrong with a single song on Ashrae Fax’s sophomore album. This is catnip for 80s kids and 120 Minutes dwellers.

I really should go pull something out of the freezer for dinner, but I think I’ll just sit on my comfortable couch inside my mind palace for another 40 minutes and spin Never Really Been Into It one more time. Then I’ll get up. Promise.

8.2 out of 10

 

 

The One About The Guy And Those Bose 501s

photo (36)Hey, did you hear the one about the guy that wanted to set up a vinyl-listening area in his basement family room? Yeah, he already HAS a decent set up in the upstairs living room, but it seems that as he gets older he prefers the solitude of basement dwelling. And being in the basement with records and dimly-lit lamps seems like pretty great thing to this idiot. He also likes to write. A couple Sundays ago, apparently, he sat in this lamp-lit basement room and wrote on his laptop in the absolute quiet. While the rest of the house was buzzing with activity and excitement above him in the bright afternoon sun he morphed into a ghoulish creature whilst sitting on a nearly 20 year old Lazy Boy recliner and wrote of nothing in-particular or of serious importance.

This is what I heard, anyways.

Yeah, what a buffoon. Why would anyone need TWO areas in their house to spin records? Seems ridiculous to me. I mean, I guess this whole idea came about when he found out some guy at his work has a pair of Bose 501s he wants to sell for $75. $75! That’s insanely cheap. I mean, pairs go for $200 easy most places so I guess when someone at work wants to unload some great speakers for a crazy low price, I guess I can’t blame this crazy fool. Sometimes the universe offers up amazing opportunities, like the chance to travel to Europe, or a dream job, or a hell of a sale on Ramen noodles, or in this weirdos case a pair of Bose 501 speakers for $75. Sometimes you gotta just go with the universe’s flow and see what happens. You might end up with some great speakers…or ramen noodles.

But that’s this other fool, not me.

I mean, yeah, having another area for vinyl-listening enjoyment would be a great thing. Another spot of solitude where one could slip away for a bit and enjoy spinning those black(or otherwise) circles with a cold brew would be a pretty awesome thing. Maybe the kids wanna watch Spongebob or some other crap on the TV upstairs, but you wanna just chillax with some John Coltrane on the platter. Sure, you could plug in the headphones upstairs and listen that way. And honestly, listening on headphones is always a great thing. But when Patrick Starfish is annoying Squidward Tentacles and the kids are yucking it up that tends to take away from the experience of the music. You can’t really get lost in the moment of the music. You’re just soundtracking a Nickelodeon cartoon with classic hard bop. Squidward might appreciate that, but not me….or I mean that lame brain I was talking about earlier.

No sir, not me at all.

I could, however, see the positive side of putting on some Hayden, Lizst, Debussy, or Beethoven as you’re working on an article under the warm glow of lamp light in a comfortably worn-in chair as steam rises from your cup of freshly brewed French Roast. It seems downright magical, really. There’s nothing like “Moonlight Sonata” playing quietly as one writes on the foibles of life and recollects moments in life that were pivotal points of personal growth and emotional maturity. The children laughing above you in the living room because Mr. Krabs said something funny at the same time the dog farted on big sister…I laugh under my breath, looking up and winking to the basement ceiling, a single thumbs up to the roof.

Well, I didn’t laugh under my breath. It was the idiot with the Bose 501s that he bought for a hell of a deal at $75. You know, that guy that can sit in his warm, comfortable basement family room and write crap like you’re reading right now in a comfortable chair while spinning Miles Davis’ Big Fun, or Baths’ Cerulean, or Wire’s 154, or even Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians. I’m talking about that guy.

That’s definitely not me. That’s just ridiculous if you ask me.

 

Electric Würms :: Musik, Die Schwer zu Twerk

Electric_Wurms_-_Packshot_1024x1024I think if the Flaming Lips had a motto or mission statement, then it would simply be this: “Why? Why not?” On any given day you can read about something new Coyne and company are dipping their acid-soaked hands into; whether it’s music for themselves, collaborations, or a comic book venture. Since 2011 I’ve pretty much taken these announcements with a grain of salt. Flash drives hidden in gummy skulls, the blood of Ke$ha intermixed with the semen of a goat mixed in a pressed vinyl of Wayne Coyne reading Dr. Seuss’ Fox In Socks over the music of Cromagnon’s “Caledonia”. At some point you have to just say enough is enough, man. Well, when I read that Coyne and Steve Drozd were forming a prog band called Electric Würms and were putting an album out I figured another case of “Why? Why not?” This very easily could’ve been a big, trippy, hot mess courtesy of Wayne Coyne’s midlife crisis, but in fact it’s actually pretty excellent. Musik, Die Schwer zu Twerk is a six-song album filled with grooves, atmosphere, and subtlety that can be sorely lacking at times when dealing with Wayne Coyne(and his Instagram acct.)

Now before I continue I just want to make clear that I am quite fond of uncle Wayne. I think he’s a pretty amazing human being just trying to live life to the fullest. Painting his surrounding scenery with day-glo colors and switching on the black lights for all to see what he sees. I dig that. So don’t get the impression I don’t like the man. He’s the Pied Piper of Freakdom. I just think when you saturate the scene with so much you tend to lose sight of what’s show and what’s art. What makes Electric Würms different is that Steve Drozd is the main man on this trip. He sings on most of the tracks, while Wayne takes a backseat in the bass position. It fits him well, as the bass and drums play a big role in making this just as groovy as it is spacey. “I Could Only See Clouds” takes a little from the Lips’ Embryonic in its tribal beat and prominent bass, while Drozd sings in a space that was once occupied by Yes’ Jon Anderson. At times it’s hard to tell the difference between Drozd’s high register vocal and Coyne’s similar vocal sound which I guess it’s good for those that might not want to give this a try. What jumps out at me the most is that it’s not overwhelming. It’s not overblown and squelching out of the speakers. It’s subtle. Lulling, almost. It’s like a purple sea, slurping against a psychedelic schooner. “Futuristic Hallucination” swells with synths and bass. It moves and pulsates like a score to some long lost sci-fi film. Once again Electric Würms never get overwhelmed by themselves or lost in the moment, they remain at a cruising altitude throughout the psych-driven four minutes, melting right into “The Bat”. Drums come in with a steady groove as noises come in and out, moving from left to right. This song has more in common with Miles Davis than ELP or Yes, and that’s okay. If any artist could wear the progressive crown of the last 50 years it would certainly be Davis. “The Bat” is sonically attached to 2013s The Terror for sure, but in a toned-down way. Like a simplified version of anxiety. “Living” is a krautrock song to its core, complete with motorik beat and buzzing electronics coming to and fro. Vocals once again are more like another instrument than a centerpiece; merely a narrator to the music’s groove and foreboding vibe. “Transform!!!” is skronky funk and freak out fodder. This sounds like primo coked-out Miles at his best. The drums and bass dirty this track up to maximum psych funk filth. The album finishes up with an edited cover of Yes’ “Heart of the Sunrise”, which is fairly true to the original with the exception of its shortened length.

Musik, die Schwer zu Twerk is an album worthy of your time. It’s not going to win over folks that didn’t care much for the Flaming Lips before, but for those of us still willing to take that trip with Coyne and Drozd we’re going to have a great time. Put on some headphones and get lost for thirty minutes. Why? Why not?

8.2 out of 10

Monday Morning With Munk

EPR009_jonas_munk_pan_0No, I spelled it right. Not Monk, but Munk. Jonas Munk that is. He’s just another stellar musician/songwriter/arranger in the El Paraiso canon. Well, he’s also one of the founders of El Paraiso Records as well as being on the roster. His main gig currently is guitar wizard in Causa Sui, but before that he had a pretty good gig as the electronic artist Manual. With Manual he created electronic music in the vein of Tycho, Washed Out, and even a bit of Moby, albeit a much more organic version of those artists. When Munk got things rolling with Causa Sui the Manual output slowed down a bit. In 2012 he took a break from creating some of the best psych rock around with Causa Sui and made an album under his own name called Pan. Although an electronic album by definition, it’s really more of a living, breathing creation that pulsates and drives like a space-aged rocket ship on a 30 year trip to the furthest regions of the universe. Leaving behind the slicker, more modern elements of Manual, Munk went the analog route with Pan and created a group of synth-driven compositions that take you on an aural journey. A journey to wherever your brain allows you to go.

Munk’s longtime pal and Causa Sui drummer extraordinaire Jakob Skott does something similar on his off time with Causa Sui; he creates solo albums steeped in analog synth warmth and tube-driven tones. But where Skott’s music is more of a dystopian, post-apocalyptic vibe, Munk’s Pan isn’t so foreboding. It’s lulls you on a cloud of orange hues and flies you into a chromed-out sunset. He dabbles in futuristic visions, but his are of the vibe that mankind’s struggles have given way to a brighter future. Skott’s Amor Fati is the soundtrack to the struggle, and Pan is the score to a new beginning.

As I listen to tracks like “Orca”, “New Dawn”, and especially “Current”, I can’t help but think of NEU!’s Michael Rother when I hear Munk’s guitar tones. There’s very much a Krautrock vibe on this album, albeit without those motorik beats we love so much. Also in the synth pulses and swaths of analog colors I can almost picture hearing this coming off some long lost Kraftwerk album. It’s a great sound Jonas Munk has created here. And especially in a short-but-sweet track like “Blue Dawn” there’s hints of Vangelis’ Blade Runner score. “Senses” lulls you into a trance with its Tangerine Dream-like wall of atmosphere, which leads into the beautiful and dreamy “Pan”. Most would laugh at this, but “Pan” actually puts me in mind of Joe Satriani. Yes, that guitar guy from the 80s that sued Coldplay. Now, I love Joe, and he was a huge inspiration to me when I was a 14 year old guitarist and I still hold a dear place in my heart for albums like Surfing With The Alien, Flying In A Blue Dream, and The Extremist. Besides being able to just melt my mind with his extremely fast playing, he also would create these smaller pieces of calm and peace on his albums. “Pan” reminds me of that calm and peace. “Schelling” is the sound of docking on the space station and searching for survivors. A synth pulsates throughout as the track builds upon itself with a bubbling arpeggiated melody line. “Sea Of Orange” ends Pan with a sense of mystery. A sunrise or sunset in some far off future? A bomb detonating taking out mankind? With the vibe of the rest of Pan in mind, I’d definitely go towards the former and not the latter.

So yes, El Paraiso are a force to be reckoned with. Pan is another stellar record from this Danish record company. Jonas Munk, like his pal Jakob Skott, has made one of my favorite records of 2014. Sure, he made Pan in 2012. But it’s new to me this year. If you’re a fan of Kraftwerk, NEU!, Tangerine Dream, and the Blade Runner soundtrack you’d be a fool not to buy this album. You’ll love it. I promise.

So far, this Monday hasn’t been too shabby.

Cheers!

 

Of Montreal’s ‘Skeletal Lamping': Kevin Barnes’ Dark Horse

skeletal-lamping-by-of-montreal_267871_fullOut of all the Of Montreal albums that have been released in the last 10 years(there have been a lot in case you weren’t counting) Skeletal Lamping seems to be the most divisive one. When it came out there seemed to be a universal “ugh” that emanated from the mouths of critics,(some)fans, and the occasional Kevin Barnes dabbler. For me, it was the complete opposite. I’d bought the album and listened to it before reading any reviews or hearing any sort of feedback and I loved it. LOVED it. After listening to it twice I was convinced it would be heralded as a masterpiece of funked up, sexy psychedelic weirdness. It opens with “Nonpareil of Favor”, which starts up like it could’ve come off Of Montreal’s previous masterpiece, 2007s Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer. It was fun, bouncy, poppy, and filled with Barnes’ ever-present maze of Willam S. Burroughs-inspired freaky vernacular, and singing like a lovelorn alien. Then about halfway the song slows down a bit and gets kinda funky before the songs begins to melt into a wall of white noise. Something like Ministry as a garage rock band, or Skinny Puppy attempting to break into the paisley syndicate. It’s like going from a great high into this endless bad trip. This was not the Kevin Barnes of yore. This is not twee folk Kevin Barnes, or the indie dance pop Kevin Barnes, or even the psych folk indie dance pop twee Kevin Barnes. No, this was something completely different and I loved it.

But I seemed to be in a minority, and I didn’t understand. Ever since I first discovered Of Montreal in late 2007(I was a late bloomer) when I picked up Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer on a whim one post-Christmas trip to Borders I feel like I’ve just gotten Kevin Barnes. He just seems like this incredibly creative and flamboyant artist that has a closet full of different hats that he wants to wear all at the same time. A guy that has so many ideas it hurts until he can get them out. Since getting into Of Montreal I’ve since gone back and pillaged their back catalog and I have to say things really didn’t start getting interesting until 2004s Satanic Panic In The Attic. With that album Barnes sounds as if he gave into his EDM demons and said the hell with being just another member of the Elephant Six Recording Company. He did a great job of balancing his love for 60s pop and skronky dance floor boogie, creating something kinda new. His music felt like he built his own brand of white boy funk from the ground up. The Sundlandic Twins and Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer took those elements and perfected them, allowing Barnes to exorcise personal demons through his lyrics. And lyrically, it’s quite a ride. I mean, it seems Kevin Barnes has created a whole new vocabulary in his songs. It’s almost like reading A Clockwork Orange and having to check the dictionary in the back of the book to see what the hell I was reading. In the case of an Of Montreal album there is no appendix to go to and figure out what Kevin Barnes is really saying, but after repeated listens you start to get the gist.

So back to Skeletal Lamping. We know a lot of folks didn’t care for this album, and I feel sorry for them. I really do. If you don’t take the time to truly soak this record in you’re not going to like it. Or get it. Or want to get it for that matter. It’s what those folks that can’t admit that their favorite album isn’t very good call a “grower”. As in “What??? You don’t like Skeletal Lamping?? Man, you have to listen to it a few times cause it’s a grower.” In this case, though, it’s true. Honestly. It’s not an album with songs to enjoy at parties or while you’re sitting at Starbucks studying for an exam. This is an album you play from start to finish and let it soak into your brain. It’s more like a mixtape made by snippets of Barnes hedonistic raves that happen in his mind. It’s this raunchy cut and paste album that moves from weird moments of caustic skronk to little chunks of pop strewn about the dank living room where some drug-induced orgy occured the night before. When it first came out in 2008 I likened it to Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys making Sign o’ the Times with Prince. There are moments of pop bliss and mainstream dance, all of them strung together with these snippets of weed and Special K-stained beats and bass lines. It’s at times like The Delfonics and Parliament, at times The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Caligula. “Wicked Wisdom” opens with the line “I’m a motherfucking headline, oh bitch you don’t even know it” sung in this falsetto that would’ve sounded right at home on Controversy. Then there’s talk of a black she-male(Georgie Fruit, of previous Of Montreal songs.) Georgie is the alter-ego Barnes writes as on this album. This is his Ziggy Stardust album, I suppose. As this character he sounds uninhibited and open to whatever comes into his head. Songs morph from pop and funk to psychedelic scourges in the blink of a fake eyelash. “We can do it softcore if you want, but you should know that I go both ways” Barnes declares on “For Our Elegant Caste” then he makes a reference to Voltron. It’s nuts. Don’t get too comfortable though, we go right into “Touched Something’s Hollow”, a short moment of melancholy piano balladry that goes right into the pop fun of “An Eluardian Instance”, the closest cousin to Sunlandic Twins-catchiness. “Women’s Studies Victims” is skinny white boy funk with a healthy dose of sexy bits thrown in before morphing into the 70s soul of “St. Exquisite’s Confessions”. This track is like Curtis Mayfield jamming with the Thin White Duke on Mars. There’s even reference in the lyrics to The Brothers Johnson’s “Strawberry Letter 23″, before a lovelorn Barnes sings “Maybe I’ll blow you….whatever kind of kisses you want.” What’s not to love about this? It’s beautiful, catchy, filthy, and high art of the highest order.

Have I talked about this album long enough? Probably. I guess I’m hoping that someone will read this that didn’t really dig Skeletal Lamping the first time around and will possibly sit down with this album again and give it a front-to-back listen. Don’t skip around for the catchy song(if you have to skip, “An Eluardian Instance”, “And I’ve Seen a Bloody Shadow”, “Mingusings”, and “Id Engager” are great standalone tracks if you must.) Just let this album move around you, touch you, slap you around, caress you, and freak you out. Just let it take you over for an hour. Have a drink, or whatever. Open your mind a bit and let Georgie Fruit take your hand. You might like what happens.

Next up, why Paralytic Stalks is the best album no one gave a s**t about. It’s genius, btw.

 

Editors Note: If before even hitting play on this album you are not a fan of Of Montreal I can’t promise you will be afterwards. If you like creative, adventurous artists that say f**k it and do what’s in their souls on their albums and say to hell with the consequences, then buy the ticket and take the ride. Thank you. JH

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alvvays :: Alvvays

LPjacket-finalReally, there’s nothing to not like about Alvvays debut self-titled album. It’s breezy, melancholy, sweet, and longing jangle pop. Vocals that sound like a teenage girl pining for a lost summer day, or a lost summer love. Lyrics that talk about how it rained all summer and asking guys named Archie to marry them, all done up in music that sounds like The Strokes and Belle and Sebastian having a love fest in some nondescript, humid Toronto garage with the walls lined with empty cans of Lucky Lager. Molly Rankin sounds like Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell being backed by a Reckoning-era REM at times; but sweet, sad, and earnest all the time. The songs are tight and concise, with a hint of basement grime over the production to give an overall aged, sepia-toned feel to an album already brimming with nostalgia. In other words, if you’ve ever been in love, heartbroken, sad, happy, hopeful, desperate, and have a beating heart this album will do something for you.

Alvvays hails from Canada; Toronto to be specific. I’m not sure that their geographic location holds any real secret regarding the band’s penchant for short, poppy, and slightly melancholy sound, but let’s assume that all the great beer may help the songwriting process. Speaking of beer drinking, “Adult Diversion” is a great opener. A bouncy song that jangles and moves like Real Estate on happy pills. “Archie, Marry Me” starts out with the line “You expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony” before the guitars punch through like Teenage Fanclub circa 1991. There’s a lot of Teenage Fanclub in this great song. It makes an old guy like me swoon. “One Who Loves You” is a sweet, sad tune dipped in plenty of distant reverb and a great bass line that carries the song along. “Next Of Kin” sounds like the Strokes in happier times(were they ever happy?). Molly Rankin has a voice that’s sweet, simple, and earnest. She could pretty much sing the phone book and you’d sigh and think of that guy or gal that broke up with you in the 10th grade. She sings, but she delivers the lines more as if she was having a heart to heart conversation with you rather than singing a song. You feel like you’re hearing her read her diary. “The Agency Group” is a song where you get that feeling of longing, both from Rankin’s vocals and the band’s excellent lilting flow. This song was made for Camera Obscura to cover. Somebody let them know. “Atop A Cake” sounds like a cross between Real Estate’s “Days” and Nina’s “99 Luft Balloons”. It’s a beautiful combination, in case you were thinking otherwise.

As I said before, there’s nothing here not to like. It’s some of the best jangle pop I’ve heard since Real Estate’s Atlas came out earlier this year. It takes all the best from REMs IRS days, a little Teenage Fanclub here, a little Camera Obscura there, and throw in some garage rock for good measure. There’s even some great synth stuff happening in the album closer “Red Planet”. Are you still wondering if you’ll like this album? Okay, check your pulse. Got one? Good, go buy Alvvays now.

7.8 out of 10

 

My Childhood With Robin Williams

used-2013-10-07-robin-williams-alkhall-sobriety-recovery-01Don’t misconstrue that title to mean I knew Robin Williams. I have, in fact, never met the man. I mean, he was on my pajamas when I was 5 and my older brother wore a pair of suspenders based on Mork’s famous ones. But I didn’t know Robin Williams. I did indeed grow up with him, though. He was a constant in my childhood. Sure, my brother and I loved Robin Williams on Mork & Mindy, and especially in Robert Altman’s bizarre Popeye movie. Going back and watching that movie today I see how that entire crew might’ve been coke-addled and out of their minds, but Mr. Williams stayed true to the Popeye of those early Max Fleischer cartoons I ate up as a little kid. But more than those it was his comedy that always got me. He was the first comedian that my whole family loved and followed like a rock star. My parents rented his comedy specials in the 80s and despite them being pretty adult routines I sat as a 9 year-old and watched them, laughing until I was wheezing and had tears streaming down my cheeks. He was manic and all over the place. He referenced everything from politics to Hollywood to his childhood to his own personal demons. All was open for discussion on the stage. There he exorcised those demons and let a crowd of fans and drunks watch the proceedings. For me, he was the funniest person in the world.

Anything he made I would watch. It didn’t matter if the reviews were bad. The World According To Garp, Survivors, Moscow On The Hudson, Dead Poet’s Society, Good Morning Vietnam, Club Paradise, and The Best Of Times were just a few of his films that I loved growing up. The World According To Garp especially had an affect on me. It showed him being funny, but serious. My adolescent mind didn’t know you could be both, but this guy was. He was everything. His late night visits to Johnny Carson, and especially David Letterman, were worth staying up to 11:30pm for….or at least talking my dad into setting the VCR to record it so I could watch it after school the next day. I’d felt like I’d been punched in the gut after seeing him on Letterman. You could tell there was a real friendship there. They came up together doing comedy and that showed every time Robin Williams showed up on Late Night With David Letterman.  

As I got older his film roles got better. He made two movies in-particular that had a lasting affect on me. Awakenings and The Fisher King. Two movies that showed a depth to the guy that I never knew he had. Awakenings I liked for more than just the movie itself. It has sentimental value to me. It was my junior year in high school and my girlfriend of three weeks had broken up with me. At first I thought it’s no big deal. Whatever, right? Then after about a week I started to get pretty bummed out about it. Then out of the blue my ex-girlfriend gives me a note in the hallway and says she wants to talk about things…or something like that(it was 23 years ago, folks.) Anyways, on a Sunday afternoon my girlfriend came and picked me up(she had her license…I was a late bloomer) and we went to see Awakenings. I really liked that movie, but I really liked the company even more. You could ask my girlfriend what she thought of it, as she’s my wife of 18 years now.

The Fisher King was the movie that just blew me away. It felt like something far deeper than just a popcorn flick. It felt more human than anything I’d seen up to that point. I was still in high school, and this movie made me feel like I’d matured by the time I walked out of the theater. Robin Williams was amazing in it, and it was a precursory role to a career that would show the amazing depth the man possessed….and possibly the darkness he carried throughout his life.

I don’t know. I could go on and on about all the amazing roles and what an amazing actor Robin Williams was, but you could go to a million spots on the interweb and read that shit. Mr. Williams was a huge part of my childhood and a huge part in helping to form that all important human “thing” we call a sense of humor. My mom and dad are first on that list, followed by my brother and chimpanzee birthday cards. Then Robin Williams. Today I’m sad. For the loss of a truly beautiful mind and artist. For the loss of a funny, funny human being. For the loss his family is enduring right now.

I wish I still had those suspenders.