What Would Hüsker Dü

Music Monday

The obscure and seemingly insignificant can influence millions. Never achieving fame or fortune, an inconspicuous St. Paul, Minnesota trio known as Hüsker Dü shaped music genres that would become known as alternative rock, grunge, power pop and post-hardcore. In the early 1980’s, when duran duran, Eurythmics, A Flock of Seagulls, Journey, Human League, Michael Jackson, Men At Work, and Def Leppard were topping the charts, Bob Mould (lead vocals, guitar), Greg Norton (bass), and Grant Hart (lead vocals, drums) were forging proto-punk throughout the Minneapolis area as Hüsker Dü.

What makes Hüsker Dü significant is that they evolved from a hardcore punk band to incorporate strong musical and vocal melodies into their breakneck punk thrash. An excellent example of this is”Pink Turns To Blue” from 1984’s double concept album Zen Arcade about a boy’s journey soloing the harshness of life. The Zen Arcade album itself was a groundbreaking feat, often considered the first punk opera.

Hüsker Dü serve as a musical evolutionary missing link between explosive punk and what is now considered power pop and college rock. 1985’s Flip Your Wig exemplifies Hüsker Dü’s continued melodic expansion. Soon after they were courted by Warner Bros Records which subsequently released Candy Apple Gray  and the double disc follow-up Warehouse, before the band’s demise in 1987.

Bob Mould went on to a fairly significant musical career forming Sugar and as a solo artist. Though not regarded by the average music listener Hüsker Dü’s legacy of influence is evident in every modern rock outfit from Green Day to Nirvana to Foo Fighters.

~End WWHD?~



The other day i was called a Metrosexual. Not the first time this has happened. i’m never sure how to take it. Should i be offended or flattered? The woman who termed me such is very attractive, tall and slender (I’m not sure why I’m pointing this out, perhaps to gird my masculinity). Without prompting, she offered her characterization, noting that i’m very professional, clean, in great physical shape, well-groomed, intelligent, have great fashion sense, and good taste in general. She just described the stereotypical gay man. Here is where i profoundly pronounce that i’m not gay. So is a metrosexual a homosexual who is heterosexual? i’m confused. i’m sure my homosexual friends will help me out on this.

i’ve heard many people describe metrosexuals in different ways. i remember reading a blog about it last year and distinctly muttering in my mind that the author was definitely convoluting metrosexuals with scenesters and emo poseurs. Not that i have a better handle on it. But he was certainly off. A quick internet search popped up photos of Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, Ben Afleck, Jude Law, and David Beckham (i feel better already).

i looked up metrosexual in Merriam-Webster. It’s there. So why does my word processor keep underlining it in red?

METROSEXUAL: a usually urban heterosexual male given to enhancing his personal appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments, and fashionable clothes.

So let’s see how this works:

“A usually urban…”
i always picture a metrosexual being on the cutting edge of urbane living, hosting kitschy parties in a sprawling loft that overlooks the trendiest eateries and shops of a bustling metropolis. i, however, live in the deep suburbs. i like to refer to it as the outskirts of civilization. A major supermarket is just half mile down the road. Heading half mile in the other direction is nothing but cow pastures. This is of particular excitement when the wind is blowing my way from the dairy. But the definition does modify “urban” with “usually.” So i could give in to that i am the unusual exception.

“…heterosexual male…”

i am heterosexual, in case i had not already clarified. i’m distinctly male as well. This brings a point i’ve been pondering. If the terms heterosexual and homosexual encompass both genders, why does metrosexual exclusively define males? Chew on that and spit it back to me if you have any insights (…or outsights).

“…given to enhancing his personal appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments…”

i am well-groomed, but it isn’t a chore (Pretty easy when you’re bald. By the way … she did say, “bald is sexy”). i shower daily; brush my teeth regularly (Mom and Dad paid a fortune for my braces. i owe them that much); and work out and eat right to maintain good health. It seems these are the basics we were all taught by well-meaning parents when we were youngsters and have kept up into maturity.

i don’t enhance my personal appearance otherwise. i don’t color my hair (The little I do have is salt and pepper and kept very short), i have never had a mani or pedi or even been in such an establishment that offers them. i don’t use skin care products unless it says SPF 75 on the bottle and then it’s applied rigorously to my bare scalp. i hate to shave and only do so if the situation warrants it.

“…and fashionable clothes.”

When it comes to fashion…  i may be guilty. i do admire the cut of nice Kenneth Cole ensemble. Do i look good in a suit? No cat calls coming my way, but i’ve never had any complaints. i dress for comfort or the occasion. When i consulted/educated in the legal field i wore suits everyday (ties are so uncomfortably restricting, but there are so many cool ones). It’s professional and it makes me feel empowered. And it may even get me what i want. However, i prefer jeans or cargo shorts over suit and tie any day.

i really don’t care if i’m labeled metro, hetro, boomer, genX, etc. However, i do care to be known as a person who loves others well: My family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers, no matter their status, profession, orientation, age, race, religion …Love them well.

With all that said, it appears my scales may be tipping metrosexual. So let me hear from you: How else would you describe metrosexual? Can you be metrosexual and a Christian? Does the term “metrosexual” have negative or positive connotations? What defines a female metrosexual?

~End denial

Which came first, The Chicken or the ‘O’?

i find life interesting and full of the unexpected. Life certainly does not unravel itself in the manner we often imagine. i try to make lifeVertical relevant and fun. It’s just been five weeks since i put my fingerprint on this blog. In that time i’ve had nearly 1,200 visitors. i’m told that’s a lot for a newcomer.

What has most intrigued me in the past few weeks are the posts which have drawn the most attention, drawing almost twice as many readers as an average day. my comments on the impending ‘O’pocalypse, about the last days of the iconic Oprah Winfrey’s final days of her talk show and the absurd regulations imposed on chicken copulation in a small town in New Jersey drew the more attention than anything else.

my analytical mind has curiously pondered the attraction to these topics, especially in light of the conservative nature of my readers. What do you think? Why have these two items been of particular focus? What does this say about our culture? C’mon, don’t be shy. We’re all friends here. Let us know. Write your comments below.

~End analysis~

Little Mr. Got It Wrong

Music Monday

The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is an amazing place. i’ve lived here all my life: Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. There’s a distinct iconoclastic culture here that i’ve found nowhere else in my travels throughout the United States and various Latin American and European countries. The outdoor activities are numerous: In a little more than an hour i can ski some of the greatest snow-covered peaks this land has to offer; or head the other direction and ponder life while viewing amazing beach heads and coastlines; Great hiking; huge rivers; fantastic white-water; world-class sports teams; some of the best music from jazz to alt rock. Where else can one say they have an active volcano in their back yard?

When i recently stumbled across a rendering of a “typical” Seattle native, i took slight offense. The line drawing included in Christian Lander’s latest book, “Whiter Shades of Pale,” depicts what he believes is a stereotypical urban Seattle male. Christian is the man behind Stuff White People Like, a satirical and often funny observations of conventional and banal habits, desires, and social constructs of the melanin deficient. But this time he hit a slight nerve.

i know this is a caricature. i can forgive the hikers, café au lait cliché (i’m not a fan), and facial scruff. A sweater?! Obviously Mr. Lander doesn’t travel here much. i rarely see sweaters, especially with reindeer stitch. This is the PNW, it doesn’t get that cold. Wet? YES! Cold? Not so much. Besides, half the people are still wearing cargo shorts in November (Yep, we’re a different breed up here). Nonetheless, if you could argue rationally about this, i might let it go.

However… Spin Doctors?! Unforgivable! Does Lander realize, perhaps aside from Austin TX,  that the PNW is the coolest place on the planet for music? Is he aware  the Portland and Seattle areas once were or are home to such international artists as Bing Crosby, The Kingsmen, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Robert Cray, Jeff Lorber Fusion, Dave Friesen, Quarterflash, Nu Shooz, Dan Reed Network, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, M. Ward,  The Dandy Warhols, Everclear, The Shins, Elliot Smith, The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, Spoon, Steven Malkmus (Pavement), Johnny Marr (The Smiths; Modest Mouse; The Cribs), Gary Jarman (The Cribs), Willie Nelson (yep, long before he was famous), Courtney Love, Heatmiser, Hockey, Portugal.The Man, The Dimes, Blitzen Trapper, Pink Martini, Kutless, Storm Large, Helio Sequence, Frank Black (The Pixies), Larry Norman, Meredith Brooks, and Hoyt Axton?

Let’s get Seattle specific: The Posies, Peter Buck (REM), Soundgarden, The Postal Service, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Queensryche, Alice In Chains, The Ventures, Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, Dave Grohl (Nirvana; Foo Fighters), The Presidents of the United States of America, Jimi Hendrix, The Fleetwoods, Steve Miller, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Heart, Scott McCaughey (The Young Fresh Fellows; The Minus 5), Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone, The Melvins, Green River, The Wailers, Jerry Miller (Moby Grape), Bloodgood, Temple of the Dog, Owl City, Metal Church, Sanctuary, MxPx, Screaming Trees, Lucid, Candlebox, Foo Fighters, Bikini Kill, Sunny Day Real Estate, Beat Happening…

And Lander would muse that any self-respecting Seattle-ite would toque homage a New York based two-hit-wonder (“Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”) like The Spin Doctors?!

Anyone with me on this?

~End vindication~

All The World’s A Stooge…

Welcome to Fun Friday…

my first recollection of The Three Stooges was as a child, watching their strung together shorts during lazy Saturday afternoon television viewing. Moe, the self-confident, short-tempered leader of the trio; Curley, the shaved-head affable energizer bumble; Larry, the curly-tossle-topped goof (it was always confusing to me why the one with the curly hair wasn’t called “Curley”).

The Three Stooges had a 40 year film career beginning in the early 1930s. Throughout their career, Moe and Larry were the constants, with various others filling out the third stooge role. As my familiarity with The Three Stooges grew, i became in awe of Shemp.  One of the original trio, Shemp had perfect comedic timing and odd facial caricatures that always made me smile. Shemp, who was Moe’s brother, left the act to pursue a moderately successful solo career in 1933. Replaced by younger brother Jerry (aka Curley), The Stooges would go on to greater success. Shemp rejoined the group “temporarily” after Curley suffered a debilitating stroke in 1946. Unfortunately Curley never recovered and Shemp became a permanent replacement until his own death in 1955.

Shemp’s role on a couple of unfinished films was filled out by comedian Joe Palma. A permanent replacement was found a year later in Joe Besser. Besser left the act in 1959


to care for his ailing wife and was replaced by comic Joe (Curly-Joe) Derita (What’s with all the Joez). They continued to film and perform live until 1970 when Larry suffered a stroke. Moe continued the live act for five more years with several other comedians as his stooging companions until his


death in 1975.

Currently in production is a new Three Stooges film. Someone is trying to replace these whimsical weirdlings. Can it be done? Personally, i love Shemp. Moe, Curley, and Larry are exquisite. I can do with out the rest.

The Three Stooges made 206 short films, 14 feature length films, and 156 animated television shows. They were mesmerizingly stoopid stupid. They are a timeless classic.

Who is your favorite Stooge? Do you have a favorite Stooge memory/film? What do you think of a new Three Stooges? And… why is it that your first name has to be Joe to fill a Shemp?

~End nyuck~