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Area woman and aspiring writer Jodi Tannenbaum, after a third attempt at getting published by the literary website McSweeney’s (in its “Lists” section), found herself “totally in the middle of that scene from Swingers.”

“You know that famous scene,” she said, “where the guy, not Vince Vaughn… the other guy…he calls a girl he likes and says something embarrassing on her answering machine, so he calls back again to explain, and then again to explain that—wait—what do you mean you didn’t see it?”

TNB Music reviews an outdoor rock festival in Irvine and a Red Hot Chili Peppers show in San Diego.

EPICENTER FESTIVAL
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Irvine, CA
September 22, 2012

Fans holding tickets for this year’s Epicenter Festival have reason to be concerned. This past Monday night, Epicenter headliners Stone Temple Pilots channeled their inner Guns ‘N Roses and strolled onto the stage two hours late for a show in British Columbia. The half-hearted apology from singer Scott Weiland, followed by zero in the way of explanations, proved to be an exasperating precursor to their subsequent cancellation of the next evening’s show in Alberta. Although the band eventually issued a statement that Weiland was ordered on 48-hour vocal rest, speculation raged that perhaps there was another explanation. After all, Weiland has never been regarded as a paragon of sobriety, and with back-to-back snafus, as Epicenter opens its doors on this gorgeous Saturday afternoon, fans and promoters are left wondering if STP will even show up for their only Southern California appearance of the fall.

On August 9, 2012, the legendary Iron Maiden were playing in Irvine, and as a rock journalist, I sort of had to go. I mean, it was Iron Maiden and this wasn’t just any ordinary tour; the band were dusting off a handful of rare gems, scattering them across a setlist of classics that inspired metal fans across the US to hail this tour as their best yet. Moreover, they were playing at a sprawling outdoor amphitheater in the belly button of Southern California on a warm summer evening—an ineffably inviting backdrop for live music.

And yet, I didn’t go.  Agalloch, the mysterious psychedelic black metal outfit from Portland, Oregon, were playing The Casbah here in San Diego, and in the remote but statistically viable chance that I passed away on August 10, I wanted to ensure that my blink of an existence did not pass without experiencing this preponderant act in a rare and intimate live setting.

Campus sits west of the Chicago river, at the circle interchange of the Kennedy and Eisenhower expressways.  In the 60s UIC wedged its way into and consumed Chicago’s Little Italy, grew tentacles into the near west and south sides.  At one time called Circle Campus after the knot of concrete ramps where the two arteries bisect, it was built similarly of concrete in a style called Brutalism, emulating Soviet public housing, “riot proof,” with double-layer covered walkways akin to parking garages, an open-air amphitheater and massive concrete wheelchair ramps to 2nd floor entries reiterating the circle motif.  A miniature replica of an Eastern Bloc city, and likewise now with crumbling concrete, permanent scaffolding erected to protect students and faculty milling on (and off) grass lined footpaths under trees that replaced the severe web of covered walkways in the 90s.  The circular quad in front of 24-story University Hall underwent a decade-long project (that should’ve taken about a year) to add grassy knolls, flowered borders, and (perhaps a reminder of Brutalism) tile-lined fountains that rarely run because they’re broken.  But I walk campus without envy for Northwestern, University of Chicago, DePaul, or Loyola.  They have tradition, bigger trees, a vine-covered brick building probably called “Old Main.”  We have Brutalism.  It’s where part of me –  a native Californian – lives, has lived for almost 20 years.

Assistant’s Note: Hi! I’m Fabian, Mr. Dust’s personal assistant. As some of you may know, Mr. Dust performed his first public reading in San Diego last week at the vaunted TNB-SD “Stay Classy Edition” event. I’ve heard over and over that it was a total blast! Of course, I wouldn’t actually know, since I wasn’t allowed to come. Invited, yes. Allowed, no. The word through back channels is that Helmsman Listi himself really wanted me there. Nevertheless, I was forced to stay down in the bunker and coordinate. I guess you can’t always get what you want, even if you try sometime and you may find that you get what you need. Can you? At any rate, if you were at the event and “heard” rumors that I refuse to fly anything but first class, well that’s just not true.

The bottom line is that ever since the event, the Castle Dust mailroom has been DELUGED with letters. Let’s get to them, shall we? Yes, we shall!

(Also, Mr. Dust made me promise not to post these pics. Did anyway! Ha. Next time, maybe I’ll get an extra legroom seat in business class.)

The members of the Stay Classy Crew would like to make two critical announcements regarding TNB’s Literary Experience in San Diego on August 25, 2011:

The first is that beloved founder and dad-figure, Brad Listi, is stepping down from his slot reading at the event. In his stead, we are pleased to announce that one of TNB’s most popular (and often polarizing) authors will be taking his place.

Yes, we are pleased (and a teensy bit nervous) to announce that J. Angelus Dust will be Listi’s replacement for the event.

No further information is available at this time, but suffice to say, this is going to be one for the ages….


WHAT: The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience- Stay Classy Edition (San Diego)

WHEN: Thursday August 25, 2011 7 p.m.

WHERE: The Historic Ideal Hotel and Tea Room 540 3rd Ave. San Diego, CA (619) 808-9847

WHO: Readings by:

While the origins of San Diego’s name remain murky for some, The Nervous Breakdown is staying as classy as ever by celebrating it’s 5th birthday with TNB’s Literary Experience in San Diego, CA on Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 7 p.m.

This event, like the tasty waves rolling up to its bikini-speckled beaches, will be epic.

To commemorate this auspicious occasion, TNB is unleashing a seismic event full of outrageous readings, delicious birthday cake and a special musical guest.

WHEN: Thursday August 25, 2011. 7 p.m.

WHERE:  The Historic Ideal Hotel and Tea Room
540 3rd Ave.
San Diego, CA

 

After a whistle stop tour of my hometowns of LA, San Diego and NYC, I’m back in my other home, Petersham, NSW, back teaching, writing. The dog, cat and kids. My office in the upstairs hallway. My beloved is here, and an indispensable best friend, family both there and here, my livelihood (for the present) is here, but my characters, my soul-mates, are there.

Not as horny a dilemma as you think. I drive on the left but glance to the right. I watch SBS News, but hear CBS 8. I eavesdrop on the conversation behind me on the train (a couple of call center managers talking about ‘escalations’ and ‘dehiring’) and give a SoCal edge to their antipodean jive. As the train winds out into the suburbs I see the two story timber homes of Brooklyn rather than the single-story brick bungalows so prevalent here. The boarded up bookstores are the same everywhere, as are the basement dildo stores and thrift shops and Laundromats and pawn stores, but instead of VIP Lounges I see gun stores, and smell Mexican instead of Thai, slices instead of pies and great vats of undrinkable swill instead of aromatic shots of espresso. And water water everywhere. I imagine the azure Southern Pacific washing up on the silver sands of southern California and see frozen lakes instead of mangrove swamps.

It’s a little scary, a little schizo, and I wonder what I’m missing. I think about Flaubert and Faulkner, neither of whom were entirely where they wanted to be and I also think of Stephen King who transformed Flatline, Maine into a febrile field of dreams and whose words stare back at me from a post-it on my monitor.

YOU CAN DO THIS.


Please explain what just happened.

I just took a pretty big bong hit.

 

What is your earliest memory?

Getting a “CHiPs” 3 wheel electric bike-thing for Christmas. I was three, I think.

 

If you weren’t a musician what other profession would you choose?

Carpenter.

Well, folks, the NFL season is coming to an end. Which for me and countless others means depression is creeping in. No more deep passes and corner blitzes. No more audibles, hot routes, bruises, or broken fingers. Like Thom Jones wrote, “Oh, baby, I’m so depressed.” ESPN and its talking heads will be neck-deep in baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, and NASCAR. Not good. Don’t count me in. I’ll be watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians, keeping tabs on Kim’s sultry, almond-shaped eyes and manufactured bolt-ons. And let’s not forget Bruce Jenner! I’m fully bewildered by his 70’s haircut and his train wreck of a face-lift. It’s a wild sight. The man is truly weird looking. Anyhow, football. The 2009-2010 NFL season is almost a wrap. This is what happened.

Life is a Brees: The NFC

In the NFC the Saints came out of the gate punching and kicking. Their offense was prolific and they scored TDs like Costco sells frozen chicken fingers: in bulk. Brees was a badass and lit up defenses all season long. It was something to see. They butchered the Cardinals in the Divisional playoff game and squeezed out a victory in overtime against the Vikings. People predicted them to make it to the Super Bowl and that’s exactly what happened. They’re going to Miami, hoping to bring a Lombardi to New Orleans. We’ll see. Who Dat!

Favre and the Vikings made a run for the big game. They played the Saints in the NFC Championship game and had the thing won, but Favre threw a costly interception that sealed their fate. They had their chances despite five turnovers. Now, the big question is: will Brett retire once again and ride his dusty tractor off into the hillbilly horizon? Brace yourselves, people. Another teary-eyed retirement may be on the way. Whay.

The Packers had a good year and made it to the playoffs and had a shootout with the Cardinals that had both teams scoring a million points apiece. They came up short, but watch out for these guys next year. I like Rodgers and see him doing great things in the years to come.

The Eagles made it to the playoffs but got their asses handed to them by Romo and the Cowboys. In recent history the Eagles are the quintessential almost-but-not-quite football team. They’ve made the playoffs pretty consistently and even made it to the Super Bowl in 2004, but could never snatch themselves a Super Bowl ring. They might be cursed. But by who? Ron Jaworski? Terrell Owens and his big horse teeth? Regardless, I think their best days are behind them. Sorry, Donovan. Have some chicken soup and take a napper.

The Cowboys played well all year and in December—when they’ve historically imploded—they played their best football of the year. Their running game was solid, their defense was tough, and Romo was making plays. They smacked around the Eagles in the playoffs and then went on the road and got pummeled by the Vikings 34-3, sending them back to Dallas dizzy and crestfallen. Go figure. That whole sentiment of the Cowboys being “America’s team” has to go. Really. They’re just another team that watches the Super Bowl with the rest of us.

“They will never win with that pussy-looking coach,” a Cowboy fan yelled over the phone. “He looks like a fat eleven year-old with wrinkles.”

It’s true. He does.

So who are the teams that stunk up the field this season?

The Bears and Lions are perfectly miserable teams and thus had perfectly miserable seasons. Especially, the latter that have been eternally screwed by Matt Millen who’s an impeccable fool and a bona fide loser. As usual, the Redskins had yet another pathetic season. Don’t watch the Redskins snap another ball, folks. Don’t do it. Put on the Travel Channel and watch Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and watch that bald fucker scarf down a pair of sautéed bull nuts or gnaw on rabbit doused in a creamy chocolate sauce. It’s far more entertaining. Really.

The Seahawks, Niners, Falcons, Panthers, Bucs, and Rams were equally horrible (well, to be fair, the Niners and the Falcons didn’t look that bad) and should have quit a month into the season and worked on their golf game. They should have hired Tiger Woods for some pointers. But it seems to me that at that time Mr. Woody’s schedule was constantly booked with dewy waitresses and other assorted star fuckers.

There you go: The NFC.

Peyton’s Place: The AFC

The AFC will be sending the Colts to the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning is phenomenal and is arguably the best QB to ever play the game. Like the Saints, a lot of people saw these dudes making and winning the Super Bowl with ease and Manning getting sized for yet another championship ring and a healthy cash bonus to boot. Cha-ching. I do see them winning the Super Bowl.

Indy barreled through the Ravens in the Divisional playoff game, shutting Ray Lewis up until next fall. I saw the game in a dinky bar in Highland, California, and was thrilled. Now, don’t get me wrong, Ray Lewis is one hell of a linebacker but he’s arguably the most vacuous human being to ever put on an NFL uniform. He’s a five-star bore and his pre-game sermons are lame, dimwitted, and dull. It wouldn’t surprise me if Lewis becomes a TV evangelist after he hangs up his cleats drawing cheap boneheaded parallels between football and salvation. Lord have mercy! Please, Lord, have some damn mercy!

The Patriots made the playoffs but weren’t as good as people predicted. They looked flat and uninspired all season long and got their asses kicked in their own back yard by the Ravens in the Wild Card game. The Chargers played solid all year long. They scored big points and kicked in some teeth along the way, making them a serious contender to get to Miami. But then the Jets came into town and kicked in their teeth in the divisional playoff game and strolled into the sweet San Diego sunset eating fish tacos and eye-balling the ladies.

The Jets came out of nowhere this season. No one predicted them to win with a rookie QB in Sanchez at the helm. And definitely no one saw them making the playoffs. But they did and knocked out Ochocinco and his Bengals with ease and then zipped off to San Diego to piss on Rivers’ parade. Their Super Bowl dreams croaked when they got to Indy. But it took the best team in the AFC to eliminate them from the tournament. That’s saying something. It was a good ride loaded with a vicious defense and their obese coach flapping his insatiable gums every time a mic was in his face. That guy was a sound bite machine and has a body the size of a full-grown rhinoceros. Step away from the buffet coach. Please.

So, who were the teams that bored us with their inept football ways? Here they are:

Miami, the Raiders, Chiefs, Jacksonville, Texans, Titans, Buffalo, Browns, Steelers, and Broncos. I think that’s everybody. I may have forgotten somebody. But does it matter? The answer is no. Jacksonville and the Texans had a shot at the playoffs but came up short. The Titans—who started off the season losing a batch of games in a row—came back at the end of the season and had a slight chance at making the playoffs. But when the final whistle blew it was a no-go.

The Browns have been horrible for decades and will continue to be horrible for decades. The Steelers—the reigning Super Bowl Champs—delivered a perfectly shitty product this season that had Jack Lambert knocking out his choppers once again. The Bills and Dolphins are lousy and fully incapable of playing football on a professional level, period. The Chiefs were horrible this year. As usual. And the Raiders? Sure they had a decent defense but they suck and Al Davis sucks even more. That old fart needs to take a dirt nap or retire. He’s a disease. And the Broncos? Well, at the beginning of the season people were singing their praises. I was one of those that didn’t and was waiting for them to shit in their bed. And guess what? They did. A giant steamer that floated across this football land and beyond. Call me Ishmael. Call me Nostrareno.

Well, that’s it. That’s how it went down. Next stop: Miami. Colts v. Saints.

Watch it.

Order pizza and drink beer.

After all it’s a National Holiday.

Cheers, folks.