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Dear Schoolhouse Rock creators/artists/writers/musicians:

I grew up with your catchy songs that aid learning. (For Millennials and GenZ, it’s like the 1970s version of “Hamilton.”)

It should be no surprise that I’m partial to the grammar ones:

I mean, just TRY to get those out of your head.

I’ve been thinking about one in specific lately: The Great American Melting Pot.

And, even more specifically, these lyrics:

It doesn’t matter what your skin.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from,
Or your religion, you jump right in
To the great American melting pot.

Yeah. A bit idealistic, no?

People are actively protesting because skin color DOES matter. (When people say, “I don’t see color,” my eyes nearly roll out of my head. Of course you see skin color just like you notice if someone has brown hair. The key is not attaching JUDGMENT.)

And immigration … well. It’s like people want to say, “That’s it: America is closed.”

Don’t even get me started on religious bias.

So. I’m writing this because I’d really love a revival where you tackle thorny issues such as redlining, Jim Crow laws, Operation Mockingbird, First Amendment rights, white privilege, etc.

I feel like storytelling via music could come in handy here.

I remember when I first truly understood the concept of white privilege. I had walked a couple of blocks in downtown Atlanta and overheard three separate conversations among black people where the subject was race.

I went home that night and asked Eddie if he thinks about being Hispanic on a regular basis. He said he did. He’s been pulled over and asked to prove he’s legal, for example. He’s Puerto Rican, FFS.

And that’s when it clicked: I rarely thought about being white. And that’s a privilege. Now, of course, I’m hyperaware.

Not everyone has that moment of clarity. So I think it’s time for some lessons in your trademark accessible way.

Can you help?

Thank you for your consideration,
Beth

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Dear Readers,

As summer gets closer, and we are all still on our forced Coronacation, those summer plans are on shaky ground. One casualty is the annual Download Festival in Leicestershire, England. Americans: Think metal Coachella or Lollapalooza (which are surprisingly still on as of today).

Here’s a post from Tara to help you recreate the experience while in isolation. (It reminds me a little of my low-rent spa suggestion.)

See you soon! (Maybe. With any luck.)
Beth

Oh those innocent days when we could wear other people like clothing and gaze lovingly into the eyes of our metal idols.

How to have a Download Festival experience during the Coronacalypse
By Tara W.

For those of you gutted (Note from Beth for Americans: That means devastated) by the cancellation of Download Festival this year let me try to help you recreate it from the comfort of your home.

  1. Drive to the furthest part of your village/town/city, and park your car.
  2. Walk back to your house.
  3. Put your tent up in your garden/lounge (Note from Beth for Americans: Living room). It’s best to use a pop-up tent if you are putting it in your lounge.
  4. If you have an additional tent, put it up right in front of the doorway of the tent you intend to sleep in.
  5. Scatter the area around your tent with empty cigarette packets/bottles/crisp packets (Note from Beth for Americans: Crisps are potato chips).
  6. Crap and piss in a bucket to give to you the correct aroma. Do NOT clean the bucket.
  7. Play some great and some not-so-great rock/metal tunes.
  8. Make burgers or grass wraps (for the vegetarians), and charge yourself at least £8 (Note from Beth to Americans: That’s $9.88 in today’s money).
  9. Pour yourself a pint/short of your favourite beverage, making sure you charge yourself at least £5 (Note from Beth to Americans: A short is liquor — like a shot — and that’s $6.17). Put said beverage in the microwave for eight seconds to get it to the right temperature, and put a bit of grass in it.
  10. When you have finished your weekend, go and collect your car.

I hope this helps! 😉🤘

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Dear Fred,

Thanks for tagging me in the “10 albums” challenge on Facebook. I don’t trust myself to remember to go on Facebook every day to post an album, so I’m going to just do it all at once here. And I’m going to break the rules again by adding commentary. I’m also adding parameters.

The following are the important albums of my “formative years.”

1. Shaun Cassidy, “Shaun Cassidy.” Shaun was my first celebrity crush. The garbage man was my first crush, according to my bemused mother. My mother made the mistake of telling me that Shaun was performing in Atlanta but that I was too young to go. I wept so hard my album (yes, I still have it) has watermarks from my extensive tears. Side story: I was singing “Da Doo Ron Ron” when I flipped over the handlebars of my bike and knocked out my front tooth.

2. Donny Osmond, “Donny Osmond Superstar.” My mother, God rest her soul, did not learn her lesson with Shaun. Once again, she told me he was performing in Atlanta, and, once again, I was deemed too young to go. Again, I wept. The cardboard album cover bears witness.

3. The Monkees, “The Monkees.” I watched the TV show in repeats on one of the three channels we got. Micky was my favorite, and we were supposed to get married. Perhaps he is the reason I have such a penchant for the rhythm section.

 

4. Duran Duran, “Girls on Film.” Getting cable — specifically MTV — changed my life. This began my habit of jonesing for Brits.

5. Adam Ant, “Friend or Foe.” Adam broke from his Ants to make the album that made him a household name. Though we recently broke up, I wish him well.

6. The Romantics, “In Heat.” I was in heaven when The Romantics toured with Adam as the opening act. This album also brought about one of my most painful memories. All my guy friends were into Rush and AC/DC. I suggested they listen to this, and gave one of them a cassette. A few days later, I got the cassette back — the innards in a pile on my desk. My “friends” were looking at me slyly to see my reaction. I felt my face begin to burn, and I left the classroom so they wouldn’t get the satisfaction of seeing me cry. These fellows have grown into lovely people, but I can’t erase this memory.

7. Van Halen, “1984.” Van Halen is only Van Halen if David Lee Roth is singing. Fight me. (I’ll DM you a Zoom link.)

8. Living Colour, “Vivid.” This was the first CD I bought. I played it and XTC’s “Oranges & Lemons” over and over on my five-disc CD player.

9. The Replacements, “Pleased to Meet Me.” The Placemats joined Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, Hüsker Dü, Butthole Surfers, Love Tractor, Dead Kennedys, Big Audio Dynamite, Black Flag and the Pixies on heavy rotation during this period. That reminds me …

10. The Pixies, “Doolittle.” I recently saw them in concert. Still amazing. I do miss Kim Deal, though.

There you have it, Fred: My walk down memory lane.

Thanks for the prompt!
Beth

 

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Y’all:

I’m losing it.

I’m losing my mind.

I don’t know what day it is. Most of the time I can’t remember what month it is.

I used the wrong version of your/you’re in a text. I corrected myself before sending, but still.

It’s that bad.

I’ve finished Netflix. All of it.

I don’t want to watch TV anymore.

I don’t want to read.

I don’t want to cook; I’ve made enough food to feed everyone within a five-mile radius.

Now I’m setting goals that seem unusual even for me.

Look:

  • Finish my Greatest Boy Band Songs Ever playlist.
  • Make sure it features no more than two songs per band and is in chronological order by band.
  • Learn the choreography to “Bye Bye Bye.”
  • Wonder what happened to Color Me Badd.
  • Do some actual research and discover some shocking behavior on the part of the worse-for-wear Bryan K. Abrams.
  • Google the zodiac sign for Micky Dolenz. (He’s a Pisces. Of course.)
  • Make an exception to Point 2 for One Direction because Harry Styles.
  • Write a fan letter to Harry Styles.
  • Cut off some of my hair to send to Harry Styles.
  • Consider therapy to identify why I would do either of the two things above.
  • Consider therapy to identify why I would do any of the things on this list, really.
MmmHMMM. Call me, Harry.

Dear GOD. Who am I?

Send help.

Sincerely,
Beth, owner of a jello mind

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This meme … so accurate.

Dear Friends and Family:

It’s Day 16 of captivity. I’m finding ways to amuse myself.

For example, I created a pandemic playlist. Y’all know I love a good playlist, and there’s something for everyone here.

I watched Tiger King, along with most of America, it seems.

Yes, it’s really the batshit crazy train wreck everyone says it is.

Someone posted a genius Bingo card for it.

This is what my card looked like after 30 minutes into JUST ONE EPISODE.

I had a virtual happy hour with Goat Yoga Lisa. And 36-hour Tina has planned one for Wednesday. During our chat, Lisa mentioned that her photos from St. Patrick’s Day 2019 showed up in her Facebook feed.

Lisa: There I was, in crowds! Standing close to people! Drinking other peoples drinks!
Me: Those halcyon days.

The family has laughed plenty playing board games.

I wish I could remember what the answer was for this Sensosketch.

I’ve done my spring (and summer and fall) cleaning plus all the laundry. I’ve been cooking nonstop. I even made egg salad — something I don’t often make because I hate peeling eggs.

The pollen has given me a headache and sore throat, but I’m still obsessively taking my temperature just to be sure.

Weird times, friends. Weird times.

Stay safe. Keep busy. Watch Joe Exotic.

Love,
Beth

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Dear Friends,

I basically keep this blog to amuse myself and you. As always, I give you permission to laugh at my expense. I hope this post makes you laugh as much as I did when it all happened.

Here’s the setup:

Eddie and I went to see Soul Asylum last night.

Side note: I always go early enough to see the openers. Local H is great; I highly recommend.

Anyway, after their set, Center Stage turned up the lights. Not such a great move. Lots of middle-aged folks out on a school night. (Many drinking shots, but that’s another story.)

I asked Eddie if we looked as old and used-up as so many of the people around us.

He looked horrified and practically yelled, “No!”

So I tried to take a photo of us to make sure.

So I tried again.

So clearly, Eddie is wrong, and I fit in well with the crowd.

I either take decent photos or really bad ones. This night was the night of the living dead, photo-wise. Apparently. No good would come of my attempts.

Y’all know I have no shame.

So I leaned into it.

Hard.

Does this angle make my lip look big?

Beth = Ghostface from “Scream”

Maybe if I find my light …

I started laughing.

And you know me: Once I start, I can’t stop.

I started doing that wheeze laugh I do. I laughed so hard I started crying.

I laugh-cried off all my (nickel-free) eye makeup. The people next to us moved. For real.

Once Soul Asylum started playing, I shuffled my dried-up husk of a body to the front.

Dave Pirner has some miles on him too, but he brought his A game.

Not as much energy as the gondolier guitarist, though.

One good thing about a show with lots of old people around: You can get close to the stage without worrying about compromising personal space. Or finding yourself in a mosh pit.

Soul Asylum played their new stuff plus all the hits. Of course. Including that song EVERYBODY knows.

It was a good show with good photos of everyone but me, apparently.

My loss is your gain.

Are you not entertained?

I know I was.

Love,
Your not-so-photogenic friend

* Look! A “Seinfeld” reference

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Dear Simon, Rob and Nick, aka Jesse’s Divide,

It was exactly a year ago that you played Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta as part of the U.S. leg of your Space Wolf tour — a leg I planned with no prior tour-planning experience.

(Good GOD. WHAT were we thinking? A leap of faith all around.)

One year ago, I badgered all my friends to come hear you play.

One year ago, these friends seemed surprised I had good taste.

One year ago, these friends bought you all tequila shots.

Photographic evidence

And one year ago, Rob drank so much tequila, he still had the liquor sweats 24 hours later.

More evidence

Now the four of us are talking about U.S. Tour 2: Electric Boogaloo for October, and I couldn’t be more excited.

This tour will be fortified with more Jesus, more vegan food, more gigs, more fans and likely more tequila.

Crucially, this tour also will feature less driving, less crappy equipment and (I hope) less barfing on the side of the road.

I am forever grateful to Clair for inviting me to go with her to see you that February night in 2018.

Love you guys! You’re simply the best.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Touriversary!
Your No. 1 American Fan

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Black Flag performs in Hell at the Masquerade in Atlanta.

Dear Show-goers,

Auntie Beth is here to make sure you have a good time at a punk concert. Your favorite aunt went to see Black Flag this week, and noticed that some of you need some guidelines.

Lest you think Auntie Beth doesn’t know what she’s talking about, be assured AB is an OG.

Black Flag, Minutemen, Butthole Surfers, Dead Kennedys, Dead Milkmen — she saw them all the first time around at Atlanta clubs 688 and the Metroplex. In fact, Auntie Beth remembers the Surfers setting fire to the Metroplex stage.

She knows a thing or two about mosh pits.

Here are some rules to follow to ensure a good time for all:

  • DO wear comfortable clothes, including shoes that can withstand stomping — yours and others. Auntie Beth was practically in her pajamas, but wore steel-toed boots.
  • DO dress for the crowd. Concert Ts from the band you are seeing and similar are fine. Auntie Beth saw bands such as The Cramps, Suicidal Tendencies and the Misfits proudly represented.
  • DO prepare for loud music and contact with other humans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pPrxGBSKtM

  • DO NOT go to the front if you don’t want to slamdance or be slamdanced on. Auntie Beth took her old ass straight to the balcony.

In this crowd is no place to be if you don’t want to be jostled and shoved.

Look how angry this girl is! She should have joined Auntie Beth in the balcony.

  • DO NOT throw punches. Look, the mosh pit is a place for folks to get out some aggression by flinging themselves at others. No need to get upset or start a fight. If you don’t like it, don’t go near it.
  • If you aren’t ready to crowd surf, DO participate by standing on the outer edge and pushing the “dancers” back in when they are flung out.
  • DO pick up your fallen comrades. It’s just the nice thing to do, plus you won’t trip over them.
  • DO take your children (and proper ear protection) to see bands that are important to you. Auntie Beth’s boys saw The Police when they were still in Pampers.

Some of you may disagree with Auntie Beth that it’s OK to bring kids to a concert. Of course it depends on the children and the concert, but Auntie Beth is a fan in general.

  • DO appreciate bands that start and end earlyish on a school night. Auntie Beth was home by 11. (That’s still past her bedtime, though. Look. Listen. She’s elderly and needs her beauty rest.)
  • DO support live music. It’s good for the bands, the venue, the economy, the arts and your soul. Think of it as community service!
  • Auntie Beth loves you and wants you to ROCK ON!

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Dear Members of The Prodigy,

I’m so sorry I didn’t really know you until recently. If it weren’t for my friend Glen responding to my post requesting music suggestions, I never would have listened intentionally. Who knew I had so much in common, taste-wise, with Glen plus Merrill and Trevor? (Thanks also to Kristina, April, George, Tara and William for some good tunes.)

I usually listen to the most raucous music in my library when I’m getting ready in the morning.

A few days ago, I was putting on mascara when Eddie walked into the bathroom.

Him: What’s that?
Me, without batting a mascaraed eye: Smack My Bitch Up.

I make no apologies.

And because of that exchange, you earned a few cents. (I have an Apple Music account, so you don’t make much from me.)

 

I’m glad you are now part of my listening life, along with Godsmack, Prophets of Rage, Dirty Honey and The Struts.

My mornings are certainly a little louder.

Love,
Beth

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Dear Big Freedia,

I listen to all kinds of music, as you know, but you are one of my favorites.

The first time I saw you perform live, you blew my hair back. So shocking, in a good way.

Friday night, the first night of your new tour, wasn’t quite as much of a surprise. It still was fantastic.

Those who don’t know you may not know how you popularized New Orleans bounce music and the accompanying twerking.

That “dancing” is part of the allure of your live shows.

This is what I told my Support Spouse Rob. You were performing in Savannah the night after I saw you, and Goat Yoga Lisa had tickets. Rob didn’t want to go. I sent him videos like that from your Atlanta show to encourage him.

It’s not just your female dancers who perform.

I love that you have amateur hour at your shows.

Here’s the thing: I can do this move. Should I? No. At least not in public.

Some of these folks shouldn’t either.

But others rival your own crew.

It’s not just the ladies who astound, though.

So thanks for a great night!

And thanks for having Low Cut Connie open. They put on a high-energy, engaging show.

Much better than the DJs you had for your last tour.

Anyway, I’m still a huge fan. Just look:

Love you!
Beth

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