More top ten…and Springsteen (not the rock star)…

First off, after two weeks I can say that Springsteen is doing quite well adjusting to his new home. Likewise Phoebe has become a great big sister to the pup. I’ll post more pix soon. We’re also closing up all the work on the Connecticut State Film Commission Tax Credit we’re receiving for FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) and I will be posting a long blog explaining how everything went down, a good how-to for other indie filmmakers in the state.

But for now, yet another Top Ten CD list. This time from old friend Rob DeRosa. For the best of CT-based music you can hear Rob’s radio show on Thursdays on WESU FM, which is 88.1FM. It’s called HOMEGROWN. You can also listen to archived shows at: www.myspace.com/thinmanmusiclabel

Here now is his top ten:

The Hold Steady- Stay Positive. How could an ex Springstee fan not like these guys? Way too many words sometimes and chock full arrangements- that’s what drew me to early Bruce and it’s what enthralls me about The Hold Steady. I just hope there is no Nebraska in them to screw it all up.

The Mountain Movers- Why Don’t We open the Chest. This band is a pleasure. While I loved the horns on the first CD, the less is more approach here works even better. If Ric promises to bring extra strings, I’ll hire them for Daffodil Fest so I can hear this stuff live in my own backyard, so to speak.

The Manchurians 5×4, The Minster EP. I know, my label. But if this and my next picks were not worthy, we wouldn’t max out credit putting them out. This one rocks in a different way than the last one- probably due to Dean’s layering of sounds and his co-writing energizing Roger to write more songs than he ever did. Short- liethey like their live sets- but it kicks ass.

Frank Critelli- Watlzing Through Quicksand. Frank’s songs always had room for a full band and this disc shows why. His songs here are expansive and moving- and the tight band behind him propells him to rock star staus instead of simply the best folkie out there.

The Sawtelles- Dime Museum. Previously a either love ’em or leave ’em style- this CD shows incredible growth and cohesion of their rather unothadox style. Shany Lawson produced them the way it should have always been. Peter’s words are intiguing and Julie sings better than ever before.

MGMT- Oracular Spectacular suffice to say that this incredibly popular band was for all intense and purposes, my discovery. Well. not entirely- but the Wesleyan duo got their first off campus gig from me- as well as their first club date at Cafe 9 and their first airplay on my radio show. Then they went on to play every festival in the world this year( Cochella, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading, SXSW, Austin City one, two in australia and a few in Japan.) and get on most big music magazines best of lists. They deserve it. It’s a psychedelic dance fest with pithy, ironic and cheeky lyrics. AND the drummer is nailing Kirstin Dunst. Every young rockers dream story.

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Best music of 2008

To take a quick reprieve from dogs and assholes…

A top ten list of sorts.  Not from either field which I call home (films, novels) but from my truest passion, music.  The best albums of 2008, in unequivocal order.  Don’t argue, you know my tastes, you know where I stand, just open your Amazon account and order those not in your collection.  It’ll be the best hundred bucks you’ve spent in a long while.

#1 – Delta Spirit – “Ode to Sunshine” – Hands down the one masterpiece of 2008, the best cd by the best new band.  Eleven tracks that evoke all things good in rock n roll from the Replacements to the Beatles, yet manage to sound original at the same time. Start with “People C’mon” or “Children,” but really there isn’t a weak or false beat on this cd.  Fucking amazing!

#2 – Paul Westerberg – “49” – a glorious mess, one never ending 43-plus minute track comprised of PW’s best work since “Stereo/Mono.”  Songs, clips, covers, noise, it’s a stream of unconsciousness from the greatest songwriter of our time.  Not for everyone, because most people won’t get it or have the patience, but if you do the rewards are never ending.

#3 – The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Hometowns” – I gave this album a shot because of a review that simply read “In the aeroplane over Alberta.”  And while not in the same league of the most perfect piece of art ever created (yes, you read that right), “Hometowns” is an instant indie noise-pop classic, loose strumming, twangs, all off-kilter and remarkably catchy.  Download “Edmonton” and you’ll be sold.

#4 – Bon Iver – “For Emma, Forever Ago” – Nine hauntingly beautiful tracks that bring to mind Nick Drake or perhaps very early Elliott Smith.  As fragile as a teenager’s heart, Justin Vernon (who essentially IS Bon Iver) has a voice that you will never forget.  Listen to the album’s final track “Re: Stacks,” a better song has not been released this year.

#5 – Langhorne Slim – “Langhorne Slim” – Another voice unlike no other, Langhorne Slim yelps and croons as if he were having way too much fun playing these songs. He picks his guitar like the 80-year-old blind man who invented the blues.  There’s a lot to like here, especially “Hummingbird,” one of the greatest songs ever written about having no choice but to move on from a relationship that just couldn’t work no matter how hard either partner tried.  It’s heartbreakingly real and so sadly beautiful. You’ll want to give Langhorne a hug.

#6 – Santogold – “Santogold” – This year’s M.I.A., poppy, bordering on the danceable, and usually nothing I would ever listen to if it weren’t so damn infectious.  Download “Lights Out” and see if it doesn’t remind you of the greatest 80s pop cd you never heard,

#7 – The Gaslight Anthem – “The 59 Sound” – if Bruce Springsteen and Paul Westerberg had a kid, this Jersey band would be it. Great, anthem-like rock n roll.  Start with the title track and you won’t let go.  And don’t let the crap emo bands they tour with turn you off.  These guys are the real thing.  (They should be touring with Wilco.)

#8 – Coldplay – “Viva La Vida” – This is not your grandfather’s Coldplay.  First off they suddenly discovered guitars, and then they discovered how to rock.  None of the wimpy ballad crap, the last four songs (starting with the title track) are as strong as any you’ll hear on almost any cd this year (except for perhaps the first three on this list).  If you’ve never liked Coldplay (I detest their other cds), now is the time to give them a shot.

And that’s my list.  Only 8 cds…there are certainly a few worthy of honorable mentions: Matthew Ryan’s “Matthew Ryan vs. Silver State,” Nada Surf’s “Lucky,’’ Crooked Fingers’ “Forfeit/Fortune,” and Mudcrutch’s self-titled cd.  But overall it was a ridiculously disappointing year, when even the usual culprits (Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst, The Hold Steady) bored me to tears.

I will give Ryan Adams kudos for the tune “Magick,” which proved the boy knows how to rock, I just wish he’d stop whining and stop writing the same song over and over again (really the new cd sounds like bad outtakes from last year’s far superior “Easy Tiger”).  Ryan it’s okay to sound like the Replacements, it’s what you do best. 

As for the worst cd of the year.  Wow, this is so easy; I don’t even have to think about it.  It’s a cd that epitomizes all that is bad about rock music and the self-proclaimed messiah critics on the web.  Gutless, sounding like a group of 8-year-olds with child-sized instruments trying to play rock n roll, the album in question is the self-titled debut from Vampire Weekend.  Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy.  Really, if you like Vampire Weekend put out an A.P.B. on your balls, because they have seriously gone missing.

That’s it for me.  I can only hope for a better 2009, though I’m ending on a Springsteen high.  Not the Boss, but my new pup.  (See photo below).  He was one of the wild packs of hounds menacing the streets of Tennessee.  We got him through Paws4Rescue.org.  Everything about this organization is top notch and professional.  (And if you’ve been reading this blog you know the issues I’ve had with other so-called rescue groups.)  Well, these guys are the real thing.  Donate, get your next pup from them, and/or recommend them to a friend: www.Paws4Rescue.org.

In the mean time, and while you’re surfing the web, check out the updated site for our new movie FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS): www.FWBmovie.com  

Then order a copy of the YOU ARE ALONE dvd: www.YouAreAlone.com

And read a free short story on my site: www.GormanBechard.com

 

Now I close with another top ten list, written by one of my closest friends, Matt Bialer.  I finished my list without seeing his, and visa-versa.  I present his now, unedited, and knowing there’ll be plenty to argue about:

 

 

Top 10 CD from Matthew Bialer

No order: titus andronicus: the Airing of Grievances.  I’ll say. One big drunken, sloppy Jersey fuck you to all.  If you like beer and more beer, great songs, the Clash, Pogues, Bruce, Mekons….      

The Gaslight Anthem: the ’59 Sound.   Great anthemic rock that is like Bruce meets the Clash.  It is what rock n roll is all about.  Has balls and evokes a lot of rock n roll iconic shit. 

Land of Talk: Some are Lakes.  I love Liz Powell’s voice and songs.  Just great stuff.  Kind of evokes girl grunge, I suppose. 

Delta Spirit: Great record. And no Gorman, it’s not Replacements derived.  It’s like Arcade Fire meets the Zombies. 

Frightened Rabbit: the Midnight Organ Fight.  Great Scot Pop.  If you like Orange Juice, teenage Fanclub, the Twilight Sad.  

Tapes ‘n Tapes: Walk it Off.  Fuck everyone who dissed this sophmore effort. Fuck you all. I like it and I still play it.  And it’s better than most of Pitchfork’s top ten including Fleet Foxes, No Age and Deerhunter (some great songs but a little filler there, ey?)

Guns n Roses: Chinese Democracy.  Because I like bands with “n” in the middle and because Axl Rose on a bad day (day? Bad 15 years, I guess) can still kick a lot of bands asses that critics swoon over.  

A.A. Bondy: American Hearts. Kind of in the same spirit of Deertick.  Mellow. Acoustic. But tough. The singer was the main dude from Verbena.  Really good.

Birdmonster: From the Mountain to the Sea. Another great record that Pitchfork really shit on. Well I think this record is superb. For fans of Wilco, Dylan, great roots rock.  I love this record.

Overpraised records: Vampire Weekend.  I admit to tapping my foot a bit but not a great band.  Also, they are like the second coming of Haircut One Hundred down to the preppy sweaters.  And where are Haircut One Hundred now?? Exactly.  And Haircut were better and even had more balls (gumball sized, as opposed to none).  

Fleet Foxes: something fey and pretty here but I don’t get the critics going nuts over them. A few good songs but not terribly exciting to me.

No Age: I like some of this but anyone who plays this over and over and over again has to be suspected of brain damage.  I wish they had more “songs” here but there is talent. 

TV On the Radio: don’t get them. And what is this horseshit that they “speak for the times”.  Yeah, for the times bumming around in a cafe in Williamsburg. 

I wanted to like the new Hold Steady because I like them but this new one is weak to me, despite a few good songs. 

The Walkmen.  The guy is like Englebert Humperdink fronting a wedding band on only its “rock out” numbers.

 

Springsteen
Springsteen

 

 

Perpetuating the puppy mill…

Okay, here is our application for one of four male lab pups available through Labs4Rescue.com.  I omitted only personal info such as address and phone numbers.

 

Time at current address:    15 years
Own or Rent Residence:    Own

Specific Age Desired:    Puppy

Please specify why are you interested in this particular dog?    There just something about the kindness in the eyes of these specific pups which catches out attention
Would you consider a Special Needs dog?    No
Will you accept a Lab-mix?    Yes
Preferred Activity Level:    Any
Preferred Sex:    Male

Ages of all adults (including yourself) and children who live at your house:    Two adults, 49 and 42, no kids
Do they share your interest in adopting a dog?    Yes
Who is the dog primarily for?    Adult
Who will care for, train and exercise the dog?    Both adults
Does anyone in your household have allergies?    No
If Yes, to what allergens?   
May we visit your home prior to application approval?    Yes

Pet Number 1, Name:    Phoebe
Pet Number 1, Species:    Dog
Pet Number 1, Sex:    Female
Pet Number 1, Spayed or Neutered:    Yes
Pet Number 1, What happened to the pet?:    6 year old lab/hound mix

Pet Number 2, Name:    Kilgore Trout
Pet Number 2, Species:    Dog
Pet Number 2, Sex:    Male
Pet Number 2, Spayed or Neutered:    Yes
Pet Number 2, What happened to the pet?:    Yellow Lab.  Died 4 weeks ago at age of 13 years of tumor on liver.  Full description is on my blog: http://www.GuyWithTypewriter.com

Pet Number 3, Name:    Casey
Pet Number 3, Species:    Dog
Pet Number 3, Sex:    Female
Pet Number 3, Spayed or Neutered:    Yes
Pet Number 3, What happened to the pet?:    Black lab.  Died in her sleep 2 years ago at age of 12.  We believe is was most likely also of tumor on liver.

Name of Current or Primary Veterinarian: Here I listed out vet’s name, address and phone, and stated it was the only vet we’ve ever had.  (I likewise called my vet and gave them the okay to release records if requested.)


Will the dog be allowed in the house?    Yes
How long each day will the dog be left alone (without humans)?    Less than 2 hours per day
Where will the dog stay when it is left alone?    In the kitchen/living room/dining room area
Are you familiar with the use of a dog crate to train the pet during your absence or at night?    Yes
Is your yard fenced?    Yes
If so, please describe the type of fence, its height and the dimensions of the fenced area?    Cedar fence about 4 feet high.  Yard is about 1/10th of an acre.
If you do not have a fence, will you install one?   
What is the approximate size of the dog’s yard area?    1/10th of an acre
Will the dog be walked daily?    No
Will the dog be exercised in a fenced yard?    Yes
Will the dog be allowed to run free without supervision?    No
Will you take the dog to an obedience training class?    No
Have you ever owned a dog?    Yes
Have you ever owned a Labrador Retriever?    Yes
If you have a dog, does he or she receive monthly Heartworm preventative?    Yes
Are you aware that Labs are active?    Yes
Are you aware that the routine costs of maintaining a dog average over $500 per year?    Yes
Have you ever sold, given away, or surrendered a pet to a shelter?    No

Please tell us why you want a dog:    We always liked having 3 dogs.  (We don’t have kids, nor will we ever have kids)  When Casey died, we felt bringing a puppy into the mix was unfair to Kilgore at his age.  So we waited so he would get the most attention in his senior years.  Phoebe is only 6, and thus we want to expand our dog family once again.

Please tell us a little of your lifestyle, your family including any special activities in which your dog would be included:    Gorman is a writer/film editor who works at home (We have a full film editing suite in our attic).  Kris manages a coffee shop.  We are home a lot.

If and when you move, what will you do with your dog?    Dogs will come with up, WITHOUT QUESTION.  We are of the opinion that a dog is like a child.  It should be against the law to just give away your dog, just as it is to give away your kid.

Do you understand the state and local ordinances concerning licensing and leashing?    Yes
Have you, or any member of your family/household, been cited for leash law violations or cruelty to animals in the past?    No

Please tell us how you became aware of Labs4Rescue and its programs:
Other:    Gorman has edited videos for HSUS.  A friend at HSUS recommended Petfinder, which led us to you.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about your application?    If you want to see Kilgore and Casey, they were the star of their own little video which can be found on the first page of my site: http://www.GormanBechard.com.  It’s a cute 45 seconds which will make you smile.

 

 

OK…that plus a $15 application fee got me this response:

 

Will you take the dog to an obedience training class?   No

Thank you for your interest in Marley’s puppies…I have received many
applications under consideration.  As I stated in my bios, one of my
personal criteria to adopt is a family committed to the future
education of their Lab.  Per your application, you have stated that
this is not in your plan.  You many want to consider another great
Lab.

Thank you
Edee
Labs4Rescue

 

Hmmm…kind of rude and abrupt, if you ask me.  And all because I told the truth and didn’t check off a box which would have been so easy to check.

So I pull up the puppy’s pages, and this was the description:

 

VERY ACTIVE, VERY SWEET, AND READY DECEMBER 4! Marley’s Malcolm was born September 18 to Marley, a Yellow Labrador Retriever that was found abandoned just two hours before giving birth to a total of 10 chocolate puppies. Marley is a very sweet and mellow Lab, weighing about 55 pounds. Her rescuers have since adopted Marley and Labs4Rescue has been entrusted with 8 of her babies which will be ready to leave their foster home at approximately 11 weeks of age on December 4. We do not know what breed of dog sired these puppies, but we presume another Lab since they all have Lab features and they are all Chocolate with little if any white on them.

Malcolm, at 8 weeks of age, weighed 11.25 pounds. His fur is dark chocolate and he is all chocolate with only a white blaze on his chest and white tips on three of his toes with the exception being the right front toe. Malcolm is anticipated to be a large, high energy Labrador when he is grown. The puppies are working on their crate training in their foster home and they are very socialized with people and other animals. They love to play with each other, other dogs, toys, and they don’t shy away from water! To adopt one of these puppies, you will need to have plenty of quality time at home, be committed to obedience training, and to a lifetime of challenges and rewards associated with living with a Labrador.

Only one puppy can be adopted by each qualified applicant. Please read our website and adoption process carefully before applying.

For additional information about Marley’s Malcolm please email…

 

OK…nothing there about TRAINING CLASS…so I wrote back:

 

Edee,

 

I’ve stated this because we personal train our dogs, right by the book…quite literally, we follow Brian Kilcommons’ GOOD OWNERS, GREAT DOGS to the letter.

 

I’m home enough to be able to devote the time to training a new puppy. 

 

And all three of our dogs have been very well behaved because of this. 

 

However, if obedience class is criteria for getting one of these pups, and the above isn’t training enough, then we will agree to take the puppy to obedience class.

 

Please let me know…

 

Thank you,

 

Gorman Bechard

 

P.S. If you haven’t, please read my blog www.GuyWithTypewriter.com which in detail describes the death of our last pup and the pain.  You will not find a more caring family.

 

 

To which she replied:

 

ok, will call to discuss further…thank you for expanation.

 

And call she did, the next day…

Imagine my surprised to discover the pups that one would think are in Killingworth, CT…at least that’s the only town mentioned in their listing, are actually down in Memphis, TN. 

(Edee insists the listing specified that the pup was in Memphis.  It absolutely did not.)

After hearing this I explained that I would like to meet the pup before making a decision.  I mean, am I delusional, or is this the responsible thing to do? 

Edee tells me this is not possible, that a lot of people rescue dogs before meeting them.

(My mind is reeling…irresponsible people perhaps.  But I am also questioning what sort of dog rescue group would adopt a dog out to someone they’ve never met?)    

So I offer to drive down to Memphis to meet the puppy before making a decision. 

Again, this is squashed.

(Now I’m wondering what they might be trying to hide?)

The conversation ends, I find her tone condescending at the very least, so I write her this email:

 

Edee,

 

There is nothing on the pup’s listing that mentions Memphis.  The ONLY town mentioned is Killingworth, CT.

 

http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=12404292

 

Which I honestly feel is quite misleading.

 

I am also concerned that I offer to come down there to meet the dog, which I think is above and beyond in terms of responsibility, and that notion is squashed by you.

 

I also take issue that you are willing to give these pups up to people whom you’ve never met, but who just happened to answer the questionnaire in the “correct” manner, and happen to have the $350 fee. 

 

Seriously, a lot of raised red flags.

 

Gorman Bechard

 

 

Edee never wrote back.

But, I cc-ed a bunch of the other people working for Labs4Rescue, and that night received an email about two other male labs, and did I want to see pictures? 

Yes, I did. 

I got the photos and a phone number AND the info that the pups are down in Louisiana.

I called, and spoke to a very nice woman who basically said I could drive down and pick up one of the puppies if I really wanted to meet it first.

I told her I would think about it…though having to go to Louisiana for a puppy seems ridiculous.  Aren’t there a lot of unwanted pups in New England, or in New York, or Jersey?  Hell…I’ll gladly take a three/four hour ride. 

Now, as my application stated, I just recently did a little work on a puppy mill expose, and I know that 99.999999% of dogs in pet stores come from puppy mills.  Seriously, Google any breeder and or distributor you see listed in ANY pet store, and that’s what you’ll find…they’re a puppy mill.

And I really wanted to do the right thing by saving an unwanted pup.

But after just three days of dealing with a rescue group, I’m ready to plop down $1500 bucks at my nearest pet store.  Mind you, I WON’T.  But if I’m feeling that way, I can only imagine the frustration of the average Jane and Joe who just want a dog.

The rescue groups should be helping to put good dogs in the hands of responsible owners, instead I’m seeing that they actually feed the need for pet stores and puppy mills by making the adoption process so over the top ridiculous, or my being misleading with their info, or both.

Rescue groups should be working towards eliminating the need for puppy mills. 

Oh yeah, the woman in Louisiana said that unless it is noted that a dog is being fostered in a certain town, that I should have known that meant it was being housed down south. 

Well considering it says that NO WHERE on their site, how am I supposed to know this?  Through osmosis?  Am I a mind reader? 

I used the largest pet finding website to search for a LOCAL dog…but these dogs aren’t local.  Which is fine…BUT TELL US.  I would never have put in an application for a dog I could not see before bringing home. 

I also feel it’s a nice way to get the $15 application fee.  Bet those add up quickly.

So, yes, I’m frustrated and annoyed.  And yes, I know there are probably people at Labs4Rescue without the rude attitudes.  And who really care about the pooches.  But as a dog lover, I do have a problem with bringing into my home a dog I’ve never met.  C’mon, personality is so much.  And we have another dog…I want Phoebe to feel comfortable and happy with her new little brother.

And likewise, I think it’s very irresponsible to adopt a dog to someone sight unseen, someone who has the $350 fee, and who just happened to check the right boxes.

Something just doesn’t seem right.

Perhaps I’ve spend too much time watching puppy mill footage.

Perhaps ignorance is bliss.

Or perhaps I’m just not fit to own a dog.