Best Albums of 2012

•January 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I have been quiet on the blog front, but in 2013 you should all expect that to change for several reasons…

First, I deactivated my Book Face account. Why? Many reasons, but the short answer is that it did nothing to improve my quality of life.

Second, I plan on reposting pieces from another site I write for over the next few weeks because that site is going dead.

Third, I found a ton of old high school and college papers on a disc the other day and I plan to share them… for better or worse.

2013 is the year of the blog.

With that all said, I figured I’d kick this year off by counting down thepaintedman’s top 9 albums of 2012 (because everyone does top ten lists, so thepaintedman just HAD to be different):

9. The NoidVillains!

This album and the next are both 2011 releases that were released late in the year and picked up by thepaintedman in 2012. The Noid is a local Philly area band who puts on a great show and honors the classic punk rock sound. Villains! displays a great punk rock sound for fans of bands like The Damned, The Misfits, and TSOL. Punk with pop sensibilities, always close to my heart.

8. The KominasThe Kominas

The Kominas also released their “best of 2012” album in 2011, but who’s counting? This group of Pakistani-American punks infuse the music of their native culture with the punk rock sound and aesthetic. The result is, simply, great music.

7. Say Anything – Anarchy, My Dear

While not one of their top few releases, nearly anything released by SA is pleasing to my ears. There are a few shining stars on this album, too. “Burn a Miracle”, “Say Anything”, and “Anarchy, My Dear” are stellar tracks.

6. CookBookThe Smell of Success

Cook’s first true album in a few years. After a series of solid mixtapes, released for free or extremely cheap, Cook went all out on production and released this gem. He even landed a track on a Superbowl commercial in 2012.

5. TallhartBloodlines

Saw these guys open for Say Anything, they rocked. Got their new album, it rocked. With a release like this and the support of some largers acts and a good label, I suspect these kids have a great future.

4. fun. – Some Nights

America’s favorite Queen meets pop punk meets hip hop meets 90s alt-rock band… fun. is fun.

3. Fathom BlueBrave Anything

Mike Signorelli and his crew channel roots rock, Further Seems Forever, pop sensibilities, and a smidge of hardcore edge to create their debut full length. They’ve been taking Chicago-land by storm, just keep an eye out as they begin to conquer the USA and, eventually, the world.

2. Blayer Pointdujour & the Rockers GaloreThe Bull

Frontman Blayer Pointdujour has been doing music for years, but it’s more than fair to call this his most ambitious project yet. Haitian music collides with a rock n’ roll soul and hip hop influences all the while honoring a punk rock ethic on The Bull. If you like alt-rock that is willing to break the rules and grow the borders, this is it.

1. Santigold – Masters of My Make Believe

Speaking of diverse, NYC by way of Philly gal Santigold is about as diverse as they come. A few years back, he debut single, “Les Artistes”, made it’s first impact on alternative radio and satellite radio stations. But, it’s just as appropriate that you may hear Santi on your local hip hop station. This album has been stuck on repeat in my household since it’s been out and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

So… there it is, my top 9. Thoughts? Glaring omissions? Let me know below!

Always Look on the Bright Side…

•December 19, 2012 • 7 Comments

Yesterday I spent much of the day thinking on how much I was sick of 2012 and all the crappy things that happened:

– Changes at work stressed me out a great deal.

– I was frustrated with people enough to stop running my music website.

– I lost weight, BUT gained almost half of it back.

– Frustrating customers of my wife’s website enfuriated me.

– The Eagles were/are simply awful.

– Gun violence in this country was all over the media which caused me sadness and anger, sometimes at friends and family with dissenting points of view.

– The political season was brutal.

…and I kept dwelling on these things, as well as others, merely taking breaks from the stress rarely than letting it go.

But, I think this morning represents hope. After a pretty good night’s sleep, I woke up to my oldest son coming in the bedroom and asking if he can snuggle with Momma and I. After he climbed in and gave us each kisses, I closed my eyes and prayed to God that I can let these things go and trust that, just as He always has, He will get me through. As I did this, my son reached over and grabbed my hand asking, “Daddy, can I hold you hand?”

Sometimes it takes a sign to remember that God listens. Sometimes it takes all I have to stop worrying and let go. Sometimes we have to be reminded to look on the bright side of life.

Footprints

For Some Old Friends…

•December 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Found some old pics of some old friends and made this for fun (more fun that watching the Eagles lose their 8th straight, that’s for sure). After you enjoy this great graphic, go download one of their old tracks on the Free Download Section page.

Also… these days, a few of the boys are in this band called Holler Wild Rose.

Robby, Mikey, and Jimmy

•November 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

What do Rob Bell, Michael Signorelli, and Jimmy Aceino have in common? I’m not totally sure, aside from that they are all in my brief blog for today. I realized that I haven’t blogged in ages. Today I buck that trend… and I will begin to prep some reviews and stuff for the near future. For now, here are a few things to share with you folks!

Going out of order, I’m starting with Jimmy. Jimmy Aceino is a dude I’ve known since high school. Over the years he’s played in a bunch of bands from Anberlin to Evelyn Hope, in fact I think he was in a band with Ringo Starr at one point. Most of you Jimmy Aceino fans don’t know this, though. Jimmy started his illustrious musical career in a band called Giving Way, featuring members of NJ’s Holler Wild Rose, and you can download one of their recently uncovered tracks in this blog’s Download Section.

NOTE: I have a small stack of Giving Way photos that I found recently but misplaced. I WILL find them and I WILL scan them… stay tuned.

Secondly, I move to Rob Bell. Not a ton to say about this guy… yet. I just started reading Love Wins. I’m feeling pretty excited after reading the preface. I suspect it’s going to be a book I dig a ton.

And last, but not least, Mr. Michael “Fathom Bears in Sorrow” Signorelli…

Mike is the front man for Fathom Blue. The reason I wanted to give him a quick shout in today’s blog is simple: Mike is awesome.

“Why is Mike awesome?” you ask. Mike is currently in NJ doing Sandy relief work. He’ll be there tomorrow, too. Then he heads to some cool relief efforts in NYC for Thursday and Friday, before driving all the way back to Chicago for a concert on Saturday night.

What else? I finally got to hang with Mike, after years of courting each other on the Interwebs.

“I want proof!” you demand. Somehow we never took a pic together… but I did get a pic of him hanging with my little men! Check it!

Michael Signorelli

The Great Divide

•October 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

“Obama ruined the economy, gas prices doubled over the past 4 years!”

“It’s Dubya’s fault, he left Obama with the worst economy in history!”

“Well… YOUR MOM IS UGLY!”

Sound eerily familiar? This is the climate of the new America. With each passing year, the right and left divide becomes bigger. Any chance of “reaching across the aisle” seems to have disappeared. Any disagreement about politics, social issues, or faith seems to land in another right vs. left battle.

When I made a brief statement on my Facebook about the fruitcake ad from a local Chick-Fil-A and how distasteful it was, two friends began brawling almost immediately. It became the Dan Cathy debate all over, even though my comments had nothing to do with Chick-Fil-A corporate. Soon, though, I was sucked in. Then I realized how ridiculous it was, deleted the debate, and unfriended one of the guys in the argument because of the hateful things he was saying.

After deleting him as a friend, I got this message:

Whats wrong Justin? Get underneath your skin? You realize you are just as hateful as Dan Cathy and you run away from it and delete the big bad ****** as one of your “friends”. I guess you are the only one allowed to say hateful things on your posts right? Grow up, and while youre at it, grow a pair of balls. People like you and Dan Cathy and every other hate baiter are whats wrong with this county. One day, when people like you stop acting so god damn self righteous we might actually be able to achieve equality and compassion in this world. But, until assholes like you stop running your ignorant mouths, we are hopeless.

Needless to say, I don’t count this person’s opinions of me as worth much and I don’t consider the “unfriending” any type of loss… today, about a week later, I have begun to notice time and time again how people have been broadcasting their “your candidate sucks and my candidate rocks” opinions, without so much as an actual talking point. And, really… THIS IS THE PROBLEM.

I am an Obama supporter. That doesn’t mean I have blanket agreement of his policies, but I’ll be voting for him nonetheless. This really isn’t the issue for me, though… the issue is that it doesn’t matter who is in office when Democrats refuse to support Republican policies and vice versa. There are very few John McCains and Arlen Specter has passed away. Republicans aren’t going to support Obama’s policies if he’s back in office and Democrats aren’t going to support Romney’s if he wins. And, what’s worse is that the best interest of Americans won’t be served with these stalemates.

So, my prayer for this upcoming election is that somehow the results lessen this divide and those who win their offices begin to remember why they got into this in the first place. If the left and right won’t start working together, they need not look far at who’s to blame for the economy and every other ill of this nation… a mirror will suffice.

September 13th, 2012

•September 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Eleven years and 2 days ago, I woke up in my dorm room to get ready for class. I felt sick, something didn’t feel right and my stomach felt all types of pukey… I left a VM for my prof, went back to bed and woke up in a daze a bit later, with my roomie telling me a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I wasn’t fully awake, but after hearing that I couldn’t seem to drift back to sleep. By the time I finished showering and got out to the lounge to see what was going on, I was there just in time to watch live footage of a second plane crashing into the the towers. In utter shock and disbelief, the group of students in the lounge, myself included, was silent.

In the coming months, a lot of people didn’t like me and what I had to say. As America mobilized, I felt the flag flying to be hollow, the response to be inadequate… I couldn’t rah rah against the aggressors or join in the fist shaking. Instead I felt a deep sense of sadness, both for the innocent lives lost and for America’s complete lack of understanding. Of course the initial response was anger at Osama and al Qaeda, but why could no one admit that our policies and our actions as a nation brought on these attacks in some way.

This is not to say that I sympathize or sympathized with the terrorists. Those men, even if they believed what they were doing was right, were dead wrong. They acted with pure evil in their hearts and minds. They were devils in the flesh. But, to ignore the root cause is, to say the least, unfortunate… and unfortunately, the American way.

Over these past 11 years, my heart still aches for the families who lost innocent fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, children… and my heart still aches for a nation that has never begun to address the roots, still addressing only the symptoms. As time passed, it became a bit more acceptable to discuss the role of American policy and practice in leading to the events on that fateful September morn, but it seems that discussing our policies is as far as it goes.

For the past few days, I’ve been praying that one day we can live in a nation where we have leaders who not only see and discuss the root causes of our problems but address them. I support our current administration, but in this regard, they have not done nearly enough… and I pray that somehow and someday that will change.

Join me in prayer for the hurting, the lost, the innocent, the confused, the leaders, the people, the problems of our great nation.

The Bible Isn't Perfect

•September 5, 2012 • 2 Comments

Football starts this week and with the season coming up, my mother-in-law picked me up a book about faith in the NFL called Men of Sunday. While I am only a chapter in, I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. I don’t have much to share about it yet, other than the fact that OJ Atogwe seems like a a cool dude and I’m bummed the Birds had to cut him. But I digress…

Starting to read this book reminded me that I had another book that I’ve been intending on blogging about for some time, Timothy Beal’s The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book. Some people may not like what it has to say, but I found it enlightening, well-researched, and perhaps, life changing. Reading, understanding, and challenging ourselves by what Beal has to say in this book can lead to a maturing spirituality, one where faith is defined by possibilities rather than the walls of the Pharisees.

Strict black and white interpretations of scripture can be lacking, even dangerous. In the book, one such example of the dangers of taking a single scripture literally and forming one’s whole theology around it is the story of Aaron’s son Phineas. Phineas executes an Israeliste man and a Midianite woman. He is praised by God through Moses for eradicating the Midianite influence. Taken literally and out of context, a group called the Phineas Priesthood in America has used this story to justify taking violent means to discourage interracial relationships.

This is but one example of how people taking scripture too literally can be very dangerous, but there are many. An example in the spotlight right now is the defense of “traditional Biblical marriage” and how it is taking away the legal rights of many Americans… arguments that the “Bible is clear” about homosexuality fail to acknowledge contradictions, contexts, and other nuances. In fact, direct translations refer only to “laying with a man” and don’t address lesbianism at all. Of course, the verses used to point out how the “Bible is clear” are taken as the word of God, but the verses surrounding them which include other laws of cleanliness are not. The Bible simply is NOT clear on this, despite what the televangelists want to tell you. (Side note: Those who read my blog will note that my piece on the Chick-Fil-A debacle never appeared. I decided to forgo this piece right now, as my emotions on this are still high and the impending elections are causing more tensions than I care to deal with at the moment.)

These dangers are only a small part of the picture. What’s most important for Believers, like myself, is to understand the history of the Bible and understand that the treasured notion of Biblical inerrancy is a modern concept that has numerous flaws. Before I can explain what Beal is getting at with this, I should first define what Biblical inerrancy means. In short, it’s the belief that all scripture is right, correct, and totally free of error. In other words, it means that the Bible is perfect.

But the history of the Bible pokes many holes in this theory. How did the Bible come to be? I think many of us seem to think that there is an old book that scholars translate to our modern language, but that’s not even close to the truth. There is no such thing as an original copy and the old scrolls we have were already copied from copies of copies of copies. In fact, there are so many different sources, no one could ever pin them down.

The Bible does contradict itself. The Bible does have questionable content. The Bible was written by man. Does this devalue the Bible? No, not at all. But it should be taken into consideration when we read. Christianity thrived long before there was a Bible. Jesus’s love conquered sin and death without their being some book to tell us so. The Biblical writings are there to enhance, guide, and aid our faith, but they are not the literal word of God. In fact, Beal does a great job in explaining that this concept is only about 100 years old. Before it was never really considered that the Bible was the literal word of God.

Some will probably read my blog, discount Beal as a heretic or a liberal, and scoff. I urge you not to. I urge you to give this book a chance. If nothing else, it can help you understand why you believe what you do, as neither Beal nor I would urge you to take what he says are the Gospel truth without thinking about it and challenging it.

The late philosopher Jacques Derrida has a wonderful phrase; “impoverishment by univocality.” Meaning that when we try to make a text univocal, “one voiced,” of one voice with itself, we deprive it of its richness.

Please comment, challenge, and think. I welcome it all and so does Beal.

Davephoric Recall

•August 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

To understand the Dave Matthews Band phenomenon, we must first begin with the concept of euphoric recall. Per WikiAnswers, euphoric recall is “when an addict remembers all the positive experiences associated with their addiction rather than the negative experiences.”

I am not inferring that listening to DMB is an addiction, but rather introducing a concept that I believe is helpful in understanding why people who’s musical judgement is otherwise pretty solid find a way to still listen to and enjoy the petulant sounds of Dave and his wayward troupe of talented (albeit misguided) musicos.

The DMB fan population consists of three main groups: the Deadhead/Phishface/dirty hippie clique, the 20 and 30 somethings who were musical conformists in their middle school and high school years, and people who listen to a variety of decent music but inexplicably enjoy “Dave” a lot. The discussion today is mostly focused on the third group, but can likely b applied to the other groups in some manner, as well.

At a meeting a month or so ago, I encountered a “Dave Matthews Band Caravan Tour” mug in front of a coworker that I respect(ed) and know doesn’t have wholly awful tastes in music and pop culture. I also presume this coworker not to be a pothead, due in most part to her job role and the fact that we work in a field where we can be drug tested at any time. That said, I began honing a theory that she and 3 or 4 others that same day validated… I’ll call this theory Davephoric Recall.

Every one of the people (other than one, whom I know to be a liar) admitted that during the time of their life that they got into “Dave” they did dabble in a relationship with Miss Maryjane. This toking obviously lends itself to the communal nature of a “Dave” show and the predisposition towards jam music, as well as the ability to tolerate otherwise annoying sounds and events. As these people grew up, their occasional smoking habits waned, eventually disappearing entirely. However, the connection of “Dave” with the euphoric feeling of getting high stayed.

Now, as these folks no longer use illicit substances to get high, they instead listen to DMB to get that contact high that they’ve missed. Unlike the true addict, this behavior is not one that leads to relapse, but instead the act of listening itself is the relapse, as their ability to know the difference between actually decent music and “Crash into Me” disappears. Their sensibilities are so dulled that they themselves become of of the “ants” who are “marching” as they begin to feel the euphoria and drift off to the concert in their head.

I try not to hold the love of DMB against people because to some extent I now recognize that “Dave” has a hold on them, much like heroin does on a junkie. But, then again, I still urge everyone reading this to “Just Say No!”

Chickens with Guns!

•August 2, 2012 • 5 Comments

On a day where contraception is mandatory to be covered by all insurance without a co-pay and droves of Christians are causing traffic jams near the local Chick-Fil-A stores, I asked Facebook if I should stick to my plan of writing about the tragedy in Aurora and gun rights or if I should blog about today’s outpouring of Christian mass-hysteria… my wording was actually something along the lines of “guns or chickens”. Pastor Dan, a Facebook friend, suggested “Chickens WITH Guns!”

This blog… is… NOT… about chickens with guns, however…

My thoughts on this Chick-Fil-A/Conservative Christian America/LBGT Rights topic are not going to go unblogged, but the topic is a tad too fresh for me to write about just yet. I will undoubtedly be more brash and offensive than I wish to be (yes, even for me), so I’m sticking to my discussion of the Aurora incident. Today, I’ll leave the Chick-Fil-A debacle with only one thought: I am not, myself, gay, but I am very tempted to head over to the local store with some cute dude and make out until they kick us out.

On to the topic at hand, the the awful tragedy at Aurora and the aftermath… let’s start by clearing a few things up for the misguided media…

First and foremost, the Joker never had red hair in any on screen depiction that I can remember. Nerd can correct me, if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the signature green hair was there in every comic depiction, as well. Keep this in mind when trying to blame the movie by stating, “he even died his hair red to be like the Joker.”

Secondly, anyone who wants to blame mental illness if way off base… it’s all about a sick, depraved young man who had evil in his heart. Nothing more, nothing less. I work with mentally ill criminals every day. This man is likely mentally ill, but that’s not why he did this.

Society, however, does certainly play some role. How can it not? And one obvious linkage is the issue of gun rights and gun control. Apparently, the politicians don’t seem to agree (see below video).

This all said… whether or not people want to buy into it, now IS the time to discuss the issue of gun ownership. And, rather than preach at my readership (all 3 of you), I just want to start some dialog with a few questions…

1. What purpose do automatic weapons serve other than to shoot at people? Should they remain legal? Why or why not?

2. If gun laws don’t have any link to gun deaths in America, why do states with more restrictive gun laws have less successful suicides?

3. What do you think about the prominence of PTSD in those who have been involved in gun violence? Should there be a trauma screening in order to obtain gun ownership?

4. If restrictive access to guns is not beneficial, what would you do in order to aid in legislating a cultural change in the country with the largest gun violence numbers in the world?

5. Finally, if the evil of man is to blame (which it is), are we simply doomed to suffer this fate every few years… another large scale national tragedy every now and again that we cannot prevent?

Food for thought. Share your thoughts if you would… and share your questions, too!

Restorative Justice and PSU

•July 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Let’s start with a definition…

Restorative justice (also sometimes called reparative justice) is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community, instead of satisfying abstract legal principles or punishing the offender. Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, “to repair the harm they’ve done—by apologizing, returning stolen money, or community service”. Restorative justice involves both victim and offender and focuses on their personal needs. In addition, it provides help for the offender in order to avoid future offences. It is based on a theory of justice that considers crime and wrongdoing to be an offence against an individual or community, rather than the state. Restorative justice that fosters dialogue between victim and offender shows the highest rates of victim satisfaction and offender accountability. (from Wikipedia entry on Restorative justice)

The victim in this case: several, if not dozens, of young men that Jerry Sandusky abused and assaulted.

The offender in this case: the administration and powers that be at Penn State University.

Ok, so I know this is going to be controversial among many of my friends, coworkers, and even family members, but it needs to be said. Not only do I believe that the punishment levied on PSU was just, but I found the entirety of the focus of Dr. Emmert and Dr. Ray during their presentation was dead on. The measures were indeed somewhat punitive in nature, but the spirit of the entire sanction and the accompanying words from the NCAA was something entirely different. Hope, restoration, and a focus on change…

I am not going to debate whether or not the NCAA has jurisdiction to do this (because it’s obvious that they did, even PSU officials seemed to understand that). I am not going to hash out the sanctions one-by-one… we all know what happened. What I am going to do is try to help remove the navy tinted glasses that many of those I know and care about are wearing while looking this matter.

The biggest gripe I hear is… “Why punish the students?” My answer is simple… the NCAA didn’t really do that. They were specific to minimize that as much as possible. There were safeguards in place for scholarship athletes on the football team (ability to transfer without having to site out one year, ability to leave the team and remain on full scholarship if they choose, etc). The NCAA exclaimed on multiple points in their address and their answering of questions that PSU could not limit the funds that were typically used to fund other sports and student functions (ie. the monetary fine must be paid with funds that will not cripple other portions of the institution). And… that brings me to the vacated wins…

Vacating the wins from 1998-2011 does not hurt the alumni who played in those games. The players are not going to lose the memories, the trophies, or the ability to play in the NFL, CFL, or AFL. What’s done is done for them. This decision is exactly the same as taking away Pete Rose’s hitting title/HOF bid… only that JoePa’s discretions were much more egregious.

I know I am bound to get some hate from many reading this… and that is fine, but those who listened to Dr. Emmert and Dr. Ray need to relisten and hear what they had to say. These decisions, agreed to by PSU administrators, are a road to changing the culture of Penn State University, in hopes that others follow suit. PSU has always been a leader among the nation’s universities, so now it’s their turn to step up and continue that legacy. Change the culture, place human dignity ahead of sports, and encourage others to do the same. Pay the $60 million dollar fine, all the while smiling… and when it’s all paid, keep donating to the fund. Place abuse awareness ribbons on the uniforms, give them out at games, run promotions to donate directly to the families of the victims…

Penn State has the opportunity to show the world what “We Are Penn State” really means. I trust that the students, alumni, and new administration will show the world that PSU is a resilient beacon of what education is supposed to be and that this breakdown was a momentary lapse in leadership and judgement.

EDIT: After writing, I found this… and here’s a great example of how Penn State can resonate justice and be that beacon…