Monday, June 07, 2010

Fan of the Month!

Summertime, dear readers!

Soak it up, breathe it in, and let it all hang out. Sport your jorts. Wash a car. Maybe wash your own car. Run through a sprinkler. Faceplant a watermelon. Dust off the slip n' slide. Dry clean the speedo.

Do any and all of it, because June's a blank canvas. It's a giant, thirty-day block of warm-weather nothing. Nothing is highly underrated, especially when you've got the summerlove and mojo to turn nothing into something. So, June's Fan of the Month needed to be a man of action, a man of Pavement-enthusiasm and M. Ward-sensitivities. A go-getter, a tale-teller, a raconteur, a globetrotter. A man who invents new holidays when the calendar shows none. A man who knows what Icelandic food tastes like. A man who--wait for it--finds real pleasure in baseball.

Behold: June's Fan of the Month, John in Buffalo!

(Quick Note: If you'd like to be a future Fan of the Month, just write me at with "FOM" in the subject. I promise every email is read and appreciated.)

John, but I prefer to be called Funky Winkerbean.


Where y'at?
Buffalo, NY.

Something the average interweb browser wouldn't know about me is…?
I am ungoogle-able. There's quite a few John Bakers out there. Most notably:
--John Baker, the catcher for the Florida Marlins
--John Baker, the dog musher in Kotzebue, Alaska
--John Baker, British noir novelist (his books are about "time and tango and revolution, abduction, and denial")

(Editor's Note: I wonder what a Google search of "Funky Winkerbean" yields.)

The music scene in Buffalo is…?
Vibrant, especially if you're in a cover band.

I've gotta ask: best place for wings in Buffalo? Duff's is the word on the street (my street, which is in Manhattan, so what do I know, really?).
Duff's is delicious and absolutely depressing. It's like ground zero of the American obesity epidemic. The dirty secret of Buffalo is just about every place has good wings. Personally, I like Gabriel's Gate or the Wellington Pub.

As for you, try Beth's in Park Slope, a Buffalo expat institution. Great wings and they show every Bills game (which is really more depressing than impressive).

Whatcha do for a living?
Study cities.

When was the last time you ate at Burger King?
Maybe two years ago? I'm a sucker for a pre-flight croissanwich.

You have one meal left in life. Name that meal!
Scallops, lobster bisque, and cheap Icelandic beer from this fish stand on the docks in Reykjavik. Best seafood I've ever had.

What music publications/blogs/sites do you read? Any of them good? is good for noise/electronic type stuff. Otherwise, I usually just read the Chris Milam Blog in hopes you'll tell me to listen to Big Star again.

Pick your dream concert. Any three (living) artists, anywhere, any venue, any month, any time of day. What is it? What's it called?
1) Bob Dylan
2) Neil Young with Crazy Horse
3) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

It's at the park on the Williamsburg waterfront. It's called "No Beards-fest" to keep the hipsters out.

(Editor's Note: Are we talking Williamsburg, Brooklyn? Because you might just have to evacuate the entire borough to keep the hipsters out. Even then, for Neil Young they'd scratch and claw through security like zombie hordes. I'm not sure there's any stopping the hipsters in that Williamsburg.)

You can pick one album as your morning alarm for a year. The songs and their "wake-up" segments will shuffle randomly, but you are stuck with this album for a full year. What is it?
Pavement, Wowee Zowee. Not the most inspirational morning album, but it's my favorite.

If you could fight any public figure, who would it be and why?
Oh, man. Tony Hayward? Chipper Jones (though that would probably end badly)? Sasha Vujacic? Although, I think I'd have to go with all of Vampire Weekend. Those guys are such douchebags. After seeing them on Colbert last night, I've decided I can't look at them anymore for fear of ruining their music (which I honestly like).

(Editor's Note: Perhaps the most even-keeled response we've had for this question. In fairness, everyone wants to fight Sasha Vujacic. I should just amend the question to exclude him.)

Fill in the blanks!

Five favorite artists from the 60's are…?
Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Band, Gram Parsons, The Kinks.

(Editor's Note: The Kinks are making a comeback. I can feel it. "The Kids These Days" love them.)

Five favorite artists from the 90's are…?
Pavement, Guided By Voices, Chavez, The Jesus Lizard,The Silver Jews, Superchunk (no, I can't count).

Five favorite artists from the 2000's are…?
LCD Soundsystem, The National, Les Savvy Fav, M Ward, The Dirtbombs.

Some more singer/songwriters I love are… ?
Alex Chilton, Elliott Smith, Bill Callahan, Gene Clark, Fred Neil. my favorite Beatle.
George. my favorite adjective in the English language.

Know any adjectives from other languages?
Bueno. my favorite month of the year.

Okay, you're about the ninth FOM in a row to pick September or October as their favorite month. My question is this--would you want to spend August-New Years slowly moving far north to south, essentially living in October for six months? Would this work? my least-favorite month of the year.

Favorite rock album of the Oughts?
Les Savvy, Fav-Inches. Okay, it's a singles collection, so maybe The National, Boxer.

Favorite non-rock album of the Oughts?
M. Ward, Transistor Radio.

Favorite movie (you can pick separate ones for comedy and drama)?
The Party (comedy) and Casablanca (drama).

Favorite TV show (you can pick separate ones for comedy and drama)?
The Wire (comedy) and The Soup (drama.)

(Editor's Note: Snaps on David Simon!)

Rank these items in order of awesomeness: Chicken wings, Johnny Goo's hair, The Collected Works of Walt Whitman, bikinis, DVR, basset hounds.
1) Basset Hounds
2) Chicken Wings
3) Bikinis
4) DVR
5) Whitman
6) Johnny Goo

Funny story: when I was bartending in Seattle, I once served the Goo Goo Dolls in my bar. They drank a lot of expensive vodka, played with a whoopie cushion for an hour, and tipped like crap. The collective hair in that room was terrifying, like being in a Japanese cartoon.

(Editor's Note: This is so awesome. Also, "Collective Hair" is Chris's new band name.)

Any other celebrity tipping encounters?
Several, actually. Shaggy, Mark Arm, Tom Robbins, The Kids in the Hall, and my personal favorite was Dave Matthews, mostly because he used to request that I serve his table, I'm assuming because I had no idea who the hell he was.

So what's the Seattle connection? Did you grow up there?
No, I grew up in the Bay Area, but I lived in Seattle for about 10 years and have nothing but good things to say about it. Especially the music scene, which is more diverse than it gets credit for, and absolutely fantastic. You can see a great band just about every night in that city, and not spend too much scrilla, either.

I ranked all twelve months a while back. Where would June be in your rankings (1 being best)? What's #1? What's #12?
All it needs to move up the list is a real holiday (sorry, dads). I nominate "Juneteenth Jamboree."

Juneteenth Jamboree! I'm onboard. What happens now? Can there be people washing cars in jorts with Joe Satriani's "Summer Song" in the background? Is bowling involved? I picture it being 1) very "bitchin," 2) a little gay or 3) all of the above. Either way, I'm there.
I'd say all of the above. The greatest tradition of Juneteenth Jamboree is soaking each other's jorts with a hose while washing cars in slow motion.

I did a "Monthly Playlist" throughout 2009, and have taken a brief hiatus. I need your help. Give me 5 "Songs for June."
1) Louis Armstrong, "Struttin' With Some Barbecue"
2) Gene Clark, "White Light"
3) Big Star, "The Ballad of El Goodo"
4) The Replacements, "Alex Chilton"
5) Blitzen Trapper, "Wild Mountain Nation"

You can move anywhere in America for six months. Money, time, and job situation are no object. Name the place.
New Orleans.

You can move anywhere on earth for six months. Same deal. Same place, or do you become an expat?
Buenos Aires: summer in December, a cool European-style city, and access to Patagonia.

Summer's typically good for new music, but notoriously slow for TV. What do you watch to get you through the dog days?
Baseball. Lots and lots of baseball.

(Editor's Note: WOAH. This guy just blew my mind.)

Baseball. For the readers who actively hate baseball, make the Devil's Advocate case for watching baseball to fill up the dog days of summer TV.
I think people that hate baseball are making two mistakes (actually, I think people that hate baseball are communists, but for the sake of argument, here it goes):

1) Baseball isn't like football. The season is 162 games long. You'd go crazy if you tried to watch every moment, and you'd probably have a very sad life. Even the biggest fans don't sit down and watch most games all the way through. You talk, maybe do a crossword, it's more of a social event, like going to a bar. Hell, even though I watch baseball pretty much every day, I still think it's better to listen to it on a radio while working with power tools.

2) Don't ever, ever, ever watch baseball on ESPN or Fox. The announcers play to the lowest common denominator, and reduce everything to cliches. Football know how bummed you get when your team plays the Giants or Cowboys, and you're stuck with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman announcing the game? Well, imagine the same thing every week, only they also manage to ruin the entire playoffs, and Troy Aikman is replaced by a lobotomized chimpanzee. (Apologies to all chimps everywhere for that. Chimps are actually much more intelligent than Tim McCarver).

QUICK: how many hours til football returns?
Too damn many. Go Huskies.

Go Huskies? UWash? If so, what's it like being a Washington fan? I hear there's sushi at tailgates.
That's U-dub, my friend, U-dub. I managed to attend UW beginning in the 7 or so most painful years of its football existence. 0-11, football fans, 0-11. Not fun. However, watching Jake Locker play has been amazing, and I think we have a real shot at the Pac-10 title. I never saw any sushi at tailgates, but plenty of salmon, and even when your team stinks for a few years, you can't beat playing at a stadium that looks like this.

You are going out tonight. You are going out to do whatever it is you would like to do for a fun night of festivity and frivolity. This can include anything from robbing antique malls to judging a spelling bee to whale-hunting. Anything. You get to assemble your posse for the night. You can pick ANY FOUR MEN OR ANY FOUR WOMEN on the planet, friends, celebrities, athletes, etc. Who is in your entourage and why?
Easy. My four friends from high school: Andy, Chris, Thad and Eric. All-night karaoke.

Where will music be in 5 years? What will be the next "big thing"? Where would you like to see it go?
Somewhere I think most of us don't expect. I would guess that someone will figure out an entirely different way for musicians to make money. I'm afraid that corporate sponsorship might be the route it's going, but I'm hoping that the In Rainbows business plan ends up winning out, hopefully augmented with a way to develop emerging artists.

(Editor's Note: Just to fill in the gaps, Radiohead allowed fans to "pay what they want" when they released In Rainbows. Of course, people took the album for free, some paid, some paid out the wazoo. The net result? In Rainbows shot to #1 its first week and made a lot of execs reconsider their preconceptions about what fans are willing to pay for music.)

Finally, how can I ever thank you for the support?
Cover Big Star when you come to Buffalo.

Done, and soonly-done. (July 8!)

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