Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ohio: How'd you get so cool?

If you were to envision a chunk of land nestled between Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia, you'd likely think of a very mid-western rooted, down-home wisdom, hard working blue collar kind of place. I'm sure Ohio IS in fact all those things, but it's also progressive in culture, music, and politics. It's home to some very large cities, is the disputed birthplace of the very 'American' past times of both baseball and football, and houses the Rock n' Roll hall of fame.

It was also the setting for the Spielberg classic Howard The Duck.

Seriously, Ohio, how did you get to be so damn cool?

Hold up a minute. I gotta say, I like the movie a whole lot more than most people do, but that duck is just WIERD lookin'. I blame the Cal Ripken Jr. eyes...

If we've learned anything from this process about the inherent coolness of a particular region of our fine nation, we have learned that people tend to help make things cool, and Ohio is no exception.

Despite being on the below-average side in total land area (34th out of the 50 states) Ohio cracks the top 10 in terms of population, coming in 7th over all. The mere law of averages dictates that when you've got that many people, there's a pretty darn good chance a bunch of them are going to be cool. Despite the high population currently within Ohio, the state is currently suffering from negative population migration, which while in general isn't good for the overall health of a state, it does make it far easier to get in to the Olive Garden.

That's called the power of positive thinking, Buckeyes!

Ohio owes much of it's present day status as the hub of the American experience to it's positioning in relation to the rest of the nation, and continent. The state's location makes it a weigh station between the eastern seaboard and the great plains of the midwest, falling within 1 days drive of 50% of the population of the entire continent of North America. So chin up other staters, none of us are every really that far from Cleveland!

It also stands to reason that great centers of thought and reason in this country would feature a high number of nationally known universities. Ohio scores a bolded check mark in this arena as well. As a matter of fact, the state's capital and largest city is really nothing more than a college town.

Columbus, Ohio is home to THE Ohio State University, Franklin University, Capital University, and Ohio Dominican University. Suffice it to say there are easier places to find a low key bar on a Friday night. However, if you're in the market for a beer-bong, you've likely found your shopping destination.

Cincinatti, Ohio gives us... The Begals... Ooh.. and WKRP!

Another thing one could garner from one's greater blog perusing experience is that I tend to give great credit to states that feature musicians or musical acts that I have a personal fondness toward. Again, Ohio is no exception. I'm currently in the beginning stages of researching the history of this great state, and I've already got my selections all wrapped up. Only time, and the next few paragraphs will tell if I mind is changed by my further research...

See, I've just gone and set myself up for failure here. Because while there may be a few moments of suspense in it for me, you don't HAVE to wait to see if my selections match my initial impressions. As a matter of fact, you're not even going to KNOW if I changed my mind until you've read where I ultimately ended up. This whole false sense of drama is nothing more than a sham... A ruse... A cunning moment of delay designed less to increase one's anticipation, and more just to further infuriate all of those who've taken the time to stop by and listen to my inane blather.

Why do I do this to myself? There's pretty much nothing I can do at this point to make these particular selections creative enough to fulfill the false starts I've force you to endure.

So here they are, suck on it.


This dude wants you to WAIT...

Before I go and do that, a nod to the absolute brilliance that Ohio has to offer. Artists that did NOT make the final cut. Please know that if any of you had bothered to be from North Dakota, or Montana, or West Virginia, you'd have yourselves a spot on the blogroll...

- Tracy Chapman
- Bootsy Collins
- The Breeders (Kim and Kelley Deal)
- Macy Gray
- Dave Grohl
- Screamin' Jay Hawkins
- Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle)
- Marilyn Manson (The guy, the BAND is from Florida)
- Dean Martin (ALMOST cracked the list)
- The O'Jays
- Johnny Paycheck (I love me some 'Take that Job and Shove It')
- The Raspberries
- Roy Rogers
- Boz Skaggs
- Joe Walsh
- Scott Weiland

Log ye protests as ye may...

Solo Artist: Trent Reznor
No one is indifferent when it comes to Nine Inch Nails. You either embrace the shrieking evil, or you label Trent et. all a bunch of tools and move on. I'm firmly in the former camp. True, there were some questionable moments in there (The Fragile) but all in all Reznor, along with a rapidly revolving backup cast, managed to release a pretty complete body of work. Besides, everybody gets one self indulgent art-album... Sometimes MORE than one... I'm looking at YOU, REM...

As I've established, there's not too many folks out there who're still on the fence about Reznor. I do however feels it's my duty as a fan and a self-important aficionado of whatever I choose to try and change a few minds, or cement a few opinions into the 'this guy is pretty cool' camp. Here's a list of pseudo-accomplishments with which one could give at least partial credit to Reznor, and his body of work.

- There's this genre called 'Industrial', yeah, that wouldn't have really happened without Nine Inch Nails. It would still be called 'Krautrock.'

- You know that Marilyn Manson dude? Trent says 'you're welcome'... or 'sorry'... depending on how that makes you feel...

- Eventually, you're going to run out of Peter Murphy, or Jesus & Mary Chain to listen to. Trent's there for you. No need to throw out your all black wardrobe.

- Dude invented his own revolving keyboard stand using a work bench and a lazy-susan. You don't have to like the guy's music, but it's not like K Fed can say that...

- He gave away an album for free. Everybody likes free stuff!

-He's an American, and David Bowie is afraid of him.

-My iPod just randomly started playing the above linked song out of a playlist of over 14,000 tunes... Creepy effing iPod... I don't think Reznor can be credited with this one though...

Reznor isn't all amount the screaming and hurting and chasing down Brit tourists... He's still got a soft side...

Group: The Pretenders
In all fairness, I should have made 'Nine Inch Nails' my group, and lead Pretender Chrissie Hynde my solo artist. After all, Reznor was 'technically' born in Pennsylvania, and The Pretenders 'technically' became a 'band' in Britain, but Chrissie, the only full-time Pretender, is a Buckeye, born and raised.

So you're probably wondering, instead of chastising myself for a poor placement of artists, why don't I just switch them? After all, it's MY blog, I don't have to ask permission or anything, and I've even mastered the 'cut' and extra-tricky 'paste' functionality of this computer... So what gives?

I'll tell you what gives... I don't really care where The Pretenders 'technically' became a band. If you listen through their catalog, you have to admit they rank amongst the top 'American' style bands of the 70's. Chrissie SINGS about America. They play like American contemporaries like The Cars, only with a slight Brit swagger.

You know what, America used to have a slight Brit swagger too... round about 1776...

Honestly, had I started this blog series with Ohio, I'd have a heck of a hard time figuring out what states I'd have left to do. I also likely would not have chosen The Pretenders. For some reason, for the longest time, they were always a band I 'liked', but never enough to actually own any albums, or actively chose to listen to them. I wouldn't turn the station when I heard them on the radio, but it was about a year ago that I finally broke down and bought the Pirate Radio box set. In my defense, there WAS no complete box set of The Pretenders prior to 2006, so it's not like I was THAT far behind the curve...

Anyhow, what I found really surprised me. I didn't just 'kinda like' The Pretenders, I really REALLY liked them. Like, I might want to ask them to go steady like them. Like, if I had a letterman jacket, I'd totally give it to them like them. Like, my heart would be broken if I saw The Pretenders kissing some other dude under the football bleachers like them...

OK, you get the point. Watch the video for Brass In Pocket and let me collect my thoughts.

Honorable Mention: Mark Mothersbaugh

Is he not man? He is Devo. But beyond that, and really isn't THAT enough? He is also the man behind the musical scores for all of Wes Anderson's movies, he used to be in a band with the above mentioned Chrissie Hynde, he scores countless cartoons and video games, and if you believe his Wiki page, is quite accomplished at Cricket and pickleball.

More interesting for those of us who are ocularly challenged, without the use of his well known specs, Mothersbaugh is legally blind. Nerds unite!!

Life is better with a little Whip It. Trust me.

For those curious, my initial Honorable Mention was going to be the sisters Deal, who brought us The Breeders, but I already gave Kim some love by selecting The Pixies for Massachusetts, and Kelley, well, sorry, but you've never worn a flower pot on your head...

Next on the old alphabetical end result of Manifest Destiny, Oklahoma! I hear they have wind that goes whistling through the plain...

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