Good grief...

Seven songs you need to hear during the five stages of grief (if you haven't already gargled motor oil) . . . (Please don't).

Nirvana: All Apologies
No, not the track that spins off of Nevermind. YouTube search the live version from MTV Unplugged. The essence of a stage glowing in a light purple and a cello accompanying the world's most successful Grunge band is overpowering. The only words you hear are coming from Cobain, with his suffering voice echoing live in front of Dave Grohl, who is barely tapping the drums and symbols that usually crash. The set is almost intimate, and performance: absolutely flawless.

Alkaline Trio: Blue in the Face
You need Matt Skiba's stressed lungs and acoustic powerchords to serenade your eardrums like a mourning violin at all times. No questions, no exceptions.

Matt Skiba: Next to you
Your brain is numb. His voice is Prozac, as well as his psychologically pleasing analogies that always have a rhyme in their step. "You blow my mind, like a Colt 45 every time."

Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart
Melancholy 80's rock only fits. But the keyboards in this song blow a grim wind through you're already damaged being. It feels good.
* Matt Skiba also covered this when he played with his side project, Heavens. Hint.

Taproot: Mine
Perfect for when you hit the Anger Stage in your five level carosel of unwanted emotion. The first three irate powerchords from Mike DeWolf's segue into Stephen Richards's whisper, that transforms into audible snarling throughout the track. 
Swirl your boiling thoughts in 3:50 of this, because you're already going crazy.

Metallica: Nothing else matters (Orchestra version)
You'll need YouTube again.There's something sacred about hardcore bands doing rare, live performances with delicate instruments.

Brand New –Soco Amaretto Lime
You can literally see Jesse Lacey hunched over his acoustic, watching the world morph from a high school party to a melancholy post-grad celebration under an overpass in a sea of empty glass --until the track scratches out like a broken record. Prepare to cry your fucking eyes out. Even though you already are.

Five bonus tracks (since nothing else good is happening to you right now):

Mad World: Gary Jules

Echo and the Bunnymen: The Killing Moon

Regina Spektor: Samson

The Fray: How to Save a Life

The Church: Under the Milky Way Tonight

When finished, repeat playlist.


Lorene's Fish House Stands Alone

- Published in the Weekly Challenger - Thursday, July 22, 2010

St. Petersburg -- Despite the empty lots and buildings that line 22nd Street South, Lorene’s Fish House remains a beacon of hope for hungry souls in the Midtown area.

Besides the Sweet Bay Supermarket, China Star restaurant and snack-filled convenience stores, Lorene’s Fish House is one of the few places where locals can find food along the south side of 22nd Street. “If we weren’t here, they’d go way far off to get something to eat,” said Paris Lovett, Lorene’s nephew and employee of seven years.

This family-owned and operated restaurant has been dishing out soul food for nearly two decades and is an important part of Historic 22nd Street South. Fried chicken wings, fresh seafood sandwiches and garlic crabs have kept loyal eaters coming back for 17 years.

“When she first came here, she really started with the garlic crabs and fish sandwiches,” Lovett said.

My first meal in Midtown is one of Lorene’s catfish sandwiches. The crunch and scrunch of the soft, white roll against the crispy catfish meat gives a pleasing texture for the sandwich. The tender catfish is coated in golden-fried breadcrumbs. The salty sensation in the breadcrumb seasoning with an added touch of garlic is unlike any flavor found at more expensive eateries.

“She experimented with different seasonings ‘til she found the right one,” Lovett said.

The tartar sauce also gives Lorene’s sandwich a good kick. Her light, homemade concoction lets the actual flavor of tartar sauce blend with sandwich ingredients, instead of the overbearing explosion of tarter toothpaste that comes from processed sauce packets.

Lorene’s does not cater only to those who enjoy seafood. Chicken wing platters and pork chop dinners are also available and cooked to order.

Contrary to the miniature chicken drumsticks found in party platters and frozen dinners, each of Lorene’s wings come complete with the wingette and the drumstick. Imagine that -- all of the parts that make up an authentic chicken wing. Not only that, but the steamy, meat juices tease taste buds after the first bite through the thick, homemade batter.

Three of Lorene’s chicken wings can easily occupy 75 percent of a plastic foam tray, also packed with french fries and a side of ranch, for most meals.

“That ranch dressing is something serious,” said Ernie Doctor, a Midtown resident cycling along 22nd Street South on Memorial Day. Doctor has been coming to Lorene’s Fish House for years and knows a lot of people who do the same. “Lorene’s is probably the only one left on this strip,” he said. “Back in the day, this use to be a live street with restaurants all up and down here.”

The quaint atmosphere of the restaurant gives a feel for Lorene’s legacy on 22nd Street.

The painted mural on the side of the brick building that advertises Lorene’s Fish House is fading, yet stylish. Above the entrance, “Lorene’s” is painted in a quirky font, unlike the digital signs or neon lettering adopted by most modern businesses.

The inside of the restaurant has two small tables and chairs. White table settings display each menu item, written with different colored markers. The item signs are placed around the ordering window and front walls. One wall is decorated with family photographs, political images and a black-and-white portrait of Lorene. A small television provides entertainment for waiting customers and children.

“Sometimes Lorene lets kids by with price if they don’t have enough money,” said Bianca Lovett, Lorene’s niece. When school lets out, some kids venture to Lorene’s for an after-school snack, she said.

Most meal combinations cost no more than $10 at Lorene’s, even after the decision between all natural lemonade, fruit punch and tea. The smallest drink price is $1.50, while the largest size, a quart, costs only 50 cents more.

Lorene’s Fish House will be serving food at the community seafood festival in September, with the full menu up for grabs.

Connie's Keeps Geech's Gift Alive

St. Petersburg -- Billowing smoke blows across 16th Street South, masking my view of Frezell’s Car Wash and sparking my olfactory nerve. I can smell different forms of cooked pig in the air, while the thick, smoky aroma singes my nose – in a good way.

The fragrant smoke signals coming from Connie’s Bar-B-Que frequently subside, but still alert Midtown residents that there is at least one place left to get some killer barbeque, with a side of south St. Petersburg tradition.

“Customers always say, ‘so I heard you got the Geech sauce,’” said Melvin Hall, Connie’s son and business owner. “Everybody knows about it.”

Back in the day, Geech’s was the place to stop for some real old-fashioned barbeque. John “Geech” Black created a special mustard sauce to top his authentic dishes that kept customers around for years.

“My mom use to work with him a little bit,” Hall said. “He retired but she kept it going.”

Hall remembers the old days, when Geech’s thrived on a lively street. “On Friday, you couldn’t even get down 22nd Street,” he said. Hall said the road use to be packed with restaurants, night clubs and pool halls.

Although Geech’s Bar-B-Q Stand has vanished, much like everything else from the former 22nd Street South hubbub, a taste of its legacy still remains at Connie’s.

As I unwrap my first Connie’s chopped pork sandwich, I can see drips of the Geech sauce escaping from the wax paper already stained in bright yellow. The thin mustard sauce is tangy and sweet, but not overpowering, as if a jar of French’s Mustard had been squeezed onto my sandwich.

The sesame seed bun is thick and squishy. It provides the perfect stability for the globs of tender, shredded meat in the middle of the bun, soaked in the Geech. The juices do not soak through and ruin the bun like they do at other restaurants that drown everything in sauce, often leaving you with a dilapidated sandwich and need for a fork.

The caramelized kernels of the deep-fried corn on the cob are a perfect meal addition to cleanse your palet between helpings of pork.

The crinkle-cut french fries are made to order with a unique flavor kick. Fries are served golden brown with added salt. Cooked potato seeps out of the crispy edges and burns the roof of my mouth. It feels like money well spent.

The aftertaste of the fresh fries has the subtle flavor of funnel cake from a state fair.

“We touch ‘em up a little bit,” Hall said with a smile.

Connie’s has been serving home-cooked barbeque for 24 years and remains one of the only places to score some real barbeque in Midtown. The restaurant packs two cookers in case of a busy weekend and houses the last Ms. Pac-Man video game in town. Loyal staff members also add to Connie’s Bar-B-Que’s character.

“I love meeting different people and joking around with them,” said Geno Harrell, longtime employee. Harrell has been working at Connie’s Bar-B-Que for more than 15 years and learned different cooking techniques from Hall and his mother.

“I’ve been cookin’ all my life,” he said.

Although times have changed since Geech’s legacy and their 15 cent hot dogs, most meals at Connie’s cost $10 or less, unless you start picking at slabs of ribs. Drink prices run from 60 cents to a dollar.

Everything at Connie’s is homemade and fresh, with original recipes that have not changed since the beginning. Employees even grind the meat for the burgers and don’t use any preservatives in the food.

Hall works six days a week to guarantee good food for Midtown barbeque lovers. Connie’s is closed on Sunday, giving Hall a relief from the seven days he used to work.

“After awhile I said, what am I working seven days a week for? I’m cuttin’ down,” he said.

In his spare time, he likes to spend his days shooting pool, riding his motorcycle and hanging out with friends at Tampa clubs.

On the weekends, Connie’s serves late-night munchies until 1 a.m. instead of the usual 11 p.m.

Stop in and look for Hall behind the ordering window, wearing his brown apron and wide-rimmed glasses. He’ll tell you about his mom, the family business, and Connie’s famous rib sandwich. If it’s a slow day, he might sit with you while you soak your face in the Geech sauce, offer dating advice and listen to your story, too.


The History of Bubble Dumb: People just chew it up and spit it out

It’s like October’s calm before the terrifying storm.

Before oozing zombies taunt children, before dripping vampires or giant walking hot dogs comb the vacant city streets on the 31st, consumers are dazzled at every glistening store corner.

It’s the only time the Pillsbury Doughboy will wear a blue Zorro mask or the Count Chocula family will congregate at the convenient end of the cereal aisle. It’s the only time the souls of Spooky Nerds and Howlin’ Laffy Taffy will come to life. It’s the only time the Jum-Blo Gum Ball logo will hire a bloodshot eyeball to fill in for the O.

That would be morbid to sell in January.

While the Oreos boast of their bursting orange innards, the snooty A-list candies bite their Hershey thumbs at the outcast fish with their Swedish accent and unfestive pound bags of Dubble Bubble. “Two for $4,” the cling tag reads. “Get ‘em out of our sight.”

In a world where Cadbury Adams and Wrigley dominates the chewy realm of gum base, corn syrup and sugar, Dubble Bubble still holds its head high when it slithers through the conveyor belts of Tootsie Roll Industry’s Concord Confections.

Still in a stretched rope form, the pink strands lie on belts of powdered sugar to avoid sticking, and wait to be cut and clothed into the twisted yellow suit with blue frills.

Although it was an accident, little DB was born in 1928 at Frank Fleer’s Chewing Gum Company and marked the start of America’s modern bubble gum buffet.

Blue bubble gum cigars are perfect for when It’s A Boy. Hubba Bubba Bubbletape is great for those who eat gum in 12-inch increments only. Bubble gum band aids mend imaginary boo-boos while bubblegum-flavored antibiotics cure imaginable infections. Three Olives Bubble Gum Vodka can make one sticky martini –garnished with a toothpick and a glop of Dubble Bubble sounds pretty sweet. A bottle of Jones Blue Bubblegum is pure cane sugar soda, for those who aren’t old enough for the vodka. For smokers on the lookout for an alternative brand to Marlboro or Camel, bubble gum cigarettes come wrapped in white with a brown filter tip. Blowing the powdered sugar smoke is probably better than a nicotine fix, and the cigarette packs even have sophisticated cowboy emblems on the front.

Tobacco dippers aren’t left out, either. The first aluminum foil pouch of Big League Chew weaseled its way into the bubble gum industry in 1980, thanks to the Portland Mavericks’ lefthander Rob Nelson and teammate Jim Bouton. Nelson first concocted the gum in a frying pan and shredded it to get the Skoal look. Now, sports lovers all over America can shove mounds of Outta’ Here Original or Ground Ball Grape in their mouths for the ultimate bubble-blowing opportunity during a big game.

That’s exactly what Walt Diemer, a creative accountant at Fleer’s Chewing gum Company, set out to do –make a new formula for gum that gifted chewers with a fun, bubble-blowing ability. The failure of Fleer’s original Blibber-Blubber gum made Diemer’s son, Dubble Bubble, an immediate success until WWII put a stop to production. While the main ingredients for dwindling amounts of Dubble Bubble were diverted to war efforts, the rest of DB’s brothers and sisters were rationed among hooked consumers.

After WWII, the gum came back headstrong as other Dubble Bubble flavors hit shelves and Bazooka rivals emerged packing extra ammo –Joe and His Gang comics.

Bazooka Bubble Gum was born in Brooklyn and named after American comedian Bob “Bazooka” Burns, who invented an odd musical instrument out of a funnel and two gas pipes. He dubbed it a “bazooka,” and proudly played it during a duet of Clementine with singer Shirley Ross in 1946.

Decades out of the black-and-white era, the pink wads of original Bazooka and Dubble Bubble are nostalgia at its finest, since most current gum varieties have a laser show of colors and tastes to choose from. Bubblicious, the over-achieving offspring of Cadbury Adams, can range from neon green squares of Savage Sour Apple to chunks of Twisted Tornado for the taste buds. Even Bazooka has jumped into the turn of the century with Bazooka Bubble Juice Nuggets that come in Rockin’ Original or Slammin’ Blue Raspberry.

However, Klutz Press cleverly recommends using Original Bazooka with its Bubble Gum Science book, which comes with six pink pieces and instructions for life on how to blow the biggest bubble, double bubble or even the triple bubble.

Although mass-produced bubblegum has spiraled into a vortex of changing consumer appeal, original flavors always stick with the pink, stretchy sweetness.

When Dubble Bubble was conceived, daddy Diemer perfected the flawless formula and grabbed the only food coloring available in the lab –it just happened to be pink.

These days, the Concord Confections family has brilliantly scatterbrained children who carry on the Dubble Bubble genes. Painterz Gum Balls sport the DB logo, but are designed to paint lips and tongues whatever color they devour. Cry Baby Gum Balls still posses the sweet DB spark but is packed with enough sour to punch a baby in the face and leave them in a stroller, crying. This leaves high hopes for Dubble Bubble’s grandkids, assuming that their parents swap corn syrup with someone even more dubblelicious.

So, when the Halloween aisle gets demolished to clear a path for Saint Nick and napkins with turkeys stitched on them, keep a sharp eye out. While DB sits on the shelf with sad puppy eyes and a red clearance sticker, be sure to boost the spirit of America’s most important bubble gum that is most forgotten.

Adopt every bag.


You are all peas.

In the depths of my bowl of sugar snap peas once frozen, there is a lone broccoli tree. Drenched in pea juice at the bottom of my bowl, surrounded by bitten shrimp tails and little green balls that have so cleverly escaped the pod.

Where is it's origins? Why is it here?

It looks dirty. All green and stalky in appearance. It's the misfit. Has it made friends with fellow peas? Do they resent it? Did they bring it into their pea world with open pod flaps?

Was it inconveniently stuck in the conveyor belt when factory orders called for a shift change to pea processing?  They lived together. Were frozen together. It was just looking for better weather. In my microwave.

I am the broccoli.


Fixated Fix

There would be a void in my life without David Sunflower Seeds.

I scramble to Winn Dixie at 10:45 p.m. some nights to grab a 14.5-ounce bag before closing. When I buy a new bag, I can’t wait to break the plastic seal and unzip the 100,000 milligrams of sodium pending ingestion. Well actually, it is 135 milligrams per serving, but who counts those when most of the bag is gone in one sitting?

I drop a small pile into my mouth and store them in my left cheek until my taste buds convulse from the dissolving salt. I can feel it streaming down my throat while I crack the first shell open between my right molars and taste the first puff of seed protein.

My mouth is numb when I hit the 45 minute mark. My eyes are fixed on the TV screen, like 46 percent of David seeders who are glued to the tube while snacking. Halfway through the second episode of Roseanne, I can feel the sodium stinging the inside of my mouth. It soaks the inside of my lips, burning the areas that I constantly gnaw and tear with my front teeth. This snack was made for people like me.

Freud calls it oral fixation. He has this theory that all infants pass through early stages of development; the oral stage lasts until a kid turns two. At this age, an infant’s main focus is oral stimulation provided by breast-feeding. A child who is breast-fed too much or too little can be affected later in life. As an infant, I survived on Similac with added iron and a plastic bottle.

Adults fixated in the oral stage develop an obsession with oral sensations, often participating in behaviors like nail biting, smoking and straw chewing.

I constantly find myself popping a stick of Polar Ice gum, biting my lips and touching the outside of my mouth when I am bored or nervous. The orally fixated are also known to suck on toothpicks and snack as comforting activities.

But David Seeds? They are my Snacktivity.

My snack of choice starts with garden dirt and a pattern of numbers. Sunflower seeds grow out of the center of the flower head in very succinct spirals, following the Fibonacci number sequence: One, two, three, five, eight and so on. This ensures that every sunflower will grow with maximum seed-holding capacity.

Ninety percent of David’s successful seeds come from America’s Sunflower Triangle. Gardens from Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and the northern plains of Texas make up the triangle. The other 10 percent come from Canada.

No matter where the seeds are grown, the chosen ones will get dry roasted in Fresno, at the main distribution center for my spiraling fixation.

Fresno is also where David Der Herbedian created the consistent mixture of slick seeds and plentiful salt that I so often crave. In his own grocery store, also serving as a gas station and tavern back in the day, he began roasting sunflower seeds and sold them as individual servings for only five cents.

In 1912, he started marketing them under the name David Seeds, which later became David & Sons. The name change came 14 years later, after popular demand influenced company expansion. ConAgra Foods bought the David name in 2001.

Other brands just don’t do it for me. Planters seeds aren’t salty enough. Frito-Lay gets an A for effort, but the seed texture is too dry. Publix seeds are just unpleasant – like seeds that have been plucked out of the dirt and sealed in a bag, often discolored and gritty. David gets it right every time.

ConAgra Foods can dress David Seeds in all the nacho cheese seasoning they desire, but I will never spend a dime on anything except the original. It gives me a twisted sense of pride to know that the original taste of David Sunflower Seeds, a roasted concoction of just seeds and salt, is still the #1 selling flavor out of the seven. Ranch comes in second and is the only other flavor I could bring myself to try; I won’t even touch that chili lime nonsense.

Out of the 142 seeders that responded to a David Sunflower Seeds poll on Facebook, 54 left comments naming original as their favorite flavor.

Original was there for me as a beginning seeder with training wheels. As a kid, I would suck on a single seed and bite until I heard the cracking sound. I would then extract it from my mouth and take it apart like a seedologist in surgery. I’d have a pile of kernels on the living room table, while my dad would lounge behind me on the couch, pouring the bag into his mouth and shooting shells into a cup like a machine gun.

For Christmas one year, he bought me a gift bucket of the seeds. While most kids were into Twinkies and Pop-Tarts, I was obsessing over the David-stamped bucket at the bottom of our pantry. We both were.

These days, it’s Dad’s fault that I can’t make it through finals week without a surge of sodium chloride. It’s his fault that I can’t watch the annual season of the Next Food Network Star without clutching a red bag during each hour-long episode. It’s his fault that I can’t write a paper without an overflowing mug of shattered shells at my side.

He wasn’t breast-fed either.


Farewell, Warped Tour

My pores have come in contact with the sweat of 35 different people today. Condom balloons, inflatable penises. Stray sandals. Bands I’ve never heard of and never will again. Sheets of slanted rain blanketing the stage front. Rain clouds drift, influencing the intensity of the precipitated water strikes. One heavy drop bursts right into your pupil. Of all the places it could land, it makes its way into the direct path between your eye brow and glasses rim, perfectly centered. Tilt your head a slight degree, and bam. Straight to the retinas. It almost burns, until the drop dissipates into the depths of your eye fluid. You utilize a few frequent blinks get your life back on track, as soon as you realize that the Crowd’s energy is reaching a paradigm shift. You see one pair of eyes ahead of you, until the entire population of the region you’re suffocating in is now facing the opposite way of the stage. Grab an arm or leg. A grimy shoe. Particles of mud under the fingernails. Watch out for the untied laces. Lift a head. Fist pump an asscheek. Anything to get these god damn animals off of you.

A good band has a constant stream of body surfers.

A good crowd doesn’t drop them, unless they greatly exceed the courtesy weight.

Twiggy girls flawlessly glide along the surface wave of the Crowd. Adolescent boys are simply tossed from one unexpecting spine to the next, while kicking faces and eardrums with their checkerboard Converse. Failing, flailing. Into the dirt. Only to be sprung up into the air, like an orangutan onto another oblivious spine, and dumped over the security bar. Guards pluck the surfers from the Crowd like babies in a nursery, sometimes cradling them or simply making sure that their bodies are positioned in a way that allows limbs to slide over metal railing without destruction.

Bonding over organized power cords and brain-pulsing drum solos. Comradery when a fellow surfer is trying to catch a wave, or needs a hand after busting ass in the midst of the ocean. The relief of passing a kidney stone over your head, so you can enjoy the aesthetic presence of the band and stage theatrics once more.


You feel.

The shift.



Local Candy Kitchen Employees Brave the Darkness. And Yolk.

SEMINOLE, FLA, April 2 -- With a van full of ammunition and painted faces, local Candy Kitchen owners Brad and Lora Holybee would never expect to get April Fooled by their loyal, mint-chocolate-chip-scooping staff; especially when April Fools’ Day had been expired for two hours.

Around 2 a.m. this morning, employees piled out of a suspicious white van like a Mexican army, to quietly bum-rush the Holybees front lawn with ammo in hand.

Danielle, 19, took the first stab at the dirt. The handle of the plastic spoon broke in half.

Minutes later, the Holybee's yard is a garden of shiny, white spoon heads and cackling employees. Nicole Miller, 22, sticks a spoon in the mailbox while other assailants break out the rolls of Saran-wrap. Holybee's Jeep Eliminator will stay fresh for a long while.

Jenny Leinbach, 22, snaps a few photos of the new decor as they organize their hasty departure.

Danielle’s truck and the getaway van are positioned past the front of the house with engines running.

Puzzled that the Holybees have not caught on to the echoing laughter and noisy redecoration of their landscape, Shelby Sizemore, 19, and Miller decide to bring it to their attention.

They walk around the corner towards the front door when Sizemore sees a “peeper” through the blinds. “Someone’s looking out here!” she whisper-screams. “THERES A PEEPER!” Sizemore takes off running towards the van while Miller jumps into Danielle’s pick-up.

After no sign of a Holybee, Miller jumps out of the truck bed and races for the front door. She shortly hesitates, realizing that there is no doorbell in sight and knocks quickly. She zip-lines towards the vehicle and they zoom away unnoticed.

They follow the white van, driven by Candy Kitchen manager, Leah Giordano, who parked down the street. All pile back into the van.

In the distance, they can see Brad peeling the plastic sheets off of his car.

“Aww man,” Leinbach said. “Do you think they’re pissed? Should we go help them clean up the mess? They didn’t have fun and retaliate like last time.”

Giordano slowly approaches the scene of the crime.

A loud thud comes from Brad’s direction. Egg yolk splatters the window and streams down the glass as everyone screams and the van screeches away.

“We need more ammo!” Miller shrieks.

Armed with a loaf of bread, a bag of powdered donuts and Heinz ketchup from a 24-hr Hess, the impending war is on.

Meanwhile, Tara Yopp’s vehicle that was parked safely down the street is being tampered with by her big, bad candy boss. Spoons are sticking out of the hood cracks and a bra is stretched over the trunk lift. The inside is occupied by mounds of Saran-wrap.

“Oh man,” Yopp blurts. “That’s my favorite bra!”

Brad ambushes the next drive-by with more eggs while Lora is standing on the front porch. Sizemore, Miller and Leinbach jump out of the van a few houses down and plan a bread-ball sneak attack. They can already hear the screams.

Giordano and others emerge from the darkness covered in ketchup and egg. Brad is laughing hysterically. Lora is armed with two different kinds of salad dressing, just in case.

No sooner do they reach a cease-fire, the Seminole cops show up on reports of a possible burglary.

“Neighbors said they saw a bunch of people dressed in black,” one office said. Staff laughter.

“With face paint…” he continued. More laughter.

“Will you take a picture of all of us?” Miller asked the officer.

“No. It’s time for all of you to go on home.”


"This is the first time we've had bras... and bullets, on stage."

Despite odd opening bands and on-stage mishaps, Alkaline Trio rocks the House of Blues harder than you could kick rocks.

Around 9:30 pm., Matt, Dan and Derek finally took the stage after hours of waiting between sets and what-the-fuck bands.

The first performance was made of up of British men playing musical instruments, while the singer literally pranced around center stage.

During one of the songs mid-performance, the singer grabs a tambourine to accompany his lackluster voice and mediocre lyrics that have been vomited across other mediocre bands of the Mediocre Era. The only thing that I liked about this performance was one of the band members accidentally kicking a mic stand and hitting a front row Alk fan in the face. I didn't see it happen as my friends did, but the kid ended up in the VIP section right below me with bandages covering his nose.

VIP? Maybe I'll slip on a beer puddle next time.

At the end of their final song, the singer's set ends and he skips-to-my-lou off stage, to let the instrumentals take over -- if only they had done that at the beginning of the show. The group might have a chance in the music industry if they axe their current vocals. The band name remains unknown to me and I don't care so much that I'm not even going to look it up.

Cursive, the second band, at least has the intriguing factor going for them. Their songs sound purposefully off-tune, but in a catchy fashion. The lighting techniques and awkward use of keyboard effects and trumpet spurts compliments the performance of songs like Mama, I'm Swollen: "I am the egg/ I am the spark/ The fire in the dark/ I am fertilized/ Fully actualized/ A loaded gun/ Born 'neath a blood red sun."

As the singer flails with his guitar under the intense red glow and screams "Beat of the blood red sun," over and over, I slowly start to feel like I'm at some kind of religious sacrifice with dying goats all around me. It's the same feeling I get when I listen to Pink Floyd and other trippy bands. They weren't bad.

Once the Trio symbol starts glowing above the empty stage, I know all is about to be right with the world. The Heart & Skull image inked on the back of my neck starts to glow, also.

Matt and Dan take the stage in their new Mickey Mouse t-shirts and Derek plops down at his home behind the drums. Skiba gives a quick "hi" into the microphone before their intro, This Addiction, starts shaking the House walls. When the first song is the new hit single, you know the encore is going to be awesome.

"So I took mushrooms and went to Disney World today," Skiba blurts into the microphone before the next song. "Disney World is awesome on shrooms. They haven't quite worn off yet, so if it seems like I'm on shrooms, it's cuz I am. This songs called Armageddon."

The 21-song set-list was an almost perfect mix of older tunes with the new, shiny ones. They played songs from From Here to Infirmary, Good Mourning and my personal favorite, God Damnit. Thankfully, they only played one song each from Agony & Irony and Crimson (my two least favorite albums), but they were the tracks that I liked the most from those CDs.

In one of the Trio's new songs, Lead Poisoning, they have a short horn section in the middle of the track, which is a route they've never taken before. The always-grim lyrics mixed with a new upbeat instrument was definitely one of the highlighted tid-bits of the new album. I just hope they don't go overboard with it.

As my friend Adam storms out of the venue to smoke a cigarette, the trumpet player from Cursive waddles out to the front mic to play the 30-second horn section of the song. Some fans are offended because this short alteration does not make them a trio.

My friend Amber and I decide to skank in support.

During In Vein, a plaid-shirted Alk fan somehow avoids all HOB security and finagles his way on stage. He runs in between Matt and Dan, points at the screaming crowd and dives in. An assembly line of orange guards rush to the front as the kid escapes into a sea of tattooed limbs and crowd surfers.

Matt starts laughing when the song ends. "I'm proud of you," he proclaims to the anonymous stage diver. "I feel like I just gave birth to an illegitimate son; I dedicate this next song to you. It's called Fuck You Aurora." I laugh when Skiba sings, "the cutest stage diver I've ever seen" instead of the cutest grave digger.

The gig continues with Mourning melodies like 100 Stories and Continental and Skiba finds stray ammunition on stage. "Hey, whoever lost your .45 caliber bullet, don't worry," he said. He tucks it in his left pocket. "It's right here."

"This is the first time we've ever had bras. . . and bullets on stage," he said.

They go on with Nose Over Tail and I can't help but play every chord on my imaginary strings against the wood railing in front of me. Nose Over Tail and Cringe are the first fast-paced songs I ever learned to play on my Fender Squier. I've yet to hear Cringe played in front of me.

However, I finally got to hear Skiba's love song about pot, 97, played live.

They exit the stage as if we don't know there's going to be an amazing encore. After minutes of drunken fans screaming for one more song, they come back and switch positions. Skibas now on drums, Andriano on guitar and Grant is on bass.

They open with one of Andriano's tunes from the new CD, Fine, and I still get chills when he sings "aces in a... Deck." They follow it up with a cover of the Misfits's Angelfuck, with Derek on vocals. It was cool to see him step out from behind the drum set and take the lead.

They switch back to their normal spots and move on to Blue in the Face.

For the final hoorah, they woo the fans with My Friend Peter and go out with a bang. I go apeshit, because this is one of the songs I obsess over and play repeatedly in my living room when nobody is home. It's the first song I ever learned how to sing and play at the same time.

"I need a beer to wash it all away without a trace. And I'll drink 23 more to wipe this stupid smile off my fucking face."

Set list

1. This Addiction
2. Armageddon
3. Dine, Dine My Darling
4. Mr. Chainsaw
5. Lead Poisoning
6. We've Had Enough
7. Dead on the Floor
8. Fatally Yours
9. Crawl
10. In Vein
11. Fuck You Aurora
12. Another Innocent Girl
13. Continental
14. 100 Stories
15. Sadie
16. Nose Over Tail
17. 97


Misfits cover of Angelfuck
Blue in the Face
My Friend Peter



$22,500 a song? No thank you. I'll stick with my crappy, legal software.

Copyright Infringement

“Student who illegally downloaded music ordered to pay $675k”

Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University graduate student is being ordered to pay four record labels for illegally downloading and distributing 30 songs on a peer-to-peer music website. Jurors decided that $22,500 is a reasonable fine for each song that represents willful copyright infringement. He has admitted to downloading over 800 songs throughout the years and is still fighting this lawsuit that would eventually lead this 25-year-old to bankruptcy.

Tenenbaum’s decision to argue fair use was declined in court. According to the textbook, fair use is a test used to determine whether or not infringement exists in a situation involving use of a copyrighted work. Tenenbaum argued that although he did download the songs for free, he did not download entire albums, which would hurt an artists’ market even more. He also said that his use of the material was not for commercial use, which is often the case with infringement lawsuits.

According to the textbook, I’ve noticed that the following criteria are examined when trying to determine fair use:

1. The purpose and character of the use: In Tenenbaum’s case, the use was for nonprofit, personal enjoyment. However, downloading free songs does not have an educational, critical, or research purpose, either.
2. The nature of the copyrighted work: This is more clearly defined as factual information v. creative works. Music is harder to define because it is solely a creative work, whereas a factual document could be dissected to determine amount of material used and whether fair use is present.
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used: As Tenenbaum argued, he downloaded individual songs only and not entire albums from the website. His logic is probably centered around factual fair use examples, where a few paragraphs from a book can be used in a classroom discussion or a few minutes of a videotape can be used for news purposes. However, I think which songs he downloaded should also be taken into account. Were they the hit singles from the albums? Some of the most legendary songs by the artists?
· Upon further research, I found that the songs Tenenbaum is being sued for downloading are songs from popular rock bands like Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Songs like Nirvana’s “Come as you are” and the Chili Pepper’s “Californication” are indeed, radio-hit songs.
4. The effect on the plaintiff’s potential market: Tenenbaum argued that the reason behind his song-sharing was to let his friends and family enjoy the music and added, "that is, the very use for which the artist or copyright holder is entitled to expect payment as a reward." The textbook states that using the most important information from a copyrighted source, even if the amount is acceptable , does not constitute fair use. Quoting the last line of a mystery novel could hurt the author’s profit on future sales of that book, so why wouldn’t free hit singles hurt the purchase of an album?

With more factors tilting outside of his favor, fair use was not considered a valid defense in this case. Tenenbaum was ordered to pay $22,500 for each song and act of willful infringement.
In some articles, it mentions that Tenenbaum was using a Swedish file sharing website to download his music for free. Upon further research, I’ve found that the popular website Kazaa is the mp3 system that Tenenbaum was using. Why didn’t the website itself get dragged into this case?

Napster was an illegal peer-to-peer file sharing network, just like Kazaa. Napster was aware that it was allowing users to commit copyright infringement, as it was the sole purpose of the website. The recording industry sued Napster for allowing the infringement to continue.

Why isn’t the RIAA trying to kill the symptom, but not the cause? Tenenbaum would have never committed infringement if this site did not exist and allow it to happen. And oh yea, is Tenenbaum the only user on the Kazaa interface to download songs illegally? Since this is a Swedish-based operation, I’m surprised that there is no issue involving the Berne Convention and the fact that Kazaa is letting users download illegal songs from artists all over the world.

Decades ago, before mp3s and file sharing lawsuits emerged, music buffs relied on compact cassette tapes to pay and play their musical interests. They were also used to record songs from the radio.

When Sony invented the VCR, they were sued for copyright infringement because users could record copies of television programs. The court decided that although users could make unauthorized copies of shows or aired movies, this was not the sole purpose of the VCR and Sony did not encourage users to do so. VCRs were used for more “time-shifting” purposes, so viewers could watch programs at a later time.

Were audio cassettes also used for time-shifting purposes? Could that be considered fair use as well? What’s the difference between downloading a song off of a free internet website and recording it from a free source, such as the radio? Even the concept of TiVo is still an undecided factor under copyright law.

The concept of internet downloading may need another examination under the copyright looking glass.

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=21943 – Student who illegally downloaded music ordered to pay $675k
http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=22380 – Student ordered to destroy illegally downloaded music files
Textbook: The Law of Journalism & Mass Communication


Bayboro Tavern Update

Speaking of contaminated food and bacteria festivals, I've recently discovered how to access a buffett of public records. One section of which, includes restaurant inspections and health code violations. Let us rejoice together, shall we?


Critical. Observed food stored on floor. bucket of pickles [walk in cooler]

I always thought their pickles tasted a bit. . . iffy. Sometimes they tasted amazing, sometimes they had a subtle hint of Windex in their seedy flesh. But either way, lawl.


Critical. Observed nonready-to-eat food handled by employees without the use of gloves, deli paper, scoops, tongs or other utensils. placing shredded cheese on top of chili with bare hands

Oh my! This was dated 2-23-2009. Almost a year ago. How many years has this been USFSP's favorite place?


Critical. Observed food employee touching ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and the establishment has no approved Alternative Operating Procedure. placing shredded cheese on top of chili with bare hands

Again with the manhandling of the cheese. How does a place not get shut down for repeated violations like this?


Observed single-use containers (boxes and/or cans) reused for the storage of food. opened can labeled 'diced tomato' contains kidney beans [walk in cooler]

Wow. Not only is that completely disgusting, but also kind of stingy. I at least want my current dining situation to have kidney beans in their own personal can. Penny-pinching and dirty? Or just ungodly lazy?


Observed toilet stopped with tissue [womens restroom]

Ok, it happens. I blame the customers. And I honestly DON'T want the employees to clean the bathrooms if they aren't using a fucking pair of gloves.


Critical. Establishment operating without a current Hotel and Restaurant license. expired 2/01/09 total amt due by 2/28 $ 323.00 [incl $50 late fee] This violation must be corrected by : 4/23/09 .



"Can you describe the wallet ma'am?"

"It's the one that says Bad Mutha Fucka," I say into my shitty Verizon cell phone, complete with a cracked plastic screen and my last shred of patience needed to deal with cell phone companies. I can't believe I have to drive back to Lakeland. It feels like I've spent the past 2 days glued to my passenger seat.

I don't like to be the one driving on road trips; I have the sense of direction of a compass out of the 99 cent bin at Big Lots. I don't mind letting my friends drive the Hell Boy, though.

"I'm famished," I say to Sarah, as I suck the last drop of juice off of my blue raspberry Ring Pop. We need sustenance and everyone is hell-bent on going to Wendy's.

I haven't eaten there in over 7 years. My mom and I went to a local Wendy's for lunch one day and watched flies buzz around after the cashier released them from the locked compartment of the trash bin. And oh, the smell. The rotting stench of Heinz 57, stale bread crumbles and masticated cow, conveniently located in an accessible black sack, easily exposing the oxygen in that public eating establishment. I want Five Guys.

We pull off of a random exit on 275 and Sarah drops me off in front of Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Sarah, Amber and Jenny head to Wendy's Shithole as I bee-line towards the counter for a real burger. My taste buds still house a tangy raspberry flavor. My face looks like I've just eaten a Smurf, but my lingering hangover cures the need for me to care.

I grab my new bag of grease to nurture last night's blood alcohol concentration, take a quick piss and jump back into my Suzuki that Sarah has gracefully swung into the parking lot.

Last night reached monumental proportions. The Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando will for sure be an annual woo-let's-spend-money-and-get-shit-housed kind of bonding thing for myself and the best friends a person could wish for and actually receive.

Last year Jenny and I celebrated a birthday weekend Hard Rock style. And since we found cockroaches and bed bugs in our room, we figured we would wait a whole year to use our free night stay and do it again.

It started in the room this year. Cherry Sprite bombs and Parrot Bay. Hypnotic and Captain Morgan. Vodka, vodka and. . .

"It's your birthdays?!" said the jolly fat man at CityWalk box office. "Well then these are free!"

We can now get into every club with the flash of a card. Dear CityWalk Party Pass, thanks for making me feel like a responsible adult.

CityWalk is under one liquor license, meaning I can buy a margarita at the Bob Marley club, walk out with it and bring it into the Red Coconut without having to chug next to the trash can at the front of the line. This place is like Baywalk, if Baywalk were to do steroids out of a meth pipe soaked in THC.

As they begin kicking out everybody who's squealing under the hazy age of 21, I wondering if it would be possible to live here.

I was bobbing along efficiently until we got to Margaritaville. They had it in for me. Our free birthday shot resembled something like a rainbow, with 3 perfect layers of color. Red, yellow and delicious. It tasted like a bucket of maraschino cherries and I couldn't really taste anything the rest of the night after ingestion. I love you, Jimmy Buffett.

The Bob Marley club has a cool vibe. Live reggae beats with red flickering lights pulsed through my veins, right behind the tequila. I remember licking all of the rock salt off my glass and sucking down the Jose Cuervo to lonely ice cubes.

The rest of the bars seem repetitive. However, it could have been caused by my tequila lenses, distorted reality and extreme lack of judgement involving everything except my undying habit of chain smoking when I drink heavily. Crushing the tobacco to get that sweet, sweet menthol is the only activity I can handle at this level of drunk.

I hardly ever drink anymore. On most nights, I would rather slosh around in sweatpants and play Guitar Hero than go out to bars filled with the village drunkards, eye-gouging lights and bass that shakes the ice in my $6 Captain and OJ.

But for you, Orlando? I'll make the exception.

I pull into my driveway and ease on the brake; my Hell Boy's had enough for one weekend. I open the back door so Amber can grab her bags and finally realize what today's monkey wrench will be in the Life of Nicole Danielle Miller.

I paid for my burger. I had it. My back right pocket. Grabbed my bag. They weren't back yet.

I scream the word Fuck loud enough to echo into my neighbor's backyard.

Where the fuck was that Five Guys?! Ok, we were by Auburndale. No, maybe it was by Dinosaur World. Yea, I didn't think I would need a receipt for a slab of cow covered in cheese.

"Do you have your Wendy's receipt?" I text to Amber in a frantic stream of panic and nausea. I quickly delete the typos caused by the sticky keys of my Verizon P.O.S.

863-816-7600. I describe my current predicament to the Wendy's secretary; his level of empathy seems a bit burnt out. "This is Lakeland?" I ask excitedly. Our exit could have been the gateway to Hell and I wouldn't have remembered how to get there. My abandoned wallet is somewhere on a road named Socrum Loop.

I kick myself for forgetting. I remember laughing through the raindrops on my window when we turned off of the exit ramp. Did that say Scrotum Loop?

"Yep, that's you!" says the Five Guys GM. "It still has all of your cash and 3 Visas. Just ask for Kim or Donald when you get here."

Sarah volunteers to accompany me on the urgent Lakeland trip. "So I was thinkin..." she says. "Maybe we could stop by the Hard Rock in Tampa on the way home and stick a 20 in a slot machine, see if we win and leave." Double Hard Rock? It's settled.

I decide to put in only $1 at the first machine until I figure out this crazy array of flashy hieroglyphics. I quickly print out my $1 voucher and give up.

The second machine is very aquatic. Rows of seashells and underwater creatures. Why are there so many buttons? I just want to spin the shit. I take another $1 voucher and relocate once more.

I plop down at a machine dubbed Early Retirement; the bright logo depicts a baby in a clothespinned diaper with a bag of bulging cash. Sounds good to me. I shove my neglected voucher in the slot and play around with betting amounts, lines and bets per line. OOOooooOOo I have $4.37. $8.39. $15. 24.


I pound the print button.

It's the one that says Bad Mutha Fucka.


Would you like some E. coli with that?

This is it. Today, the 14th of January, I have vowed to myself to never ever eat at Bayboro Tavern ever again. I know I've gone off on these tangents before, but this time is serious.

I haven't been to the Tavern in months. I always get grossed out by the fact that they don't wear gloves when they assemble my sandwich. I mean, anything could be on your hands.

On the radio the other day, the DJs were talking about a recent study they've done on new clothes. Researchers took cultures from a few items, mainly new sweaters and blouses, then ran some lab tests.

How about there's feces on like everything.
NEW FUCKING CLOTHES. I never want to see one of those black light luminol tests done in a fitting room.

So the Tavern is infamous for their unsanitary process of. . . not being sanitary.

How come nobody says anything? Well, it could be a few reasons.

1. The Bayboro Tavern is the main hubbub of dining on the USFSP campus. They serve anything from sandwich wraps to Nachos Supremos; you could easily eat there a few times a week as a full-time student. Nobody can live off of Chik-Fil-A alone.

2. They serve beer. Uh duuuuuuuuuuuuuuUUUUUUUUUhhh. Who's going to complain about the one place students can go to get crocked before their 6:00 p.m. class. I've even had a professor resume the 2nd half of our Photojournalism class at the Tavern, to discuss the techniques behind ethical shutter speeds over a pitcher.

3. They serve beer. Too buzzed to realize what the fuck is going on behind the counter? We've all seen what I've seen at a 3:00 a.m. trip to Wafflehouse. Of course drunk people wouldn't notice the germ circus spilling out by the waffle irons.

4. Maybe people have and they didn't give a shit (unless it's in the form of particles in between tomato slices).

Last time I ate at the Tavern I think it made me sick. I got sick shortly after; either that night or the next day. Today, I decided to give the place one more shot.

I walk through the entrance and see one person sitting at a table. One employee is washing a dish. One is wiping down the tables. She looks up at me and continues swiping the tabletops. Thanks.

The one wiping tables gets back behind the counter, looks at me like I'm a fucking alien and then asks what I want. I order the usual: Half a roast beef sandwich, a touch of mayo, tomato, extra lettuce.

She grabs the bread with her probably damp hands that are finally free from the burden of the rag. Oh, that rag. The rag that just visited the surface of the 8-something tables. Bacteria from the hands of at LEAST 8 different people. Each table seats more than one, however. I just try to pretend like the pink rag she just threw on the food counter didn't also visit the outside seating area.

She picks up my Pumpernickel bread, peels the roast beef off of the plastic and makes sure to get some fingerprints all over my extra lettuce. The food is pretty good; I'll give them that. I keep telling myself that it's going to be ok.

They even handle your money without an afterthought of cleanliness. Currency is the worst thing you could ever expose your immune system to. That shit could seriously have AIDS on it, aside from common bodily fluids like spit. Or snot. Or ya know, semen.

It's not ok. I ate some of the meat and bread and put the rest back on the counter and walked out. Jesus fucking Christ. ONE PERSON.

There was one person in the whole restaurant. And she couldn't find 30 seconds to even rinse her damn hands off? Squirt sanitizer? Snap on a glove or two? Jump into a tub of Clorox Cleanup Disinfectant Spray because she and the entire staff are the most disgusting human beings on the face of the earth?

They'll be lucky if I even come back for a beer before my 6:00 p.m. night class.

It's a health code violation with a pulse and they don't even have to hide it.