Tom Long

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Tom Long

Screaming is an under appreciated art form. For one thing, it’s hard to do. Try it. Go lock yourself in the bathroom, close the windows, turn on the fan and start yelling.

It’s not easy to let it all out without feeling self conscious. It takes confidence to be naked and raw. Or, as is the case with many a writer, liquid courage gets the job done.

Tom Long

Is the television theme song a dying art?

Although I watched a lot of television, few current running shows’ themes get me to hurry me back from raiding the fridge other than the intros to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Most of my favorites are from the 1970s — TV’s golden age for theme songs. Chalk it up to a combination of my age, gender, race and political affiliation. Maybe I should watch something other than Comedy Central and METV.

Everyone makes lists. Yours will be different — maybe better. Here is an ode to a neglected genre; my Top 10 list of TV Theme Songs. Looking back, I see a few common threads.


Tom Long

I’ve wanted to write about the record The Strain by Teeth for some time now, but given the subject matter, I’ve never quite been sure how to approach it. For those who are familiar with the compelling story of John Grabski, creative force behind the short-lived duo, I certainly can do no better than what has already been written.

Through the benevolent powers of the internet, John found a community to share his story of his battle with cancer. Shortly before his death, he recorded a seven-song LP with his brother Ben and Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago. It’s an unvarnished document of his fight with cancer: the medicine and surgery, the hope and vulnerability, the struggle to make sense and learning how to deal with the limited time one has. The project adopted the motto Rock vs. Cancer; Rock Wins, which captures the spirit of the record.

Tom Long

Editor’s Note: This review first appeared May 13, 2011.

My knowledge of Nottingham, UK, extends to the Robin Hood movies I grew up watching as a kid courtesy of WGN Family Classics (featuring Douglas Fairbanks) and Disney (with a cartoon fox). I don’t know much of its music scene, yet I’ve been obsessing lately over instrumental recordings from a pair of bands that hail from there — Kogumaza and Souvaris.

With all the yap-yap and chatter by the talking pixels of the 24/7 cable news/internet, my brain needs a break. I don’t always have the attention span for listening to songs. What I particularly enjoy about a well done instrumental is the freedom it allows me to imagine. No whiny, sappy, heartbroken, political or obtuse lyrics to badly date an era. Just get right to the good stuff.

Kogumaza is a trio that create a dense, cinematic experience on their self-titled release that just came out this week. The two-track download plays like an LP (if you don’t actually buy the vinyl). Each side features a four-piece suite of ambient, hypnotically droning, reverberating guitars; fuzzed out bass and drums cleverly stitched together. The approach is simple and well-crafted, never proggy or flashy.


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Tom Long

I love the smell inside my helmet. A lingering mixture of exhaust, lubricant, Simple Green, Nivea aftershave, blooming trees and asphalt awakens my senses every time I hit the starter button, put on my lid and secure the chin strap.

I don’t drive much. Haven’t had the need to in the past 15 years since I commute to work via the L. My 2002 VW Beetle only just turned 36,000 last week. Driving in these parts is for suckers. Relegated to a grinding task, usually in the worst times of the day, nobody gets pleasure out of driving anymore. Sure, you can have a Maserati, but there’s nowhere you can’t drive 185. So, what’s the point? But riding is almost nothing but pleasure — especially once you get outside the city boundaries.

Seeing as how I am generally antisocial and such, I usually don’t go riding with other people very often. I got into riding long after all my friends outgrew it, broke body parts or had families, so I’ve always felt a bit at a disadvantage hanging with tuners and thus kept my distance. But every now and then I get together with my buddy Kevin in Geneva and we hit the road from there. Scooter rides a BMW RS1100 and I keep pace on my Ducati Monster 620.

Traffic was light Sunday morning as I headed south down Western Avenue to I-290 on my way out to Geneva. I pulled up to the light at the six corners of Elston, Diversey and Western as a flash mob — I think that’s what the kids call them  —  of about a dozen hipster nerds in unitards performed a dance with water bottles. And me without my camera. I said to myself, “Lou, it’s the beginning of a great adventure.”