Only in Houston
In the campaign to save the Astrodome with next week's Proposition 2 referendum, someone has decided that just the thing to put it over the top is a bad Bruce Springsteen parody. On October 21, an outfit called "Jalapeno Pixels" posted a YouTube video called "My Dome Town," a four-and-a-half-minute tribute to the Harris County Domed Stadium set to the tune of Springsteen's "My Hometown."
The next day the video caught the attention of HardballTalk, the baseball section of NBC Sports' site. Author Craig Calcaterra was less than kind, saying, "It's rusting and obsolete and requires over $200 million to renovate the place back into usability."
Sad to say, that much is true. But the creators of "My Dome Town" do absolutely nothing to advance their cause with their video. First, they've selected the most dour song on Springsteen's Born in the USA, indeed one of the most depressing tunes in a repertoire that also includes the Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad albums. Second, these are some of the new lyrics they came up with:
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The first of its kind
Right Stuff redefined
Eighth Wonder it was crowned
In '65, Astrodome arrived.
Houston's famous now
The future is bright
We're making this right
No one can tear us down
We'll soar to new heights
Our beacon of light
Conveniently, "My Dome Town" skips over the part where the Dome was allowed to lapse into neglect for almost a decade after its use as a shelter for Hurricane Katrina refugees. Harris County fathers at long last noticed how squalid the facility had become when the NFL started sniffing around Reliant Park again, ultimately awarding Houston Super Bowl LI in 2017.
No idea where "My Dome Town" came from or if "Jalapeno Pixels" is connected in any way with the various organizations, committees and food trucks now lobbying for Prop 2's approval. But at the very least, its makers have access to some pretty choice photos, Future Dome artist renderings and related film clips. There's bits of Sinatra, Elvis and George Strait to go with behind-the-scenes footage and scattered 'Stros games, Ali fights, bull rides, and a bit of the Bad News Bears film that was shot there. That alone makes the video worth watching, as long as you mute the sound.
But somehow Selena's famous Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo performance, which set the stadium's all-time attendance record in 1995, got left on the cutting-room floor. So did the event that broke it, Wrestlemania X-Seven in 2001. At four and a half minutes, it's long enough that they could have easily squeezed footage of those in. (And where's Brewster McCloud?)
It's not so much that the lyrics of "My Dome Town" are offensive. They're just terrible. It's that using a song by the epitome of all things New Jersey as a rallying cry to save one of Houston's most beloved buildings is more than a little tone-deaf. Springsteen never even played the Astrodome, not even in his peak Born in the USA years.
How hard would it have been to borrow a song by an artist whose connection to the building is a little more tangible, like "Sharp Dressed Man" or "All My Exes Live in Texas"? Or hell, Selena's "Fotos y Recuerdos," whose nostalgic theme should be exactly what Jalapeno Pixels is looking for?
As shoddy as its current condition is, the Dome remains one of Houston's true landmarks.
And not surprisingly, there hasn't been much opposition to Prop 2 beyond the usual chorus of people who say that money would be better spent on other projects. From what Rocks Off can tell, it looks like smooth sailing all the way to the ballot box on Tuesday.
Still, if it's not too late, we recommend Mr. or Ms. Pixels pull "My Dome Town" before it goes viral and becomes a reason to vote down the new Dome all by itself. It really is that bad.
Five artists it's time to stop hating.
Look, I hate some bands as much as any other sane person. We can all agree some bands are just bad, right? But sometimes people's vitriol for certain ones gets to a point where everybody just needs to chill out.
Like a never-ending knock-knock joke, using these bands and musicians as your choice punch line has gotten old, and it's about time we all just learned to live and let die.
5. Yoko Ono
Only on the bottom of the list because she actually does have a pretty loyal fanbase and following, Yoko Ono is a fantastic experimental artist who has made some incredible music in her lifetime. It's raw, it's powerful and it's beautiful. It's not hard to see what John Lennon saw in her.
That is if you're not a frothing-at-the-mouth "she broke up the Beatles and all she does is scream" hater. If you are that guy, consider that the Beatles broke up for far better reasons than John Lennon's relationship with Yoko Ono. It was an inevitability. It was also more than 40 years ago.
And about her just screaming? Take a listen to The White Album again. If you don't appreciate experimental music, you probably are missing out on one of the key components that made the Beatles so important in the first place.
Okay everyone, we get it, Drake is kind of a pushover. I mean, he's sensitive! To women! He treats them with respect! Gosh, what a loser. And he incorporates R&B into his music, something no real rapper would ever do!
Look, I'm not the biggest Drake fan myself, but by all accounts he seems like a good guy who makes decent pop music. If he were running around being a jerk to people, like Justin Bieber does, it would be totally cool to hate on him. But just because your girlfriend likes Drake more than she likes you doesn't mean he's the devil.
What I hate about Creed is that their music is so indebted to Pearl Jam I can only shake my head in disgust. The sad thing is that just as Faith No More begat Korn and Limp Bizkit, Pearl Jam begat Creed, and both were great bands. It's just what you get when you take real, aggressive, passionate music and make it water-soluble.
What I can't deny is that while Creed has been cold and calculated about their attempts to become popular by copying another band's sound, the members on their own are actually very capable musicians. Actually, everyone in the band is pretty decent except Scott Stapp and his fucking Eddie Vedder impression.
I dislike Nickelback because their music is repetitious and tedious and retreads classic-rock tropes with all the fire and passion of a 75-year-old's sex life. It's weak and frigid and makes me want to puke with its dumb, misogynistic, wannabe Van Halen lyricism.
That said, every hack comedian on the Internet has decided to sub in Nickelback as the punch line to his or her lame jokes, which is just as limp at this point as Nickelback's awful music at this point. As someone who's tasked with being funny on the Internet for a living, or at least mildly amusing while repeating "they can't all be gold" over and over again in my head, it frankly offends me.
Can we have a moratorium on Nickelback hate? Just let them fade into obscurity along with the kind of meatheaded attitudes and personas they represent.
Confession time: I actually love Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, which was a damn good pop album no matter how you slice it. Brian Eno's lush production didn't hurt matters any, either. Frankly, hating on Coldplay is just as played out as hating on any other band on this list, except it's even worse because Chris Martin's bunch has done nothing so egregious as the others here.
Why do people hate Coldplay then? Some of it seems to be their preachy attitude. Admittedly, they wear their causes on their sleeves, and it can get almost as grating as listening to Bono or George Clooney. But there's nothing wrong with that! We just don't like it because it makes us feel bad for not being so charitable in our own lives.
It would be fine to hate Coldplay based solely on their music, though, except that their music is actually pretty good. They're talented, ambitious songwriters who work with some of the best artists in the business to build their music. Some of it may come out trite, but give credit where it's due for what they do right. If they weren't so damn popular, they'd probably be your favorite band.
Dazed, Not Confused
Hazy Philly rocker Kurt Vile has his priorities straight.
At first glance, Kurt Vile seems like your typical scraggly-haired, Southern-bred stoner rocker. In reality, however, he's a responsible family man and a focused businessman. He doesn't smoke pot, and he's not even from the South.
While his sound may be inspired by the folk tunes of the Deep South, Vile is actually a bona fide city kid, raised in Philadelphia. Turns out that trademark drawl in his songs isn't nearly as pronounced in regular conversation.
Earlier this year Vile released his fifth album, Wakin On a Pretty Daze, whose hazy, psychedelic lo-fi sound is consummate Vile. His vision for the record was loftier than with his past efforts, though.
"I definitely had some kind of epic theme going," he explains, considering his catalog. "I was excited to take that even further with Wakin. I wanted it to be a deep and epic record."
Wakin is "epic" in the sense that it's an ambitious 70-minute double LP.
"It was an obsessive journey," he continues. "I usually get deep into my records, and figure out the themes as I go."
Vile is otherworldly yet amazingly focused. A father of two, he's a dedicated family man at heart. He happily accepts the sole duty of bringing home the bacon, and takes advantage of certain business offers to do so. He coolly dismisses others' judgments of such decisions, like licensing his songs for advertisements. Besides, to Vile, "selling out" is an archaic idea.
"It's all art," he says of music versus money. "But the business side of music is making the right decisions, playing the right gigs, getting the right deals."
One of Vile's "right deals" was licensing his song "Baby's Arms" for a Bank of America commercial. He received some heat for it, most publicly from Titus Andronicus's Patrick Stickles via Twitter, but Vile shrugged it off. "I never cared about that sorta thing," he responded to Stickles.
He is wholly invested in his art, but Vile's every move is made with his family in mind.
"It's a struggle," he says, to balance family with rock stardom, which often requires him to tour for months at a time. "But it's so meaningful to figure out. My family gives more meaning to my life."
For Vile, music is the only path for which he feels fit. So he makes it work.
"I'd be depressed if I ever had to go back to a day job," he admits. "But I'm pretty sure I'll be able to control my music career, so I won't have to do that."
"No," he emphasizes. "I'm not going to have to return to a day job, because music is my...thing."
It's his "thing," indeed. Wakin on a Pretty Daze is a captivating album on which Vile explores universal themes like love and loyalty. "I will promise to do my very best for you," he sings in "Too Hard." "And that won't be too hard."
Vile's lyrics have become more personal over time, which isn't coincidental; his family grreatly inspires his songwriting.
"It's a massive world out there," he says, referring to Wakin's heavy themes. "I mean, it's not, like, total doom, but it goes back and forth...all the time."
Vile is taking a more serious approach with the tour that brings him to Walters on Wednesday, his first time to play Houston. He has been rehearsing with his band beforehand — which, apparently, is a new thing.
"Rehearsals," he says, bemused by his own progress. "We're all professional now...but we'll see the outcome," he laughs. "No guarantees."
Kurt Vile plays Walters, 1120 Naylor, Wednesday, November 6 with VBA, Beach Fossils and Merchandise. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Ask Willie D
A reader's boyfriend won't leave her alone about a certain erotic accessory.
Dear Willie D:
Please don't think I'm being vulgar. I'm just trying to get honest information from a trusted male's perspective. Sometimes when I'm alone and in the mood, I use a vibrator to satisfy myself. I tried to use it as an additional stimulator once when I was being intimate with my boyfriend and he got offended. His exact words were, "What, I'm not enough for you?" It's not like I was trying to replace him.
I still have my little friend, but now I keep it hidden. Why are guys so intimidated by vibrators?
Your boyfriend is either an idiot, insecure or both. Maybe if you had prepped him before you whipped that thing out, he would have been more accepting of it. A few days prior to being intimate, you could have asked him, "What do you think about women who use vibrators to pleasure themselves?" His reaction would have given you an idea of where he stood on the issue. When communicating your reasoning for using a vibrator, as with a man who watches porn, the operative word is reassurance.
If there's a next time, reassure your guy that he is more than enough man to satisfy you; the toy simply adds to the experience. A man who is confident in his ability to work the middle already knows that.
Ask Willie D appears Thursday mornings on Rocks Off.
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