tupac conspiracy theories

Things I learned from hanging with my Little Brother this morning: Tupac Shakur isn’t really dead. He’s hiding in Jamaica, where he’s waiting for the statute of limitations to end for the faking of his own death. Then he’ll return, triumphant, to rule to hip-hop world. “He’s like Jesus,” my little bro said, “he’ll come back to life.” According to his impeccable Internet sources, Tupac’s autopsy photos were faked because they’re missing some of his tattoos, “plus the fake body they used was made of clay and you could tell in the photos.” (More Christian imagery!) If you could just trace the wire payments of Tupac’s mom around the world, you could figure out where Tupac is waiting. His “murder” in Vegas was faked in league with the local police, because if it was real, the police would have sent a helicopter out into the desert to follow the white Cadillac Tupac’s assailants were driving. Suge Knight was in on it all. Oh, and one more thing I learned: if you’re a Biggie Smalls fan, you suck.
(I still remember seeing some comic do standup on TV a few years ago, making fun of his mom trying to keep up with all things hip: “Dear, it was so sad when that Biggie Fries was killed.”)

kim weekend recap, offer to answer questions, burrito defense

Jesus Christ, it gets hot in my apartment when its 90 degrees outside and I turn off my AC all day. Jesus Christ!
My friend Kim from Rochester has been visiting for the last few days, so please excuse the lack of posts. Some highlights of the weekend: a rare Rangers victory, a quick trip to Austin, my nineteenth visit to the Sixth Floor Museum, watching the unreasonably praised movie Croupier, and the ass-whoopin’ Kim put on me in darts in a Fort Worth bar.
And Kim has even offered to provide a service to long-time crabwalk.com readers. “Do you have questions about Josh’s apartment and/or lifestyle? Would you like them answered by a first-hand observer?” Leave your questions in the comments, and Kim will get right back to you all with the answers you’ve been dying to hear.
(One final note: I’m hoping Kim will post a stirring defense of the burritos at Chipotle, which were so unfairly maligned in this space not long ago. To quote Kim earlier this weekend: “This is really good!”)

an ode to mark eitzel and american music club

Writing about Mark Eitzel yesterday got me thinking about my intense love for his band American Music Club from around 1994 to 1997. I first heard them play an acoustic set on World Cafe in the summer of ’93. When I got to college that fall, I searched out what were then their two latest albums, Everclear and Mercury. (They’re also AMC’s two best albums, and any record collection would improve with their addition.)
Critics absolutely adored them, more than even most critical darlings. (For instance, I remember Rolling Stone naming Eitzel the world’s best songwriter at one point and AMC their “Hot Band” the next year.)But their albums never sold worth a damn, likely because they could be so damned depressing.
AMC was the background music to much of college, occasionally and incongruously through happy times, more appropriately through sad ones. (Fiona, my college ex, can vouch for how many times she’d call my dorm room, hear AMC playing in the background, and know immediately it’d been a bad day for some reason.)
Eitzel was a problematic object for my fandom. He was indeed a brilliant songwriter; his lyrics could turn from unspeakably sad to knife-to-the-kidney bitter to darkly hilarious in the span of a verse. In interviews, he came across as self-effacing and intelligent. And he made gorgeous, impassioned records.
At the same time, he could be nasty as hell. He was also a drunk. And enormously depressed (as might be expected from a gay man living in San Francisco at the height of the AIDS crisis). He swayed between self-loathing for his band’s not being more popular than it was and hating the audience for not buying into his music.
After graduating, I moved on to other music. American Music Club broke up in 1995 (not long after this tremendously bitter interview I remember reading online when it came out). Eitzel’s produced five solo albums, all good, none great. His last album is all covers, which doesn’t play on his songwriting strength. But I still wear my fandom proudly.
A few great, bitter Eitzel interview excerpts from around the web:
from 1994:
Q: There’s a quote on a sticker on the cover of this new album, from a Melody Maker review: “One of the greatest living songwriters.”
Eitzel: Oh yeah. That was from 1989 or something? ’88 maybe? Old news.
ATN: But I mean it’s not as if this current album hasn’t gotten any, from the reviews I’ve seen, it’s been well received.
Eitzel: I’d much rather have like a million dollars and live in a giant mansion with several Rolls Royces, and I would put on the gate of my mansion, “World’s Greatest Living Songwriter.” When I have the security gates with a few television cameras constantly swiveling and the proximity monitors keeping people away and then an inner area with dogs — sub-machine gun posts — and then outside I’ll have this incredibly incongruous ornate gate with wrought iron. Well, I’ll probably buy the gate from Buckingham Palace, but at the top I’ll tear out the Queen’s sign and I’ll put, “World’s Greatest Living Songwriter.” That would be great….So really, I kind of don’t care. I have to sit at my desk and I have to go, “Well, this week, you really sucked.” And every once in a while, I’ll have a breakthrough. You know, and I really will think I’m the best songwriter. Otherwise, you know, you just write.
from 1996:
Q: So how do you plan to stay fresh?
A: Well, I take showers and, I don’t know, I like to spray things on my face. I like the little misting things. And then, of course, there’s cocaine and speed. No, I’m kidding. I don’t really plan to stay fresh. I guess I’m going to be like every other white male in America — just repeat myself until I drop.

I’ve met Mark two times. Once was at a great CMJ show in NYC (Soul Coughing, Grant Lee Buffalo, American Music Club, and Saint Etienne!). AMC was on second-to-last, and Mark came out to be in the crowd for Saint Etienne. Like a slavering fanboy, I went up to him and said (I was 19, remember): “I just wanted to say you’re awesome.” His response, typically: “Yeah, awesome at being lame.”
Then, he played a (surprisingly great) solo show at the Gypsy Tea Room last June. After the show, he was hawking a (surprisingly good) disc of demos. I stood in line to pay the man. When I got to the front, I told him I had a web site and I’d named it crabwalk.com in honor of AMC’s song “Crabwalk.” (This was when this site looked roughly like this.) His response: “Huh, I’ll check it out. That’ll be $10.”

death of online radio stations, officer shot story

It’s a damned shame how many online radio stations have gone under in the last few months. I’m doing some writing today, and I need background music, so I went through my old list of stations. Half of them were gone. Sad.
I wrote the first edition of this story, so if you’re reading the paper in Houston or El Paso, you’re reading my story. I only helped out on the final edition.

new releases from wilco, luna, mark eitzel

It’s a veritable cornucopia of music this month! Yesterday saw new releases from three of my all-time favorite artists: Wilco‘s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Luna‘s Romantica, and Mark Eitzel‘s Music for Courage & Confidence.
I, like thousands of others, had heard the Wilco disc online a few months ago, when they were streaming it from their site after a label dispute. It’s brilliant. It’s the icy, disoriented brilliance of something like Big Star’s Third, but brilliant nonetheless. The Luna (which I’m listening to now for the first time) seems pleasantly lively, if not particularly distinguished; it strikes me as a middling addition to their catalog, which still ranks it as a 7.5 or 8 in the Grand Scheme of Music. Haven’t listened to the Mark Eitzel yet, but it’s gotten mixed reviews. Mark’s music has been stuck in second gear for a few years, but my devotion to him (for his stellar work leading American Music Club) is such that I couldn’t possibly not lay down my $15. (Careful readers will remember that this web site is named for an American Music Club song.)

bob mould, wrestling writer

Bob Mould: punk innovator, rock god, professional wrestling auteur?
I don’t know how I missed this a couple of months ago, but Bob (ex-Husker Du, ex-Sugar) was until recently a writer for World Championship Wrestling. (Other verifications of the same story.)
Is this real? Could Bob just be pulling our leg? I don’t think so. Check this 1996 interview with the man: “Q: Bob, if the music industry were to disappear tomorrow for some reason, what other career/interest would you pursue? A: Maybe something in graphics, teaching, pro wrestling, I don’t know.”
I know at least one Mould devotee reads this site — I welcome all interpretations of this turn of events. I have a feeling there’s a PhD in there somewhere.

edgar suspended

There are few things more depressing than going to your weekly meeting with your Little Brother and finding out you can’t see him because he’s been suspended from school. Particularly when he’s teetering near the failure point in several of his classes and a day’s missed work can really hurt him.
The reason: he’d accumulated seven tardies this year, and that generates an automatic one-day suspension. What genius came up with the idea of suspension from school as a punishment? It’s a day off — what sort of incentive for good behavior is that? “Gee, I better shape up — if I screw up one more time, I get a day off from school.”
I can understand if a kid’s bringing a knife to school or something that you might want him out of the school environment for a while. But his punishment for not showing up to school on time — is not showing up to school at all? Dumb, dumb, dumb.