Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Birthday...! Jesus.

To the rest of you, all residents of Dim City, and especially those whose blogs are listed off to the right here:

Merry Christmas!

I already have some stories for the next installment of Dim City? Aren't you all excited??

- Dim.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Yankee Swaps Suck

'Tis the season to get totally screwed by people you thought were your friends.

Xteen and I went to a work Christmas party of hers and despite my misanthropy and xenophobia, I actually had a pretty good time. Until...

...the Yankee Swap.

For those of you a little south of the Mason/Dixon line, let me fill you in on the fiasco and abomination that is the Yankee Swap.

- Everyone at the party brings a gift within a certain dollar range. Most of these gifts are hooch. Almost all of the others are stuff that can be found here.

- Each person who brought a gift draws a number, usually handwritten in a Grey Goose-ravaged script and placed into the host's expensive crystal bowl that was given to them as a wedding gift and will, most assuredly, end up in approximately a gazillion pieces, strewn on the hardwood floor of the dining room, by evening's end.

- The person fortunate enough to pick #1 has their choice of any gift under the Christmas tree, Hanukkah bush, or any other religiously ethnic shrubbery. They open it. It, pretty much, sucks.

- This process proceeds numerically, the catch being: whoever follows gift receiver #1 opens their gift and, if they like a gift opened before theirs, they can insult the person who brought their gift, by shunning it like a leper, and giving it to another person, whose gift they want instead. They then wrestle the gift away from the clutches of their buddy, leaving their friend with something that a hobo would probably chuck into a dumpster.

- Sound complicated, eh? Not really. What it boils down to is this: Don't like your gift? Steal someone else's. That's the true meaning of Christmas. Just imagine if this happened back in Bethlehem. One of the Magi brings myrrh and puts it in the stable. Joseph picks it up, opens it to reveal whatever the fuck myrrh is, and decides to exchange it with the iTunes gift card that the Little Drummer Boy got. Surely Jesus would have approved, especially if it meant he got to throw "My Humps" on his Nano.

So, we bring a gift that I think is pretty cool. Instead of getting the requisite bottle of ripple or a set of dryer balls, I decide to get a DVD of a movie that we thought was really excellent.

Xteen gets number 9 out of about 15. She picks a gift bag and opens it up to reveal a modestly-sized bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream. I'm not a big fan of Bailey's, but it's booze, so I do what any normal person in this situation would do:

I tell Xteen to hide that shit the fuck away and, if anyone asks what we have, you tell them we have a Homer Simpson Chia-Head and leave it at that. Oh, and you might want to mention that you developed some open sores over the last five minutes that are leaking burnt sienna-hued pus over the bag and gift contained therein.

A few more people pick and decide to keep their gifts. This includes the person who selects the movie that I chose to give for the Yankee Swap. They open it and reveal it to the crowd as if they had just received a tissue-paper swaddled version of gonorrhea. They're not happy. But rather than piss off their friends, they decide to swallow their disappointment (apparently, they thought they were going to get their most valued wish from Santa at a $10 limit Yankee Swap) and kept the friggin thing.

This level of civility continues until some chick opens a gift bag that includes two chocolate spoons (?!) and a gift card to Dunkin' fuckin' Donuts, which, last time I checked, served fucking donuts and coffee with no alcohol in it.

This heathen decides to actually follow the God-forsaken rules of the Yankee Swap and sniffs out Xteen who, at this point, has taken on a fake mustache and has decorated the bag of Bailey's with porcupine needles and biohazard stickers.

This does not dissuade the chocolate spoon chick who proclaims, without a hint of apology, "Sorry Xteen, but my delirium tremors really need this Baileys or I will have to go sell my body on the street like I usually do to get my fix." Or something like that.

So, in the blink of an eye, the fucking hooch was gone and we were left with dreams of a large decaf and a bear claw to tide us over.

It was like opening up a gift to find Jenna Jameson only to have someone steal it from you and replace it with:

So, thanks a lot, Yankee Swap. Your Christmas spirit sucks balls. And not the dryer kind either.

Still trying to find a taker for a Ronco food dehydrator,

- Dim.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Skool Daze

Nah, the title isn't some hip way of spelling "School Days". Nor is it a rap song title by Crayzee Eyez Killah.

It's how I would still be spelling words if I went to Needham High School. Check out this story.

For those of you who don't know, Needham is an affluent town outside of Boston. ONE parent complained about the high school publishing the honor roll in the local newspaper (as if anyone actually reads newspapers anymore), so now, they are suspending the practice of putting it in the paper.

That's real nice.

The parent's complaint? Well, they have three kids. One is smart. The other two are dumb. And, get this, the actually publication of the honor roll causes stress in the household, because it calls positive attention to the kid working his/her ass off in school (the horror!!!) and mildly shames the dumb kids (apparently not enough for them to do better in school, however).

The brilliant principal of this questionable educational establishment, Paul Richards, had the audacity to acquiesce to the request of the parent, to the point of AGREEING with them, saying, publication of the honor roll projected "an unhealthy focus on grades."

Pardon my Intro to French, but what the fuck are you talking about?!

It's fucking SCHOOL! "An unhealthy focus on grades??" That's what school IS!

By the way, better hope your kid doesn't go to a high school like Needham High or they will never know the meaning of words like "audacity" and "acquiesce".

This friggin guy goes on to say:

"There are lots of other ways that students achieve, such as in clubs, musicals, concerts, athletics and community service."


Which is why local papers usually cover things that students do, like clubs, musicals, concerts, athletics, and community service.

But maybe they shouldn't anymore.

My kid doesn't know how to play the bassoon, so when the paper does a story on a concert at the school, he feels ineffectual. Oh, sorry, big word. He feels "bad".

My kid isn't good at football, so when they cover the homecoming game, it causes him stress.

By the way, I think that high school athletics places an unhealthy focus on scores. Perhaps they should just play and not keep track of who gets a goal, scores a run, gets a touchtown, or nails a three pointer at the buzzer. That would make the kids who didn't play well in that particular game upset. We wouldn't want to do that and, we all know, that if they went to college to play a particular sport, they place no emphasis on results, so this would be a great primer.

This principal goes on to say that the ranking of students solely based on grades goes against the school's actual mission, which is to "promote learning".

That's nice.

Kinda sounds like the career goal of a Miss America contestant. "I'd like to save the rain forest, eliminate hunger everywhere, champion world peace, learn what the word 'acquiesce' means, and promote learning. But not so much that you can actually quantify and qualify how much someone learns."

First of all, numbnuts, you aren't ranking the students. You are acknowledging kids who are doing well academically. There's a fucking difference.

Second of all, I'm sure your teachers are doing the Happy Happy Joy Joy dance that basically castrate their responsibilities in the press. Or perhaps I should assume that, from this point on, you won't be giving tests or quizzes or finals. Let's just have a healthy dialogue for the entire school day and assume that kids leave there having "learned something". Isn't that nice? Pass the healing crystals and call me when the shuttle lands.

By the way, this is a really great message to send to the entire student body. Hey, suck at English and Math, but throw a mean curveball and it's OK. Maybe you're LEARNING, and that's the most important thing here.

Hey, brainiac nerd over there...put the fucking books down, cut your balls off, and go for soprano in the chorus. It's your only chance of getting any recognition.

And this prepares kids for the real world how? No wonder so many of them suck in the workplace when they finally get there. They've been coddled and have had their own parents defend their poor study habits. Sure, that probably sounds good when you're fifteen years-old, but as an adult, you see how terrible that approach actually would be. (OK, I'm jealous).

I promise when I am a parent, I will not settle for a dumb kid. Sure, I want him/her to be well-rounded, but academics are the primary focus. Everything else comes after. And while I am on it, I won't be the one complaing about any school or town celebrations for Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Halloween, Flag Day, Arbor Day, etc. And if my kid wants to pray or say the Pledge of Allegiance in school, I'll stand by him. I just don't understand how a minority of the parent population can get their way (like the cancellation of a Halloween party, which happened in another very affluent Boston suburb this year). Are these people that selfish and self-important? I guess they are.

Just for fun, I visited the high school's website. It appears their school motto (for any future Needham High students reading the blog, a "motto" is a couple of words put together that tells you what something believes in. So, for you, a good motto would be: "The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, The Boogie Man") is "To Think, To Respect, To Communicate (But Not To Do Any Of Those Well Enough To Be Recognized For It, Lest You Make Those Who Do Not Think, Respect, And Communicate As Much Feel Shame)".

OK, well, the stuff in the parentheses isn't on the website, but it's inferred.

So, to all those parents out there...if something like this happens in your town, fight it with all your might. Grades do matter. My mother's wooden spoon and my Sallie Mae loans say so.

Graduated from college cum laude, bitches! (and proud of it),

- Dim.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Beware the Yellow Rain

No, this wasn't the subject line of a spam e-mail that I received that proceeded to ask me to sign all of my wordly assets to a wrongly imprisoned Prince of Nambia. Nor was it a harbinger found in a cookie that came with my General Gau's Chicken with boneless spare ribs and lo mein.

Though it probably should have been.

Let me take you through my Saturday morning.

I was in the shower.

Relax, I'm not going THERE.

So, I was in the shower and I was...

...singing. Awesomely, as I am wont to do when I am showering.

Xteen bursts in the bathroom, mid-aria, and yells, "Dim!"

She does this often. What usually follows is: "You are singing awesomely!"

Only this time, she proclaimed something slightly more troubling:

"There's a leak!"

I think to myself, "I mustn't have closed the shower curtain completely and there are drips of water on the floor. That must be it."

Having just completed rinsing my mane of its Pantene 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner (a wonderful invention...must like the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, only not as chocolately. Or peanut buttery), I part the curtain to reveal something that took approximately 2.8 seconds for my brain to process.

Water was pouring down in sheets from the air conditioning vent and the ceiling fan (which, as luck would have it, was ON and running on, I'm no Ben Franklin, but I seem to recall water and electricity getting along about as well as Tom Cruise and "reality"). This scenario made Xteen's proclamation of a "leak" about as accurate as saying Angelina Jolie has screwed "a couple of guys".

"Hmmm", I say to myself, as I calmly exit the shower and attempt to sop up the still downpouring water with any available towel in an effort as feeble as the captain of the Titanic bailing out with a Dixie cup.

We locate a bucket and put it under the electric fan, still spewing its aquatic nemesis, since that is the orifice in the ceiling that is "leaking" with the most ferocity.

Xteen hypothesizes that it is something that we did. I'm on board with that for a minute, because firstly, our drains have been going down real slow lately and secondly, if something is fucked up in the apartment, it's usually on account of something we did.

But then I started to think about it more. Now, I'm no Isaac Newton, but I'm reasonably sure that unless you have a poltergeist or maybe a magician in the house, water usually doesn't run from the ground up. Now, I can do that trick where I make it look like half of my finger's missing, when in actuality, it is just the thumb on my other hand, but I can't make two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen defy gravity. Yet.

So, then, we figure one of the pipes burst, which would explain the problem we've been having with the drains.

Xteen decides to call the complex's maintenance department, which has an answering service that considers anything short of a gas explosion a non-emergency. Last summer, we discovered a lot of black mold in one of our closets that was (obviously) the result of a water leak in the place. Guess what? Not an emergency. A few years ago, they installed a new air conditioning unit that goes through my closet and comes out to the outside of the building. They didn't seal it up and we had a tropical storm. So, I am standing in front of my bureau, which is near the closet and the soles of my feet are wet. In fact, half the rug in the bedroom is sopping from the rain. You guessed it...not an emergency.

So, there I am, half-naked (dream away, readers, dream away), holding a bucket below an electric fan that is vomiting water and Xteen gets someone on the phone and tells them our situation. Xteen must have used the ol' Jedi mind trick, because Lily Tomlin on the other line decided that having water explode out of places from which water should never come is, in fact, an emergency.

While I got dressed (again, dream away...), Xteen decided to go visit the upstairs neighbor to see if he was having any trouble with his water.

Xteen returns with a terrifying report:

The guy upstairs...his toilet overflowed.

He assured her that it was "clean" water.

To the best of my knowledge, my upstairs neighbor is not Ed Norton (the sewer worker from the Honeymooners, not the dude from Fight Club. Actually, he's neither. Nevermind). So, I'm not sure how he can confidently tell me that water is clean. You could take a hermetically sealed bottle of Perrier and pour it in your can. Guess's fucking toilet water.

Finally, the deluge abates, after what seemed like forty days and forty nights. Upstairs neighbor apologizes profusely and promises to call maintenance RIGHT NOW to fix his loo because he is having a party that night and doesn't want any toilet trouble. This works out well too, because I am not particularly in the mood to be trimming my soon-to-be handlebar mustache only to be unceremoniously baptized by some stranger's piss. So, this toilet-fixing idea is most definitely a win/win.

Finally, the on-call maintenance guy calls us. I answer the phone:


"Yeah, this is Cement Head with maintenance."

"Umm, yeah, hi...we have a little bit of a problem. We have water pouring out of our air conditioning vent and the ELECTRIC fan in the ceiling. Our neighbor said his toilet overflowed. In fact, the cracks in the wall in the bathroom and doorjam are bleeding water as well. Can someone come out here?"

(A pause ensues that would imply that I asked Cement Head to tell me how many toes he had without taking off his shoes)

"I can't do anything about that now. That's going to have to wait until Monday. If the water stopped, the upstairs guy has it under control."

"OK, hold on. So, a Niagra Falls-esque cascade of piss water flooding my bathroom floor, from the ceiling, I might add, is not an emergency?!?"

(Long pause, as if he suddenly remembered he didn't count his pinky toes)


"Well, what about the electric fan which is ON, by the way and currently has toilet water spewing from it??"

"If you are uncomfortable with the electricity being on, just don't touch anything until it dries."

"OK. Sounds good. Hey, just out of curiosity, is it normal to have septic agua raining out of the ceiling when a toilet overflows?"

"It happens all the time."

"Boy, have I lived a sheltered life. Thanks Cement Head!"


So, Xteen and I continue with our Saturday, which unexpectedly now included drying our flooded bathroom and washing towels, not to mention quizzically pacing throughout the place trying to rationalize how this wasn't an emergency and worrying when I could touch the light switch without fearing that I'd end up with a hair style like Don King's.

Finally, Xteen and I settle in to do what we had planned: wrap Christmas gifts. Fun.

There's a knock on the door.

It's the upstairs neighbor. He asks if he can do anything to help us.

I say, "Yeah. Use more of this."

So, if you hear on the news of someone who went into a murderous rampage because his upstairs neighbor's loaf fell on his head while he was brushing his'll know it's me. And that son of a bitch upstairs needs a bran muffin.

Still not convinced that opening an umbrella inside is bad luck,

- Dim.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Deck the Halls

Hey, what could possibly be better than decorating your abode in the spirit of the season??

I can think of a few things.

Like gangrene.

And if you say you like decorating for the holiday, I'm saying that you are lying.

And lying make baby Jesus cry.

Oh, I believe you when you say you enjoy the "thought" of decorating and even that feeling of excited anticipation leading up to the actual day of dressing your house up in a giant version of a Bill Cosby holiday sweater.

But then comes the reality:

The tree's too big.

All forty-three sets of lights left over from last year mysteriously have at least one light on them that is out, which is doubly odd because they were all lit when you put them away and you are reasonably sure that you didn't sneak up to the attic in the heat of July and shake the box like a Polaroid picture so all of the dainty little bulbs would be rattled from the nestling green plastic bosom that holds them. So, now you have to go to the store and battle all the other fucktards that are in the same sinking boat as you and are out trying to buy lights that actually work.

You can't find half the shit you had last year and the stuff you can find is all broken.

Someone stealthly shuts off the football game and puts on the Clay fucking Aiken Christmas album when you turn your back for two seconds to take a piss and ram your head into the wall.

Hey, I can be a jolly ol' elf and God knows I have a belly like a bowl full of jelly, but the decorating part can be a bit...trying.

Take my situation this past weekend. We decided to go get the Christmas decorations from our storage shed. The concept was greeted with pretty much the same amount of trepidation and anxiety as if I heard, "Dim, this catheter is a little too big, but we're gonna try and jam it in there anyway, K?"

So, we trek out to the storage shed and pray that the Christmas decorations practically fall onto my feet the second I open the door.

Instead I open the shed door to find two mountain bikes that have suffered such disuse, it appears that the spider from Stephen King's "It" decided to wrap them up and save them for dinner. By the way, I don't like spiders. That will have more importance later.

I now have to shuffle through boxes of various sizes and shapes that are labeled comprehensively like: "Dim's stuff", "kitchen stuff", "books to sell" (which works out well, because a book mobile usually passes right through our storage shed), "stuff", and "Xteen's stuffed animals"(?!).

Finally, I spy a box labeled in ball point pen (because that shows up really well on cardboard from a distance): "Christmas Decorations". And I must have either been drunk, or overdosed on the quadrillion times they show "A Christmas Story" between Thanksgiving and December 26, because I also wrote "Fra-geel-ay! That's Italian!!!" on the side of the box. It must have been fucking uproarious at the time, but when I saw it, it just made me queasy and made me long to be that drunk again.

This box, marked "fragile"...oh, sorry, "Fra-geel-ay" is lying exactly where you would expect a parcel of highly breakable ornaments would be: Delicately balanced on the top of a perplexingly pyramid shaped box which I'm guessing contains, by the shape of it, a pyramid, though, to the best of my knowledge, we own nothing of such shape.

I grab this this Fra-geel-ay box. It's gotta have some Christmas crap in it.

I find another one. This one's tiny. I open it up. There's like three things in there including this truly creepy looking stuffed Santa Claus (without his freaking HAT) that my mother insists I put out in the apartment because some aunt in the family gave it to us for Xteen's wedding shower and it is, according my Mom, antique roadshow wannabe, "worth a lot of money". And no, the friggin thing wasn't on our registry.

We are both thoroughly convinced that there are more decorations. So I do what any other normal person teetering on the edge of yuletide insanity would do. I whip out a box cutter and proceed to open up boxes labeled: "set of sheets", "tea kettle", and "glassware". I find no other decorations, but instead am the discoverer of a set of sheets, a tea kettle, and glassware. In that order.

I keep trying other boxes until I pick one up and a white spider roughly the size of an atom falls off the box and somewhere near my person. I violently convulse as if 1.21 jigawatts of electricity was shot through my nether regions and a scream of questionably masculinity wretches itself from my body, making a sound that I could only compare to what Ted Turner would sound like if someone grabbed his head and attempted to give him a noogie.

That's it. I'm fine with sifting through boxes of shit, but when I start getting ruthlessly attacked by miniature arachnids, I'm outta there.

We bring our pathetic Christmas booty back to the apartment and start rummaging through the boxes. We find an eerie amount of snow globes and other things wrapped in a wads of tissue paper large enough to choke a mastodon. None of it is particularly interesting.

Now, we locate some larger tree ornaments which will clearly not be appropriate in size for the small, three-foot, fake, PRE-LIT, bitches!, tree I surprised Xteen with earlier in the week. We would put one of these galactic spheres on the tree and it would tip over like Charlie Brown's tree and I don't have Snoopy's commercialism and Linus' Wonder Blanket to come and save the day.

So, I come up with the idea to hang them from these hooks we have throughout the joint. They are hanging from the ceiling and right now are the dangling home to a weird fish sculpture and a mini-velvet Elvis painting. We have a couple of empty hooks, so we put one of the nice ornaments on it. It looks good there. I unwrap another tissue wad to find another similarly-sized ornament. It too, is classy-looking. I proceed to put it on the remaining hook and Xteen takes umbrage.

"That's just too much. I don't want to overdo it. You know how we go into people's houses and it is just cluttered and looks like Santa's Village? I don't want that."

First of all, you're telling me?? I fucking hate decorating! And second of all, it's ONE more ornament! One. It's the size of a naval orange, for crying out loud. When was the last time we were in the store and you were buying naval oranges and you had one in the basket and you reached for another and I said, "Uh, no. That's just too much. I don't want to turn the apartment into an orange orchard, or whatever the fuck they grow in."

So, I finally relent and the ornament doesn't go up. We sit back and see that, in our apartment, we have up a snow globe, a couple of small ceramic things, and the whacked out stuffed Santa Claus with no hat. Clearly, we are bordering on holiday overkill.

There's one particular decoration that I kind of like. It's a Lenox crystal candle holder. It's got holly leaves etched in it and is dual-tune, the top being clear and the bottom is a lovely Christmas green hue. OK, I'm a fairy. Shut up.

Anyway, I can't find it. Until...I spy its box.

I open the thick cardboard box and I find swaddled in its inpenetrable protection (wrapped in a giant wad of tissue paper, natch) a three inch tall wooden nutcracker. You know, the kind they sell 15 for a nickel at your closest holiday supermart. One of those.

Xteen finds the candle holder. Flimsily wrapped in a sheet of mostly popped bubble wrap. By itself and out if its very own box. And the thing is pulverized. Honestly, if you came up to me with a piece of trash and said to me, "Hey, I really want to break this. Can you wrap it up for me, so if I even *think* about it, it will shatter into oblivion?", I'd probably wrap it up like the Lenox crystal candle holder that I really liked was wrapped. I said aloud to the sky, much like Cindy Lou-Who: "Why? Why, Santy Claus? Why?"

Anywho, we couldn't find the Christmas tree ornaments, so I promised Xteen I would go back to the shed on Monday and look again.

Armed with a can of Raid in case that albino spider son of a bitch tried anything funny again, I braved the cold cavity of storage. I proceed to look in boxes that I already looked in two days prior and am surprisingly dumbfounded that the ornaments did not reanimate themselves in places I had searched before.

Then, I spy a box that has none of my writing on it. According to the outside of the box, in words and illustration, it housed a Foodsaver contraption. You know, those things that suck the air out of plastic bags so you can buy meat by the side of cow-load and freeze it all without it going bad. I said to myself, "Hmmm".

I said, "Hmmm" to myself, because I could also say to myself with reasonable certainty that the box was a liar and did not, in fact, provide sanctuary to this air sucking machination because said waste of counter space was currently living in my kitchen wasting counter space.

I cut the overstuffed box open with my razorblade, much like Han Solo, with frightful ease, disembowling a dying Tauntaun with a light sabre on planet Hoth to give a hypothermic Luke warmth. And what did spill out of that box? Not Tauntaun guts! But tree ornaments! Seeing them caused my heart to grow three sizes that day. Pass the roast beast.

So, I get them back to the apartment and when Xteen gets home from work, we put them on our meager tree. But there isn't enough. So, we head down to the local Target to get some more ornaments. I pick one kind over Xteen's choice and we come home with them. And this is where things got dicey.

You see, Xteen thought my balls were too big and I had to convince her that my balls were just small enough to be the perfect size. It turns out that I was right and my balls were small enough. But for some reason, I wish she was right and that my balls were too big. Regardless, my smallish balls are hanging from that tree and I'm going to make sure that everyone who comes over knows it. They might not be the biggest balls on the block. But they're mine and they are hanging quite nicely, thank you very much.

Have fun decorating, fruitcakes!

- Dim.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Who - TD BankNorth Garden, Boston, MA 12/03/06

Yes, Keith Moon has been dead for 28 years.

Yes, John Entwistle shuffled off this mortal coil (amidst a fog of drugs, booze, and Las Vegas, of course) four years ago on the eve of a new Who tour.

Yes, I realize that is one half of what is known as The Who. And I don't care. I plopped down some hard-earned cake to go to the local Enormo-dome and see a couple of aging rockers cling to their greatness, like dentures that grab that turkey leg in such a vice-like kung-fu grip that they end up extracting themselves from the gums of their octogenarian owner.

Well, a funny thing happened at the Garden last Saturday.

The Who, or what is left of them, completely blew me away.

The band has long been one of my favorites, despite not having put out an album of original material in almost a quarter of a century. But utterly classic albums, like Quadrophenia, By Numbers, Who's Next, and the seminal Live at Leeds (the best live album ever recorded) stoke the fires. Just listening to the old band is a mix of nostagia and awe: Moon, on drums, was incredibly acrobatic and talented...easily one of the best rock drummers to ever play. His rhythm partner, the Ox, Entwistle, laid down some of heaviest, thickest, metallic basslines this side of Jupiter and then changed on a dime to play his bass like a lead guitar. Pete Townshend, one of music's greatest songwriters and underrated guitarists shared the front of the stage with Roger Daltrey, a singer initally renowned more for his looks than his pipes. But as the Who grew up, so did Daltrey and his singing became one of the Who's many trademarks...his voice so undeniably recognizable. His gutteral screams (the end of "Won't Get Fooled Again") coupled with pensive, emoted vocals ended up defining the Who just as much as Townshend's windmill guitar strum or Keith Moon blowing up his kit at the end of a set, or even Entwistle, stoically doing his job whilst smoothly avoiding flying cymbals and pieces of Townshend's strat.

But that was a long time ago. The last truly magnificent Who albums were all made around the time I was born. They've lost two founding members to excess and seemingly toured out of necessity more than want for many years.

Townshend, the brain to Daltrey's brawn in the band, announced that the Who would not tour again unless they had new material. Perhaps sensing the audience's discontent with hearing the recycled greatest hits setlist tour after tour, but probably more in an effort to challenge himself to come up with something fresh and exciting, Townshend began writing anew and the result is a really wonderful nod to the glory of the Who's past: Endless Wire. Sure, there are some warts on it and the production is sketchy at best, but there are tracks that are so emotional and raw, expertly orchestrated by Townshend and equally impressively sung by Daltrey. Townshend even indulges with one of his patented mini-operas, called Wire and Glass, addressing the state of music today.

So, when the Who rolled into town, it was easy to be a little skeptical. But, I had never seen any incarnation of the band, one of my all-time favorites, and although the price was certainly NOT right for tickets, I didn't know if this would be my last opportunity to see one of my guitar heroes live, not to mention Daltrey, who, over their career, blossomed into an amazing vocalist.

Opening up for the Who was The Pretenders, who I am sure most know of. I have to admit to not having a really strong opinion of the band either way (their fine; I don't own any of their material), but they were quite a treat as an opening act. The band was flawless in their execution and I was most impressed by how utterly pristine Chrissie Hynde's vocals were. An excellent choice of opening bands, the Pretenders blew threw their 45-minute set and left to such an enthusiastic response from the crowd that Hynde remarked how happy she was, since she only expected the joint to be half-full for them.

After a short set-change break, the lights went down and the video screens (one large on both side of the stage, two large at the front) lit up and the place went nuts. For some reason, I expected the Who to come out with Endless Wire in its entirety first (I happily avoided seeing any reports of setlists, since the band hasn't altered them at all since the tour started), so when Townshend's crisp guitar blasted out the opening chords to "I Can't Explain", a content smile formed on my face and, although my seats were somewhere in the Horsehead Nebula, I was there. At the show. Seeing The Who. It was fantastic.

Most of the video screens showed the band live and up close so us poor folks in the back could actually be sure that it was Daltrey and Townshend themselves and not some cover band. Below the main screen at the front of the stage was a three-paneled video system which showed various montages all throughout the show. When the set started, these screens showed all old photos of the band...everything from their tongue-in-cheek cover shoot for their "Sell Out" album to pics of them clowning around with Jimi Hendrix. Later, those screens would be visual accompaniment, like a mini-movie, for the newers songs. And as the final notes of "I Can't Explain" rang out, Townshend's powerful riff that begins "The Seeker" exploded, as did the crowd, as a fresh series of pictures dotted the video screens. Chill-inducing.

All business at first, the band (which had Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starkey...yes, Ringo Starr's kid, on drums, Simon Townshend, Pete's brother, on guitar and vocals and a keyboardist whose name I didn't catch...more on all of them later), was tight beyond belief, giving the fans a few oldies before the first new song of the night, Endless Wire's opening track, "Fragments".

Townshend's playing throughout the night was inspired and ferocious on the rocking songs and gentle and pensive on the acoustic numbers. He played songs that he has played a million times before but did so with an emotion that proved that he was anything but flying on auto-pilot. The new songs seemed fresh, yet still harkened back to an old-style Who sound, and the excitement with which Townshend and, particularly Daltrey, approached them, was wonderful to hear and see.

The "Greatest Hits" fans won out after "Fragments" as the CSI staple, "Who Are You" began to thuderous applause. As worn out as the song is from being used as the theme to one of that friggin' shows seemingly 135 different incarnations, I still couldn't get enough of it. And truth be told, I honestly feel like that single performance of that song on Saturday was one of the best live performances of ANY song by ANY band I have ever seen. They absolutely slayed it.

The mini-opera "Wire and Glass" followed and while the new songs translated so well live, I was very disappointed by the courteous, yet tepid, response the band got when it was over. I realize they aren't playing "The Very Best of the Who" from start to finish here, but fans of the band should be a little more excited to hear some new material for a change, especially when it is executed so perfectly.

That response, or lack thereof, was magnified even more when the band followed a new tune with an old classic.

And while Townshend annouced "Baba O'Reilly" as one of the few songs that he has no emotional attachment to, he slyly joked that the song has become the audience's more than his, but he still held the copyright. Easily, that tune elicited the longest ovation upon its completion than any other.

The rest of the set was an excellent mix of new and old, acoustic and heavy rock. The pummelling riff of "Eminence Front" was wonderfully offset by "A Man in a Purple Dress", which found only Daltrey and Townshend on stage. Pete, delicately playing acoustic guitar, while Roger was singing his heart out.

The band itself was extremely solid. Starkey's drumming, while not quite as herculean as Moon's, definitely was impressive (especially during the drum fills of "Won't Get Fooled Again"), all while Simon Townshend held down "Best Supporting Player" honors by helping to fill out Townshend's guitar solos with tasteful rhythm and also by bailing out Daltrey on some of the more challenging vocal parts with pitch-perfect vocal harmonies.

And the man with some big shoes to fill, Palladino, played some truly jaw-dropping basslines, particularly in the intro to "You Better You Bet". Pino was an absolute beast, and in regards to the new songs, the biggest compliment I can bestow on Palladino is that he played basslines that I could easily have heard Entwistle play if he recorded the disc.

Daltrey and Townshend seemed to have great chemistry on stage and it appeared that the emotional nature of the new material brough them closer. They earnestly expressed their thanks to the crowd, and when Daltrey announced that he has been working with a genius his entire career, the crowd erupted, not only in agreement, but also in admiration of Daltrey and his own particular genius as well.

"Won't Get Fooled Again" closed the main set and while the encore break was brief, the encore itself was a little disappointing as it contained only songs from the band's groundbreaking 1969 rock opera, "Tommy". But as "Listening to You" faded out, the rest of the band left the stage while Daltrey and Townshend stayed on for one final number, the beautifully acoustic "Tea and Theatre" from Endless Wire. Strange for such a loud band to go out with such a soft song, but the Who was never about doing what was expected. A hug between Townshend and Daltrey closed the set to a deafening ovation.

And thus ended what was, in my opinion, a near-perfect show. The only slight downers were the seizure-enducing light show all through "Baba O'Reilly" (I'm still seeing spots when I close my eyes) and the complete lack of any tunes from one of my favorite Who albums, Quadrophenia (come on! You couldn't throw in "Love Reign O'er Me" or "The Real Me"?!?!). But all in all, I was fine with the setlist and absolutely ecstatic with the energy of their performance. And on top of it all, I can saw I got to see the fucking Who.

Some may call these guys dinosaurs and there might be some truth to that. But there is one big difference. The dinosaurs didn't survive the Big Bang. Meanwhile, the Who created their own.

The setlist:

  • "I Can't Explain"
  • "The Seeker"
  • "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere"
  • "Fragments"
  • "Who Are You"
  • "Behind Blue Eyes"
  • "Wire and Glass" (a. "Sound Round", b. "Pick Up The Peace", c. "Endless Wire", d. "We Got A Hit", e. "They Made My Dream Come True", f. "Mirror Door")
  • "Baba O'Reilly"
  • "Eminence Front"
  • "A Man in a Purple Dress"
  • "Black Widow's Eyes"
  • "Mike Post Theme"
  • "You Better You Bet"
  • "My Generation"
  • "Cry If You Want"
  • "Won't Get Fooled Again"


  • "Pinball Wizard"
  • "Amazing Journey"
  • "Sparks"
  • "See Me, Feel Me"/"Listening To You"
  • "Tea and Theatre"

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