Rock the Bells

One thing I did this weekend when not repeatedly watching Dark Knight, discussing Dark Knight or thinking about Dark Knight was, through a series of events including contest winnings and last minutes cancellations, I found myself invited to go to Hip Hop's festival de jour, Rock The Bells. These weren't just your run of the mill tickets that cost $75 either, these are the premium tier $175 + tax & service charge tickets. So, I was going to a whole day of positive hip hop jams, with all the VIP trimmings, and I got the invite the night before.

Our aforementioned VIP status essentially afforded us the luxury of not being around people. There was a "VIP Lounge" set up for what I imagine was a mix of 10% contest winners and 90% rich and/or foolish. It was pretty nice to watch from a decent distance, and still be able to maintain your own personal bubble. The scene in the VIP lounge was also bizarre because absolutely everyone in the "lounge" was wearing the free "Rock the Bells" backpack they were given. As well at the backpack ($20 retail value), VIP ticketholders were also given a RTB T-shirt ($30 value), 2 free drink tickets ($14-16 value, with no line-up), a poster and a VIP laminate, to which alot of people didn't see for the souvenir they were intended as, and both wore and flashed them around all day like tools.

Things I was looking forward to at Rock The Bells:

1. Murs
2. Method Man & Redman
3. Free Backpack
4. A Tribe Called Quest/Pharcyde Reunions
5. 2 Free Drinks

Things I learned at Rock the Bells

1. First and foremost, Rappers' primary concern above all else is if "Real Hip Hop" is indeed in the building or not. This is something they need constant confirmation of, through applause.

2. The biggest Beef in Hip Hop isn't Solja Boy vs. Ice T, Suge Knight vs. Snoop, G-Unit vs. Everyone or even East vs. West. No, the biggest beef in Hip Hop today is Hip Hop Artists vs. Live Sound Engineers.
Offhand, I can think of 1 performer out of the 10 that I saw (Murs), that didn't complain or demand sound changes ad-nausium.

3. Seeing almost 10 hours of live Hip Hop makes you wish you could implant "Bass Inhibitors" into your ears for a couple of days after. Low tones would be filtered out, subwoofers would be useless and the guy from Crash Test Dummies' voice would be completely inaudible.

Highlights included Murs, whom we intentionally got there right in time to see. "This might not mean anything to you, but this sample cost me $50,000 American dollars!" He announced before his newest single, the Temptations-sampled "Better Than The Best" (best line in that being the boast "I'm shakin' babies!").
Method Man & Redman
's set was as high energy as you'd expect, with much of the crowd behind them all the way. The set ended with Redman's excited announcement that not only will there be "The Blackout 2", their follow-up collaborative album, but "How High 2" begins filming next year. (Here's hopin' for their short lived sitcom "Meth & Red" on DVD).
Nas's set was non-stop and impressive. It seemed like atleast 25 songs in 40 or so minutes.
In between sets Supernatural would be the de facto "host" of the proceedings, and when Rakim's late arrival threw the schedule off, he and Scratch treated the crowd to almost a full set of their own. I'd seen Supernatural profiled on the "Freestyle" DVD, but seeing him freestyle live was even more impressive. He would rhyme about whatever people yelled or threw on stage. I can't even fathom the amount of work and consentration that must take. Truly an unexpected treat.
Lastly, De La Soul and the Pharcyde's performances were on point, with Pharcyde peppering their set with well known solo tracks and guest appearances such a "What Up, Fatlip?" and Booty Brown's Verse from Gorillaz's "Dirty Harry".

Low points were Jay Electronica's unprofessional sound complaints, culminating in an early departure, exclaiming his point by throwing a wireless mic into the crowd and saying "Take it off my check, peace" and storming off. Upon considering his exit further we determined a between-set/second stage slot on a national festival wouldn't pay more than the price of a professional wireless mic. Good thing Supernatural retrieved the mic soon after.
Rakim's rescheduled set with Kid Capri (known as the yelling dude from Ghostfaces "Celebrate" to the uninitiated) fell victim to similar problems, and though Rakim had a more professional demeanor, the shortened set was still tough on the ears due to sound issues which Rakim was keen to ignore as oppose to taking the time to fix properly.

Sadly for A Tribe Called Quest, it was a long day and I personally hit a wall around the middle of Nas's set. Tribe played a very solid set, with some cool visuals, but I think alot of the crowd were just as drained. My suspicions were confirmed when Q-Tip announced they only had a few left and about half of the crowd (myself included) were bound for the back exits.

All and all, it was a good day. $75 would have been worth it for die-hard fans of Tribe, Mos, Pharcyde, Nas, etc, but nearly $200 is not a bargin for anyone, ever, free backpack or not. I think my buddy Kortnee summed the pricetag issue up best: "For two hundred dollars I'd have to be able to rock out on stage with them for it to be worth it".
Luckily for us, it was all free, and luckily for the crowd in attendance, our VIP tickets didn't allow for any stage rockage.
Thanks Kortnee! Thanks thefader.com!

(click the small ones to see big ones, obviously...)
(Mouse-Over for descriptions, that apparently only work in IE...)

Big DJ Booth Murs Murs did his own DJing
Rakim & Kid Capri figure out their tech. difficulties The Pharcyde Mos Def  (or

Method Man Method Man Method Man

Redman & Method Man Nas Nas
Mos Def & Q-Tip A Tribe Called Quest A Tribe Called Quest


It's starting to feel alot like 1989.

Long story short, I'm seeing DARK KNIGHT tonight, 3 days early.
I haven't been this genuinely excited about a movie in my whole life. A close second might be the release of BATMAN in 1989. I was six. With all the promotion and hype its really starting to remind me of 1989, without the Prince soundtrack or people carving Batman logos into the back of their hair. Just alot of clowny stuff.
More soon.

- m.



I made this today, basically because I'm a huge nerd.


If not, You can go listen to some old sad bastard music, see if I care.


F.O.O.D food-food.

Not alot of people have eaten 'till they've thrown up.
I don't mean drank all night, eaten a subway sandwich on the way home and then thrown it up, or been sick in bed and eaten 4-alarm chili and had it projectile across your body lengthwise, burning both ways. While both hilarious stories I'm sure. Thats not what I mean.
No, I mean being of perfectly sound health and stone sober and eating to the point where your body begins to reject it's own sustenance.
Not many people have done that.

I have.

It was a couple of years ago. A more innocent time, when I was less aware of how mean my body can be, and due to a set of awkward circumstances and potential social faux pas, I ended up eating 2 large dinners within an hour of each other. Silly me, I didn't think it was possible; But I ate 2 meals, threw them both up, and then had left overs of the second meal because I was hungry after my excellent toilet bowl adventure (or "bogus toilet bowl journey").

Thank god the second meal was Tacos. I can't stay mad at Tacos.

The reason I bring this up was because it almost happened again. You would think common sense would rule that once would be enough for any reasonable person and even the thought of coming close again would throw out giant STOP EATING warning signs. Unfortunately for common sense, it's powers are useless once I set foot past the opening archways of the Mandarin Buffet.

Something happens to me at this place that I can't quite describe. Sometime after finishing my second plate or so, it's stops being a joyous and delicious free for all, and becomes something more akin to some ancient tribe's brutal coming-of-age gorging ceremony of gluttony. It stops being enjoyable and just becomes a trial. I channel Takeru Kobayashi.

I couldn't even tell you why this happens. It's not a money thing, (or a G Thang), as Mandarin is decently priced, It's not like I'm not fed on a regular basis, nor do I ever eat to this magnitude anywhere else. Perhaps is the calming flute music they play that turns me into an glutton-monster.

All and all I devoured 4 large plates, 3 little plates and 3 small bowls, consisting of: Chicken balls, Shrimp, 2 kinds of Steak, fried chicken, Pork, Rice, Onion Rings, Fish, Noodles, Broccoli, Sushi, Jell-o, Salad, Eggs, Celery, Carrots, corn, pizza, mashed potatoes, gravy, garlic bread, sherbet, a Hot Fudge Sundae w/m&m's and a bunch of those little baby corns.
Surprisingly, no wheelbarrows were needed for my transport home.

So there I was, laid out on the couch, feeling like Manuel Uribe Garza. A man so fat that employs another man to clean his ass. Which, in my estimation, dethrones Jiz-mopper as the worlds worst job. Why don't they get Mike Rowe in there to clean Manuel's ass for a few days? (or shove Ryan Stock's stupid head up it, since he's so "extreme"...) Those would be Dirty Jobs episodes I'd
...but I digress.

I felt as if with any yawn, any hiccup or deep breath, my stomach would tear open, spilling out guts and several different kinds of breaded meat. It would hemorrhage out of me like Tetsuo from Akira. They'd find my body in a redish brown pool of chunky buffet delights and once the story got out to the news, my death would be completely overshadowed by people comparing the event to the similar Monty Python bit, "Mr. Creosote".
"Monty Python comes true as boy's stomach explodes!" the headline would read.
With any luck, my funeral would be catered by the good people at Mandarin Buffet. If the story got big enough, maybe my family could make a killing by licensing my likeness to a company that will make novelty piƱatas of me that would be popular for kid's birthdays for years to come.

One can only dream of having such a legacy.


Working on some new stuff, but in the mean time, check out this frightening yet awesome video.

Tom Gabel and Tegan Quin meet Chuck E. Cheese. Enjoy.