Monday, August 31, 2009

The Mind Is An Exceptional Hard Drive

Anyone who has ever spent some time with me has probably at one time or other heard me mention how I have a memory like a computer. 

It's true. I remember Gigabytes of useless information. Like the other day, I was washing a pan and remembered washing a similar pan when I was 12 years old. 

That's not the ridiculous part though. The total crazy part of it is that I also remembered that I was listening Cinderella's Long Cold Winter album while I was cleaning the pan 21 years ago. Then I proceeded to remember the track list of that album and subsequently thinking I needed to go back and listen to Gypsy Road because it's a darn good track. 

But the point is, it's a marvel the kind of information that gets stored. And without a built in Trash Can (yes, I have a Mac and we have Trash Cans not Recycle Bins), we can't chose what to delete. What prompted me to post this is the fact that I recently reacquired a CD that I lost 15 years ago, Fugazi's 13 Songs. Well, I didn't so much lose it as I lent it and never got it back. That's not exactly true, I did get back an empty case which I didn't examine properly upon receipt. It was probably a year or so later that I picked up the CD to listen to and found it empty. (His name is Adam, he looks like a troll, don't trust him with anything). 

I kept the empty case as a reminder to never lend CDs to anyone I didn't trust. I've kept it through more than seven moves, ten reorganizations of the music collections, and of course a number years totally nearly half my life. (Even with the best of memories, reminders can be helpful.)

Like I said, I got the CD again this past week. I'm listening to it now. It's the first time I've heard any of it in about 16 years. I have to admit, even I have been a little surprised to find I still know 95% of the words. Scary.

What does any of this have to do with writing? Simple. Dialogue. This gift I have to more or less memorize anything I hear, besides getting me through college, has been a big asset for writing. Listening to the way people talk and being able to hear that is extremely valuable in constructing believable dialogue. 

There are few things in books that bother me more than obviously written dialogue. This is usually dialogue that sounds like the same person talking with themselves and yet neither voice sounds like it's coming from any of the character's. That drives me crazy and there's no excuse for it. Even if you don't have an audiographic memory, just open your ears and LISTEN. That's my lesson for the day.

For further reading, check out Raymond Queneau's Zazie in the Metro. It contains the most clever dialogue I've ever read.  OR, if you're just interested in this idea of an organic computer, watch Serial Experiments: Lain (pictured below).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend Music Roundup (Oasis Edition)


"It's with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight. People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer." A Statement from Noel 8-28-09

Given the above statement, I thought I'd dedicate this weekend's music post to one of my favorite bands. Sure, I know it hasn't been in vogue to like Oasis for some years, but I could really care less. Oasis always has and always will be a giant in my eyes. Nearly twenty years of consistently great rock music is no small accomplishment. You'd be hard pressed to name a band with the kind of catalog they produced. If this is really the end, it's a sad day. Though, given the history of the band, I remain highly doubtful that this is truly  the end. Regardless, it's a good time to give The Fab Five a retrospective.

This bootleg of the early Oasis is a definite must-have for fans. In addition to early versions of classics, there's quite a few unreleased tracks on here worth having. Colour My Life is my personal favorite, a Stone Roses-esque piece of beauty. Take Me and See the Sun are also tops. 

The breakout debut album the changed the musical landscape and sold a bazillion copies in the UK but barely made a whimper in the U.S. thanks for the American lust for crap like Bush at the time. But this album was a big deal amongst indie kids in the U.S. and Oasis were huge in New York, where I was living at the time. I remember my friend Carrie buying this album and us basically sitting around exactly like the cover photo and listening to it. There's just something about this album that captured a time and mood of a great many people. 

The behemoth second album which actually did crack the States thanks to one of the best singles of all time. This album, even more than the first, nailed the who cares vibe of the mid-90's. The future didn't matter, the past was all over anyway, so just roll with it. Every track is an anthem. One of the best albums of all time in my opinion.

I have nearly the complete Oasis singles collection, but am just including the essentials here. This US edition of the Wonderwall single is blazing. All four B-sides rank high on the Oasis best-song chart: Round Are Way, Talk Tonight, Rocking Chair, and I Am the Walrus (this live version of the Beatles song kills).

The Don't Look Back In Anger single features a cover of Cum On Feel the Noize that's brilliant. Step Out is also a worthwhile tune.

The first single released for the highly anticipated third album was D'You Know What I Mean. This epic single only served to make Be Here Now even more highly anticipated. The song is lyrically one of the band's more compelling and it upped the anthem threshold from the previous album. B-Sides Angel Child and a cover of Bowie's Heroes did little to stem the mouth watering.

I was one of the millions to be there now on August 21, 1997 (the release date appears 2x on the album art). This was the album that was going to be the biggest album of all time and then just wasn't. Many people complain about it being bloated (including Noel who famously claimed it was the sound of five guys on coke not giving a fuck). And yes, there's a lot of long drawn guitar shredding and the All Around the World Reprise (two additional minutes of song already nine minutes long) is highly unnecessary, but in all this album is very sound. Listening to it 12 years on, it's clear that this is a casualty of expectations that no one could live up to. It's still a great album.

After three years off, and nearly forgotten in the States, Oasis released this mess. Easily their worst album, but not totally unlistenable. Gas Panic is a stand out track and I really love Little James, Liam's first penned song to make it on a record. 

Live albums by definition are never must haves in my book unless there is something on there that is new. Well, this one has it. A double disc of classics, plus covers of Neil Young's Hey, Hey, My, My and My, My, Hey, Hey and Beatles' Helter Skelter make this a must-have.

Heathen Chemistry was one of the biggest surprises for me in 2002. After Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, I admit, my fascination with Oasis had faded. I didn't have much faith in this album, but was compelled to pick it up mostly because of the infusion of Gem Archer and Andy Bell into the band. Suddenly, Oasis was a supergroup of talent. This album blew me away. Songbird in my opinion is the second best Oasis song ever recorded and one of the best love songs ever written. In fact, all three Liam penned songs on this album are brilliant and the three best tracks on there. This is their Rubber Soul. Oasis were back. 

This is the one that marked them as officially back in the critics' opinions. The music rags gushed over the Velvet Underground/ Lou Reed sound (personally, the connection is still a little lost on me). I enjoyed this album, but still think the one before is better. Still, some great tunes here. And a nice departure from the traditional Oasis sound. 

Last year's Dig Out Your Soul saw the new line-up hit their stride with the album everyone wanted Be Here Now to sound like. A fabulous record, period.

No Oasis retrospective would be complete without talking a little bit about the Beatles comparison that has always followed them. Oddly, they sound the least like the Beatles when they are coving the Beatles. This bootleg gathers together a collection of their covers. I'm Only Sleeping and an acoustic version Help are my personal favs. 

I will be sad to see them go. It's the end of an era. Britpop is offcially dead now. I can't wait until they reform for the next album, most likely some time next year. Fingers crossed. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yay! I've Been Whim Struck

Out of the blue, I started writing a new story the other day. It was one of those days when a line popped into my head early in the morning and it just felt like it had momentum. It came pre-attached in a character's voice . . a character who I felt I instantly knew. So, I ran with it.

Naturally, that first line didn't even stay, but I banged out a page and really liked what came out. The next day, I sketched out some ideas and characters and a story came pretty easily. Went at it again today and knocked out a darned good first chapter. The story is a funny, yet ever sooo serious, middle grade book about the impossibilities of sixth grade romance. God knows, I suffered through enough of those to have a wealth of material to draw from. It's the first time in a little while that I've dove into a project without analyzing it to death beforehand. Refreshing. 

Sometimes I wish writing was always as effortless as it was today. 

Other times, I'm very thankful for the challenge. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

HEY! That's NOT Fair!

Here's a fact that most adults lose track of: Being a kid is FRUSTRATING! 

As we grow older we sometimes lose sight of that. We project a sense freedom and lack of responsibility because those seem to us the obvious characteristics of childhood. But if we stop for a second and consider, we'd realize those things just aren't true.

Freedom? Kids got none really.

They are subjected to all kinds of crazy rules that grown-ups put in place (with good intentions granted, but that doesn't make them any less crazy from a kid's point of view). 

- Then he goes over the rest of the rules. No tapping on the glass, no dipping my hand into the water, and no trying to scare the fish. There are so many rules that I don't feel like doing my happy dance anymore. - CatKid: The Fishy Field Trip 
(CatKid's Dad goes over the rules for Aquarium trip the next day)

These seemingly arbitrary rules can lead to a life of frustration. I take up this theme a lot in the chapter books I write. The stories often about the normal frustrations of being a kid and how the characters deal with them. How do they deal with them? Sometimes well. Sometimes not so well. But what I try to do is always find humor in the event. Kids recognize the mistakes the characters make because they've more than likely made the same ones. The idea behind it is that sometimes, all you can do is laugh at these frustrating events.

I think there's a value for kids to see this perspective in books as a way of validating their feelings. Because I do believe that they are validated. Let's face it, some of the rules are crazy. Maybe not the tapping on the glass rule, but others certainly. 

It's not always easy being a kid. In fact, it's almost never easy. Just keep that in mind next time you find yourself thinking kids live the easy life. CatKid is sure to disagree.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Constant State of Change

One question that comes up a lot as a writer of Teen Fiction is this notion that you will somehow run out of ideas or lose the connection with the audience as you grow older. I think this is somewhat related to yesterday's post about not wanting to grow up in the sense that the very question stems from a myth about being grown-up. 

There's there prevalent notion out there that once you've grown up, you don't suffer the trials and tribulations that come with being a teenager. That's a complete lie. Those people that say they don't are deluding themselves and/or covering up their inner questions with mundane distractions because the truth is, we never stop changing and never stop developing. At least, we shouldn't. Those who are too good at ignoring are the ones who grow out of touch and become some weird rubber stamped image of what is tragically known as an ADULT. Thankfully, that's one dementia I never bought into.

Writing about the conflictions that come with being a teenager isn't about guessing, or staying up on the latest trends or slang, it's about being honest with yourself and exploring those same feelings that we tend to ignore as adults. It's being an adult that allows you as a writer to temper those emotions with experience, turning them into something more meaningful than reality television regurgitation. Or, that's the idea anyway.

Losing a connection with those readers doesn't concern me because to lose that would be to lose a sense of honesty with myself.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Don't Want to Grow Up

As a children's book writer, I would think it nearly impossible not to be at least somewhat intrigued by Peter Pan. The essence of Peter's never wanting to be a grown-up is essentially the same affliction that leads one to want to make up stories about pirates and ninja rabbits and girls that are one whole half cat . . or maybe that's just me. But regardless, the idea is that children's stories help us feel young and that's why adults love them almost as much as kids do.

When I was in London, I picked up a first edition of Peter Pan and Wendy. I was drawn to it by the great Mabel Attwell illustrations that are very much inspired by Kate Greenaway (one of my favorite illustrators). I was also fascinated that this was an abridged and newly written version of the story for younger readers because one thing about old children's books that a modern day children's writer notices is the complexity of the language. I'm not suggesting children can't digest complicated language (Dear Kids, I know you're smarter than most people think), but I do think there's something to be said for the directness and kid-friendly language of today's children's books. Personally, I love to play with language in my children's books. My Pirate School books use a lot of inventive language and CatKid sometimes goes wild with her talking. But the complexities are ones that would be of interest to kids whereas in Victorian literature, the books are often clearly an adult speaking to a child reader, not with them. 

Well, I recently read this edition of Peter Pan and loved it. I was completely shocked to find it read very much like a chapter book that would be published today. Of course, there are a lot of things that would never fly today too . . stabbings, murder, smoking, etc. It was refreshing to see some of that in a book, because I do think if they are depicted in the way they are in Peter Pan, it can be fun and harmless. I'm certainly not advocating any of these things, but I do think it's odd how we cut all of these type of things from books, but not children's television or movies or video games. 

One thing that did surprise me was that I didn't remember how flat the characters were. They are all very one dimensional. It works for the story, but it would be hard to imagine an editor today letting that slide. Also, I guess I didn't realize how troubled Peter's character really is. On top of that, he's rude, snotty, immature, selfish, vain, and basically a brat. He's still lovable in his own way. And admirable in his determination to stay young and free. But still, I thought it was kind of curious and made me wonder about J.M. Barrie's view of childhood and children. It's especially odd given that it was written for a real boy named Peter. If I were the real Peter, I wouldn't have been flattered by this obnoxious portrayal. In comparison, Alice was written for a real girl named Alice and she was portrayed as the most intelligent and reasonable character in the story. She must have been thrilled. 

Back to the heart of the tale, the idea of never wanting to grow up is such an appealing one. I often wonder why it is that as adults we sometimes have that wish, but as children we can't wait to grow up and want to grow up faster and faster and faster. It's an idea that I've played with a lot in my books. It's all throughout Perfect World and Thief. It's a major part of the book I'm currently working on. I think it's a concept that we are most conflicted on in our teenage years when we're in-between the two and feel them both pulling at us. There's resistance to growing up in there, but it's the quiet side, the shunned side. I personally believe it shouldn't be. We'd all do a little better by the world if we behaved childish every now and then. 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend Music Roundup

It's been a busy and diverse week for music listening. I think of all the Weekend Roundups I've put together, this list may showcase my strange interests the most. A lot of newly discovered classics, unreleased fair, and new releases. Enjoy!

The Stone Roses - Second Coming Rehearsal Sessions: This is exactly what it says it is; a studio session for the Second Coming album. Now, let me start off by saying that I'm not a hater of that album (which is notoriously hated and on almost every "Worst Second Album" list I've ever seen.) I actually love it. And this bootleg really shows the greatness of it stripped bare without all the production that went into the final mix. 

Babyshambles - Whitechapel Demonstrations: These sessions are brilliant. The low key acoustic, unstructured nature of the sessions really fits what this band is all about. In these moments, you can really hear why so many people (myself included) hail Pete Dorhety as one of the great musical figures of out time despite all his downfalls. It's music like this that makes us root for him. A lot of unrelased tracks on here. 
Theo Bard - Listen Carefully EP: This is a leftover from the London Rough Trade trip. This four song ep from London singer/songwriter is very well down. His view of the world definitely falls in line with mine. Just good folk music. Favorite line: "Raised on video games and footballer's names" is just a great line that really captures that idea of marketed childhood and the way we learn to obsess about things that in the grand scheme of life are rather unimportant.

Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions - Through the Devil Softly: So, I've been in love with Hope's voice since I first heard Mazzy Star back in 1993, so I might be biased, BUT this is a great album. Though I liked her first solo effort a few years back, it did feel like it was lacking a little of the Mazzy Star magic. This isn't. It stands proudly alongside the catalog.

Arctic Monkeys - Humbug: Again, another warning here, I love the Monkeys. I love Alex's slightly pissed off view of the world, because it's not just reactionary, it's very thought out and accurate. As a writer, he sees through the hypocrisy of the world and has a very clever way of putting it out there. That said, this album is a little different. Some the edge is taken off and replaced with more complicated musical arrangements. I read in an interview that the title comes from English slang for a lollipop and that they called it that because you had to suck on this one for awhile. Several listens in, I'm taking them up on that challenge. I feel I still have a little more time before I fully appreciate it. Kudos to them for not taking the easy way out.

Samantha Crain - Daytrotter Sessions: I saw Samantha in concert last weekend and had never heard her before. I was blown away. I haven't been that blown away by a new voice in a while. Listening to her sing was hypnotic. Hailing from Oklahoma, she sings that dust bowl kind of folk, but in her hands it's damned eerie and beautiful. I wanted to buy her two CDs at the show, but alas, no one was working her stand. I still plan on buying them both, but in the meantime, checked out her session (FREE downloads folks...check it out, it's a great site to preview artists you might not know). I was happy that my two favorite songs she played are both included here. 

Portugal. The Man - The Satanic Satanist: My love affair with this Alaska band continues with their new release (also released as the Majestic Majesty for those who have Satan issues...but beware the Majesty has one song less...there's always incentive for the dark side). Having made my 10 best for last year, this one is a leading candidate for this years too. Sing-along and experimental, low-fi and new disco, prog and folk...they are all over the place, but it always works and always flows and it's a hell of a the ticket.

The Kinks - The Great Lost Kinks Album: A compilation of unreleased Kinks songs from their best era of the '60s (sorry to those 70's Kinks fans, but I can't get into those albums at all). I was a little unsure that there would be anything that amazing on here seeing as how I have both E.P. box sets...but I was wrong. This indeed lives up to it's title.

Edgar Broughton Band - Sing Brother Sing: I discovered this band last winter and had never heard a band that had the Trout Mask Replica sound before them. I have two other albums by them, but they both feel a little uneven. This is the first one that really came together from start to finish for me. A must have for any fan of that Captain Beefheart vibe.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request: The beauty of Anton Newcombe's music is that it's not revival, though listening to an album, you find yourself constantly hearing The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Stones, etc...but it's that you're hearing those bands and so much more. He's not imitating, he's evolving. This is one of the classic Jonestown albums and I'm sorry I waited this long to get it. Put it on, let the sun shine, and just listen.

Judas Priest - Screaming for Vengeance: Thanks to my friend Marc for introducing this album to me. I'd never shown any interest Judas Priest. I've of course heard all the praise heaped on them by other bands, but knew very little besides "Breakin' the Law". Well, I was missing out. When Marc put this vinyl on, I was hooked from the first song and had to pick up the album the very next day. It's just heart pounding, perfect British speed metal.

Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden: So the above got me curious about this album. Iron Maiden had always been the exact same situation as Judas Priest. So I had this laying around for awhile but hadn't yet listened to it. I put it on and was very surprised. It wasn't at all what I expected. It really sounds like a transition from 70's Black Sabbath to 80's metal...and it's amazing. A lot more prog elements that I expected and more beautiful vocals than I expected. A great album, period.

Now that I'm at the end, I've noticed there's a lot of devil on this list. It's pure chance, I promise you ;) I will try to counter with a lot of spiritual next week.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Beware Young Authors

Not to delve too long on doom and gloom, but I wanted to talk a little bit about that dark side of being a writer . . the dreaded "R" word . . REJECTION. 

It happens to every writer . . many times over. And though you grow to accept it as part of the process, it never really gets easier. At least not if you believe in the ideas you have. When you've invested time and effort into something, you grow attached to the characters and then to have them rejected is a hard pill to swallow. 

I always tell young writers that getting published is a bit like a game of chance. It's not just about getting the right idea or story, but also about getting it into the right hands. It's about matching the right story with the right editor at the right house at the right time. So, you see, the odds are stacked against every story and rejection becomes an inevitable part of the process. 

That shouldn't discourage a writer from continuing or giving up hope. It's simply part of the business. Everyone gets rejected. The trick is to use that as motivation and to stay positive. Easier said then done, I know. But writing is about confidence. When you submit an idea or story, you're opening yourself up to be let down. And though getting turned away never feels good, it's still better than never taking the chance in the first place. 

This isn't a cautionary tale . . it's simply preparation. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Powers That Be

I write about fate a lot in my books . . about the idea that there are other powers at work than just own choices that we make . . but often the choices we make influence the direction in which those outside forces pull us. I believe in these sorts of things and hence, so do most of my characters.

I believe in luck. 
I believe in making wishes.
I believe in karmic sense to the universe. 
I believe in jinxes and curses.

Why am I talking about all this? Well recently, I've had a string of bad luck and it's had me thinking about all the intricate ways this idea weaves its way through my life. Now, I'm not complaining. The balance between my good fortunes and misfortunes is still tipped in a favorable way. And after all, it is an odd numbered year, which have always been worse for me for some reason. So I don't mean to whine, I just think this idea of streaks is interesting. In my opinion, streaks like this are what prove that there is more than just coincidence in the world.

Here's to hoping this post will put an electronic hex on my jinx . . where my days have resembled the top picture of late, may they now be more representative of the bottom.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Path To Chose

Over the last few days, I've been working out the storyline for the new novel I'm working on. I collected the thousands of bits and pieces scattered throughout my various notebooks. I made my typical circle outline where I draw pictures, jot down facts pertaining to each element, and then connect them lines that hold thoughts on inter-relations. So essentially, everything is set. The characters, the setting, the bigger story...everything except the one questions that always comes up: Do I want this to be a happy story or a sad story?

In the end, I'm never sure why I ask myself the question. It seems I always settle on the same answer. I always shoot for my own brand of what I refer to as happysad. seems I settled on that once again. I guess in my mind, it's the best place to go. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Living in the Modern World

We wish for stability

as we worry about change.

Yet we complain so often

of how things remain the same.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weekend Music Roundup (Live Edition)

So, one of the main reasons I went to London earlier this month was to see Blur play their Hyde Park shows. Blur have been my wife's favorite band since she was around 15 years old and we catch them live anytime they come around New York. However, the band hasn't been together for a few years, and even for a few years before that they were splintered a bit with Graham having left the band. So when it was announced in late winter that all four original members would reform to play a gig in Hyde Park...there was no question about it, we were going to make the trip to London.

It was supposed to be their big return, but of course they played some warm-up shows (which is to be expected) and Glastonbury (which wasn't to be expected and kind of put a damper on the importance of the Hyde Park gigs...but not really). Then the big thing was that they announced a second Hyde Park show..THE DAY BEFORE THE FIRST ONE!! Well, we had to get tix for this new one two. We weren't about to settle for the second show. 

Arriving in London, we knew exactly what we were doing on the first two nights there. We were going to see Blur in the park with 55,000 other people, and by people, I mean drunken Londoners. Taking the stage about a half-before sunset, Blur were triumphant form the first song to the last. The best-of setlist really showcased for me what an amazing catalog they have, not that I ever questioned it, but when you hear them all together like Add in a swelling crowd being showered by a consistent barrage of thrown beer bottles shouting along with every word, it was legendary. Easily one of the best concerts (I count both them as one for the sake of this post) I've been too. 

And for fun...a list of the best concerts I've ever been to:

#10: Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Aug. 16th, 1996, Camden NJ - Neil reunited with Crazy Horse for this tour and I went with my friend Dan to see this show. Neil was incredible...his voice, his guitar work...everything was great. Outdoors, evening, smoking...good show.

#9: New Kingdom - Sept. 7th, 1996 Wetlands, NYC: This show was crazy. Again with Dan, we were waiting in the audience for them to come, and two guys pushed past us, turns out, it was the band, who entered the stage from the crowd. They tore it up, crazy freak stylin'. At one point, the guy next to Dan asked to borrow his lighter...only to hold it up, lit in the air.

#8: Placebo (with David Bowie) - March 29th, 1999, Irving Plaza NYC: They were actually the opening band that night, but my wife (then girlfriend) and I went to see Placebo. They played a great set. And during the set, everyone noticed Bowie sitting in the balcony. After the set, they came back out for an encore, which is rare for an opening band. And before they started playing, they announced "This is New York and in New York, special things happen..." the place went crazy as Bowie joined them for 3 songs.

#7: The Verve - November 5th & 6th, 1997: Far and away my favorite band at the time, my friends Chris & Chris came up from Philly to stay with me the two nights for these shows. It was definitely two days of fogginess, but the shows were religious. On the afternoon of the second show, we were eating at Around the Clock on 9th Street and saw Mad Richard eating there as well. The night after the second show, the apartment under mine caught on fire...

#6: Blur - July 2nd & 3rd, 2009, Hyde Park London- see above. Two great shows, perfect atmosphere, perfect sets, two perfect nights.

#5: Elvis Perkins in Dearland - June 25th, 2008, Colony Cafe, Woodstock NY: The only great local concert I've seen since moving upstate. I was excited for this show, but had no idea how amazing it was going to be. They played a lot (at the time) new stuff, which blew me away. I shook Elvis's hand after the show, which was pretty thrilling.

#4: The White Stripes - April 7th, 2002, Bowery Ballroom NYC: I've seen the White Stripes play every tour, seen them on both coasts, in two countries, and every time they are incredible. This show makes the list because there was a rare energy to it. The crowd, the band, the timing...there was a sense of experiencing something big. This four night Bowery residency is often sited as the shows the really broke this band from indie giants to just plain GIANTS.

#3: Roky Erickson - Friday the 13th, April 2007, South Paw Brooklyn: One of my heroes, I couldn't believe when it was announced he would play his first ever gig in NYC and that I was going. In the late '60s when the 13th Floor Elevators broke, they never made it to NYC before Roky's incarceration. Then he never played in the '70's and '80's...then he was gone for a long time, lost in untreated mental illness....this was his triumphant return. It was obvious he was a bit overwhelmed by the immense love from the audience, and played appreciatively.

#2: Guns N Roses - May 17, 2006 Hammerstein Ballroom NYC: A lifetime goal to see one of my favorite bands was finally achieved. I'd gone to see GNR a few years before in Philly, they were a no show and it ended in riot. But this show they did play (of course, not going on until after midnight) but when they did...hell yeah! It should be known, that I actually love the new line-up and wasn't one of these, "it's not even the same band" people. Axl is the show and he was revved up. To top it off, Izzy joined him onstage for a Izzy penned songs which haven't been played in years (Patience being one). It was historic.

#1: Neutral Milk Hotel - July 25, 1998 Bowery Ballroom NYC: My friend Dan and I had been listening to Aeroplane Over the Sea the entire summer, loving every note, when they came around. We went, watched the show from the top front of the balcony. Word can't describe how good it was...and how sad that band kind of disappeared not too long afterward. I doubt, even I knew the future of the band, that I could have cherished the show any more than I already did.

As for the future...I just got tickets to see the Manics in October. They're playing NYC for the first time in 10 years. I've been dying to see them for years now. I have no doubt this show will find a place on this list in a few short months