Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bored Sunday NFL Re-allignment

This is how the NFL would look if the conferences and divisions were divided by team name.  I've divided the league into two conferences, the Animal Football Conference and the Human Football Conference.  I had to change a couple of team names to make it work, but I kept the changes minimal.


CATS:  Bengals, Lions, Panthers, Jaguars

BIRDS:  Cardinals, Ravens, Falcons, Eagles

FARM:  Colts, Rams, Bills, Brown Dogs*

WILD:  Bears, Broncos, Dolphins, Seahawks**


OCCUPATIONS:  Steelers, Packers, Cowboys, Jet Pilots***

ETHNICITY:  Redskins, Chiefs, Texans, Vikings

HISTORY:  49ers, Patriots, Raiders, Buccaneers

MYTHOLOGY:  Giants, Titans, Saints, Zeus' Lightning Bolts****

And there you have it!  Any better ideas?  Let me know in the comments below.

*I'm not sure what the Browns are supposed to be, but I know of the famous "Dawg Pound", and I needed another animal team.

**There were too many bird teams, and the Seahawks seemed to fit with the WILD division.  C'mon...  It's not anymore absurd than Dallas playing in the NFC East now, is it?

***Same problem as with the Browns.  I did my best.

****Ok, ok.  It's a stretch, but it fit in the Mythology division.  Besides, does anyone really know what a "Charger" is supposed to be?   

Monday, July 9, 2012


The heat this Saturday was intense.  Hot, suffocating air hung over New York.  The metropolis prayed for relief; clouds, wind, a thunderstorm that never would come.  This sweltering situation was the backdrop for the CBGB festival, and I spent the afternoon chugging literally gallons of water, searching for a sliver of shade, and chasing rock bands from my youth.

I'm not sure the reasons behind the creation of the CBGB festival.  The rumor mill at the festival seemed to indicate that Hilly Kristal's daughter had been behind the idea as a way to increase the brand image, and perhaps someday relaunch the club.  Despite the numerous important bands who played there on their way to the top (albeit of a niche market), not one single person seems to remember CBGB's being at all worthwhile during the last decade (if not more) of it's putrid, dive-y existence.  You can find plenty of articles about CBGB's on the internet.  None of this really concerned me on Saturday, it was a free chance to catch Superchunk and Guided By Voices on the same day, with a couple of good bands filling in between.

The day began at Times Square; the crossroads of the world.  Sweaty, sticky,  and swarming with tourists, my first goal was to figure out when exactly Superchunk was going on.  There was no information posted on the festival's website other than the names of the participating acts (in no apparent order), and my attempts to tweet at the band were futile.  I located the sound booth and saw a list next to the sound board.  For sound man eyes only, it announced, "Superchunk - 2:30".  Great.  I glanced at my phone.  It was almost one o'clock.

Duff McKagan's Loaded (not sure if the band is called "loaded" and belongs to Duff, or if Duff himself is actually loaded), played they other stage while I waited for Superchunk.  Duff's band was tight and professional, but totally lacking any sort of artistic relevance.  They closed with a cover of Iggy Pop's "I Wanna Be Your Dog", and I jumped into Duane Reade for a pack of gum and a minute in AC.  I exited the drug store to find Superchunk on stage and ready to go.  Fittingly, even the line-up on the sound guy's board was wrong.  I have no idea how these people got the paperwork done to close down Broadway on a summer afternoon and throw a festival.  I wouldn't trust them to run an elementary school's talent show.

Anyway, Superchunk was great.  For those of you who don't know, they are IMPORTANT.  They are made out of pure indie cred.  They dumped Matador when Matador signed a distribution deal with Atlantic.  They founded Merge Records and have a hand in pretty much any good band you've heard that has come out of the Chapel Hill scene.  If you don't know this band, you can't understand indie rock.  It's as simple as that.  Their newest album, Majesty Shredding (2010), is actually as good as there old stuff.  And the crowd is like a high school reunion...  if you went to the Thurston Moore Academy of the Arts and studied either fuzz pedal design or post-feminist polaroid art.  Needless to say, a moderate sized group of chill people, including the one and only Matt Pinfield. 

They played a short high energy set, closing with "Slack Motherfucker" and "Hyper Enough", while the thirty-something crowd screamed along.  I thought the best song of the set was "Detroit Has A Skyline".  Mac McCaughan is a pretty damn good guitarist, and you really hear it live more than on the recordings (the rest of the band is pretty good too).  McCaughan still has the energy of a little kid opening a present on Christmas morning, jumping around the stage and singing his heart out, despite the heat.  One of the most unintentionally funny moments I've ever witnessed at a show was watching Mac attempt to jump on the drum riser, totally whiff, and end up on the ground, somewhere behind his amp.  He stood up quickly and returned to the mic, guitar out of tune, but pride intact.

After Superchunk finished, I pretty much ran over to Central Park, to catch Cloud Nothings.  As I approached the Southeast corner of the park, somewhere on 5th Ave. between the rotating airplane sculpture and F.A.O. Schwarz, the sky seemed primed for rain.  People were hustling down the street, looking for cover, and the wind kicked NYC dust into my eyes.  Alas, the threat passed without a single drop of rain and the heat continued.  By the time I arrived at Summer Stage, it was hotter and sunnier than it had been all day.  The open space in the park provided little shade.

Cloud Nothings were ok.  I've heard their album a couple of times, though I'm not gonna pretend to be able to name songs off of it.  Honestly, I think Cloud Nothings, if they were my friend's band, and I saw them play that set at Matchless, or Cakeshop, I would have been blown away.  They seemed like a really good band of that stature, though they couldn't yet command the attention of the large audience in Central Park.  I'm excited to see them progress as a band, and I bet (as long as they keep working at it), they are gonna be able to record some incredible albums in the future.  Their audience was mainly 16-22 year olds, and I wondered if someday they would mature into my crowd, propped up in Times Square, rocking out to CNs like we had just done with Superchunk.

The next band, The War on Drugs, was pretty good, though playing as a four piece, didn't really cover the deep textures of their recorded material.  It was nice to get some mellow rock during what turned out to be the hottest part of the day.  I zoned out to them while waiting in line to fill my water bottle for like, the 3rd time already that afternoon.  They sound like an acid trip in a springtime field, but they came across pretty good to someone suffering dehydration delusions in a public park.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart followed, and again, were pretty decent.  Not sure I would drop more than $10 to see any of these bands, but I'm happy I got to see them for free.  The Pains are a kinda middle of the road modern indie band, which due to changing tastes means they owe as much to Joy Division/New Order as they do to The Velvet Underground and first wave punk.  I happily observed their set from a distance, under what little shade I could elbow my way into.  I was too excited for Guided By Voices to really pay attention anyway.

Ten minutes before 6 pm, GBV took the stage.  The temperature had dropped by about 5 degrees and I had a fresh bottle of precious, life giving, water.  GBV, is essentially Robert Pollard.  The classic line-up, the band that recorded the best GBV albums with Pollard, got back together a couple years ago, and have since been touring, routinely playing two hour plus sets, which always included most of Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand.  However, in the past year GBV has released not one, but two, new studio albums.  It turns out that they were committed to playing as much of this material as they could get away with. 

Now, listen...  I love this band.  They basically release everything they have ever played.  Prolific, almost to a fault, their catalog, along with Pollard's various side projects, contains literally days worth of material.  Some of it is awful, some of it is genius.  Unfortunately, the new stuff just isn't on par with the old.  I think "Let's Eat the Factory" is ok, a good effort for an older band with a couple of keepers.  It got a 6.9 from Pitchfork, which was probably 0.5 too high (but you gotta show respect, I suppose).  And that's what the album is, an OK collection of songs by an older band, some hit, some miss.  "Class Clown Spots a UFO" (yeah Mr. Pollard, I get it, you were a teacher, it's a tired theme at this point), is better, and is definitely worth a listen if you're a fan of rock music (which if you've read this far, I'm sure you are), but it's still not the album that the crowd wanted to hear.

I'm not faulting them for playing new stuff.  I'm faulting them for playing stuff that didn't go over as well.  Overall, the new songs are slower.  Mitch Mitchell plays a lot of faux-metal riffs (note, NOT his strength), and the vocals are delivered in a darker way, more "Jill Hives" than "Echos Myron".  It seemed as if Tobin Sprout may have a bigger role as a songwriter, and it seemed as if bassist Greg Demos was thoroughly disinterested.  Demos spent most of the set in the background, almost next to the drum set, until the band burst into "Game of Pricks", about a dozen songs deep into the set.  The low point of the set was a song called, "God Loves Us", which made me want to vomit.  I glanced around and caught eyes with several other distraught concert goers.  They looked helpless... lost.  It was terrible.  What had happened?  I'm standing, drenched it sweat, hungry, tired, disappointed, and this washed up hack, Pollard, is telling the crowd that "God Loves Us"...  

The set rebounded with more up-tempo songs and a couple more classics, and overall it was a good set, the best set of the day at Central Park.  I realize I'm dead to some people because I called Robert Pollard a washed up hack, and he most definitely isn't; but for the duration of that song, he was.  I am sure of it, and I'll take it to my grave.  I don't know if a minimalist group like GBV can go through long patches of low energy and still enthrall an audience night in and night out.  I understand all the reasons why GBV is a great band, hell, I'm one of their biggest fans, but I also know that every band is only as good as their last set, and if you strip away the cult of personality that surrounds Pollard, you have to admit that they played a pretty mediocre set.  And yes, my expectations were high, but why should I be going to see a band that I love, and be repeating in my head, "they have new material/don't get your hopes up/they have new albums/they probably won't play Motor Away/etc. etc."?

Yes, I'll go see them again.  I want to give them a chance to bring new material that moves the crowd, I want to get a chance to hear a couple of the classics again, and I just plain want a chance to like them more than I liked them on Saturday.

I don't know what the rest of CBGB Fest was like, and I really don't care.  There was a stabbing at a hardcore show, which I though was perfectly fitting.  It's nice to know that the wicked aura of CBGB's is somehow still alive.  Maybe CBGB's and GBV have a lot in common.  They are both remembered most fondly for their fucked up, anything goes glory days; the bad times being mostly forgotten by our collective conscious, which always tends to anoint heroes and build temples based on our selective memories.  Guided By Voices will continue to make albums, and there will be good songs on them, even if they never capture lightning in a bottle again, like they did with Alien Lanes.  If CBGB's opens up again, some good bands will play there.  I'm tremendously curious to see what the future holds for both these institutions, and if we've learned anything from the past, it promises to be a roll of the dice and a kick in the head.             


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sleeping Contest Official Video

The Planes released our first ever music video on Friday, and celebrated with a show at Don Pedro in Brooklyn.  We're really happy with the way it turned out, and owe a huge debt of gratitude to Ricky Camilleri of CamLin Productions.  Ricky is an old college buddy of mine, and it worked out that he was free to make the trek up to Northampton, MA to shot some footage of us performing at The Elevens.  Unfortunately, Gavin and Daniel couldn't make the voyage with us, so we enlisted Kate Niemczyk (of Northampton's The True Jacqueline) to play bass, and we performed as a trio.

On the way into town, an old abandoned (and for the most part totally gutted) factory complex caught our eye.  I don't know what they used to make there, but it was a sprawling complex with a canal running underneath that at one point spun the turbines that powered the place.  Here's the google maps streetview, but it doesn't really do it justice.  If anyone knows what they used to make here, let me know, cause I'm super interested in old factories/industry.

We found a big open area, played the song on Ricky's iphone (which is hidden in my front jacket pocket), and did our thing.  I can't remember if we did two or three takes, but it must have been one of the quickest and most painless video shoots in history.  Soon after, we met up with Kate, ran through the songs in her apartment and went over to the club.  Ricky shot us playing, mixed it with the factory footage and some found VHS footage, and the Official Sleeping Contest Video was born!

This video was shot on an old VHS camera from 1987, which explains the overall late 80's-90's feel.  But we dig it that way, it's where we came from, and it's kinda how we sound.  I bet we shot hardcore shows at the teen center back in high school with this model camera at some point.  I don't know if Ricky just bought that camera, or if it's been sitting in his parents basement for 25 years, but either way, it worked perfectly for this project!

You should check out more of Ricky's work at CamLin Productions.

Check out Kate's band, The True Jacqueline.

And remember you can stream (free) and download (free or donate if you like) all of our first three releases at!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The 10 Best Sandwiches EVER

Here's a question that is sure to start a lively conversation (argument) between any group of people, at anytime of day, in any possible setting:  "What is the best sandwich?"  Regardless of your diet, attitude towards food, income group or ethnicity, you will have an opinion.  I can't argue with Liz Lemon's worldview, but it does seem that after eating a sandwich in peace, 90% of us are willing to argue about which ones are the best.  In order to put this debate to rest, I've compiled a list of the 10 best sandwiches, in no particular order of course.

Let us start with a few ground rules.  Number one, no burgers, tacos, gyro's or hotdogs.  All of those are awesome, but I had to narrow down the list somehow.  Let's face it, all of those things are technically sandwiches, but if I told you i was bringing you a sandwich, and showed up with either of the above mentioned four items, you would be surprised.  Number two, I know you like your "hummus, turkey bacon, sprouts, avocado and tomato, with relish and mayo, on 12-grain bread", but we're talking like, classic sandwiches.  More power to you for coming up with that combination, it sure sounds lovely, but these have to be something you can order without listing the ingredients.

So without further ado, here's the list!

The Basics:

10.  The BLT

  Simple, elegant, perfect if the ingredients are fresh.  Growing up, we always had these with fresh lettuce, and thick slabs of vine-rippened tomatoes, tomatoes like you have to get from a farmer's market, or a farm (never refrigerated).  We ate them on big, fluffy slices of white bread from the Portuguese bakery in P-town (and covered them in mayo).  Personally, I don't think the bacon really matters.  I know bacon is all the rage in foodie circles, but to me, almost any bacon (as long as it's cooked right), is delicious, whereas, the perfect tomato is much harder to come by.

9.  The Grilled Cheese

  I like the standard:  white bread, American cheese,  a ton of butter, and a little salt (or garlic salt).  They are best dipped in tomato soup.  There are a million different ways to make them, and some are better than others, but a grilled cheese rarely fails to satisfy.  Once a year, some of my friends throw a grilled cheese party, where guests are encouraged to bring bread or cheese (or booze).  Sadly, this year I missed it.  I don't plan on missing it again.

8.  The Breakfast Sandwich

  Another highly customizable sandwich, the only real ingredient that you need is egg.  I bet the Egg McMuffin is the highest selling breakfast sandwich worldwide, and honestly, I think they are pretty damned good.  I like the Canadian bacon, but I sometimes switch it up and go for a sausage McMuffin.  People like bacon or ham too, and different kinds of bread: croissant, bagel, roll...  It's all good by me.  If you're ever in Provincetown, get a linguicia, egg, and cheese from the Portuguese bakery on Commercial Street.  It's my personal favorite, but truth be told, the bodega on Grand and Lorimer makes a solid sausage, egg, and cheese, on a roll, for like $2.50.

7.  The Club

  In my experience, it's almost always turkey, and it should be.  Like the late, great, Mitch Hedberg, I order club sandwiches all the time, and I get away with it, even though I'm not a member.  The should be double deckers, on toasted bread (whatever you like, I like rye), with turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and ton of mayo.  If there's anything else you wanna slap on there, good for you, but I like to keep it simple and classy.  I'm sure that there's some joint in NYC that makes absolutely killer clubs, but one of the best things about this sandwich is that practically any cheap diner can make you a good one, and usually serve it with fries and maybe even soup and a soda, for under $8.

The Ethnic All-Stars:

6.  The Banh Mi

  This is the newest sandwich (to Americans for sure, but I think in general too) on the list and it comes out of a perfect culture clash.  Basically, the banh mi is a result of the French occupation of Indo-China, specifically Vietnam.  We all know how poorly said occupation worked out for all parties involved, but at least we have the banh mi.  Basically, the banh mi is Vietnamese style meat, usually pork, stuffed in a baguette with French mayonaise, a few veggies (usually cucumbers, daikon radishes, and carrots), and often a generous helping of cilantro.  It's a glorious cultural mash-up that shows just what humanity can achieve if we work together.  Most places I've been to offer hot peppers too, and if you're me, you get them.  There's a great cheap place in Chinatown that I've been told to hit up, but I've never made over there, partly because the ones from the joint on South 2nd and Havemeyer, and Broken Rice, on Grand Street (across from my apartment) are more than capable of give me my banh mi fix. 

5.  The Italian

  I don't know if people in Italy actually eat these, or if they are an invention of the Italian-American community, but I don't really care.  An Italian sub consists of some combination of the following meats: ham, pepperoni, salami, capocollo, prosciutto, and bologna, usually with provolone and perhaps mozzarella (fresh mozzarella if you're lucky).  A standard Italian will have lettuce and tomatoes.  I think adding some raw onions is a good idea, and that goes for almost anything, not just Italian subs.  Mayo and/or oil and vinegar (I prefer the later) should be added to wet the sandwich up a little bit, and the whole mess should be crammed in a baguette or white Italian bread.  The absolute best Italian is the "Godfather" from Graham Avenue Meats and Deli, on Graham, a block or two south of the BQE (if you don't mind supporting a somewhat sketchy business).  It goes for $7 and you can get it sweet or spicy (choose spicy, it's not that hot).  Another favorite spot is Mama Rosario's Deli on that weird block where Driggs, Meeker, and Morgan all run into each other.  I used to live across the street and they would pack the sub with so much meat and cheese that I could never finish it in one sitting (perfect for an out of work musician!).  

4.  The Cuban

  I wanted to put a ham and cheese on this list because its such a simple and perfect sandwich.  Good quality deli ham, provolone or swiss, and a strong mustard, on a decent roll.  As much as I love these (the Black Sheep in Amherst makes a killer one, called the Berlin Wall), they seem kinda weak.  Why?  Because the Cuban is a ham and cheese the way the Sandwich Gods would order it.  Ham, roast pork, pickle, swiss and mustard.  Possibly the most "tangy" sandwich of all time, on par with only the...

3.  The Reuben/Rachel

  A similar sandwich to the Cuban (which is odd because their origins are worlds apart).  Traditionally, the Reuben is corned beef, sauerkraut,  melted swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, served on toasted or grilled slices of  good rye bread.  A Rachel substitutes pastrami for corned beef, and usually cole slaw for sauerkraut.  Honestly, I think I like the Rachel a little bit more, but it depends on the quality of the cole slaw (you're never gonna know if you've made the right choice until you take the first bite).  Katz's is the place to go for these.  C'mon, just look at it!

The Ultimate Team Player:

2.  The Chicken Cutlet

  Ok, I'm bending the rules with this one a little, but I have to include it because two of my most favorite sandwiches of all time are based on this design.  Wendy's Spicy Chicken sandwich is incredible and not just in a fast-food-kraft-mac-and-cheese sort of fatty artificial way, but the flavor is actually fairly deep.  The last time I was at Wendy's, I got the asiago ranch spicy chicken with bacon, and although I'll one day have a triple bypass because of it, the sandwich was worth it!  Another of my favorites is the Chicken Balladino, from Balladino's, in Madison, CT.  It's breaded chicken cutlet, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and mayo.  This shows the versatility of the chicken cutlet, it can't be pigeon-holed, it can play any position, and it will let the subtleties of the other ingredients show through.  Hell, slap some marinara sauce on that Balladino and call it a chicken parm, it's all good.

My Personal Favorite:

1.  The Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich

  If you're like me, you live far away from your hometown and most of your family, and probably only see them around the holidays.  Let's be honest here, Christmas is a real shitshow, Easter isn't celebrated with the same enthusiasm, and most of the other holidays are better spent drinking with your friends.  That leaves us Thanksgiving.  Truly American, like basketball and the blues, we all know that this simple holiday basically celebrates the fact that, "HEY WE GOT A TURKEY!"  It's usually a short stay, as you'll be headed back to your hometown in about a month for Xmas, so you grab as many of the leftovers as you can, and you split.  Moist turkey (white and dark meat mixed together, preferably), good stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mayo, on sliced bread.  Personally I like a hearty wheat bread.  It will hold everything together and kinda fits well with the earthy harvest festival vibe that is also a part of Thanksgiving.  I think what really makes this sandwich special is that you're not really going to go through the hassle of roasting a whole turkey, and making stuffing, just for the sandwich, you have to wait for it to come to you.  

  How did i do?  I'm sure I left something out, but I feel like it's a pretty solid list overall.  Leaving the eggplant parm sub off was hard for me, same goes for the meatball sub (and it's sloppy cousin "Joe")  I had an incredible meatball sub at The Meatball Shop for my birthday, thanks to my roommate.  I suggest you all make it down there and just order whatever the special is (the two of us got stuffed and the bill only came to $25 including craft soda, so there's really no excuse).  I apologize to Bill Simmons for ripping off his list style, but I mean, it's really more of a tribute.  Also, pulled pork sandwich?  In my mind, it's more about the barbeque, you just happen to slap in on a bun.  Oh, and if you're ever on the Cape, check out The Box Lunch.  The Perry's special is incredible and named after my family.  I remember liking the Roundup and Porky's Nightmare too.

  If you came to Hearts Bleed Radio looking for the Little Yellow Letters EP by The Planes, it can now be found on our bandcamp page

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Little Yellow Letters EP pre-release UPDATED!


 We have an even newer EP out, DRINKS ON AMPS!!!

 It's great!  You guys should check it out, here  --------------->  Drinks on Amps
We have a new album in the works, "Echo Forever/Forever Echo" due out in the Summer of 2013.

Old post below:

Here is the link to the new planes EP, Little Yellow Letters.  It's a fairly small zip file that will decompress into seven tracks.  Recording this was a blast (mostly), and we're pumped to be sharing it with you.

Click Here ------------>    Little Yellow Letters

We will be playing a release show at Matchless in Greenpoint on March 10th, and we'd absolutely love to see you there.  More info can be found at the Facebook event page.

Our older material can be found at our Bandcamp page.

Soon we will be releasing a music video for "Sleeping Contest", produced by the incredibly talented Ricky Camilleri of CamLin Productions.  We'll keep you posted as to the release date of the video, until then enjoy the EP.  Don't fret if you don't feel like downloading, it will be available for streaming from Bandcamp sometime before the 10th.

Much love,

-The Planes