Re: Valentine's Day

1

It's stories like that which are apt to seduce adherents away from the teachings of John Emerson. So sweet, I think I need to brush my teeth.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:17 AM
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Aunt and Uncle Heebie, get a room.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:32 AM
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They have a house!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:33 AM
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Happy Mistress Day!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:39 AM
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Your backup protection is the question: "How much am I like Heebie's aunt / uncle?"

I'm willing to allow for the freak good marriage. Not everyone who smokes gets cancer.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:40 AM
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Yeah, my mom and my step-father who have been together for nearly a decade still celebrate their monthly anniversary with champagne. Very sweet to see (and possibly just an excuse to drink champagne?).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:40 AM
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For the first year we were together, I sent the suitable number of flowers to my HS GF every month. The first New Years we were together, we ended up being in a car at a stop sign at midnight (we were trying to get to a friend's house but didn't make it). Thereafter, every time we stopped at that intersection we would kiss and say, "Happy New Year."

I proposed to AB on the anniversary of the day we met, while we were in Key West. Every year on that date I make key lime pie and we have champagne.

I'm a bit of a sap.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:45 AM
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My ladyfriend and I met on a Friday the 13th, so we celebrate those instead of a stupid bourgeois anniversary.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:47 AM
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9

That's sweet, JRoth.

Also, you know how you posted pictures of your house awhile back? I totally had a dream set there, except there was a large hole in between the first and second floors. And it was like, the apocalypse. (Pittsburgh's the place to be, right?).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:49 AM
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5: So I should take up smoking again?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:52 AM
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People, please do not act like h-g's aunt and uncle.

February is my favorite month. It is the month of conception. It is the month for breaking up. It is just like 9 months before June.

Yea for February.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 8:57 AM
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The first New Years we were together, we ended up being in a car at a stop sign at midnight (we were trying to get to a friend's house but didn't make it)

I've heard that if you have sex at a stop sign at midnight on New Years you gain Satanic powers but come to a bad end. Enjoy it while it lasts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:04 AM
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Di, some people were born to smoke.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:05 AM
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14

We went out to dinner last night, because that's when we had a baby sitter. Went to a restuarant that had cheese as a dessert choice.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:07 AM
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15

We call it a "monthiversary."


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:08 AM
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16

Sifu and I randomly went to a Tibetan restaurant on Valentine's Day last year. We thought about going to one in Sifutown again this year (where I am now), but Tibetan restaurants aren't that easy to come by. Valentine's Day tradition averted!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:15 AM
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You'll all get yours, individually.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:23 AM
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18

Having the girls' birthday* two days later makes it easy to ignore Valentine's Day. Thanks, kids!

*The rest of you know it as "Stanley's birthday" and/or "Kim Jong Il's birthday".


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:24 AM
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There was an article in our gone-to-seed alternative newsweekly this week about the custom of making wedding proposals on Valentine's Day at fancy restaurants. It contained this sentence: "After an acceptance, Crew says, the joyous screams and tears will spur the rest of the dining room to applaud."

Now, perhaps it is just the malign influence of John Emerson, but do people (and by people, the article means women, no gay-marriage proposals allowed in this article, bub!) really scream and burst into tears when they get a (welcome) marriage proposal nowadays? I mean, most of the time you're half-expecting it right?

I just don't understand straight people sometimes.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:25 AM
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20

I saw someone get proposed to in a restaurant once, and there were no screams or tears, but everyone did applaud, because it was obvious what was happening.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:28 AM
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21

You're supposed to put the ring in the dessert, buried a bit. That way the rest of the diners can applaud the successful Heimlick.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:30 AM
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20: Somewhere, will was applauding too.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:32 AM
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Also, you know how you posted pictures of your house awhile back? I totally had a dream set there, except there was a large hole in between the first and second floors. And it was like, the apocalypse. (Pittsburgh's the place to be, right?).

Yes, Pittsburgh (or, as the Council would surely rename it, Pittspocalypse). But I just went and checked, no hole between the two floors.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:33 AM
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Pittspocalypse, or Apocalurgh?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:34 AM
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25

do people (and by people, the article means women, no gay-marriage proposals allowed in this article, bub!) really scream and burst into tears when they get a (welcome) marriage proposal nowadays? I mean, most of the time you're half-expecting it right?

They're screaming at the size of the diamond. One way or the other.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:34 AM
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26

I think when your worth and identity is tied up in how well you carry out your gender role, being proposed to is a huge landmark and the women to whom this applies are genuinely ecstatic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:36 AM
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I read an article in the Globe a few years ago about the number of proposals at certain Boston restaurants on V-Day. Top of the Hub would get several over the course of a Valentine's Day evening, more if it fell on a weekend. The Omni Parker House would also get several, but they tried to make it out like they have people proposing there all the time, so it wasn't a big deal. (Site of JFK's proposal to Jackie.) In the statements all the restaurant reps made, you could see them trying to portray their establishments as the place to get engaged. Everybody's doing it! It was weird.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:37 AM
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19/20 reminds me: Bad Old GF & I were in a nice restaurant right on the riverfront one evening. There was an older couple sitting in a booth by the window, and some of the other diners spotted an approaching boat with a "Will you marry me?" sign on it. There was a bit of a murmur in the room, but the prospective fiancee was too focused on her beau to notice. Then, just as the boat came even with the booth, a freight train went by. Now there was chuckling throughout the room, as almost everyone else had cottoned on. I think the woman may even have glanced around a bit, wondering what the joke was. At last, the train passed, the woman saw the boat and said yes. I believe we all clapped.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:38 AM
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My Mom and Dad met at a teacher's conference in Malawi. He was Peace Corps (Malawi 1, no less) and she was OSAS (Brit equivalent). Malawi is just about the most beautiful country anywhere, lush, tropical, the whole place smells like flowers and moist earth. Mom told dad about how she'd been unable to get fresh milk for her tea (nearest electricity was 20+ miles away) so she'd bought a cow and hired a boy from the village to look after it and milk it. He was charmed and told her "Some of us are going to a movie - why don't you come along?" Turns out "some of us" was just him. He proposed two weeks later.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:38 AM
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19: But, yes, I doubt that the proposal is really that unexpected in most cases. Actually, if you get a table at a fancy place for no known occasion, then it is really unexpected. On Valentines, you might just be celebrating Valentines.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:39 AM
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31

And on a note truer to my feelings about romance: Proposal Fail!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:40 AM
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19: Seriously. Presumably, the proposal itself shouldn't be too terribly surprising. Fancy restaurant on V-day? Hardly so innovative as to catch someone off-guard.

My favorite proposal story, though, is from a friend of mine. With the aid of their mutual best friend, he sent his girlfriend on a scavenger hunt of memories -- she got a clue involving a significant memory of their history together, would go to the place where that memory had occurred to find the next clue, and so on until she arrived at the fancy restaurant or whatever it was where he eventually proposed. I'm not sure if it would have been a deal-breaker had she been unable to unravel the clues...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:40 AM
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26 is, um, a bit cynical. I mean, proposals are exciting. Hell, AB & I shopped together for her ring, but she still cried when I proposed.

Also at the wedding, even though she knew it was coming.

At both her births, too, but I ascribe that to the hormones.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:43 AM
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34

I'm not sure if it would have been a deal-breaker had she been unable to unravel the clues...

"Oh Honey, I've slept with so many men at that hotel, I didn't know where I was supposed to go next."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:45 AM
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26 is, um, a bit cynical.

26 is more cynical than all the comments saying "Why are these idiots so happy?" ?? I was just saying why the formulaic ritual might have extra worth, especially the more it conforms to all the hollywood trappings.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:47 AM
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36

33: She didn't scream, though, right?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:00 AM
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37

28: The Grand Concourse?


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:00 AM
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38

(... um, I mean at the proposal and wedding. Thereafter, I don't really need the details.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:00 AM
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39

I don't really know what my honey and my anniversary is. I don't exactly remember the date of our first date, and it's not like he is making any to-do about it, either. I expect that if I ever get married, I'll recall that day.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:01 AM
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39: Yeah, I totally adore stories like heebie's aunt and uncle, but personally I don't do terribly well with the big to do. Which is probably why it's unlikely I'll ever be married to anyone for 35 years.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:06 AM
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41

When people ask us when we are getting married, BR says "Will hasnt asked me." I say "BR hasnt asked me."

I refuse to bow to the patriarchy. (until my health insurance becomes too expensive and it becomes much better for me and the kids to be on her health insurance.)


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:06 AM
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I only remember the day that my sweetie and I got together because it just happened to be the day before a friend's birthday. And I remember that because we hadn't told any of our friends yet and so spent the birthday party pretending like everything was normal and we hadn't stayed up until 8:00 am the previous night. And then tried to leave at the same time without being conspicuous about it (me leaving, him leaving 5 minutes later, me waiting at the end of the street).

It felt kind of deliciously like an affair. For one day.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:09 AM
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43

36: Right
37: Right
38: It was more guttural... oh. Never mind.
41: And the cobbler's children go barefoot....


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:11 AM
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32: I'm not sure if it would have been a deal-breaker had she been unable to unravel the clues...

Barry Levinson (Diner) claims that the infamous football quiz that Eddie forces his fiancée to pass is based on something that one of his male cousins did in real life.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:20 AM
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the infamous football quiz that Eddie forces his fiancée to pass

My vague memory is that it's absolutely transparent that Eddie does not want to get married. Is this not true? Not that he doesn't love his fiancee, but that he is just absolutely has no interest or incentive for getting married, and only the social pressure of their subculture is leading him to go down the path. The quiz is his version of dragging his feet and having a temper tantrum.

Maybe I'm misremembering.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:24 AM
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45: I don't recall either. Actually not at all my favorite movie, partly because it was so self-consciously done that it was almost an instant parody of itself, the kind of movie that would have a scene like the football quiz. Plus because I'm a feminist.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:32 AM
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47

I don't really understand the proposal thing. I don't like surprises very much, and overall I'd much rather just come to a mutual agreement together then have an elaborate date night or what have you. I particularly would hate anything in public (for the same reason I am convinced I do not want a wedding, though you never know how it will turn out, I suppose).

I am enough of a romantic to really enjoy seeing how happy people get describing how they got engaged - the excitement is infectious.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:36 AM
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47: Yea, when I proposed, it wasn't much of a surprise and I proposed when I picked her up. Then we went to dinner.

As for weddings, you can have them semi-privately, though in most states I think you need an officiant and two witnesses.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:39 AM
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49

I just want you all to know that my V-day plans involve a rat funeral, to which I've very maturely invited UNG and his girlfriend. I probably should have looked at the date before I said "Saturday," but there it is.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:40 AM
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49: What a great way to inoculate your child against the pernicious influence of Valentine's Day. Maybe you should arrange an annual rat death commemoration.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:44 AM
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51

It's a rat. Just kill another one next year.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:46 AM
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52

I proposed when I picked her up

MH moves fast!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:46 AM
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a rat funeral, to which I've very maturelyFreudianly invited UNG and his girlfriend


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:47 AM
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51: Isn't that why UNG is invited?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:47 AM
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53,54: Invite JRoth next year.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:48 AM
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"And today we call to mind what Remeal Linguine taught us about the true spirit of Valentine's day: grief and vermin."

Plus, the little sneak was always trying to scavenge chocolate, so Rory wants to bury him with a special bar of chocolate. So hopefully she'll come to believe that Valentine's chocolates belong buried with a dead rat.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:50 AM
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for the same reason I am convinced I do not want a wedding, though you never know how it will turn out, I suppose

Friends of ours did an Quaker thing in their home with a couple witnesses, although I think there was a subsequent celebration outdoors somewhere. Do you like parties?

Our actual ceremony consisted of closest family and a friend or two on either side - 18 people, including us and the mayor who officiated. Not much bigger than Thanksgiving dinner, but rather nicer.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:50 AM
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Speaking of weddings, I have a friend who's getting married in South Africa. He's half Louisianan/half Nigerian, and his Dad lives in Ngieria. She's a US citizen, but her ancestry is Zimbabwean, and that's where most of her family is, although some of them are in South Africa.

They figured that it would be easier and cheaper for their American friends to go to Africa, where hotels are cheaper, than for their African relatives to come to the U.S.

Should I tell them that to make life simpler, they should also get quietly married by a judge in the U.S.?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:51 AM
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59

You could bury him in a heart-shaped pink box. Not to put too fine a point on it.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:52 AM
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60

Invite JRoth next year.

Hey! I look at least as good naked as dressed.

Same ballpark, anyway.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:52 AM
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61

And I don't mean instead of a ceremony in Africa, but in addition to, with just enough witnesses to make it legal?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:52 AM
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59: I'm not really sure where I'd find a heart-shaped box in UNG's size, though.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:54 AM
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63

Do you like parties?

I do like parties! And yeah, that's pretty much what I envisioned. A civil ceremony attended by 2 people for witnesses, and then a party that did not involve anything more than your typical house party, though maybe in a beautiful spot. I'd prefer to just go on a nice vacation then to spend money on a wedding, or to buy a lot of booze, invite friends over, and call it a done deal. Now, all I need to do is find someone willing to go along with this plan.

61: There was just an article in The Economist about the difficulties of international marriages. I suspect that they've already thought about it but it might not be a bad idea to suggest the civil ceremony in the US.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:57 AM
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Wikipedia doth claim: The song's name came from a heart-shaped box Love had given Cobain. However, Cobain had originally titled the song "Heart-Shaped Coffin"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:57 AM
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I suspect that they've already thought about it but it might not be a bad idea to suggest the civil ceremony in the US.

Plannign is not hsi strong suit. Also, he's been known to wander off randomly.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:59 AM
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66

She's kind of a free spirit who quit her job at the Boston Public Health Commision without another one lined up and turned one down in Wellesley, and she's not freaking out.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:00 AM
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Should I tell them that to make life simpler, they should also get quietly married by a judge in the U.S.?

Yes. Unequivocally and firmly. I would tell this to a perfect stranger, never mind a friend. There is no downside, and the risks can be awful.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:04 AM
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My idea of marriage is much more business-like.

Each side needs to have done enough due diligence to make an educated, carefully considered decision.

I've done my due diligence. My idea of a proposal really is something more along the lines of "Are you sure that you have considered this carefully and that you still want to do this?" I need to start preparing the disclosure forms.

I've also been waiting for my daughter to really break bad for an extended period of time.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:04 AM
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BG:

They haven't done a pre-nup yet?!??!?! Crazy.

A pre-nup is just good sense. Define your expectations with each other in writing.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:05 AM
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69: You old romantic you.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:07 AM
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I'd prefer to just go on a nice vacation then to spend money on a wedding, or to buy a lot of booze, invite friends over, and call it a done deal.

This is more or less what my brother's version of the destination wedding was. Trip to a tropical locale, attended by immediate family and a small handful of friends, vows on the beach, and my dad mixing Mai Tais. (The ceremony was short; the mai tais and vacationing lasted a week.) Definitely a good way to go.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:07 AM
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72

For a memorable wedding, wrap a rat in a cloth and have the groom stomp it.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:08 AM
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73

You make me weep, MH.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:09 AM
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74

What is more romantic than making a really good life decision?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:10 AM
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74: Making a hasty life decision and cementing it with animal cruelty. I'm thinking starting a wedding planner business.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:15 AM
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76

I'm always happy to see people rejecting the wedding industry, but MH might take it a little too far.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:16 AM
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75: Let me know if you need someone to handle the wedding cakes. Sounds like the Red Velvet Rat would be about right for your ceremony.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:18 AM
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Koreans celebrate 100 day, 200 day, 300 day ... anniversaries of when they started dating:

http://www.lifeinkorea.com/Boards/read.cfm?BoardID=19&MsgID=928

I think they program it into their cell phones.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:20 AM
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Stories like this make my bitter twisted heart go pitter-pat:
"We often get people asking for 'Will you marry me?' to be written in chocolate on dessert plates," says Cox. "One woman who received one panicked and ran off to the loo. On her way she stopped a waiter and asked us to send her boyfriend one back reading 'Not a hope in hell'."

From here, which has some other good ones.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:25 AM
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76: Back in the day, pretty much everything important involved animal cruelty of some kind.

77: That would be exactly the right touch.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:26 AM
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81

I'm a bit of a sap.

Do you really feel that clarification was needed?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:28 AM
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I realized that today I missed a grand opportunity to do a history of Valentine's Day in my class on the history of american sexuality. It would have been perfect. D'oh. Maybe I could have just had them read this thread.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:31 AM
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83

Do you really feel that clarification was needed?

I just wanted to establish self-awareness.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:32 AM
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84

They haven't done a pre-nup yet?!??!?! Crazy.

Is this just the divorce lawyer talking, or are pre-nups that comomon? I sorta nervously asked Sifu if he wanted one, and if he had said yes it would have shaken me quite a lot.

We've been doing the "define your expectations" with each other as a matter of course, as a part of, you know, general good communication.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:34 AM
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I'm a little disgusted with myself for 77. And intrigued by the idea of making that cake. And disgusted with myself for contemplating how to go about making that cake.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:35 AM
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85: I don't think red dye will be required if you use a nice fresh juicy rat. See if you can find one at your local farmer's market.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:37 AM
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I don't know anything professionally about this, but I don't think they're common at all -- my sense is that they're really for a situation where one party (a) has serious money before the marriage and (b) has other family with an interest in that money. Rich people on their second marriages, and children of the first.

But will probably knows a lot more, and has a broader sense of when they're useful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:37 AM
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They being prenups, rather than ratcakes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:37 AM
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84: Pre-nups are not about defining your expectations. They are about protecting yourself financially. Totally unromantic. Totally prudent if you have/give a shit about assets. For defining expectations? A contract signed now is unlikely to express your expectations 10 years from now terribly well. Continued good communication seems much better suited to that.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:38 AM
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90

Sending a rat velvet cake to the intended is a time honored way for children of the wealthy to discourage a second marriage.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:39 AM
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Continued good communication seems much better suited to that.

Absolutely.

I suspect most couples, particularly on a first marriage, don't have much reason for a prenup. I'm sure it makes all kinds of sense for a few situations, but the average couple?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:40 AM
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92

only children of the wealthy?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:40 AM
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93

Is this just the divorce lawyer talking, or are pre-nups that comomon? I sorta nervously asked Sifu if he wanted one, and if he had said yes it would have shaken me quite a lot.

Why would it have shaken you? (I ask that even though I probably know the answer.)

A pre-nup is not a uniform document. You and your partner define what is in the pre-nup. It is a great way for you and he to agree on how you want to plan your lives. And you can modify them later IF you both agree.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:40 AM
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92: have you priced a rat velvet cake lately? They ain't cheap.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:41 AM
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92 to 90, though it works to 91 okay too.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:41 AM
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Yeah, 89 was pretty much my line of thinking on it. If it's not about finances, then a piece of paper saying "I expect x, y, and z (non-financial) things" isn't really going to make a difference. If I decide I am no longer willing to live up to x, well, then we renegotiate, signed contract or no. But I was confused by will's 69.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:42 AM
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This is a pretty socially conservative area, but there are a number of women in town who never married. They mostly are career woman. One, though, still lives with her parents at age 55. She's one of the cheerfullest people around and looks much younger than her age. She's had a boyfriend for many years, but they never got married until two years ago when she lost her insurance at work.

My brother got married for immigration purposes. They'd been togtehr for years and had a kid, but being married made Canadian immigration easier.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:43 AM
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And you can modify them later...

that'd be a post-nup.

I can see the point of this as a planning exercise actually. But most young couples seem to be more in the business of merging debts than assets, and proceeding with a sharing what comes to them afterwards doesn't leave much for a prenup to specify, does it? If you have wildly different assets, plans or expectations, sure ... but that's a tiny percentage.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:43 AM
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My brother got married for immigration purposes.

This sort of thing is pretty common in cross-border couples I think.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:44 AM
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A semi-formal document defining expectations might be a good thing even if it has no legal standing. Who will do the dishes, who handles bills, that sort of crap. It's fine to talk about it, but my experience is that it's pretty easy for two people to come away from a conversation with completely different understandings of what has been agreed upon.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:44 AM
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Why would it have shaken you?

The implication that we would have to write down the things we had talked about in order for them to be somehow more binding. I mean, people can change their minds at any point, and having a piece of paper that says 'But you used to want this!' wouldn't change the fact that your expectations had diverged.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:46 AM
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I don't think the existence of a document such as in 100 is of any inherent worth.

The existence of some sort of process to work through this stuff (which for any given couple might involve documenting it, might not) is absolutely important though.

Afaics, though, all this falls mostly under : communicate well.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:46 AM
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I suspect most couples, particularly on a first marriage, don't have much reason for a prenup. I'm sure it makes all kinds of sense for a few situations, but the average couple?

I think that the average couple is exactly who should do it.

If we divorce after ten years, should I receive spousal support for the rest of my life?

If we are married 5 years, and you walk out because you just gave up on the marriage, should I pay you spousal support?

Everyone assumes that the other person is thinking the same thing that they are thinking. (This is often true in business as well. "We dont need a complicated agreement! We both know what we mean.")


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:47 AM
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100: I agree completely. A semi-formal document defining expectations is definitely a bad idea. I'm glad we had this talk.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:47 AM
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The main reason I can think of that a prenup would made someone feel shaken is that it could come across as having one foot on dry land while the other person is jumping forward wholeheartedly. I'm pledging my love and devotion! I'll do everything I can to make this marriage work! My parents DO love you! They're happy to help pay for the wedding! [They just want to be sure you're not a golddigger.]

That said, in addition to the second marriage/has assets issues mentioned above, I'd expect that a never-married person with kids from an earlier relationship might also want one. It certainly seems prudent, especially if you're worried about your new in-laws somehow ending up with everything if you die before your spouse.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:47 AM
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A semi-formal document defining expectations might be a good thing even if it has no legal standing. Who will do the dishes, who handles bills, that sort of crap.

Oh, I can just see it.

"Honey, there are dishes in the sink."
"Dude, I just spend 12 hours in the office and the next 2 on a train that broke down."
"That really sucks, but a contract is a contract."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:48 AM
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Also: It's fine to talk about it, but my experience is that it's pretty easy for two people to come away from a conversation with completely different understandings of what has been agreed upon.

if people didn't also routinely come away from written documents with completely different understandings of what had been agreed upon, I'd lose about a third of my practice.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:49 AM
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103: Ok, Will I think that this is an argument for understanding something about divorce law, particularly where you live. This generalizes to contracts I guess ... the more impact it could have on you, the more you should understand the various possibilities.

However, formally working out a document, particularly if you're involving a lawyer, only makes sense to me if you agree on something really divergent from what would likely be forced upon you in an disagreeable divorce.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:50 AM
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I don't see the crossover between "how you want to plan your lives" (93) and "If we are married 5 years, and you walk out because you just gave up on the marriage, should I pay you spousal support?" (103). The first seems like something that a contract can't enforce, and the second like something I'm not in any position to have an opinion on at this point.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:52 AM
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with complications like 105.latter, however, it makes much more sense to me.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:52 AM
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If we divorce after ten years, should I receive spousal support for the rest of my life?

But things change over a decade. Maybe on the day we get married, we're both equally employed and equally employable and spousal support seems ridiculous. But five years later I give up my career to care for our special needs child. Suddenly, that waiver of spousal support doesn't look so smart. (I know, that's why you advise me against waiving and bully my future spouse into doing so... )


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:53 AM
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We do this, on the monthly anniversary of when we started dating- the marriage thing was more of a formality. 14+ years. I've calculated the respective days on which each of us will have been together more than half our lives.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:53 AM
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112: But the really special date is when you've been together half your age plus seven.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:55 AM
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I'm also queasy about explicit (binding) premarital negotiations about the end of a marriage other than to protect significant premarital assets. The incentives seem powerful to agree to anything that will make you look accomodating, because you're *in love* and the marriage isn't going to end, and the justice of the situation may look very, very different five years down the road.

The idea that it should be possible to make premarital expectations, generally, legally binding seems like it would lead to more problems than it would solve.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:55 AM
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The thing I see recommending actually writing down your expectations is that some people simply don't communicate all that well verbally, but do so very clearly written.

Sometimes I almost prefer (almost, not actually) to have more emotional discussions in letter/email/chat format because I can articulate how I feel that much better than I can verbally. If I felt weirdly about asking my beau to wash the dishes more than once a week (which I don't, but I could imagine the issue), it might be easier if it was a written out sort of thing. The contract thing sounds off-putting, but there are ways in which I could see it being useful.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:55 AM
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Yeah, 111 is what I was talking about with not being in a position to have an opinion at this point. It seems like either anything I could agree to now would be useless, or we would have to make up agreements for every possible scenario that came along. Or continually revise the thing, with every new job, every new kid, every new investment made.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:56 AM
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Will, out of curiousity , how strongly held are the constraints in a pre-nup if they disagree with the (localized) trend in divorce cases. Obviously you could add clauses that are decided to be unenforceable, but I'm thinking more of something that is clear to the disadvantage of one party compared to where they'd be without the agreement. If they argue that they were convinced to sign without understanding the implications, is it likely to hold up?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:56 AM
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And yes to 111 and 116.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:58 AM
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But will, to the questions in 103, is it really likely that people will feel the same about those questions 10 or 15 years down the road as they did when they signed them?

I can think of several people I know who were so in love when they got married that they would happily have signed all the waivers in the world acknowledging that they didn't care that they were giving up their earning years to paying down their new spouse's debt, or supporting them through school, or whatever. By age 40 when they are getting divorced they care a lot more.

Shorter me: Even the best legal contracts are only a poor Plan B compared to good communication and equally trusting relationships.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:58 AM
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109 -- Jesus, Blume, the answer to that second question is "yes."

112 -- One does sometimes feel like a Smith at the Jones family reunion. I thought I was a sap, but it seems I'm really just a piker.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:58 AM
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116: right. Protecting mismatched assets, or the interests of dependents from a prior marriage, etc., makes sense in a way that predicting the future doesn't.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 11:58 AM
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Sometimes I almost prefer (almost, not actually) to have more emotional discussions in letter/email/chat format because I can articulate how I feel that much better than I can verbally.

I am very much the same way, but find this approach tends to royally piss off some people who rather strongly prefer face-to-face discussions.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:01 PM
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120. indeed.

this whole monthly anniversary trend has surprised me.

we can't even reliably remember birthdays (each others .. or our own). Much more likely to celebrate random things (happy friday!, lets go out) than anything on clockwork.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:01 PM
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But I was confused by will's 69.

Just one quick example:

A man and woman each own their own homes. They get married.

The man sells his house and uses the money ($50,000) for a downpayment on a house in both names.

The woman sells her house and the money ($50,000) goes into a joint checking account for living expenses.

8 years later, they have paid $50,000 toward the mortgage, bringing the principal balance down by $25,000.00. The house has appreciated by $100,000.00

When they divorce and sell (ignore commission), husband gets $137,500 and wife gets $37,500.00

The Brandenberg formula.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:02 PM
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94: have you priced a rat velvet cake lately? They ain't cheap.

They're two-fifty, right? (Velvet cake makes its appearance about halfway down the page.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:03 PM
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But I was confused by will's 69.

You don't know how disheartening it is for him to keep hearing that from women...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:04 PM
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I am very much the same way, but find this approach tends to royally piss off some people who rather strongly prefer face-to-face discussions.

Yep, and it tends to inhibit some of the good stuff that can come with intense emotional conversations, like hugging, or getting to see the other person's reaction.

But for smaller things, it's not necessarily a bad approach if you've got two people with similar inclinations towards it to deal with issues like cleaning, cooking, and paying the bills.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:05 PM
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But will, to the questions in 103, is it really likely that people will feel the same about those questions 10 or 15 years down the road as they did when they signed them?

I can think of several people I know who were so in love when they got married that they would happily have signed all the waivers in the world acknowledging that they didn't care that they were giving up their earning years to paying down their new spouse's debt, or supporting them through school, or whatever. By age 40 when they are getting divorced they care a lot more.

Shorter me: Even the best legal contracts are only a poor Plan B compared to good communication and equally trusting relationships.

Well, of course, a good relationship and good communication beats a pre-nup.

The idea is that you can make decisions while you are married, knowing what the result will be. You can plan for it and make decisions accordingly.

Or, the rug gets pulled out from under you and your planning doesnt help you one bit.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:05 PM
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You don't know how disheartening it is for him to keep hearing that from women...

I should have warned Blume before I just threw it on her like that.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:06 PM
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will, I'm not familiar with the Brandenburg formula, but tell me, why wouldn't that be solved by having each of them put $25,000 down on the house, and each putting $25,000 in the joint checking account?

Do you feel less strongly about this in community property states?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:07 PM
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A man and woman each own their own homes. They get married.

Ok, right there you've thrown out most situations, particularly of 1st marriages.

Everyone had originally stipulated that the existence of significant assets on one or both sides changes things.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:07 PM
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It does say alot about this place that the Valentine's Day thread has degenerated into discussions of pre-nups and divorce.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:07 PM
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A semi-formal document defining expectations might be a good thing even if it has no legal standing. Who will do the dishes, who handles bills, that sort of crap.

Isn't this what the vows are for?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:07 PM
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But five years later I give up my career to care for our special needs child.

Di knows the answer to this one.

Before you give up your career, you and your spouse modify the agreement.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:08 PM
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I celebrate the monthly anniversary of my first ever comment on Unfogged.

By crying, crying, masturbating, then crying, of course.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:08 PM
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FTR, we have talked about drawing up a chores chart.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:08 PM
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Isn't this what the vows are for?

Love, honor, and change the kitty litter.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:09 PM
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will, I'm not familiar with the Brandenburg formula, but tell me, why wouldn't that be solved by having each of them put $25,000 down on the house, and each putting $25,000 in the joint checking account?

It could be solved that way. Perfectly. But, it never is because nobody thinks of it. Because they are going to stay married and if they dont, they will both be fair, right? Wrong.

This is only in Virginia - not a community property state.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:10 PM
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Do you feel less strongly about this in community property states?

This gets into the localization alluded to above.

I think everyone agrees that in some situations it makes a lot of sense, but in the average situation?


I guess the same works with large debt .... two graduate students get married, One owes 120,000, the other owes 82,000, mostly student loans Between them they own a full set of Ikea furniture, a beat up civc, and an old Dell computer.

After 5 years they split up, how does the remainging 115000 debt get allocated?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:10 PM
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134: Fine, I unexpectedly lose my job or get hit by a bus and am no longer able to work.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:11 PM
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This is only in Virginia - not a community property state.

Hence 108.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:12 PM
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Isn't this what the vows are for?

Absolutely. The best way to avoid all of this is to marry well and then have both people work on the marriage and cherish and respect each other always (or mostly.)

But, since that rarely happens, be prepared!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:12 PM
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how does the remainging 115000 debt get allocated?

If the $82,00 spouse has a good lawyer, proportionately...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:12 PM
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136: I recommend a chore wheel. More fun.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:12 PM
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I suspect, despite my talking up the value of written communication, that I'd be unable to follow a chores chart. I'm the sort of person who just does chores when they need doing, and I'd find it hard to switch away from that. I suspect that this would end up with me doing most of the cleaning unless my partner was significantly neater than I. But since I'm the long suffering martyr type , I don't see a problem here.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:13 PM
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Fine, I unexpectedly lose my job or get hit by a bus and am no longer able to work.

Go with the bus-hitting! Highly lucrative and good for the lawyers.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:13 PM
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If the $82,00 spouse has a good lawyer, proportionately...

Too much debt to have a good lawyer !

Anyway, it was just a half assed attempt to balance out the "both own their own houses thing" .


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:14 PM
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And Will, disses meby going straight to Di's question and skipping right over mine.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:15 PM
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145: Wait, you're okay with lots of written communication *and* with doing most of the chores? Will you marry me?!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:15 PM
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who just does chores when they need doing,

It turns out the latter part of this statement is slippery.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:15 PM
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145: There's also the fact that most people who need a chore chart to get them to do chores don't do them very well when it's their turn anyway.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:16 PM
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And Will, disses meby going straight to Di's question and skipping right over mine.

If it's any consolation, note that he did promptly throw me under a bus.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:16 PM
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I've calculated the respective days on which each of us will have been together more than half our lives.

Ha! I did this with the HS GF. Didn't quite make it. I was sort of horrified when I had spent more time with Bad Old GF than with (nice, compatible) HS GF. I didn't notice the exact date when I'd been with AB longer than with Bad Old GF, but it was a nice feeling as we whizzed by that point.

When AB & I were first dating, we expressed some regret over time we'd spent with other, worse partners, and I promised 50 years together (actuarially likely, if not guaranteed). I've continued to make occasional reference to that idea; it's pretty weird (and sobering) to realize that I need to start referring to 40 more years together. Ack.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:16 PM
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It does say alot about this place that the Valentine's Day thread has degenerated into discussions of pre-nups and divorce.

Hey, I did my best to keep things sappy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:17 PM
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I don't know anything about states other than California, but I do know that student loans are not considered a joint marital responsibility.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:17 PM
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149: Did I mention I really like kids but am not sure about procreating myself? See, I'm perfect for you!

And there was supposed to be a /joke at the end of my comment about being a martyr but something happened to it.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:17 PM
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138: Thing is, though, that problem could be solved by being aware of it ahead of time without a pre-nup. And if you weren't aware of it ahead of time, the pre-nup wouldn't help much, because it wouldn't address it specifically.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:17 PM
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soup:

In Virginia, it depends on whether the debt is incurred pre or post marriage.

Post marriage it is a marital debt, to be divided pursuant to the statute. (The statute doesn't mandate 50-50. ) Often student loans are allocated to the person who incurred them more so than other kinds of debt.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:18 PM
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152: But you should have seen how fast he chased the ambulance you were in!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:19 PM
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but I do know that student loans are not considered a joint marital responsibility

Shhh. What UNGs lawyer doesn't know didn't hurt me...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:19 PM
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I don't know anything about states other than California, but I do know that student loans are not considered a joint marital responsibility.

I think it's because the spouse can still use the education once they're divorced.

(Further morbid stuff, my Trusts and Estates class covered situations where spouses die simultaneously on 9/11.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:19 PM
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See, I'm perfect for you!

So, uh... How do you feel about prenups?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:20 PM
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158: right, I understand that there are differences. Student load debts are funny debts that way too.

The real point was that your owning two houses scenario isn't very relevant to the average (1st) marriage, afaics, and I was proposing an alternate close to `home' here, particularly.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:20 PM
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We've been doing the "define your expectations" with each other as a matter of course, as a part of, you know, general good communication.

"I get my own remote control for the killer robot, right?"

It turns out the latter part of this statement is slippery.

Is it ever.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:20 PM
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162: You'll want one with me; I have no assets and only debt. Should we make an appointment with Will?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:21 PM
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I answered BG in 138!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:21 PM
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Will, is a clause in a pre-nup stating that there will be no talking on the cell phone while in the marriage enforceable?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:23 PM
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I do know that student loans are not considered a joint marital responsibility

Which makes sense.

The odd thing about this is that it probably makes sense to pay them off if you can, so the alternate situation: person A has 50k in the bank, person B has 50K loan, can work out weirdly, I guess. In that it probably makes sense for the couple to wipe out the debt, but in that case if they split up in 2 years, person A risks losing out financially, depending.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:23 PM
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The real point was that your owning two houses scenario isn't very relevant to the average (1st) marriage, afaics, and I was proposing an alternate close to `home' here, particularly.

I see a lot of people in similar situations. Maybe one has a house and the other has $15,000 in cash that gets spent, never to be recovered. Same concept applies.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:24 PM
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Honestly, my boyfriend is such a sap this way. When we talk about moving in together for real, he always says that he wants me to pay less toward expenses so that I can pay down by student loan debt. He's debt free.

I always say that I wouldn't want him to feel used, if we ever broke up. He says that he wouldn't feel that way, and besides we won't break up.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:24 PM
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Will, is a clause in a pre-nup stating that there will be no talking on the cell phone while in the marriage enforceable?

You have been talking with BR behind my back, havent you?!?!?!

My clients need me sometimes in the evenings, especially since I am so busy on Unfogged today.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:25 PM
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you really see a lot of people who own their own houses prior to a first marriage? I'm pretty certain that if you took an average first marriage, you're talking about little to no real assets, and probably overall debt. Are we talking about the same things?

your point about local law is fine (as noted, hence 108 --- know what you're getting into), but that's more a problem with what sounds like a fucked up state divorce law than a general point.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:27 PM
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I always say that I wouldn't want him to feel used, if we ever broke up. He says that he wouldn't feel that way, and besides we won't break up.

Is this sarcasm? (I say it with love, BG.)

I remember all of my law school friends telling me that they would never marry someone who would get divorced. Shockingly, many of them are now divorced.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:27 PM
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170 was written before seeing 168.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:27 PM
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I don't think prenups work, for most people.

Will assumes that the pre-nup has, at worst, a neutral effect on the more important work of marriage -- trust, life-sharing, etc. Most people, though, and I think rightly, find something odd about signing a pre-nup and feel vaguely that it will help to doom their marriage from the outset.

And I think good sense lies on the side of folk, not lawyerly, wisdom. Take the business analogy. Business mergers are very hard to do successfully, because they generally conclude with a written contract that's more advantageous to one side than the other. It's very common for a small company to get purchased by a bigger one specifically so that the founders can work at the larger company. Then, the founders of the small company realize that they've been screwed over in the deal, resent it, and leave. In the business world, no big deal, that's life, and at least the contract (usually) spells out who gets to keep what. But in marriage you don't want to have a document that sets in stone any arrangement that one side or the other is going to feel screws them over -- marriage is in many ways about being able to renegotiate the terms constantly, while trusting the other person to continue to negotiate with you. That prenup is going to serve as a giant source of resentment if one party feels that they were treated even the slightest bit unfairly, which is inevitable over time.

As everyone's said, things can be different when there are significant assets, age discrepencies, second marriages, etc., which is when pre-nups are generally used.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:27 PM
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173: No. He's totally starry-eyed about this. His parents are still together. He's convinced that we won't break up. I have no plans to break up with him, but I don't want to take advantage of him financially now.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:30 PM
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your point about local law is fine (as noted, hence 108 --- know what you're getting into), but that's more a problem with what sounds like a fucked up state divorce law than a general point.

Soup:

The problem is expectations. You think that you know what is going to happen. Typically, you are incorrect. (You and many other people.)

It really doesn't take a lot of money or debt for this to quickly appear inequitable. $25,000 in debt or assets can do it and most people have one or the other.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:30 PM
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FTR, we have talked about drawing up a chores chart.

_______B____ S____
SUN __dishes___trash
MON _catlitter__dishes
TUE __dishes___organize bikes
WED _teach robot German_dishes
THU _dishes___keep robot from killing B
FRI __fridge___dishes
SAT __potpourri__


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:31 PM
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170: See, now this is where the moving in together thing without getting married screams out for written agreement to me. UNG's girlfriend moved into his place this summer, and it's hardly my business or my problem, but I doubt they changed the title on the home and I would bet she's contributing to the mortgage, and then I think, "Oh man, if they ever break up she is going to be totally screwed!"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:32 PM
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My clients need me sometimes in the evenings, especially since I am so busy on Unfogged today.

Hey, some of us *are* clients. Now, make sure Parenthetical doesn't get a penny when we split.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:33 PM
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My business organizations professor tried to get us to think about why people sometimes got into contracts that were poorly worded without thinking through all of the contingencies. His point was that when people enter into a deal or business they always think that things will work out,
so he asked, "How many of you would get a pre-nup before marrying?" About 1/3 of teh class raised their hands. He said, "Okay, you say that because you're all going to be lawyers."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:33 PM
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I don't think prenups work, for most people.

Will assumes that the pre-nup has, at worst, a neutral effect on the more important work of marriage -- trust, life-sharing, etc. Most people, though, and I think rightly, find something odd about signing a pre-nup and feel vaguely that it will help to doom their marriage from the outset.

What is the number one thing that people are advised to do before they get married?

The answer is "Talk about money and debt."

Pre-nups are the same concept. I don't know the statistics, but I'm willing to bet that people that can sit down and address this issues have a far greater success rate than those who cannot.

A pre-nup shoved down another's throat isnt a start to a successful marriage.

Moreover, a pre-nup can be whatever you want it to be. It can die after 8 years if you want. It can only address one or two issues.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:35 PM
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171: Remember will, talking on the cell phone while married is just as dangerous as being drunk while married.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:35 PM
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170 was written before seeing 168.

170 is a bit different than 168 though.

In your case, the `inequality' of things is amortized over however long you stay together. One person is allowing the other to contribute unequally to bills in order to pay down debt, but at the end of the day it often probably washes out --- after all, between you you make a certain amount per month, and the more coupled your spending is, the more likely they would have subsidized fun stuff for you if you didn't have the money because of paying down your debt.

My situation is more like this: we get married, and consider our incomes joint from that day forward. If you have a debt, that means "we" are paying interest on it --- so from that point of view it may well make sense for me to pay off that debt completely if I have the money somewhere. But now your debt is just gone, and our joint income is relatively higher, but my pre-marriage savings are reduced. No amortization of the unequal payment. If we break up quckly and I don't get that back, I've lost out a fair bit, potentially.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:35 PM
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I know a couple in a committed lesbian relationship. I asked her if they were thinking of getting married. She said, "No, because her partner didn't want to combine their finances." I think that she does pay some rent which she'd have to do if she lived alone anyway.

Right now her partner is paying one of her (must be private) student loans, because she co-signed it.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:36 PM
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"Oh man, if they ever break up she is going to be totally screwed!"

UNG really has some odd predilections.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:37 PM
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I agree that talking about money and debt is super important. I'm the sort of person who would actually rather enjoy having my partner sitting me down and making me be more fiscally responsible than I am (or at least, encouraging me in that direction). But I know many, many other people who would chafe at the idea. It is a necessity to talk about these things, and it can be really hard to do so. I'm just not convinced that the pre-nup is the way to go forward on that.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:38 PM
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Remember will, talking on the cell phone while married is just as dangerous as being drunk while married.
Drunk is dangerous? I thought it was mandatory.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:39 PM
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You think that you know what is going to happen. Typically, you are incorrect. (You and many other people.)

Ok, now I'm not sure if we're talking about the same thing.

Do you mean that people typically think they won't break up ( statistically unlikely)

Or do you mean that most people don't understand what will happen if they do?


In our case, we looked at divorce law where we lived, where we were likely to live, and what plausible effect there was relative to our own situations. So we talked it all out. Nothing jumped out and said `hey, we should have a prenup', and our situation was more complicated than most of the people roughly my age/etc. when they got married.

So I really don't know why you think a prenup would have helped in any of these cases, while I of course from the beginning agreed there are situation where it does make sense.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:39 PM
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174: I suppose that one spouse could lend the other the money to pay off the debt.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:40 PM
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I don't know the statistics, but I'm willing to bet that people that can sit down and address this issues have a far greater success rate than those who cannot.

But is that because negotiating a prenup helps a marriage succeed or because the kind of people who can successfully negotiate a prenup are also the kind of people who can successfully work together during the marriage?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:40 PM
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174: I suppose that one spouse could lend the other the money to pay off the debt.

Right, and if you do this in a proper way, it probably takes care of all contingencies.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:41 PM
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It is a necessity to talk about these things, and it can be really hard to do so. I'm just not convinced that the pre-nup is the way to go forward on that.

The result is that people don't talk about it because they view it as confrontation instead of communication.

BG and Di:

It is FAR more important for unmarried couples (straight or gay) to have a written partnership agreement. A nasty divorce is still much easier than a breakup without an agreement. Partition suits are a pain in the butt.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:42 PM
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Cosma Shalizi has a recent post on trust networks, including a claim (not his, IIRC) that they're stable iff they have a lot of triads in them. An argument that Children Save the Marriage? (or maybe the third should be a lawyer).

You aren't supposed to work out a pre-nup with your partner, are you? Your parents and their parents and your lawyer and their lawyer work it out while you and your spouse-elect moon about (at the Small House in Allingham, probably).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:42 PM
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It is FAR more important for unmarried couples (straight or gay) to have a written partnership agreement.

Now this makes sense to me. After all, if you're married you already have some sort of implicit agreement (location dependent). You may not like some of it's implications, but it's there.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:43 PM
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195: ANd, if unmarried, you probably really want to get medical powers of attorney and whatnot, so you already have to do tedious legal stuff and figure out where to keep the paperwork.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:45 PM
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But is that because negotiating a prenup helps a marriage succeed or because the kind of people who can successfully negotiate a prenup are also the kind of people who can successfully work together during the marriage?

NPH:

I suspect that the former helps people move more toward being like the later, don't you?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:46 PM
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Remember will, talking on the cell phone while married is just as dangerous as being drunk while married.

On the other hand, talking on the cell phone while being married is vastly more dangerous[*] than being drunk while being married.

[*] Assuming the full monty here. Interrupting a JOP during a 3 minute civil ceremony in a grungy room isn't quite the same multiplier.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:46 PM
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Cosma Shalizi has a recent post on trust networks, including a claim (not his, IIRC) that they're stable iff they have a lot of triads in them.

And all this time, the therapist has been telling me that triangulation is a bad thing!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:46 PM
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I suspect that the former helps people move more toward being like the later, don't you?

Not really.

I suspect the sort of couples who can talk all this stuff out properly before and after marriage are much more likely to be successful at marriage.

On the other hand, they're the same people who could probably negotiate a prenup if they wanted too. So that's perhaps not really informative.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:48 PM
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Remember will, talking on the cell phone while married is just as dangerous as being drunk while married.

Drunk dialing while married can be a HUGE problem, of course.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:49 PM
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And all this time, the therapist has been telling me that triangulation is a bad thing!

Only if two men are involved. Try it with two women next time.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:49 PM
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If a pre-nup wasn't likely to cause problems for a marriage going forward, Will is right, everyone should do it. Why not?

But I am extremely skeptical that it is possible for any couple to negotiate a pre-nup that they will feel happy about not only at the time it is signed, but 10-15 years down the road. Over time, one side or the other will feel that they got the short end of the stick. Absent a pre-nup, you are in a constant negotiation, governed only by principals of family law (which, usually, both sides either know nothing about or are wrong about). With that pre-nup, you've set the deal in stone. And that seems like, in many cases, a plan for ongoing resentment and marital problems.

Will, I'm curious -- do you do many pre-nups? For ordinary couples before they are getting married? I think that if I had proposed a pre-nup before getting married, my wife would have either murdered me or been horrifically insulted, and my sense is that this is the common attitude.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:50 PM
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Soup:

your investigation made a lot of sense. You were both educated consumers.

I believe that people can learn to communicate better than they do. A pre-nup is only one part of that process in learning about to discuss difficult issues.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:51 PM
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not only at the time it is signed, but 10-15 years down the road.

I guess you could address this by having it automatically expire each year unless resigned (which might or might not trigger a renegotiation)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:52 PM
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203 -- "before they are getting married" s/b "before first marriages"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:52 PM
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205 sounds like it would be great for Will's business!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:53 PM
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Will, I'm curious -- do you do many pre-nups? For ordinary couples before they are getting married? I think that if I had proposed a pre-nup before getting married, my wife would have either murdered me or been horrifically insulted, and my sense is that this is the common attitude.

You are correct that pre-nups are not the norm.

Your wife would be insulted because she (and many people) view them as a one-size fits all. They are not.

They are a contract with the terms and duration generated by the couple (or their parents as someone above mentioned.)


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:54 PM
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I believe that people can learn to communicate better than they do. A pre-nup is only one part of that process in learning about to discuss difficult issues.

Ah, I suspect we are closer on this than I thought .... you are valuing the process more than the bit of paper.


A side question: is there any technical difference between a prenup and a "postnup" for lack of a better word? I mean, once you've actually been married there are a lot of legal consequences to your relationship that may not have existed previously, but can a prenup constrain/shape those in ways it's not possible to do retroactively?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:54 PM
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I agree with soup's 200. Negotiating a written contract is a foreign enough experience for most people that it's not generally going to have a lasting effect on how they deal with each other. If a couple wants to spend money improving their communication and negotiation skills, they're probably going to be better served by a counselor-type person than by most family law attorneys.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:55 PM
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Have I mentioned my belief that marriage should be for a limited term, with automatic renewal like leases?

Maybe 9 year marriages.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:56 PM
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205 sounds like it would be great for Will's business!

really? maybe 1 year is too often. But you could embed the idea that it has to be revisited over time, or expires, or both, right?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:56 PM
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boy, the clock-is-ticking ultimatums wouldn't be any fun at all.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:59 PM
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Marriages should be taxed $500, and the returns divided up annually between single people. And extra-lagal relationships should be prohibited.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 12:59 PM
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The point about learning to communicate is important; and that the process of moving toward a pre-nup could be useful in helping that along. But it does seem unnecessarily confrontational. Wouldn't bog-standard pre-marital counseling work just as well?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:00 PM
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211: Okay, but like a lease failure to expressly renew or terminate should result in conversion to a month-to-month lease.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:00 PM
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I've been re-reading Harry Potter and, if you have read the books, you'll notice that nobody ever gets divorced. Therefore, I'm forced to conclude the that secret to a happy marriage is access to the means to temporarily change your appearance and/or the ability of either partner to kill the other and hide the body so well that nobody can find it.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:01 PM
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211: Have I mentioned that the minimum term on the lease of an apartment in Belgium is something insane like 16 years? Maybe 14? Double digits anyway. It doesn't seem to have any real effect on behavior, people move in and out of places just like they do here, but the contracts all say that the lease is for that term.

I always meant to do some research into why the law was like that, what was the history, was it the same in neighboring countries, whether there were any effects that I just didn't see while I was there, etc. but I never got around to it. Too much good food and beer and chocolate to attend to. That and the Big Fat Greek Breakup.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:08 PM
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211: 7 years or less. Maybe five. A prime number, anyway.

One of the advantages of sitting down and discussing expectations is that it forces you to examine what you expect from each other and how you expect the relationship to evolve. It's all well and good to stress communication, but there will always be implicit stuff that can cause trouble if not brought out into the open. Writing things down also ensures that the inherent fuzziness of memory is taken out of the picture. You may disagree about what the words mean, but at least you're forced to accept that the particular words were agreed upon. My divorce involved some striking disagreements over issues that were simply not subject to interpretation - she thinks I agreed to X whereas I think I insisted that X was absolutely and totally off the table noway nohow nosir.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:18 PM
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I knew a couple who bought a condo together before they got married. They made sure that both of their names were on it (the deed?). This didn't seem like quite enough protection to me, but they are both lawyers.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:18 PM
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Joint real estate ownership is actually pretty easy (assuming equality of contribution). I think it's one of the places where marriage doesn't buy you much.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:25 PM
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Joint real estate ownership is actually pretty easy (assuming equality of contribution). I think it's one of the places where marriage doesn't buy you much.

At least in RI, there's some difference in how you hold the deed. When we got married, we were encouraged to change the deed on our house from blah blah to blahbity blah.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:30 PM
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my wife would have either murdered me or been horrifically insulted, and my sense is that this is the common attitude.

I'm not always thrilled with your comments, Rob, but I doubt that your wife's attitude is exactly common.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:32 PM
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7 years or less. Maybe five. A prime number, anyway.

Marriage. Swarms of cicadas. Same diff.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:33 PM
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At least in RI, there's some difference in how you hold the deed. When we got married, we were encouraged to change the deed on our house from blah blah to blahbity blah.

We bought our house a couple months before the actual marriage, but I think the lawyers said we wouldn't have to change anything. Hmm. Now I'm having a vague memory that maybe we should have done something? AB didn't change her name, so it wouldn't be that....

Iris reiterated the other day that she'd be taking over the house after we die, so I guess it's her problem.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:34 PM
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Big Fat Greek Breakup

Worst. Sequel. Ever.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:36 PM
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she thinks I agreed to X whereas I think I insisted that X was absolutely and totally off the table noway nohow nosir.

Look, it's only fair that, if you expect anal sex, you be willing to reciprocate.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:38 PM
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At least in RI, there's some difference in how you hold the deed. When we got married, we were encouraged to change the deed on our house from blah blah to blahbity blah.

Tenancy by the entireties, which a few (?) states have. Like joint tenancy, but with some protection against individual creditors.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:43 PM
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Joint real estate ownership is actually pretty easy (assuming equality of contribution). I think it's one of the places where marriage doesn't buy you much.

No, it isnt.

Joint real estate is a pain in the butt.

In Virginia, you cannot sell it unless both parties agree or you go through a Partiton lawsuit. I suspect that is the law in many places.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:44 PM
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In Virginia, you cannot sell it unless both parties agree

I'd like to think that, inside marriage or out-,my partner won't sell any jointly-owned properties without my OK. Maybe that's just me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:53 PM
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I'd like to think that, inside marriage or out-,my partner won't sell any jointly-owned properties without my OK. Maybe that's just me.

I agree. But, let's say you have lost your job (family has dire medical needs) and desperately need the equity out of that property.

Your partner says, "screw you, not selling."

Unless you have a written agreement, you are looking at a pain in the butt process.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 1:55 PM
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230: Yeah, it's not that it's a big deal while you are still in the relationship so much as what happens when you are not. If memory serves, the different types of joint title also affect what happens if one of you dies. One way, the survivor gets the whole thing, the other way the decedent's heirs or legatees get the decedent's share.*

* Property law has the distinction of being my worstest grade in law school ever, so take that for what it's worth.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:00 PM
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[end strike after "school"]


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:01 PM
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Worstest grade being an A-, prob.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:01 PM
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No way, I'm gonna keep on striking until our demand are met.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:02 PM
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Will, is the problem that one joint tenant can't sell their fractional interest (which I thought was theoretically possible, albeit impractical, but it's been a long time since Property I) or that one joint tenant can't force a sale of the entire property? If the latter, seems to me that the ability to say "screw you, not selling" is a pretty basic part of what owning property is all about.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:05 PM
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They dont have a fractional interest. They each own the whole. I guess that you might be able to find someone to buy your interest, but I suspect it would be really hard.

Don't you think that most people have certain expectations regarding when they should be able to sell that property?

Spell out how disagreements are to be resolved and when you can sell.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:09 PM
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Tenancy by the entireties

That's the one!


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:12 PM
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I think my wife and I have 'tenancy of the entirity' or something spelled similarly. I'm pretty sure she knows what it means.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:13 PM
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237: My vague recollection is that sale of one joint tenant's interest severs the joint tenancy and converts it to a tenancy in common, or would if it ever happened. But as I said, it's been a long time since Property I.

And yes, I absolutely agree that unmarried people who own property together ought to have cotenancy agreements. Marriage changes things because it provides a built-in set of legal rules for dividing property if that becomes necessary. Those rules may be less than ideal, but I'm not at all convinced that a general practice of negotiating property splits in advance would be better.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:17 PM
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What's wrong with jointly owning your house, with the other half owned by thousands of diffuse financial institutions?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:19 PM
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That made me laugh out loud, Cryptic ned.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:28 PM
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237: My Property grade was like Di's, my lowest in law school (but unlike Di's in that I hit even more exciting lows as an undergrad). But I'm pretty sure that even joint tenants can bring some kind of action for severance, and then sell their bit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:33 PM
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"...some kind of action for severance, and then sell their bit."

Paging Mrs. Bobbit.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:35 PM
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244 was MH


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:35 PM
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In honor of this thread I just sent my wife a text message: "BTW, just because I haven't sent any flowers doesn't mean I don't love you."


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:38 PM
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243: me too! I sense a trend.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:43 PM
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I refinanced our mortgage for Valentine's day. I'm in charge of all the money stuff (which is fine because we're both really cheap so neither one of us is going to try sneaking off and buying a flat screen TV or $500 shoes) and I decided we should refinance so I did the research, application, document collection, and she just showed up to sign on the appropriate lines one day during a lunch break.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:44 PM
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I enjoyed Property, mostly because it was taught by an environmental law guru and didn't have too much actual property in it. Many of us failed to realize that a page had been left out of the final. We just thought that was a particularly esoteric and open-ended question.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:50 PM
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249: Oh, what got me was that ours was taught by a law and econ type, and also had fairly little actual property in it, and the exam had a lot of questions that could have been interpreted as "Drivel on freely about public policy" or "Tell me how the rule against perpetuities actually works." Given the tenor of the class, I went for the first option, and suffered for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:52 PM
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Hey, I enjoyed Property, too, and really liked the professor. But boy did I suck up the exam.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:52 PM
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But I'm pretty sure that even joint tenants can bring some kind of action for severance, and then sell their bit.

You can bring an action to sell it. It is just a pain in the ass.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:54 PM
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I loved property. But boy howdy is that one area of law I don't use.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 2:54 PM
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250: The real reason LB didn't like Property is that she's prejudiced against Blacksacre.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 3:04 PM
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No, mostly it's that goshdarnitall, I like perpetuities.

(I did have the nifty Property-related experience of reading George Eliot's Felix Holt right after I took the class, and finding a major plot point turning on what happens when the branch of a family that sold a fee tail becomes extinct. It was very cool.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 3:20 PM
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Property is my Weakness.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 3:20 PM
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Property is a Harsh Mistress.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 3:30 PM
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In common law jurisdictions, tenancy by the entireties is a big deal, materially different from joint tenancy. The differences might not matter much in a divorce/family practice, but representing creditors (including judgment creditors) the first thing you have to ask before suing anyone on a contract is whether they are married.

It's an action in partition, with 'owelty' to take care of mismatches. Here's a line from Black's: The power to grant owelty has been exercised by the courts of equity from time immemorial.

I liked Property fine, until we got the the Statute of Uses and the rule against perps.

I had an interesting entireties issue when I was just starting out. Bankrupt guy claimed federal exemptions, which, I said, put his interest in entireties properties into the estate. Other guy said, if that's so, then Congress exceeded its constitutional authority when it enacted the bankruptcy code. Ha, ha, ha, said I: the other guy changed to state exemptions, and the judge gave me costs.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 3:38 PM
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It was very cool.

Sure it was, LB. Sure it was.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 3:38 PM
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259: She authentically understood the culture of Property Law.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 3:40 PM
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Actually, I just concluded a property case. Owner of NJ house gives son a life estate, remainer to nephew. Nephew goes to bank, borrows money. Nephew loses job, moves to Arizona, files bankruptcy. Trustee wants to sell property to pay creditors, bank happy to collect debt, life tenant say 'what are you people nuts -- I live here.'

Foiled at selling property notwithstanding life estate, trustee thinks about selling remainer. Tough to find a buyer. So years go by, but the life tenant still won't die.

Nor, however, does he pay taxes. So the tax sale buyer puts together a deal to take everyone out.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 4:10 PM
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to alleviate Friday 13th, Feb
Valentine's eve
i just thought to apply cosmetics like that one must have really tough skin and dedication to the cause


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 4:25 PM
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Jumping in late: BG, am I right that there is an immigration issue here? I wasn't sure.
---
We don't have a pre-nup. I figure if we divorce I'll just deport his ass.

I suspect Halford is right; plenty of people I know would consider it a self-fulfilling prophecy for divorce. I think it can be sensible in a lot of situations but not in our particular case. N.B. whatever you decide, do not surprise your bride with the pre-nup either a) after she's come across the world on a fiancee visa or b) the day before the wedding.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 5:01 PM
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My ex really liked the idea of a fixed-term marriage. (So she got one! Ba-dum). I think she really imagined that her moving out was simply some kind of Rumspringa that would permit us to carry on renewed and improved. I got the sense that she was pissed at me for not having the same idea about what my wife moving out meant.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 5:21 PM
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261:

Darn it. I was wrong. That sounds totally simple.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 5:34 PM
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178 is basically awesome.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:01 PM
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pshaw. what sort of killer robot doesn't do dishes?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:09 PM
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(points thumbs at self)

this guy!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:15 PM
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That's not what your schedule says, sifu.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:33 PM
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Ahem. Once the robot learns German, it will have a whole new master.

Though why the robot isn't programmed to clean the apartment in the first place, I don't know. But bringing us drinks is an alright alternative.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:43 PM
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If we're both cleaning the apartment, who will bring drinks?

I think of these things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:46 PM
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||

Looking for the perfect card to give to that special someone?
Feel free to use my old standards.
(Sure, I've linked to these before, but never at the right time of year.)

Can you believe I'm available ( . . . laydeez)?
Well, actually, I'm not really, which may be less believable.

|>


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 9:51 PM
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If we're both cleaning the apartment, who will bring drinks?

We can totally hire a really cute grad student to bring us drinks. No problem.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:07 PM
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What? Like I'm not going to go to grad school?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:15 PM
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You're just gonna bring me drinks all the time? Awesome. I don't even need to look for a job with a research assistant.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:44 PM
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No worries, yeah. We can arrange this?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:48 PM
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YOU TWO ARE FREAKING ME OUT. ARE YOU NOT IN CLOSE PROXIMITY ON VALENTINE'S DAY OR WHAT?


Posted by: OPINIONATED HEART MONITOR | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:52 PM
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Folks looking for old people music for VD could do worse than that Boz Scaggs concert from 1971 you can stream. Depending on where you are, We Were Always Sweethearts, Loan Me a Dime, Baby's Calling Me Home or Sweet Release might well be exactly right. Or Painted Bells.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:54 PM
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272: Those are very cute.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-13-09 10:57 PM
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the!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 6:13 AM
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178 is basically awesome.

Woo! Just this morning I was thinking, "Boy that was a lot of effort for a joke no one appeared to notice, much less appreciate."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 6:29 AM
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Jack Rose's "Since I've Been a Man Full Grown" constantly sounds as if it's just about to turn into Currituck Co.'s "A Raga Called Nina". I tell you these things because I am impelled to.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:51 AM
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OK, Ben, since you felt impelled to share, I'll finally mention an observation/insight that I had a few weeks ago that I think is interesting, but that you all may think is bunk.

On a mix that someone (Wrongshore?) here posted, a cover of "Woodstock" by Maria Pia De Vito is included. It's a sort of jazzy thing, with fast, almost scatty singing over simple drum&bass&piano.

I like it, but what really struck me was how much it sounds like Ani diFranco (like, I could easily convince a non-fanatic* that it is her). The voice, but also the style. And so my revelation was that a big part of what makes Ani interesting, and not just another tiresome, o-earnest coffeehouse folkie, is her jazzy singing style (and, to an extent, her guitar-playing as well, which is syncopated for folk, I think).

So am I right? Am I crazy? Is this an already-existing idea I have rediscovered?

* Who would know her voice too well to be tricked


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 10:27 AM
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The spirit of Pitchfork impels you.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 10:34 AM
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This is the only cover of "Woodstock" I've ever heard.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 10:37 AM
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285: Puzzle me this young Ben:
You
a) have not actually heard the CSN&Y cover (which I think would take positive action to avoid on your part),
b) oops or
c) have heard it, but by misreporting you are making a judgment, point, joke or engaged in some other intentional act.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 10:55 AM
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It might have passed through my ear-holes at some point, I guess, but I certainly don't remember ever hearing it as such and I don't think I've ever heard it at all. I mean, I would think the latter given the former, but I didn't even know it existed until just now.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 11:15 AM
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287: Interesting. It did occur to me while writing the parenthetical in 286.a that I might not be adequately taking into account differences in our ages and musical milieu. And in fact, back in the day you had to be paying some modicum of attention to be aware that it even was a Joni Mitchell song, so much more airplay (generally without Mitchell mentioned) did their more AOR-compatible version receive.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 11:33 AM
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I've never heard any version of that song except the Joni Mitchell version.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 12:08 PM
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Don't listen to Ned and Ben, JP. They're clearly gaslighting us. I was probably 15 or 16 before I ever heard or heard of the Joni version. It's utterly implausible that one could avoid hearing the CSN version entirely.

It's like saying you've only ever heard Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes." And don't even know who this "Elvis" fellow is.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 2:55 PM
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283: I did not post that Woodstock cover. I think I have posted a Cassandra Wilson take on "The Weight" though.

278:Folks looking for old people music for VD could do worse than that Boz Scaggs concert from 1971

I heard the penicillin concession had lines around the lobby.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 2:56 PM
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290: The iconic version of Woodstock for me is Joni Mitchell's, and I grew up in a house full of 60s and 70s music. I'm sure I've heard the CSN&Y version but I can't recall it.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 3:35 PM
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I've never even heard the Joni version. The ONLY version I've ever heard is that cover.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 5:32 PM
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It's like saying you've only ever heard Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes."

I've only ever heard Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 5:33 PM
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I've only ever had "Happy Birthday" sung to me by Mildred and Patty Hill.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 5:36 PM
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Hmmm, interesting, although my credulity is strained abit. My two base assumptions were that either folks had heard it on the radio or in some public place (but then again if you weren't really listening you might not pick up that it is the same song given how different the Mitchell and CSN&Y version are) or that somewhere, sometime most everyone would have listened to the whole of Deja Vu, but this probably runs afoul of how many folks partake of their music these days.

Anyway, CSN&Y version (surely everyone recognizes the guitar intro? I am getting sent uparen't I?). A tidbit I learned from looking this up today is that Mitchell wrote it based on Graham Nash's description—she herself had not been at Woodstock.

Mitchell performing it at Big Sur.

And then *I* do not recall having heard this cover from Matthews Southern Comfort that apparently went to #1 in England in 1970.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 5:53 PM
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Hm, I've heard both the Joni and the CSN&Y versions of "Woodstock," not sure which first, and think I vaguely knew that it was Joni's song. There's a video of Joni Mitchell's career -- I saw this on tv sometime in the last year -- which includes that song. The strongest moments in the documentary are of her performing solo, seated onstage with an acoustic guitar. Lovely. (She went out with Graham Nash for a time, I'm reminded.)

I've wondered which album it's on ... which makes me recall that I've recently come into a replacement tape deck (woo!) and must listen to everything, right away.

Regarding Ani diFranco in 283: the only thing about her is, dammit, she makes so many damn albums one would like her to slow down with the spitting things out left and right and produce stuff that blows us away entirely instead of making us feel, "Ah, yes, another Ani diFranco album, okay." I think she speaks music.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 5:55 PM
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255: I was pretty good at land law, just to buck the trend here. I have actually dealt with the conveyancing of a fee tail interest (originally we thought it was a base fee like most of the rest of estate). Also the Statute of Uses still applies in Ireland, and words of limitation are still required. That last caused a property tangle when a UK firm of lawyers prepared a Deed which dealt with Irish property. They inadvertently created another layers of life interests. About 20 years later it finally all got sorted out.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 6:52 PM
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||

I will just say in connection with the law and the dividing of property and estates that, while I don't want to get all libertarian here, the legalities and filings of paperwork involved seem rather much.

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 6:58 PM
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surely everyone recognizes the guitar intro?

Nope.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 7:06 PM
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300: Turn in your man dj-card.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 7:19 PM
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What, for not knowing a CSNY tune? I should get bonus points.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 7:26 PM
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300: Not wishing to belabor the point, but I am finding this to be an interesting little exercise in pop culture "canon".
(Also, Newsflash: I'm old!)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 7:34 PM
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302: Musical allusions abound, and one would like to be able to hear them. It matters not, though, really.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 7:38 PM
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(Also, Newsflash: I'm old!)

Friend, please.

Even aside from that absurdity, I surely have friends in their 30s and younger who are familiar with CSN&Y, Joni Mitchell, and so on. It's not about the agedness of the music, but the genre. I mean, does ben know Exile on Main Street? The Band by The Band? I know he knows Crimson. How about Brain Salad Surgery? or -- I don't know -- any van Morrison ('I wanna rock your gypsy soul')? Small Change, Tom Waits.

Interesting, as this list develops I see that it might be seen not just in terms of genre, but era. But! Each of those albums is the source of at least one canonical song.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 7:59 PM
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I am extremely pleased not to know ELP.

Of course I know Exile. & The Last Waltz, at least, and I have Waits' first album.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:04 PM
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306.1: How could you not know their "Jerusalem" though?

I'm suppressing the urge to ask why Exile is an "of course."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:20 PM
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I will attempt to reassure JP. I recently turned 28, and yet I heard the CSNY version long before I heard the Joni Mitchell version (in fact, I can't remember ever hearing the Joni version before now, but so much has happened over the years, so who knows). I probably would have come across it on the radio sometime in my teens--I went through a phase where I listened to the local classic rock station. So I definitely would have called it canonical, and am surprised that the other members of my cohort who have spoken up haven't heard it.

I even purchased So Far on CD at some point, though I can't remember when and am somewhat surprised that I felt strongly enough about that music at the time to lay out the bucks.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:21 PM
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Because it's the Stones, hello.

The only thing I know about ELP is "someone get me a ladder".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:22 PM
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I know ABOUT ELP, but none of their songs are ever played on the radio except "Karl Evil 9".

"Music From Big Pink" is more canonical than "The Band".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:25 PM
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305: Friend, please.

That insight was more about the flaws in my assumptions that it was pretty inconceivable to me that anyone here would not know that particular song (not that it itself was great or a landmark or anything, just that it was part of the lay of the land). I am certainly aware that many younger folks are aware of all of those things, but I suspect that unlike me they would not simply assume that everyone in their world of discourse was also.

And yes these pop cultural lacunae are not all so straightforwardly generational even when they are era rather than genre based. I have a pretty big TV gap from the late 70s through the early 90s due to either not having a TV or having a cheap one I rarely watched (Ben has previously exposed my Simpsons fail on this very blog.)

As I said, I find these examples pretty interesting even when some (ahem, 302) choose to be little bitches. But allowances should be made for those who find they cannot escape their own insecurities about their tastes in music etc. I'm sure Ben appreciates your gentleness.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:25 PM
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Why are you pleased not to know ELP, ben?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:26 PM
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"Karl Evil 9"

"Karn Evil 9".

Why are you pleased not to know ELP, ben?

I believe that everything bad people say about progressive rock is actually true of them.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:28 PM
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I've never heard any version of the song Woodstock, as far as I know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:29 PM
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Everything bad that people say, not everything that bad people say.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:29 PM
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313: I dunno, they have some good songs. And whatever else you might want to say about Keith Emerson, the dude had some fresh synthesizers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:31 PM
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Yeah, Keith Emerson had some interesting keyboarding there. ELP had a pretty long career, and like many bands, they had some bad points.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:40 PM
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315: Everything bad that people say, not everything that bad people say.

But I think it is great the first way. For instance, when bad people say Prog Rock is "pompous and self-indulgent", they are being pompous and self-indulgent.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:40 PM
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Isn't the CSN&Y version of the song on the same greatest hits album as "Ohio"? Reason enough to own it. What a fucking awesome song.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:42 PM
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310: I know ABOUT ELP, but none of their songs are ever played on the radio except "Karl Evil 9".

This is like my brother saying to me, astonished, "You mean Phil Collins was in a band before the Phil Collins band?"

Oh, babe, it was called Genesis. I have a feeling ben would hate it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:44 PM
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311.last: I find these examples pretty interesting too, and would like to hear a list sometime of, say, a dozen or half a dozen 'canonical' songs/albums from the 30-something or under-30 crowd here. A list generated in 5 minutes, mind, to highlight the top-of-the-head nature at the expense of overthinking. Discounting classical music and such.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:54 PM
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Genesis was way better before Phil Collins anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 8:55 PM
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I don't know much Genesis but I'm pretty ok with them.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:05 PM
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Genesis was way better before Peter GabrielPhil Collins left anyhow.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:06 PM
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322: I know. It's all about Peter Gabriel, over whom I have been castigated here previously.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:08 PM
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I saw ELP live at a show at a small college in the early '70s. It was one of those "great" but actually really cheesy and awful shows that even my fannish self recognized it as such. Emerson stabbing his organ musical instrument whatever the hell it was with knives? Come the fuck on. But man, I had gone out and paid extra for the British import of "Pictures at an Exhibition" when it came out. But the end came suddenly, my last ELP album is around here somewhere, never opened, much less played.

Some day in my dotage I might pull out Tarkus and play it just to remind myself of the way it was. I find some of Emerson's work with The Nice a bit more listenable. (That is actually a "successful" Pandora station of mine, seeded from a bunch of long-winded prog classics; don't play it much, but it's fun. )


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:09 PM
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I don't actually have that deep a conception of ELP's catalog. Truth be told, I'm basing most of my revisionist ben-urgings on (a) really digging Mr. Blue Sky after hearing it in that Volkswagen ad (although the middle 25 minutes or so of the album version do drag) and (b) knowing something about the badass synthesizers Keith Emerson owned (I know, and care, very little about how he might have played them).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:19 PM
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Some day in my dotage I might pull out Tarkus

Now you're toying with me, JP. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to copy a lot of CDs from a friend, one of which was Trilogy, because I thought: Oh, wow, I haven't had this for years and years, and did used to listen to it, so I surely must have a copy again now! I find that I've not listened to it all.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:26 PM
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327: I don't actually have that deep a conception of ELP's catalog.

As amply evidenced by your subsequent discussion of an Electric Light Orchestra song (one letter off, no biggie).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:26 PM
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Hah! I totally just did that.

Well, shit. I know I own some ELP records.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:27 PM
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knowing something about the badass synthesizers Keith Emerson owned (I know, and care, very little about how he might have played them).

Uh, problem.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:28 PM
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331: for whom?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:28 PM
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I'm actually thinking about all the badass instruments members of King Crimson own/play, and whether it works to edit out consideration of how they play them.

But it's probably a different situation.

But I mean, what's-his-name of Pink Floyd had a big-ass gong, right? That was cool. Maybe he bunged it or fell over when he hit it or something, but it was cool in itself, right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:33 PM
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I mean, an instrument like this? Who cares who's playing it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:39 PM
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If you want a non-draggy version of "Mr. Blue Sky", here you go.

(Put on my Pandora station and what comes up but"Carpet Crawlers" by Genesis.
Features Of This Song:
mellow rock instrumentation
a subtle use of vocal harmony
acoustic rhythm piano
extensive vamping
major key tonality
prominent use of synth
As usual with Pandora you need to exhibit discipline to keep it focused rather than just turning into stuff you like.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:40 PM
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Seriously, though, Emerson had one of the biggest, most elaborate Moog modular setups that ever existed, if I remember right. For synth nerds, that is very exciting to contemplate from a purely technological perspective. The fact that he may have used it more as a prop than a vehicle of musical expression -- and that he actually may not have known how to set up a patch at all -- is sort of unfortunate, but doesn't detract from the awesomeness (and uniqueness) of the instrument.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:40 PM
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Isn't the CSN&Y version of the song on the same greatest hits album as "Ohio"?

That's that one song by Devo, right?

(I kid.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:42 PM
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But I mean, what's-his-name of Pink Floyd had a big-ass gong, right?

Presumably Nick Mason, fictitious sports player.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:45 PM
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336: I understand what you're saying, and whether you're correct about Emerson's facility with his own equipment I don't know at this time; but I still can't quite believe you'd say something like this: Who cares who's playing it.

Love the machines, then, or the designers (that's fine), not the band.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:48 PM
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Love the machines, then, or the designers (that's fine), not the band.

Absolutely what I'm talking about. But then again, if Emerson hadn't wanted the thing, it wouldn't have been built, so props to him, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 9:52 PM
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In support of both Parsi's and Sifu's points, I don't begrudge that ELP show, the equipment was certainly something, but if I had the option of trading it for a King Crimson show from about the same time, I certainly would.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 10:02 PM
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341 for the win, in truth.

I began to write several things about Crimson, but desist.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-14-09 10:52 PM
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335 made me so happy! Sorry to miss the LA meetup tomorrow, but tonight's festivities will require digging out from.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:40 AM
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Seriously, though, Emerson had one of the biggest, most elaborate Moog modular setups that ever existed, if I remember right.

Based on the picture in 34, it appears to have included a TV, which he surely watched during Palmer's drum solos.

I once owned ELP's greatest hits and Brain Salad Surgery, both of which were stolen (alas) along with almost every CD I owned at the end of college. Theoretically, there'd be a symbolic break there, but not so much. Nonetheless, it is true that a number of the classic rock CDs I lost have never been replaced. I would probably still play them occasionally if I owned them, but not enough to pay for them again.

I really like 313.last (both intended and un- readings).

Oh, and JP, I'm going to need that Pandora station. I thought about setting up such a station once, but I wasn't committed enough to the concept to follow through. But I would totally listen to one.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 8:44 AM
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^3


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 8:44 AM
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I'll confess to having experimented with prog in high school. Saw Yes shortly thereafter and was cured -- having already switch over to that SF sound. Went to an ELP show a year later, for old time's sake, and left wondering what on earth I must have been thinking.

I have Lucky Man on the 'pod, though, because it was a friend's favorite.

Oldsters shouldn't be so hard on the kids -- these things were a lot easier to follow in real time as they unfolded.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:29 AM
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OK, here's the song. Turn it up.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:54 AM
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Are the oldsters being hard on the kids? It's just more that dismissing things out of hand is foolish, and god knows prog has developed a bad reputation in much the same way that dirty hippies are now spat upon. It's foolish. Prog had its time, okay yes, and for what it's worth, a number of the people involved in King Crimson have been involved with members of ELP. I believe that CSN&Y have received a dubious reception here as well, as far from prog rock as you can get.

these things were a lot easier to follow in real time as they unfolded.

There used to be a wonderful, amusing pseudo-Latin thing (poem of sorts) online via King Crimson - their Discipline Global Mobile site - which was a briefish history of rock. It appeared under the auspices of the 'orange eyebrow' I think. My computer is downloading updates and can't look right now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:42 AM
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I believe that CSN&Y have received a dubious reception here as well

Well that's just dumb. CSN&Y are awesome.

Gram Parsons too. (To weigh in on an old unfogged question.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:48 AM
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Parsimon, I'm not really sure how to describe a sort of canon of songs that people in my age bracket would recognize. Surely there are a lot, but they fall into very distinct categories. There's the stuff that was part of the landscape of our young childhood, the universal "First Cassettes" or "CD from an older sibling" sort of stuff, then there are the songs that everyone knows from the late teenage/college years.

The problem is, most people who remember Woodstock era seem to remember it in that music-of-my-late-teens-early-adulthood sort of way. But the music we remember that way was only on the radio a few years ago. It may stick with us forever (whether we want it to or not), but it won't sound very unique to our generation yet since it's still so fresh in everyone's head.

As for the stuff that seemed to form the universal "My First Cassette" experience, recognizable to damn near all of us from the first notes:

- Weezer "El Scorcho", "Buddy Holly" or "Say It Ain't So"
- Bel Biv DeVoe "Poison" (though maybe more applicable to those a couple years older)
- Snoop Dogg "Gin and Juice"
- Green Day "Longview"
- Oasis "Wonderwall" (though this isn't universally beloved, it's certainly known)
- ODB "Shimmy Shimmy Ya"
- Luscious Jackson "Naked Eye" (may be a bit of a reach, but it represents all those random 90s one hit wonders like "Legend of a Cowgirl" that we seem to have stuck in our brains from listening to the radio at age 10)
- Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody" (due to its Wayne's World-inspired revival in the early to mid 90s)

Huh... Loads more, I'm sure (En Vogue or early-90s Madonna probably deserve a place on the list). This is an interesting exercise. Of course, it's hard for me to say how unique the place of these songs is to my 22-27ish age group, or if they were just so universally played that everyone of all ages knows them. Or if I've just been extremely skewed by my particular peer groups, and these songs aren't actually universally remembered among 20-somethings.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:18 PM
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My gosh Po-Mo is young.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:20 PM
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I just realized the same thing. "Poison" was before his time! I'm in a room full of babies here.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:22 PM
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Everyone loves Gram Parsons. It's like the law or something.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:24 PM
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352: But we still love it! The initial drum loop starts and everyone in the room smiles!

I may be young in years, but my cheeseburger-and-fried-chicken diet ensures that I cannot be youthful.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:27 PM
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(Also, I'll admit that I totally had to look up ELP on wikipedia, since I could only figure out you weren't referring to Electric Light Orchestra or El-Producto)


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:28 PM
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Those would be ELO and El-P.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:29 PM
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J-Lo?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:36 PM
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New Jack Swing is coming back.

Actually, it kind of already came back, just nobody in this country noticed. Oh well!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:38 PM
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356: Which is exactly why I was able to eliminate those two possibilities with a moment's reflection. But they were definitely the only two things to spring to mind.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:39 PM
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En Vogue or early-90s Madonna probably deserve a place on the list

A few years ago I was at a friend's place and "Never Gonna Get It" was on VH-1. When it got to the breakdown, an entire room full of artsy hipstery chicks all stopped what they were doing and started singing along in harmony.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:49 PM
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Of course, it's hard for me to say how unique the place of these songs is to my 22-27ish age group, or if they were just so universally played that everyone of all ages knows them. Or if I've just been extremely skewed by my particular peer groups, and these songs aren't actually universally remembered among 20-somethings.

Well, I'm somewhere near the upper end of your 22-27ish age group, and the only songs in that list I'm sure I would recognize are "Buddy Holly" and "Bohemian Rhapsody". Although it's plausible that I would recognize the others if I heard them.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:52 PM
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350: Po-Mo, thanks. Perhaps one of these days someone should put up a mix of these things here, since I don't know any of them except for "Bohemian Rhapsody" of course.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:53 PM
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361: I'm 27 and I recognize all but two of the songs; I wouldn't have called Gin and Juice iconic, but I certainly recognize it. Definitely need to put En Vogue on the list, though. (But that's just because it, along with Greenday's Dookie, comprised my very first CDs).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:56 PM
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But they're mostly terrible, parsimon.

I didn't recognize the name of the Green Day song, but it's that one Green Day song, you know?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:56 PM
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"Wonderwall" is such a terrible, terrible song.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 12:57 PM
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Let's see, I've heard all the songs in 350 over ten thousand times, except "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" which I have heard zero times. (just went to YouTube...yep, totally unfamiliar)

ODB's actual hit song was "Got Your Money", I believe.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:01 PM
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Didn't Armsmasher or someone make a list of iconic songs of the 90s?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:01 PM
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But the music we remember that way was only on the radio a few years ago.

This is a difficult exercise precisely because there hasn't been that time to codify the music into a canon of songs associated with our generation. No films yet with a group of people putting on records for their nostalgia value and dancing in the kitchen, Big Chill-style.

When I think of my own youth-defining music, it's more album-based. Like the Exile in Guyville years or the Things Fall Apart years. But maybe that just says more about my tendency to put in a CD and never change it.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:02 PM
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367: yeah, he was wrong, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:02 PM
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"Wonderwall" is such a terrible, terrible song.

It's kinda true. There's a reason why that was the only song where I had to emphasize that it wasn't necessarily remembered fondly, despite everyone knowing half the damn words to the song. But yeah, everytime I've seen that song come on in a room of people my age, even if they grumble, they'll all sing along to "And Baaaaaaaabbyy, you're gonna be the one that ssaaaaaaavvveess mmeeeeeeee".


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:04 PM
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364, 365: Um. Well. One worries that they're terrible, but that thought would be open to charges of ageism if nothing else.

"Wonderwall," right, I do know that song. It's pretty bad. Maybe Po-Mo is just listing what he's mostly heard on the radio in the last half-dozen years? He says "canonical" though. The other 22-27 year old demographic here need to say, maybe.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:04 PM
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"Wonderwall" blows. "Don't Look Back in Anger", that one has fond memories.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:04 PM
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But yeah, everytime I've seen that song come on in a room of people my age, even if they grumble, they'll all sing along to "And Baaaaaaaabbyy, you're gonna be the one that ssaaaaaaavvveess mmeeeeeeee".

Just make sure it's a room with a window, so I can dive out of it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:05 PM
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Any "canon" of songs from the early 90s that doesn't include this is inadequate.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:05 PM
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I was talking to Blume last night about what the equivalent would be for us. We agreed on Talking Heads, but I don't think we got too much farther than that. Mid-period Madonna, probably. Maybe some G'nR.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:06 PM
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After seeing Slumdog, I have been looking up and listening to Indian music. If anyone has any suggestions, I would to hear them.

(Gram Parsons was a huge influence on Indian music, probably.)


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:08 PM
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I am 26 going on 27 and I would be at a loss to produce or evaluate such a list because I tried as much as possible to avoid listening to popular music (associated with my MEAN SISTER) until I was around 17, when I realized I was being crazy.

Actually what happened was that I was away at a summer thing and I observed that people could converse and associate based on shared musical taste! This led me to conclude that ifI got me some musical interests, I could make friends. I think I took it too far, though.

This means that sometimes a tune comes on the radio or something that I recognize as coming from the 90s with some sort of nostalgia or whatever, but I can't place it at all in any sort of timeline—musical simultaneity is all a jumble for me.

But the real point of this comment is, what, no Smashing Pumpkins?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:09 PM
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Blume is right in 368: for people in their mid-20s, maybe not enough time.

That's why I asked for the 30-something crowd, I think. While you may technically be the same generation as people in their mid-20s, you may not be musically. Dunno. Things move more quickly now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:09 PM
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Actually, I revise 377. I am the ideal person to evaluate such a list, because while I was exposed, I was never overexposed.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:11 PM
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Ben is 26?!?!?!! I imagined you much older and wiser than that.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:11 PM
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I didn't listen to the radio at all around the time that "Wonderwall" was out, and so the first time I remember hearing it was at a dance at the Goethe Institut the summer of 1997. All of these Italians and Spaniards who didn't know English at all were singing along. I remember trying to puzzle out the words and thinking, that doesn't make any sense, that can't be what they're saying.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:12 PM
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I thought Ben was like twelve. I agree about Smashing Pumpkins, though.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:12 PM
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I listened to stupid and mostly individualistic music from about 12 to about 18, so I'm not really well placed either. Iconic songs for my generation? Oh, right, you mean by Rush, They Might Be Giants, and Paul Simon, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:13 PM
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I can be whatever age you want me to be, jms.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:14 PM
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377: ben is awfully cute when he lets down his guard. Yeah, my musical arrangements happened that way as well.

375: Talking Heads, yes! Good start, you guys should work on this. Got any Elvis Costello in there, maybe, or is that too old?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:15 PM
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Talking Heads broke up like a year after Guns'n'Roses released their first album. JUST BARELY OVERLAPPING.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:16 PM
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Where is Carp so we can talk about the Dead and JGB?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:17 PM
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Got any Elvis Costello in there, maybe, or is that too old?

Not mainstream enough. Plus, I don't like his music, but I suppose that shouldn't be a criterion.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:18 PM
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I'm sure someone will talk with you about J.G. Ballard.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:18 PM
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Man, Allmusic really doesn't like Boingo and Dark at the End of the Tunnel.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:18 PM
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I found Crash impossible to get into.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:20 PM
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Got any Elvis Costello in there, maybe, or is that too old?

My Aim is True came out the year I was born.

Elvis Costello did come up in our conversation last night, though. I mentioned him as someone I got really into in the attempt to figure out what the "it" things were in music. I was a kid living in the middle of rural nowhere USA who had a subscription to Rolling Stone, which was all on about E.C. all the time. But I didn't know anyone else who had even heard of him until I was in college.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:20 PM
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I remember he had that song about Alzheimers or whatever that was in heavy rotation on 120 minutes. That's about all I knew.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:22 PM
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My favorite Elvis Costello song is Robert Wyatt's "Shipbuilding".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:23 PM
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Oh yeah, there was that song. Too bad it's on such an overwrought album.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:23 PM
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Wyatt looks kind of like Zizek.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:24 PM
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I tried to get into Elvis Costello, but I never notice what any of the lyrics are. People always talk about how great a writer he is, and I couldn't tell you a single line from any of his songs, except the title. His voice just goes in one ear and out the other. The same thing happens with the guy from The Shins.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:25 PM
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395 to 393.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:25 PM
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I couldn't tell you a single line from any of his
songs


I love EC's lyrics:

"Oh I used to be disgusted
And now I try to be amused."

and

"Oh, I said "I'm so happy, I could die."
She said "Drop dead", then left with another guy."
T


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:29 PM
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With most of the Shins' songs, I don't even know if the lyrics contain the song title or not. That's how unobtrusive that guy's voice is.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:32 PM
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When I think of my own youth-defining music, it's more album-based.

Me too. There was the Tori Amos's Little Earthquakes period. The Ani DiFranco live album period. The Liz Phair obsession. Though listing them off I'm thinking maybe they were all the same period, with just small variations in the "boys and love are hard and confusing" theme.

I mostly sponged off my friends' good taste in music; I'm well aware that I have none at all.

I didn't think that Po-Mo's list was of actually GOOD music, just on all the time, impossible to escape music.

Right. Back to my lentil soup making. With bacon!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:33 PM
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I fell out of touch with popular music in college (I used to say "after Kurt Cobain died" to be dramatic) and didn't really get back in until Napster, so the 90s are lost on me -- I can hum a little bit of "Buddy Holly" to myself but only because of karaoke nights.

There's a reason everyone knows "Wonderwall". It is a fantastic song. I have about eight different versions of it. I deleted the one by Phish, though.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:34 PM
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When I was like 14 or 15 I was crazy for anyone with clever, clever lyrics. Clearly I ought to have been listening to Cole Porter,* but instead I listened to a lot of EC and Squeeze.

*Wow, when I think of how mannered I was as a teenager, I shudder to think of just how very much more mannered I could have been with a Cole Porter fixation.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:36 PM
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Huh. I've never thought of EC's voice as "unobtrusive". Annoying, whiny, distinctive I could see. But unobtrusive?

Also, terrible day: realizing that the background music in the elevator (yes, literal elevator music) was a muzak version of "Alison".


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:37 PM
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Lentil soup with bacon is a good thing. Wrongshore is nutty.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:37 PM
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403: see, I was the same way, so I gravitated to Dr. Demento.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:37 PM
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"The Other Side of Summer" was my first Elvis Costello earworm. The tune was such a great Beach-Boys-via-methamphetamines homage, and the sarcasm spitting in the froth -- "Was it a millionaire who said imagine no possessions? / A poor little schoolboy who said we don't need no lessons" -- I'd heard other stuff, but really only knew my mother's dismissal, "there could never really be another Elvis." Then I started paying attention.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:38 PM
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404: I once heard a Muzak version of "Pump It Up," which has the line "listenin' to the Muzak, thinkin' 'bout this-n-that." Very mise en abîme.
406: I like: noses full of snot, smokin' lots of pot . . .


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:40 PM
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But the real point of this comment is, what, no Smashing Pumpkins?

Oh yeah, that list was miles from comprehensive. There would have to be something off Mellon Collie on any authoritative version. I'd argue for either "Zero" or "Bullet With Butterfly Wings", though "Tonight, Tonight" has something to be said for it.

I didn't think that Po-Mo's list was of actually GOOD music, just on all the time, impossible to escape music.

Yep, exactly. Generations like to go back and claim the good songs defined them, but it was really the equivalent of the schlock that's on the radio today that we were all listening to at age 8-12. And those are the songs in our heads, whether we like it or not. Of course, I do think some of them are damn enjoyable.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:41 PM
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406: They Might Be Giants, Tom Lehrer, and an embarrassingly enduring belief that "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" had eternal shelf life.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:42 PM
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Several friends of mine went to high school right down the road from the Muzak plant; they would eat lunch at a local restaurant also favored by that plant's employees, who would drive down in their Muzak van and sit there eating wearing their Muzak coveralls.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:42 PM
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Cole Porter or Peter Blegvad. The cover is a reproduction of the "The Exhuming of the First American Mastodon" with the parts of the painting that the song "Seven Scenes From the Painting 'Exhuming the First American Mastodon' By C.W. Peale" discusses highlighted for your convenience!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:43 PM
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Muzak just filed for bankruptcy.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:46 PM
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404: Huh. I've never thought of EC's voice as "unobtrusive".

Seriously. And as 407 says, it's the sarcasm we loved.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:52 PM
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406: Same here a bit, although he came along at a later stage of my life (so a bit more embarrassing). Which is why when I saw the LA meetup post the first thing that came to mind was the "Pico and Sepulveda" song he would play. "Fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:56 PM
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"Fish Heads" is one of the greats.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 1:58 PM
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Some Dr. Demento songs

I like "Who Hid The Halibut On The Poop Deck".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 2:01 PM
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367: Didn't Armsmasher or someone make a list of iconic songs of the 90s?

I wonder if you are talking about Matt Yglesias's "Ultimate Nineties Alt-Rock Playlist". He was just inviting trouble with that post title, and indeed it served as a wonderful showcase for Petey to trot out his trademark style, But that doesn't mean this list isn't evidence that something is drastically wrong with you.... (Not that Sifu ben anyone here would ever act like Petey.)

Despite bumping along this whole line of inquiry with my incredulity over "Woodstock", I am always suspect of almost all explorations of nostalgia, they can be fun and all, but so many times it seems like an attempt to replace people's unique experiences with "*Everyone* did/listened to X". (Admittedly, the latter is better for mass marketing.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 2:14 PM
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387 -- None of that belongs on any 90s playlist.

Hey Will, do you have the album Sunfighter?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 2:18 PM
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And what about Beck?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 2:30 PM
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This thread is making me wonder what became of the goth kids in high school.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 2:31 PM
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420: And what about Beck?

Uncanny. From the MY thread I linked in 418:

"No Beastie Boys?"[quoting another comment]

I'm astonished he included Beck.

It would've required only a little fine tuning to make this list completely free of good 90's songs.

Posted by Petey | May 21, 2007 12:45 PM


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 2:37 PM
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I've been thinking of suggesting that instead of songs, one should focus on artists, or possibly albums by said artists. As it stands, this is all sort of wrong, with the 90s thing; who are the major players?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 2:43 PM
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Slint.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 2:44 PM
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On a mix that someone (Wrongshore?) here posted, a cover of "Woodstock" by Maria Pia De Vito is included.

How frustrating, just when I stop reading the long thread, someone mentions my blog.

The Pia De Vito and the original versions of "Woodstock" are here (a very early post, you probably got the zip file that had all the songs I posted over the first couple of months.)

I have Lucky Man on the 'pod, though, because it was a friend's favorite.

Presumably not this song?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 3:05 PM
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377 I tried as much as possible to avoid listening to popular music (associated with my MEAN SISTER) until I was around 17, when I realized I was being crazy.

Actually what happened was that I was away at a summer thing and I observed that people could converse and associate based on shared musical taste!

Strike the sister bit and I could have written exactly this.

And after listening to two different versions of "Wonderwall" on YouTube, I feel pretty confident in saying that there has never been a time when I would have recognized it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 3:18 PM
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And what about Beck?

You're going to make me have to attempt an actual semi-exhaustive list, aren't you?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 3:20 PM
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We were forced to sing Wonderwall at school.

I think our rendition of it was a disappointment to the teacher -- she was forever on at us to be more gritty and angry. I don't think she really got the concept of happy primary school kids.

Also, isn't it funny how country/society/market specific these things are? (Specifically, Wonderwall is not the Britpop song I'd have chosen.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 3:42 PM
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Crazy cover, Nick.

You're going to make me have to attempt an actual semi-exhaustive list, aren't you?

Nah. But I will push for "Today" over any of the other Smashing Pumpkins songs you mentioned.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 3:50 PM
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I have fucking Wonderwall stuck in my head now. Dammit, dammit, dammit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 3:56 PM
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(Specifically, Wonderwall is not the Britpop song I'd have chosen.)

If you're not in the US, I'm not surprised. At university in the UK, the definitive britpop songs that everyone knew by heart were Blur's "Parklife" and Pulp's "Common People" (though the latter was kind of an ironic unifying song for a bunch of people at university).

429.2: Good suggestion. I wonder if this might be the result of micro age differences. I was only 8 when Siamese Dream came out, but 10 when Mellon Collie came out, so I remember listening to "Zero" with all my middle school friends, but I didn't hear "Today" until years later when I dug into the back catalog. Those were a critical couple years when a lot of people I know went from just listening to whatever our parents had to also listening to current music on the radio and picking up our own CDs/cassettes.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 4:02 PM
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I think I'm younger than you, aren't I? And I certainly wasn't listening while I was in middle school, though I may have been exposed as a result of the aforementioned sister.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 4:12 PM
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Common People is the song I'd have gone for (that or Song 2, I think.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 4:19 PM
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Nah, I'm 23 (soon to be 24!). If I were a bit older, I could probably justify "Born Slippy" as a major recognizable song of my age group, which would be sweet as hell.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 4:32 PM
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A bit older? Didn't that song come out when you were like 8? I claim that for my age group!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 4:40 PM
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I was 11! But yes, I suppose you guys get to call that one. Claiming it for the people 5 years older than me would be a bit too much.

It will be interesting to see what songs end up being universally recognized by people in my immediate age range from our late teens and 20s. Unfortunately, I'm fairly sure that "In the Club" will be among them.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 5:08 PM
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Wow, Po-Mo is 23. Good times.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 5:31 PM
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"Born Slippy" is certainly recognizable, but I never knew the title or the artist until about five minutes ago. I just thought it was an omnipresent piece of soundtrack music.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 5:37 PM
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We have a generation gap. 'nuff said.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 5:47 PM
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The problem is, most people who remember Woodstock era seem to remember it in that music-of-my-late-teens-early-adulthood sort of way. But the music we remember that way was only on the radio a few years ago.

The funny part is, is I got a shitload of Woodstockish music (excepting the Hendrix) when I was a kid due to my parents being young hippies. Plus I did the DJ thing, so I am simultaneously totally sympathetic to Ben (I either can't remember or don't want to remember half that crap, dude) and totally remembering all those great lousy radio tunes of the 90's. Of course, what I really remember consists of bizarre out-of-mainstream shit from all over the place, so all this canonical shit gives me hives.

To tie this thread up, here's my Valentine song, a youtube of the Beat Farmers, live and really drunk.

max
['Cuddly!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 6:06 PM
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This thread should be tied up, yes, but let's remind ourselves for the record that 'remembering' Woodstock-era music doesn't mean having listened to it on the radio or something when one was a kid or a teen or young adult. Nah. If that were the case, I'd be older than I am.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 6:13 PM
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According to Wii Fit, I'm 17 years older than I am and Wii carped on that for a bit. But, Wii didn't bat an eye when I said my goal was to gain 2 pounds in two weeks.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 6:41 PM
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Has that hilariously subtitled Joe Cocker "With a little help from my friends" video really been taken down? Bastards.

Well, I was going to say I made the decision to base all my knowledge of music prior to 1982 on the wisdom those illuminating subtitles.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 8:56 PM
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^of


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 8:59 PM
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The Metro ate my 'further to 419' comment. Here it is, then:

Diana (I and especially II*) is better than Ohio, and New Speedway Boogie is better than Woodstock.

* On the assumption that some younger folks might not be familiar with that song, here are the lyrics:

How do you feel as you cut
Down your children now
And leave them dying
On the grass in the sun

What do you see
When you look at one another
Now?
Tell me old man
Tell me where will you run?
Sing a song
For the children going down
Remember - the ones you know
Remember how we danced
And remember what we sang
In America
So many years ago



Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:24 PM
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What do you see
When you look at one another
Now?
Tell me old man
Tell me where will you run?
Sing a song
For the children going down
Remember - the ones you know
Remember how we danced
And remember what we sang
In America
So many years ago


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:25 PM
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Huh! I know one of the people telling his story on the This American Life Valentine's episode!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:31 PM
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424: YES.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:38 PM
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Wait, oh no! All-knowing wikipedia tells me that Spiderland was 1989.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:46 PM
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449: Nah, that was Tweez (I think?). Spiderland was 1991.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:48 PM
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You're right, I was reading wrong. Yay, we young 'uns can claim Slint!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:51 PM
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Plus I've seen them live! Whoo!


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:53 PM
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I've seen, uh, over half of them in other bands.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:57 PM
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Yay, we young 'uns can claim Slint!

Wait, compared to Po-Mo, aren't you an old 'un? Just because he's, you know, 12.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 9:59 PM
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We're talking about the 90s, right?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 10:00 PM
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(I can't help it if Po-Mo was -6 when Spiderland came out.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 10:07 PM
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Two of the members of Slint were in Squirrel Bait with Peter Searcy who was in another band with my high school psychology teacher. Which means I might well have had to listen to a Slint song or two in high school, though I don't remember it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 10:12 PM
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Hey, if I can remember MC Hammer's gold pants, I'd be able to remember Pajo's... sullen strumminess? had I possessed the taste and the means to be aware of it at the time.

I was 6, dammit.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 10:14 PM
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So appropriately enough for this thread, KROQ's been doing a '90s weekend while we've been in LA. Based on our (limited) sampling of it, I can say that "Under the Bridge" and the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic" are the canonical '90s songs. They also threw in Metallica's "Unforgiven" earlier today, apparently just to fuck with people who ever thought "alternative" actually meant anything meaningful.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 10:52 PM
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Also, screw you Tweety, "Wonderwall" is an awesome song.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 10:53 PM
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Even if you're just looking at late Beasties, "Sabotage" is much more canonical, and a much better song.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:01 PM
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Also, I fondly recall the MTV commercial in which the cab driver talks about how he keeps seeing this ad for this amazing cop show but can't figure out when it's going to be on.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:03 PM
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460: oh, dude, it's so, so, so bad. Epic in its terribleness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:05 PM
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"Under The Bridge" is also a terrible, terrible song, so there's that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:05 PM
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Oh, we also got to hear Nine Inch Nails' "Closer". Really, I'm not sure what the point was of branding it a '90s music weekend; it was all the same shit that modern rock stations have never stopped playing since it first came out. At least the '80s and '90s stations on Sirius XM will occasionally break out the odd track you haven't heard 500 times before.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:06 PM
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463: WRONG.

464: Comity!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:07 PM
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Hooray Youtube!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:08 PM
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Further to 465: case in point.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:10 PM
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Didn't "Closer" come out in '89?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:12 PM
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Oh, I guess not. It wasn't on Pretty Hate Machine. It was on Closer! Good point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:13 PM
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469: No. "Head Like a Hole" might have (although I'm pretty sure it was '90 or '91), but "Closer" wasn't even on "Pretty Hate Machine".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:14 PM
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Pretty Hate Machine was definitely '89. I remember this because I discovered it when it first came out, and then like two years later it was suddenly everywhere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:15 PM
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I also distinctly remember telling one of my roleplaying buddies "it's like Depeche Mode... with balls!"

Am I proud of that? No.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:15 PM
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It occurs to me that if we're really going to talk about canonical '90s music, at least for people in my age range (mid-30s) what we should really be talking about is "We Didn't Start the Fire". (Yeah, it was released in November '89. Close enough.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:19 PM
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Regarding the Beastie Boys, have I ever told you of my impression of a bunch of chickens covering most of their songs?

Well, it goes [chicken voice] "buck bucka-buck bucka buck buck BUCK! buck bucka-buck bucka buck buck BUCK!" [/chicken voice], etc.

With the all-caps parts being sung in unison by the assembled group. This routine can go on for minutes at a time.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:19 PM
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"Closer" yes, Closer no. Album was The Downward Spiral.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:19 PM
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Really.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:19 PM
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"Closer" was on Downward Spiral, 1994.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:19 PM
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Speaking of terrible, terrible, terrible songs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:20 PM
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Ugh. The teacher of the gifted class I had to go to in middle school made us listen to that song. She was so excited about it, and wanted to explain every reference to us.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:20 PM
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It was totally on the single Closer, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:21 PM
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Arg.

Happy birthday, Mr. Stanley.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:21 PM
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480: "Closer"?

Actually I remember some kind of high school project somebody did oriented around the references in that song. God, so awful. It may have been a project where everybody in class picked a song to write about? That may have been the project, and half the class may have picked a Billy Joel song to write about?

God, high school was horrible.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:22 PM
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What gets me about Pretty Hate Machine these days is just how tinny the production sounds. What did Trent record it on, a boombox?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:23 PM
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482: Hey, thanks! But it's not official on Unfogged Standard Time just yet.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:23 PM
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479: Yes, but it was a pretty motherfucking sweet video at the time. Naked chicks! Creepy old white dudes! Ball gags! The crucifix stuff was annoying and boring, as was the twirling-in-midair stuff, but eels and roaches and pigs' heads I was pretty down with.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:24 PM
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The idea in 480 apparently still has some currency.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:24 PM
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480 to 474. Would have been more interesting if the gifted teacher explained "Closer" to us, though.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:24 PM
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See? 483 proves my point.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:25 PM
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As I recall, my high school gifted teacher was a huge fan of NIN.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:28 PM
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486: oh, I didn't mean "Closer". That song's okay by me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:29 PM
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These music threads confirm just how little I paid attention to music in junior high and high school. I found Closer on youtube, don't recognize it at all. I've heard of the artist, though.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:30 PM
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492: Crazy, eb! On our humble Kansas rock stations, they played it almost constantly for years.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:34 PM
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Vaguely relevant to the conversation, I will not forget the image of my brother "moshing"* alone off the back deck of our suburban home upon the occasion of Kurt Cobain's untimely death. He was in eighth grade; I, in sixth. This was an unfortunately hilarious scene, then as now.

*He was jumping into dog-poop-filled grass, with a little boombox blaring Nirvana. Come on, that's funny.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:34 PM
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I was in sixth grade when Cobain died. Several girls in my class organized a collage in memory of him, to which I contributed. I didn't wear black armbands for a month like they did, though.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:36 PM
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I was in ninth. I'd been telling this one girl I didn't know very well that I was Cobain's secret underaged lover and that the whole Courtney thing was just a cover for our relationship. She was really stupid and seemed to believe me, so when he died, I was not only actually upset, but also had to feign inconsolable rage when she was around, because she thought I was the reason he actually killed himself.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-09 11:39 PM
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469: Didn't "Closer" come out in '89?

Jesus. Per Josh, in a discussion of something as vague as "the '90s" no one should give a shit if something actually came out in 1989, you pedantic fucknerds.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:00 AM
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The Fucknerds: a good band name. Noted.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:02 AM
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496: whereas Kurt's actual secret lover was plenty old enough.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:03 AM
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497: great, so "Like A Prayer" gets in there as an iconic '90s song?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:05 AM
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498: The Pathetic Fucknerds. Get it right!

And googling after the fact to see if it is in fact a term in use, I find it in Urban Dictionary with this example ...

"I CAN NOT sit at a table with that fucknerd Josh and listen to him babble about action figures and emo music."

... and here Josh was the one fighting *against* the fucknerd power.

500: Possibly. Actually I think decades change with presidents. The 60s certainly lasted into the early 70s, and you could argue the same for the 80s.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:11 AM
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I think decades are a dorky way to define musical eras, but anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:13 AM
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The 60s lasted from about 1964 until 1973, so one full decade. The 80s, however, were from maybe 1980 to 1986. Then there was nothing, and then the 90s from the rise of Pearl Jam until the Internet.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:16 AM
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Then there was nothing, and then the 90s from the rise of Pearl Jam until the Internet.

You can try to troll me if you want, but it won't work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:17 AM
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Then there was nothing. The mountain called Monkey had spoken.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:31 AM
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1. Closer is the name of a Joy Division album. Stop acting otherwise!

2. Is Josh really complaining about a major commercial radio station specials programming? And when that station is KROQ, no less?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:44 AM
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Cluck cluck-cluck cluck cluck CLUCK
Cluck cluck-cluck cluck cluck CLUCK
Cluck cluck-cluck cluck STANLEY
Cluck cluck-cluck cluck cluck CLUCK


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:51 AM
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You can't link this too much, right?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 1:09 AM
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I wrote an arrangement of "Closer" for tenor sax, clarinet, tuba, and trombone. (Those being the instruments in my band.) Pretty funky song. Trent Reznor must have come up with it while playing a bass.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 1:20 AM
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508: Wretched excess.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 1:34 AM
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I actually think 503 gets it basically right, except that there were like 4 years between Pearl Jam and the internet, and I think the 90s lasted longer than that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 7:55 AM
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Way late to this thread, but if I were to take a stab at canonical songs for 1991-95, it would go something like this:

1) "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Nirvana (come on, people!)
2) "Alive" Pearl Jam
3) "Suck My Kiss" Red Hot Chili Peppers
4) "Jerry was a Race Car Driver" Primus
5) "Just One Fix" Ministry
6) "Creep" Stone Temple Pilots
7) "Bring the Noise" Anthrax/Public Enemy
8) "5% Nation" Soul Coughing
9) "Time Bomb" Rancid
10) "Basket Case" Green Day
11) "Sober" Tool
12) "Creep" Radiohead

No women in the list, I know, but that's the phase I was in (I love Alison Krauss, the Dixie Chicks (what?), and Lucinda Williams these days, plus I'll carry a gigantic (har har) crush for Kim Deal around until the day I die). Note that this was all filtered through listening to no commercial raido or televesion and being a college radio DJ with existing predilections towards heavy metal and hardcore at a small private liberal arts college in the Twin Cities. I tried to leave out the more obscure stuff, but I don 't really have a sense of how popular a few of these were outside my milieu.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 8:59 AM
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506.2: Unlike you, w-lfs-n, I'm old enough to remember when KROQ didn't suck. (Even then, though, 91X was better.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:07 AM
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re: 512

Sheesh. In about 1991 I'd have liked most of that, too. In retrospect, eech.

What about all the early 90s hip-hop? There's a lot of stuff from that period -- ATCQ's Low End Theory, tail-end of peak period PE, ditto De La Soul, etc. G-funk!

In the UK the early 90s are also strongly associated with BritPop.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:12 AM
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Interesting. That Soul Coughing song isn't even on their 19-song "Best of" album.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:13 AM
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plus I'll carry a gigantic (har har) crush for Kim Deal around until the day I die

Doesn't everyone?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:17 AM
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I'd say "Super Bon Bon" was the most ubiquitous SC song.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:20 AM
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I'm surprised at just how poorly "Nevermind" has held up over time. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is still a great song, but the rest of the album is just meh.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:22 AM
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That's the only one I ever heard on the radio, yes. But Chopper is not trying to name the most ubiquitous songs, as we see from his choice of "Suck My Kiss" over "Under the Bridge", "Give it Away" or "Soul to Squeeze".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:23 AM
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514: Like I said, pretty specific to my scene. I was completely ignorant of hip-hop, aside from some minor education from my freshman roommate--NWA, Ice T, PE (I included them--but I came at that song from the Anthrax side), ATCQ, Black Sheep and some of the associated Native Tongue groups--but that was about the extent of it (excepting, of course, the Beastie Boys). I come from a very small, very white town in South Dakota. I didn't have MTV until after I graduated from college in 1995. It was very easy to not get looped in to hip-hop at all.

I don't know that I'd say that I love a lot of stuff now, but I'm certainly feeling reminiscent at the moment--I think I need to go dig out some Ministry.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:27 AM
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514: What about all the early 90s hip-hop?
Indeed. Not to mention Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Digable Planets, later albums of Native Tongues Posse affiliates, the Goats, the Pharcyde, KRS-ONE (past his prime but still touring and much loved), and the first flowering of the consciously "underground" hip-hop scene (around here we had the Micranots and Ghost Dance Deluxe, I'm sure everyone has their local favorites).

As mentioned above, the trick here is not to be too captivated by nostalgia and to remember both the bad (I had to listen to that stupid Santa Monica Blvd. song twice a day at my sandwich-shop job in 1994 and it was a teeth-grating 3 minutes each time, let me tell you) and the old (I had only heard "Blister In the Sun" maybe once before going to college in 1993, so it was new to me then -- everybody I knew had either missed the Violent Femmes as well, or worked through them before we started talking about music, I guess) when thinking about what you were actually listening to in the past.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:29 AM
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In the UK the early 90s are also strongly associated with BritPop.

Same thing here. Though that consisted of three or four Oasis songs; Blur's "Girls and Boys" and "Song 2"; Elastica's "Connection"; and James's "Laid". The rave scene was represented by EMF's "Unbelievable", Stereo MC's' "Connected", and of course "3 AM Eternal".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:32 AM
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515: The Twin Cities were unusually huge on Soul Coughing circa Ruby Vroom, thanks to a local indie radio station that was a huge champion. They came here a lot--something like 20% of all Ruby Vroom albums were sold in Minnesota. I saw them like 7 times--5% Nation was one they always tore out all the stops on live. I had no idea that it wasn't among their best known.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:32 AM
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Also, just have to say: Re: 377: I tried as much as possible to avoid listening to popular music (associated with my MEAN SISTER)

So much is now explained.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:35 AM
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Soul Coughing, the true cultural heirs to Prince and Morris Day and the Time. It suddenly seems so obvious.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:36 AM
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521 2.2 is key--I tried to leave out all the Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Pixies, etc. that I became obsessed with at the time. I left out NIN because Pretty Hate Machine came out in 1989, the Broken EP didn't go huge, and Closer just seems so late-period to me (I know Reznor has had a hugely succesful career since then, but PHM and Broken seem to pretty much sum him up, to me).


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:40 AM
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The rave scene was represented by EMF's "Unbelievable", Stereo MC's' "Connected", and of course "3 AM Eternal".

None of these actually associated much with any rave scene, of course.

[I suspect that's one of those transatlantic divide things].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:41 AM
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523: Good point. I also did not realize that Soul Coughing were not huge everywhere. (For non-Twin Citians: There was a brief period in the early nineties where a bunch of scenesters and college-radio DJs managed to start a radio station and keep it going for awhile, despite the fact that its market share never got above 1 or 2 percent, as it was about as non-commercial as a commercial radio station could possibly be. It folded, and then 10 years later they same type of people took over a public radio station and have had great success with it, doing the same schtick. Weird.)


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:42 AM
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Rave scene, baggy scene, hacienda, whatever.

I would not be surprised if "Connected" was in the entire decade's list of top 40 most-played songs on US radio ("Unbelievable" definitely was). And yet somehow I never got tired of it.

That band didn't have any other good songs, did they?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:42 AM
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525: No, that would be the Lippa Boogie Garoovians. Do you remember them, Minne?


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:43 AM
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529: Baggy scene? Are you saying that some places in the US just got a low-rent version of the Madchester scene in the early 90s? That's even more depressing than missing the true acid house and breakbeat rave scene.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:47 AM
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Rave scene, baggy scene, Madchester scene, acid house scene, Tony Wilson, whatever. Ask Natargacam.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:48 AM
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526: Well, 1989 was my first year in high school, and PHM remained in constant rotation among those of my friends as liked that sort of thing for the next 4 years, so I'd argue that's contemporaneous.

I've mentioned before how it was so weird to see the youngsters I knew when I went back to college a few years ago get all excited about the Pixies revival. They were all like 4th-graders when the Pixies broke up! It would have to have been a pretty advanced 8 or 9-year old who was really into the Pixies.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:49 AM
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528: Showing how embarrassingly long I will hold on to a t-shirt, I'm wearing my REV 105 t-shirt right now. They were helped by the fact that they were owned by a Cargill scion who could afford to run the station at a loss.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:49 AM
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530: No, they were either too underground or not underground enough to pop up on my radar I guess.

534: I never had a T-shirt or sticker, but I didn't listen to any other stations during REV 105's existence. There was a basement apartment facing 24th St (like 24th and Garfield I think) that had a "SAVE REV 105" sign in the window well into the current decade (and may still for all I know), so you're not the greatest partisan of that failed god.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 9:58 AM
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Oh God how I miss breakbeat.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:00 AM
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re: 529

EMF basically never had any credibility in the UK and were absolutely not part of any rave scene. The KLF weren't really part of that scene either -- they were sometimes great, and all -- but I don't think they've have described themselves as really part of the rave scene, either.

The rave scene as it actually existed in the UK in the late 80s/early 90s is one thing, the bands that crossed the Atlantic and were labelled as part of that scene are quite different.

I say this not as a 'rave snob'. I was never part of that scene, but I had friends who were, and the music was pretty ubiquitous for a while.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:08 AM
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Maybe this is just the solipsism of a 90's youth talking here, but what made that era of music so great for me was not that there were these particularly excellent artists or songs, but that there were so fucking many of them. I know the one-hit-wonder problem really screwed a lot of small bands, but it was sort of deliriously exhilarating to grow up in a moment when there wasn't just a handful of major bands. Part of it, maybe, was the breadth of interesting music videos and MTV's short-lived commitment to playing a wide variety of them, at least on different shows (between Yo! MTV Raps, 120 Minutes, and Headbangers Ball, you could get quite a huge number of interesting video-watching done). I don't know how many times someone here has linked to a video by a band I don't remember the name of at all, but the instant I see the video, I'm suddenly 14 and in my room at home. What seems necessary in remembering 90's music to me is not, like, listing 10 bands everyone's heard of, but the bizarre reach of all those bands that had like one song you know. (Slobo Humpin Hobo Babe is a perfect example.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:12 AM
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s/b hobo humpin slobo babe.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:13 AM
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Maybe this is just the solipsism of a 90's youth talking here, but what made that era of music so great for me was not that there were these particularly excellent artists or songs, but that there were so fucking many of them.

I think it's the solipsism of a 90's youth talking. I'd bet everyone thinks that about the music they remember from their youth.

Personally, I'd be pretty resistant to early 90s nostalgia. I don't think, looking back, the music scene then was any better than the music scene right now.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:16 AM
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I don't think much of it was very good, but I guess I enjoyed the feeling that the variety was more important than the "quality."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:18 AM
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536: The remastered reissue of Black Secret Technology by A Guy Called Gerald is quite worthwhile, especially if you don't have the original. It's a good medium between the ultra-hard Jungle scene stuff (which is frustratingly hard to find about 10-15 years later) and the light-jazz samples that so many ostensibly good DnB producers were using left and right (I'm looking at you, LTJ Bukem).


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:20 AM
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I don't think it was particularly varied, either. Or at least, no more than I remember it being in the early 80s, or the mid 80s, or now.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:21 AM
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re: 542

Heh, there was a period [94? 95? 96? I can't even remember] when LTJ Bukem was my 'studying' music of choice. Just bland waves of noise that cut out background distractions but weren't distracting themselves. I don't think I've listen to it since.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:23 AM
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Personally, I'd be pretty resistant to early 90s nostalgia. I don't think, looking back, the music scene then was any better than the music scene right now.

The music on commercial radio stations was sure as hell better. That shouldn't matter to us, but it does give us more things that we can collectively reminisce about and be pretty sure that other people were familiar with.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:26 AM
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540: In the US, I think there's something to be said for that weird period in the mid-90s when Grunge had died out but the late-90s boy bands and/or nu metal hadn't yet arrived. There was this gap where odder acts that weren't straight rock or straight pop could get onto the charts. A lot of sample-based stuff with influences from hip-hop or electronic got a chance then.

C.f. Beck, Imani Coppola's "Legend of a Cowgirl", Luscious Jackson's couple good songs after the Manny EP, that White Town song linked by Heebie a week or two ago, etc.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:26 AM
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539: I was just thinking about that song the other night. The radio station I listened to in middle school would play a new song every night at 9, and you were supposed to call in and say if they should jam it or slam it. I liked that one, but I think it was deemed slam-worthy.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:27 AM
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539: I was just thinking about that song the other night.

Possibly because of 374?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:28 AM
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re: 545

Again, are you sure this isn't nostalgia? I can say with absolute certainty that the music on UK radio is significantly better NOW than it was 15 years ago.

Perhaps this is another UK/US divide. But current UK commercial pop is pretty good, and stuff that's not straight girl-band/boy-band commercial pop gets a a decent amount of day-time airplay.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:30 AM
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I was on a recent flight which provided satellite radio, so I tuned into the "indie" station that claimed to be playing stuff I'd never heard of, and it was all Radiohead and MIA and I was like, come on. I still hold there was a time when there were a few mainstream local radio stations that were like better college radio, playing hour after hour of cool shit from bands I'd never heard before.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:36 AM
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Someone familiar with both radio regimes can judge this, but all I can say is that US top 40 radio is about 75% hip-hop and directed entirely at high-school students, and US rock radio is also directed entirely at high-school students. The ownership of mainstream radio stations became a monopoly within the last 15 years, and everyone over 18 has moved on to other sources of music or niche radio stations or the newly created "We play everything from the last 30 years except hip-hop" stations.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:38 AM
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I still hold there was a time when there were a few mainstream local radio stations that were like better college radio, playing hour after hour of cool shit from bands I'd never heard before.

I suspect that's because there was a time when you hadn't heard much, so a lot more stuff seemed new.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:39 AM
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re: 551

UK radio isn't segregated by genre like that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:41 AM
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the newly created "We play everything from the last 30 years except hip-hop"

These are so, so awful. I was stuck recently when both local public radio stations were fundraising and I had no CD player or other music source. I was shocked at how distasteful they were -- not just the creepiness of the slogans ("playing anything we want everything the market research tells us to"), but the unpleasant or painfully pathetic advertisements. In one night, I counted:

- Four "How to discipline your kid" kits ("I'm Dr. So-and-So and I guar-an-tee, with my program, you'll never hear backtalk again.")

- Three home-foreclosure ads (the "We Buy Ugly Houses" people, now pitching to "Are you in an ugly situation?")

- Numerous low-rent family-vacation ads, complete with would-be cute snark about spending "just enough time in the car" with your supposedly beloved family members.

- Several "You can't stop shopping, so here's how to shop cheaper!" coupon/bargain-website promos clearly aimed at 20-something women.

- An embarrassing surge of pre-Valentine's ads, directed at men who don't actually like any of the women they know or date.

The whole thing was so sad that I didn't mind when the commercials were finally over and "Wonderwall" came on again.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:57 AM
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550: Yeah, I don't think airlines would really carry anything that's properly underground. But that also sounds sort of like the UK definition of "indie" music, which carries far less notion of being niche (and none whatsoever of being on independent labels), but instead seems closer to what I imagine "alternative" meant 15 years ago in the US: outside the mainstream pop and straight-up rock or hip-hop, but still recognizable and fairly popular.

Unfortunately, in the US, "alternative" still means that same music from 15 years ago, and the 5th-generation imitators plying the trade today who, on their more optimistic nights, wish they could just be as good as Bush was.

But 551 is right. Even in Chicago, we don't really have college radio in the old "we play cool shit" sense. WLUW has run into ten kinds of problems over the past few years, and their transmitter's so weak that it can't even be picked up in half the city. The vast majority of stations have picked one of 5 shitty playlists to hew to, and our public radio doesn't do the wonderful work that BBC seems to of finding interesting DJs and new out-there music to showcase. I can't imagine John Peel or Mary Anne Hobbs ever getting music shows on NPR.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 10:57 AM
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Of course, what's forgotten in the above discussion is the mainstreaming of country music in both senses during the nineties. I.e. country went mainstream and mainstream tastes inflect country. I'm sure a big percentage of the people who went to my first college, who were mostly from small-town Minn. and Wisc. would come up with a list that was anchored by Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus. Not that they hadn't heard other stuff, but what was inescapable for them was Top 40 Country rather than just Top 40. (Then too, there were the various urban responses to country's resurgence, from re-re-discovering Johnny Cash to the various alt-country sub-genres.)

The big change in my listening habits in the nineties was getting really into all the Jamaican genres in the middle of the decade, after which my tastes blossomed to include lots of non-pop stuff. (At least as it is commonly defined.)


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 11:00 AM
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This thread is just reminding me how terrible US radio is. Almost uniformly.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 11:02 AM
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551 -- When I was young, Top 40 radio was targeted at middle schoolers. So maybe this is an improvement. Let me put this a different way: knock three time on the ceiling if it's an improvement. Twice on the pipe if we're going to hell in a handbasket.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 11:06 AM
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CharleyCarp makes a good point. It may be that circa 1989-1997 was the only time in history that US FM radio was tolerable.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 11:08 AM
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Even in Chicago, we don't really have college radio in the old "we play cool shit"

WHPK plays cool shit!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 12:32 PM
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....So odd; it's like I completely missed everything from about 1988 through, er, now really. Have I ever heard a Soul Coughing track? I've heard "Wonderwall" because it was on steady rotation at my college dishwashing job. I heard "Common People" about a month ago because my very very favorite Marxist architecture blogger is always on about Pulp. It's all right, I suppose.

Characteristic of my nineties, my college punk rock nineties: Mudhoney, which I didn't like; the Jesus Lizard; bands with "Super" in the title; Trenchmouth (due to whom I really listened to "Sandinista", which then became my favorite album); other people being obsessed with Shonen Knife and Fugazi; the intense debate over pop-punk; riot grrrrl bands which I liked a lot; K Records, Subpop and buying every release from Simple Machines; Bob Mould, in retrospect waaaaaay too much Bob Mould. Flannel and thermals, that really was what everyone in my little set wore, and shirts we'd stenciled ourselves. And combat boots. Everything smelled of drying wool all the time because we all wore old army surplus coats and things that would get soaked and take forever to dry.

It's funny; I never listen to any of the stuff that was respectable punk rock listening in my circles any more except the riot grrrl stuff, but I still listen to many of my college obsessions all the time: the Mekons, the Clash, the Rezillos.

Or wait, that's not true--it was quite respectable to listen to the Dog-Faced Hermans and I'm still fixated on them.

Got a lot of vinyl and no record player lately.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 2:35 PM
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Got a lot of vinyl and no record player lately.
Yeah, I got a lot vinyl and no record player lately
A state of affairs that affects my presumptive hipness greatly.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 2:42 PM
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I realize this discussion is shut down, but let me put it this way to ttaM:

Name your top 15 bands that make UK radio today so vastly superior to what it was 15 years ago. Now try to comprehend that, in most if not all US cities, none of them get any airplay on commercial radio. Some cities have one station that plays a little of the most established stuff, like Radiohead. That's about it.

As Ned said, the early 90s were simply one of the only times in the last 30 years that US radio stations played whatever the best commercially-viable music happened to be. Before and after, it's been largely limited to disposable pop* and nostalgia.

* Emphasis on disposable.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 2:49 PM
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That one Airborne Toxic Event song is ok even though it's basically an even more maudlin version of several U2 songs.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 2:50 PM
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WHPK plays cool shit!

I'm sure they do, but I live downtown. Neither WLUW (which broadcasts in virtually the same band) from the north nor WHPK from the south make it to here. Columbia College's WCRX uses the 88.1 band around here, but their music lineup is pretty dire.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 2:57 PM
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Oh look, they have an "urban night," presumably for music created by people who live in large metropolitan centers.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 3:07 PM
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What is this late 80s/early 90s radio paradise of which people speak? I was around then and recall commercial radio completely sucking, if anything more than it does today (I'm serious here -- I'm genuinely mystified as to people's memory. Maybe there was a particular midwestern station or something?).

Also, so much of the rock music then was goddamn horrendous -- even the good "alternative" stuff, like Pavement, is just OK, and the radio didn't play that. My recollection is that the Counting Crows and Better than Ezra and that"I alone love you" song were on the rock radio all the time. The 1985-1995 era was the golden age of hip hop and also maybe (my vague sense, because I don't really know the genre at all) of really interesting electronic dance music. Indeed, I pretty much stopped listening to white person's rock music at the time (except for metal) and have never really turned back.

Also, I was around at the tail end of when KROQ was still good, but I was listening to KNAC.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 4:11 PM
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L.A. just lost Indie 103.1, which was a very good commercial radio station. It included Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols doing "Jonesy's Jukebox" in the afternoons. He'd play great random tracks which really put the lie to the JACK-FM acceptable randomness. I once tuned to hear he and another pair of musicians saying to one another, "Yeah, we loved the Sex Pistols -- your stuff blew our minds" and Jonesy back saying "We loved your guys stuff, too, we listened to it on tour." It was Hall and Oates.

Now 103.1 is all norteños all the time. Sigh.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 4:13 PM
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So when was KROQ good?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 4:14 PM
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I can't believe Kevin & Bean have been around for 20 years.

Surely by now they're only pretending to like the music they play?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 4:17 PM
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WFMU 4 evar.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 4:19 PM
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569 -- The original "good" period for KROQ is before my time - - I think in the late 1970s, when Rodney on the Roq was almost the only DJ in the country playing and breaking punk and new wave bands, and the station actively promoted bands like X and the Dead Kennedys. It was still "good," living off its residual reputation, and not anything like its current version as late as 1984-1988, when I was listening to it sometimes and they would play a lot of Cure/Smiths/New Wave stuff.

I think they converted into their current "all frat guy music, all the time, guaranteed one Red Hot Chili Peppers song every 30 minutes" sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, but I wasn't living in LA then so I can't date it exactly. (In the old days, they would also play the RHCPs, but that's when they were a locally popular band for weirdos and skaters and were less popular than Fishbone).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 4:21 PM
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568 -- Yeah, that Steve Jones show was incredible (the rest of Indie 103.1 was better than the rest of commercial radio, too, and it's sad to see it go). He had a really deep music collection -- I heard one show that he spent doing nothing but mid-1970s soul ballads, all the while crooning in a fake-mellow English guy pretending to be black voice, which was a pretty awesome for the former guitarists from the Sex Pistols.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 4:27 PM
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I don't listen to commercial radio really at all. XPN strikes me as worth switching off the CD player for, just to see, when I'm in range.

KILI is fun to listen to, and I had good luck with KUNI last time couple times I drove XC (quite a while ago).

I'm setting the clock-radio alarm to a Cuban station, which ought to get me right up tomorrow.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 4:55 PM
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567: What is this late 80s/early 90s radio paradise of which people speak?

I've been wondering this as well. Then again, I'd stopped listening. Do people ever go above 90.something on their radios these days (this is for east coast, don't know whether there's 'alternative' radio on the upper end of the dial elsewhere).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 5:49 PM
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I join in the lamentations of Indie 103. Jonesy's Jukebox was so lovely. And the rest of the programming was also pretty great -- it had an actual show schedule, with different music at different times of the day/week, which made it unique in commercial radio. Alas.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 6:03 PM
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I heard "Common People" about a month ago because my very very favorite Marxist architecture blogger is always on about Pulp.

I'm hurt. You aren't reading my blog.

I only listened to music on the radio for a very short period in my life, so I don't have much to add to this conversation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 6:23 PM
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I listen to a lot of radio. I can't explain why I like it so much. I do think that Austin has more variety than the average city, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 6:35 PM
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I don't even own a radio.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 6:40 PM
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The thing about mainstream radio is that it's so affirming when they play a song I love. Like, I can listen to the Jets all I want on my iPod, but when I hear "You Got It All" come out of my car radio, I know that someone at Hot 92.3 understands me.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 6:47 PM
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jms listens to something above 90 on the dial. Uh-huh, noted.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 6:52 PM
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I listen to a lot of corny mainstream pop though, parsimon.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 6:54 PM
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You must have been heaven sent! Hearing my call you went out on a limb. And you're all that he's not. Just look what I've got! Cause you've got it all...over him.

I never saw the video before, but it is equally great to the song.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 7:11 PM
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Yeah, but come on jms. 92.3 is a uniquely awesome station (soul+pop oldies, plus Art LeBow).


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 7:13 PM
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Halford, where were you to back me up on this thread?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 7:18 PM
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Ahh, I should have gotten into that. The best thing about Art's show? At least 20 percent of the dedications are from family members to people in CA prisons.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 7:31 PM
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A state of affairs that affects my presumptive hipness greatly.

but in the positive direction.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 7:35 PM
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I do think that Austin has more variety than the average city, though.

It's really not even close, from what I've heard.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 7:36 PM
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Ahh, I should have gotten into that. The best thing about Art's show? At least 20 percent of the dedications are from family members to people in CA prisons.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 7:51 PM
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I don't even own a radio.

Let alone many radios, to necesistate a Radio Shack.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-16-09 7:55 PM
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I just want to note that Rob Halford is questioning the value of radio stations that played Better Then Ezra while praising a rap scene that featured MC Hammer, Tone Loc, and Kriss Kross.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-17-09 2:12 PM
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