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I forgot to leave the recycling out last Friday. People around here often—and by people, I mean my neighbor and I—slip into a mental fog of it’s 6 am and I don’t want to drag my company of small plastic bins out to the road and set them up like Stonehenge around my trash can. Usually I’m to blame.  This time, however, in the words of Humphrey Bogart, “I was misinformed.”

The previous evening, I had wheeled my trash bin to the curb just as my neighbor was, and we had the same look on our face: “Is it tomorrow? Naw…. but is it?” We put these thoughts to words and decided it couldn’t possibly be tomorrow.

We’d been fooled before. We left our bins out on the wrong day, and it happened on the most blustery one in recent memory, so together we had to chase around empty milk jugs clear down the block. We could have avoided this with the Internet, but there was some satisfaction in talking to my neighbor instead of Googling it. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?—neighborly mimesis. Just as when one person claps in an audience and everybody starts doing it, one person has the sense to check the date and put theirs out for the rest of us. But I think everyone on our block was confused, because no one had theirs out yet. Such was our concern.

But we were wrong.

So today, I’ve got recyclables scattered pell-mell across my garage until I decide to make the trip there myself or (more likely) wait it out.

Within the next month, though, the City’s recyclers are going to drop off an apt-sized 96-gallon bin at the foot of my driveway. It is supposedly going to have wheels.

Now, it would have been a nice gesture if they had delivered these bins at the same time they dialed back their pickup-frequency to just once a month. Even when I don’t forget, I’m still trying to find novel ways to store my recyclables.

My old 14-gallon bin, way back when they came once a week, used to be sufficient. I still had to crunch things to make room, but it seemed less of a chore. There was also a lot less stuff they would take and each container had to be stripped before they would accept it.

It has been a bit of a travesty that our recycling bins are seven times smaller than our trash bins. With all the alt-energy investment here, this upgrade is not only the right thing to do, it’s the shrewd thing to do. It may be a long-due and obvious idea, but still a good one. Not that I feel entitled. I could make the effort to drive it across town and drop it off, myself. Still, it’s nice when recycling gets easier, for who wants to feel guilty because they don’t zip the paper off aluminum cans?

Anyway, this Memorial Day, for a change of pace, take some time to remember those who are paid to keep Creation, instead of those who were (and are) paid to trample it.


As I was redacting and compiling my Hundred Handers playlist, I rediscovered Joy Electric. I don’t know what exactly I thought of this band at first. Something like Boy George on helium singing over a Nintendo. It was weird. But I was twelve, so my shock-threshold ran kind of low. I found the album at a—wait for it—Christian Bookstore (in the alternative CCM section, of course).

So hey you younguns in nuthuggers, leaking autotuned disco from your headphones—spit out your pacifiers and get a load of Ronnie Martin’s Joy Electric. And get ready to get tweaked.

Birds Will Sing Forever

Back in the mid-nineties, nobody I knew knew what the fuck Joy Electric was or why they were so unabashedly Christian and, simultaneously, sort of gay (in both connotations of the word—but not the “stupid” sense). I don’t really think Martin is gay, but anyway, I don’t think they’ve ever sold a lot. Back then, to the CCM market, they were just a little too, you know, out there….

Today, Joy Electric fits right in there with the loosely defined genre, IDM (Intelligent Dance Music—yes, you’re a moron if you like anything else), along with a host of electro-disco jockeys and glitch-geeks with carpal tunnel from something other than (or in addition to) porn. Only, Joy Electric use Moog synthesizers instead of computers—a badge that is unassailably badass to most audiophiles.

Oh yeah. Joy Electric don’t like it when reviewers insinuate or say outright that they use computers. Not long ago, that was a problem for artists like Joy Electric, because somehow, if you used a computer instead of an instrument, reviewers thought you were faking it. Funny how things have changed. You hear Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, Kanye West, and you realize that computers are just so banal, so not a problem. Those artists would have faced the same struggle Joy Electric faced if they dropped on the scene fifteen years ago. And for that, they should check out Ronnie Martin’s Joy Electric; for it is foundational to IDM in much the same way Raymond Scott is to Joy Electric. And I think it’s a reasonable bet that if you thumbed through Dan Snaith’s or Richard D. James’ Ipod, you’d find an LP or two by Joy Electric.

Side note: Though I’m not a fan of the A & R ilk, props to Brandon Ebel of the Tooth and Nail records for signing Joy Electric. When everyone was gobbling up pop punk and rap rock during their post-grunge hangovers, he had the stones to go with these guys. Why? Because they really are great. Better than Xanax.

Viva la Vida (yes, a Coldplay cover)

Big and bold, Joy Electric, you deserve your moment in the sun.

If you have an eon to kill and you really like music, get a load of this: The Hundred Handers compilation, which is a playlist of your top one hundred favorite songs. (I know I came up with a nerdy name, but when I had the idea, I’d just seen Clash of the Titans, which didn’t have any Titans in it.)

It’s hard. First, you have to assign a value number, one song through three, for each artist or band. For instance, I give Bob Dylan an initial value of five, but I’ll have to whittle it down to three. Three Bob songs that have really stuck with me for a long time. Also, you have to try (at least) to be as objective as possible. Obviously, you’ll lean more toward songs you like now—and that’s okay, for this season of life should receive representation—but you might have to give a nod to songs that had a huge impact on you when you were say, 14-years-old. Depends on how autobiographical you want to make it. I’m at 125 songs already and I’m only through the M’s.

You can then burn it to a five disc box set, or single DVD, and give it to that special girl or guy you’ve been makin eyes at. Or not. Just loan it to the next person who asks you that impossible question, “What’s your favorite song?”

Then you can reply, “Here’s my top 100. All time.” and not really have to think about it too much.

A decent first draft….

1. “Soya” Ali Farka Toure

2. “Fistful Of Love” Antony and the Johnsons

3. “Daydreaming” Aretha Franklin

4. “The Weight” The Band

5. “A Day in the Life” The Beatles

6. “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” The Beatles

7. “Hey Bulldog” The Beatles

8. “I Loves You Porgy” Billie Holiday

9. “Stack Shot Billy” The Black Keys

10. “The Soul of a Man” Blind Willie Johnson

11. “Shelter from the Storm” Bob Dylan

12. “Ballad Of A Thin Man (Edinburgh)” Bob Dylan

13. “Like A Rolling Stone (Manchester)” Bob Dylan

14. “Waiting in Vain” Bob Marley

15. “Ibi Dreams of Pavement (a better day)” Broken Social Scene

16. “Going up the Country” Canned Heat

17. “Her Eyes are a Blue Million Miles” Captain Beefheart

18. “Smackwater Jack” Carole King

19. “Rudie Can’t Fail” The Clash

20. “Lookin’ out my Back Door” Creedence Clearwater Revival

21. “Rocks and Gravel” Dave Van Ronk

22. “Changes” David Bowie

23. “At the Hop” Devendra Banhart

24. “Life is Like a River” Doc Watson

25. “Caledonia” Dougie MacLean

26. “Let Down (Featuring Toots & The Maytals)” Easy Star All-Stars

27. “Masters Of War” Eddie Vedder & Mike McCready

28. “Mr. Blue Sky” Electric Light Orchestra

29. “Bennie and the Jets” Elton John

30. “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” The Flaming Lips

31. “Blue Ridge Mountains” Fleet Foxes

32. “The Holly and the Ivy” George Winston

33. “Mind is Playing Tricks On Me” Geto Boys

34. “My Morphine” Gillian Welch

35. “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” Gordon Lightfoot

36. “Tesla’s Hotel Room” The Handsome Family

37. “Let’s Make it” Hooker and Heat

38. “Freedom Hangs Like Heaven” Iron & Wine

39. “Do Me” Jean Knight

40. “A Postcard To Nina” Jens Lekman

41. “A Higher Power” Jens Lekman

42. “Operator (that’s not the way it feels)” Jim Croce

43. “All Along the Watchtower” Jimi Hendrix

44. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” Jimi Hendrix

45. “Sadie” Joanna Newsom

46. “Feeling Alright” Joe Cocker

47. “Redemption Song” Joe Strummer and Johnny Cash

48. “I Walk the Line” Johnny Cash

49. “Wayfaring Stranger” Johnny Cash

50. “Folsom Prison Blues” Johnny Cash

51. “Meet Me in the City” Junior Kimbrough

52. “Police and Thieves” Junior Murvin

53. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” Leadbelly

54. “Going To California” Led Zeppelin

55. “When The Levee Breaks” Led Zeppelin

56. “Old Friend” Lyle Lovett

57. “Between the Bars” Madeleine Peyroux

58. “Engwish Bwudd” Man Man

59. “All Night Diner” Modest Mouse

60. “This Devil’s Workday” Modest Mouse

61. “The Blood of Cu Chulainn” Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna

62. “What Have You Done?” Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens

63. “Heart Of Gold” Neil Young

64. “Deep Red Bells” Neko Case

65. “Wild is the Wind” Nina Simone

66. “I Got it Bad and that ain’t Good” Nina Simone

67. “Wagon Wheel” Old Crow Medicine Show

68. “Immigration Song” Ozma

69. “Canarios” Phil Keaggy

70. “Time” Pink Floyd

71. “Us and Them” Pink Floyd

72. “Wish You Were Here” Pink Floyd

73. “Fairytale Of New York” The Pogues

74. “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy ” Queen

75. “We Are the Champions” Queen

76. “Jumper on the Line” R.L. Burnside

77. “Nude” Radiohead

78. “Paranoid Android” Radiohead

79. “Old Friend” Rancid

80. “Hit the Road Jack” Ray Charles

81. “Build Me Up” Rhymefest featuring O.D.B.

82. “My Deliverer” Rich Mullins

83. “Ruby Tuesday” The Rolling Stones

84. “Beast of Burden” The Rolling Stones

85. “Oh My Sweet Carolina” Ryan Adams

86. “Wo Qui Non Coin” The Seatbelts

87. “Up above my Head I Hear Music in the Air” Sister Rosetta Tharpe & Marie Knight

88. “Superstition” Stevie Wonder

89. “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” The Temptations

90. “Come On Up To The House” Tom Waits

91. “Hoist That Rag” Tom Waits

92. “The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)” Tom Waits

93. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” U2

94. “Moonshiner” Uncle Tupelo

95. “Into The Mystic” Van Morrison

96. “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” War

97. “El Scorcho” Weezer

98. “Jesus, Etc.” Wilco

99. “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)” Willie Nelson & Calexico

100. “Mr. Tough” Yo La Tengo