A Tribute to My Very First Mix CD

<3<3<3<3<3<3

A Tribute to My Very First Mix CD

When I was in the mother land this past week I seized the opportunity to go through the box that houses all of my old mix CDs…and, boy, was this eye opening. I delved into this collection thinking I would just quickly grab a random stack of CDs for my drive back to Pittsburgh. Considering that most of the CDs aren’t accompanied with any sort of track list or title, unless its a generic label like ‘*~*~Alex’s Mix IIIV~*~*,’ I knew I was going to have some fun surprises coming my way. However, I was not prepared to be reacquainted with the first ever mix CD I ever owned. This little gem, wedged between copies of Miles Davis’ ‘Some Kind of Blue’ and Anoushka Shankar’s ‘Live at Carnegie Hall’ (she is the best ever sitar player, okay?!), was made for me when I was in 7th grade, during the year of 2001. The mix master of this compilation (shout out to DS, what up, gangsta?!) was one of the first people I personally knew to get a CD burner. Actually, given the way that everyone was hounding him for CDs, he might have been the first kid in the entire middle school to have one at the time. Times were changing rapidly. I was enamored by the notion that there were possibilities developing for listening to particular songs whenever you wanted. I was tired of sitting by the radio with blank cassette tapes and a tape recorder. For the most part, I also refused to buy a band or artist’s entire album. I mean, I was 12! For one, the absence of an income made a purchase of any kind tricky. And secondly, with my 10-second attention span I knew I would only listen to it for a week before getting bored. I really only wanted to listen to 1 of the 10 songs on the album anyway, for goodness sakes…

Still with me here? Lets recap. DSL/Cable Modem Internet access + rising popularity of P2P file sharing services [I.E., FREE MUSIC! (just kidding, RIAA, just kidding!!!)] + downfall of the cassette tape, rise of the CD + manufacturing of CD burners for ‘at-home’ use = RAP MUSIC

Don’t question my mathematical conclusion.  If you weren’t listening to rap and r&b during the turn of the millennium, you were a huge loser. Up until the point of burned CDs, I was most definitely, by that standard, a loser. I still die from embarrassment when I think about how I was the only one who didn’t know all the words to Nelly’s “Country Grammar.” With CDs, I could make sure I knew every word to the bridge of Ludacris’ “Fantasy.” I was no longer going to be taunted by my crewmembers at middle school dances or DJed 13th birthday parties.

Before CD Burners & Mix CDs

Everyone else: “You don’t KNOW this song?!”

Me: “…um, no, of course I do…” [attempts to sing along, really is just mumbling nondescript words]

Me (in my mind): Sorry, asshole, put on some Van Morrison and I’ll SHOW you some lyric memorization!”

After

Me with everyone else: “I wanna, la la la lick you from yo head to yo toes…”

I tried to channel my inner J. Lo at middle school dances…

So, now that I’ve set that up with questionable accuracy, I guess its time. Time for me to introduce you to my first ever mix CD. I should probably note that the rest of this post contains adult material, expletives, and lots of talk about sexy time activities that aren’t even featured in 50 Shades of Grey. I still can’t believe we all listened to these songs when we were 13. How confusing for a bunch of hormonal pre-teens! I mean, we like to pick apart the effect “violent” rock music has on young people, but this is like a whole other issue. I still don’t think I’m mature enough to listen to these songs.

It feels just like yesterday I first laid eyes on you, mix CD.

1. Sunshine Anderson – Heard It All Before
2001

2. Jennifer Lopez feat. Ja Rule – I’m Real (Murder Remix)
2001

Seriously, what the h is Ja Rule doing these days?! Can anyone answer me that?!?

3. Wyclef Jean feat. Ecleftic & 11 – Perfect Gentleman
2001

Call up my mama said I’m in love with a stripper yo!

I still love this song. Sure, it’s mostly about strippers, and it took me several years to understand what “ten grand” represented, but there’s something about a Wyclef song that I dig.

4. Jay-Z – Izzo (H.O.V.A.) [aka, “H to the Izzo”]
2001

H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A
Fo’ shizzle my nizzle used to dribble down in VA

Fun facts: This song was produced by Kanye West, why had I never heard about him until 2006? The first verse regards Jay-Z’s early career as a drug dealer, second verse about struggles with the recording industry, and last verse is about childhood growing up in the Marcy Houses housing projects (Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn). And only Jay would make up his own language called “-izzle.” H.O.V.A. is -izzle talk and refers to one of his nicknames, Jayhova. Word dawg.

5. Jagged Edge feat. Nelly – Where the Party At
2001

6. P. Diddy ft. Black Rob & Mark Curry – Bad Boy for Life (Dirty)
2001

We ain’t, go-in nowhere, we ain’t, goin nowhere 
We can’t be stopped now, cause this bad boy for life 

Yes those are cameos by Dave Navarro, Ben Stiller, Xzibit, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson & Blink-182.

7. Missy Elliot ft. Ludacris and Trina – One Minute Man
2001

8. 112 – Peaches ‘N Cream
2001

Gettin’ freaky in my Bentley limousine
It’s even better when it’s with ice cream
Know what I mean

Oh, how catchy was this one. I loved it. And, again, had no idea at the time what ‘Peaches ‘N Cream’ was an innuendo for. Please read through the lyrics of this song. They are so dirty I just blushed when I read them and then threw up a little in my mouth.

9. Craig David – Fill Me In
2000

10. Fabolous ft. Nate Dogg – Can’t Deny It
2001

11. 112 – Its Over Now
2001

12. Lil’ Rascals [aka Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil Wayne, Lil’ Zane & Sammie] – Hardball
2001

I’m pretty sure this is the only song on this CD that does not describe a sexual activity in explicit detail. Thanks to my research on this song, I found out that Lil Wayne is only 29. How is that even possible? He looks like he’s 40 years old. So, that means that he was 18 when this song was recorded. Lil Bow Wow was 13, what a cutie.

13. Ludacris – Whats Your Fantasy
2000

I wanna get you in the back seat windows up
That’s the way you like to fuck, clogged up fog alert
Rip the pants and rip the shirt, ruff sex make it hurt
In the garden all in the dirt

Every time I hear this song, I can still rap that whole bridge towards the end (see above for example). And usually I don’t actually listen to what I’m saying. I sure as hell didn’t know what the lyrics were actually describing when I was 12, and to be quite honest I still don’t know what all Ludacris is describing here. People are getting all up in arms about Fifty Shades “erotica,” while 12 year olds could recite all the words to a song that describes more sexual activities in 3 minutes than are described in 3 novels. Go figure.

14. Ludacris ft. Nate Dogg – Area Codes
2001

It’s the abominable “O” man
Globe-trot international post man

Oh, Ludacris, you are just so good at these risque songs! You dog, you. Guess what “Area Codes” is about. Did you guess that its a song listing all the area codes that Ludy banged a woman in? 43 area codes by my count. The best part is that in this song’s Wikipedia article, they actually point out how  this song “may be incomprehensible to future generations of listeners” because many of the area codes listed in the song have been changed in the past 10+ years to represent different geographical regions. God forbid that future generations of pre-teens can’t figure out where Ludacris spread his seed.

15. Trick Daddy – I’m A Thug
2001

16. Mary J. Blige – Family Affair
2001

Produced by Dr. Dre.

17. Blu Cantrell – Hit ’em Up Style (Oops!)
2001

Carolina Chocolate Drops did it better, sorry Blu.

Advertisements

Pretty Vintage Ladies Playing Their Ukuleles

As you might have caught on to by now, I am kinda obsessed with playing the ukulele. For the majority of my life I’ve been playing various musical instruments, but the ukulele is the only string instrument I can play (as of right now at least!). It was a weird experience for me to learn how to play chords and melodies using strings rather than by pressing keys, but now I can’t stop. And it’s a lot more of a mobile instrument than my piano! Anyway, I was fiddling around on the internet today and started stumbling upon all these beautiful early to mid-1900 photographs of ukulele players, and just had to share some of them. Many of the blogs and other websites I found them didn’t include much data about the photographs themselves, and after doing some Googling I couldn’t turn up much either, so that’s the only downfall. Enjoy!

Famous Ukulele Ladies:

Greta Garbo in 1925

Doris Day

Gloria Swanson

Joni Mitchell

Marilyn Monroe

Another Marilyn

Betty Page, rocking the pin-up ukulele look.

Mia Farrow

Shirley Temple

I’m not sure who the woman is, but she is getting a lesson from one of the best! Cliff Edwards, a.k.a. Ukulele Ike AND the voice of Jiminy Cricket!

And a bunch of fun, vintage ukulele ladies:

Two young girls goofing off

Group of women playing ukulele on the beach, taken around 1925.

This is my favorite photo. Flapper modeling with a ukulele, c. 1920.

Just strumming in some lingerie.

Left handed ukulele player. “Lest you forget.” Aren’t the colors in this photo interesting?

Again, with the ukeing in the lingerie! Printed in a 1950s magazine ad.

Professional shot of a young starlet.

What I wouldn’t give to be skipping around on the beach with my friends, a ukulele and a parasol.

Girls clearly can use their musical talents to lure in unsuspecting young men, too, c. 1938.

I don’t know how it’s possible to look so glum playing a uke, but she’s working it, c. 1945.

Swoon. She’s looking easy, breezy playing ukulele on the porch.

I have close to zero understanding of what is going on in this photograph, but it is cracking me up.

“You should have heard the music.” What a bittersweet message.

Girls playing uke on a park bench in their swimsuits. Taken on July 9, 1926 in Washington, DC. The girls are identified in the caption of a similar photo as Elaine Griggs, Virginia Hunter, Mary Kaminsky, Dorothy Kelly and Hazel Brown.
This is also the only image on the Library of Congress’ website that features girls with ukuleles (or at least, the only one that is searchable, and has been digitized). [http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.16039, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA]

Printed in the New York Tribune, September 14, 1919.

The Boswell Sisters

Music book, “Oh How She Could Play A Ukulele.”

All-American Girl

A Norman Rockwell Illustration

And, just because I happen to be a huge fan, I had to include this one I found of goofball Buster Keaton:

Oh, to live during this time! (And what a beautiful photograph, at that).

 

I know my calculus, and I’m not even ashamed.

 We have all experienced those moments of nostalgia from yesteryear. And I just so happened to randomly have one for the satirical MTV manufactured boy band, 2gether (or 2ge+her/2Ge+Her). I’ll  never forget when I first saw the “band”–I was down the street at my childhood best friend’s house and MTV was pretty much the only channel cool enough for us to watch. This was the year 2000. MTV had just started broadcasting the shows JackassThe Tom Green Show, and Cribs. Eminem was winning MTV’s Video of the Year for “The Real Slim Shady” and Shawn Fanning, the Napster dude, was mocking Metallica onstage. Britney Spears was only 18-years-old…and this was also the year she rocked the flesh-colored outfit for her performance of “Satisfaction/Oops…I Did it Again.” Christina Aguilera and Fred Durst rocked it out onstage. Tim Commerford, of Rage Against The Machine, climbed up a fake palm tree while Durst was accepting his Best Rock Video award. Over on Total Request Live, Carson Daly probably would  have laughed in your face if you had told him he would be the future host of The Voice, considering TRL‘s was about to hit its peak during that summer.

Elsewhere in the entertainment world, Friends was still on the air (and being renewed for two more seasons), Ellen DeGeneres was newly single (obviously, pre-Portia), Madonna and Guy Ritchie were getting hitched, Survivor clocked 51 million viewers during their first season finale, and Gladiator premiered.

What was I doing in 2000? Well, it was a traumatizing time for me. I was in 7th grade, had just turned 13, and was absolutely scared shitless. Prior to my 7th grade year, I was an ugly duckling of sorts…I had the glory of being bestowed braces, glasses, and freakishly curly hair all at the same time (thank you, puberty…), and I was an incredible dork. My idea of fun was going to the library to check out 10 new books, playing my piano (or xylophone–I was in band and orchestra), or writing in my journal. I was a swimmer and played field hockey, which I think was likely the only reason I was grouped into the ‘popular’ crowd–and the reason for my middle school misery. So, going back to 2000, I suddenly blossomed into a not-so-ugly duckling, whereby my “friends” automatically assumed that I was now a threat to their boyfriends, an assumption that still makes me smile fondly to myself today. Anyway, so between all the boyfriend stealing nonsense, I had severe trust issues and would only hang out with a few girls. Luckily for me, I was comfortable enough to hang out with the girl down the street, because otherwise I would have had zero exposure to pop culture. It was already bad enough at middle school dances when I didn’t know all the words to the newest Nelly song…I was too busy listening to my dad’s Fleetwood Mac or Bob Seger CDs in his car (the only place that had a CD player for use, it was 2000 after all)…

Anyway, you’re probably wondering, where is this all going?

That is right ya’ll…the hottest thing in 2000 was…THE BOY BANDS. [Cue the pre-pubescent girls audio track “EEEEEEEEE!”].

If you bothered to read through that paragraph of crap about myself when I was a huge loser in middle school, you might have come to the conclusion that I was not a boy band freak. Good job. Luckily, I did (and still do, I think) possess an uncanny sense of sarcasm and complete love for satire. And I think this is why I am still easily excited over 2gether.

The awesome hilarity is difficult to put into words, but I shall try.

First of all, entertainment culture was being pelted with songs from such wonders as New Kids on the Block, The Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, and 98 Degrees. And it was about time someone made fun of that crap, and, interestingly enough, it was MTV who did so.

On February 21, 2000, MTV changed my world forever with their first made-for-TV movie, 2gether: The Original Movie…95 minutes of pure genius crafted from the hands of Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn, and Nigel Dick. Thankfully we  have made technological strides since 2000, so I was able to rewatch 2gether, for the first time in probably 12 years, thanks to some internet pirate who uploaded it into 9 parts on YouTube. Not to disclose any SPOILERS (Alert!), but the plot essentially consists of thus: Bob Buss, manager of the really awesome band, Whoah!, gets fired. He decides to find a star. He is promised the opening act slot of a Whoah! performance if he assembles a boy band. Boy band is assembled. Whoah! is caught lip-syncing. 2gether becomes the newest really awesome boy band.

The plot plays second fiddle to the ridiculous script and fulfilled stereotypes throughout. Here are some sweet GIFs (mostly of my own creation) and photos devoted to each band member:

Jerry O’Keefe, “The Heartthrob”

As portrayed by Evan Farmer

Chad Linus, “The Shy One”

As portrayed by Noah Bastian

Doug Linus, “The Older Brother”

As portrayed by Kevin Farley

Jason ‘Q.T.’ McKnight, “The Cute One”

As portrayed by Michael Cuccione

Mickey Parke, “The Bad Boy”

As portrayed by Alex Solowitz

And for my favorite moments, which I have immortalized forever with grainy screenshots:

“I heart you.”

“I had braces when I was 14, but I could always use them again!”

“I guess now QT’s like Michael and the rest of us are like Jermaine and Tito.But I have this theory that Jermaine was way more important in the Jackson 5 because who invented the moon walk? Jermaine! Who sang thriller? Jermaine! Who married Lisa Marie? It was Jermaine!”

“I have this dream that I don’t tell many people about, and that’s to own a sea-doo, and I’m gonna get one because I plan to make a buttload of money with this.”

Anyyyywayyy. In an effort to not spend 24 hours posting 2gether paraphernalia, I’ll leave it to this:

a. I have been seeing lots of rumors floating around on the internet that there is a 2gether reunion coming up in May. This is amazesauce…except the band won’t be complete.

b. Because on a serious note, RIP Michael Cuccione. QT was the best! I may  have had an undying love for Noah Bastian, but I still dug QT’s boyish good looks and charm. He’ll be sorely missed in the event of a reunion becoming a reality.

“I heart you.”