hello.column #6 — Local Music Scene


How do you find good local music? This week Mike and Greg discuss their opinions and hesitations on local music scenes.

Mike: So how interested are you typically in local music?

Greg: I would like to be more so, but right now I couldn’t name a single local KC band, and maybe two Lawrence bands… When I was in Manhattan, I knew of the UNIT, but that was about it. I’d really like to find out more about the local scene, but it’s hard to do that without more people to do it with- know what I mean?

Although I did go see a local guy at a couple weeks ago- and he was amazing. Sounded like Dylan. So I’d really like to get more into local music. How about you?

Mike: Sometimes i just feel put off by it. I want to be part of it, but dont really enjoy seeing local bands that much because I dont know much about it, or how to find good ones, and also I like a band that has their sound more defined.

I just dont have my finger on the pulse that much. I also think there might be some resentment because, as a musician, I can never break into it very easily and still feel I am just as good as some of the people who are in it. If not better.

Greg: Yeah- I agree completely. It has a lot more social implications like you say, compared to just listening to an album… or even an indie group from some other city.

Mike: Maybe thats it. I just get frustrated when people talk about their local music scenes and perhaps its because being from Kansas City and living in DC they arent particularly known for that, compared to or Portland or Seattle or New York etc., but I find my self not caring, even when I think I should. I would like to know where to find these underground about to break bands.

Greg: That’s funny- I always thought that feeling of resentment was just me.

Mike: I think its normal. I always said that our band was the best band i knew that didnt get many gigs… and really it was because we didn’t try hard enough, but on another level, its often narrowed down too much in smaller music cities like KC or Lawrence.

If you want to play rock, you play the rock clubs and local bars, jazz in the jazz clubs, folk in the coffee shops…but never the two shall ever meet. We were never quite true jazz to play at a type place, let alone a dinner crowd like at nor would I really want to anyway. But we never quite fit in with the open mic route at the or other bars. And now, wanting to be in a rock band, I find it difficult to be something diverse.

No matter what type of music I like to play, I feel its hard to find a niche when there isn’t much creativity in the local scene to allow for that. I never really have liked the local bands I have seen.

Greg: Totally… that’s why places like and are so cool because they will host a huge variety of groups. Do you know anything about in KC? I’ve heard it’s a pretty decent place.

Mike: I just recently heard about it, but know little about it…just the name I think…where is it?

Greg: In a couple of weeks, Robert Moore is hosting a -fest there… two evenings, eight bands. Luckily I know someone who wants to go, so I’m hoping to hear some good local music. I’m pretty sure in Westport somewhere.

Mike: Sounds cool…that show is probably a good way to find good music, Sonic Spectrum that is.

Greg: Yeah, KC is lucky that is willing to play that show.

Mike: Yeah…there is little like that in KC. It’s a good resource for music. I need to start listening.

So what do you think? Email us at

Coming up NEXT WEEK: Mike, Greg and Aryn become educated by hundred dollar computers!

hello.column #5 — Politik


John Edwards and Barrack Obama in 2008? Getting off foreign oil helps our national security, AND saves the environment? Bush supports new hybrid technologies and math and science education? This week Mike and Greg discuss their opinions and hesitations on upcoming political issues.

Mike: I love the talk show Meet the Press. Tim Russert is a great interviewer, and one of my favourites in the business. I even listen to episodes in podcast form. I am relistening to a recent one with John Edwards

Greg: Let’s see- John Edwards?

Mike: Yep. It’s a pretty interesting 2nd half of the podcast.

Greg: I watched the tail end of that interview, so I’ll have to go back and listen. Edwards reminds me of JFK. I love to hear him speak- kind of idealistic. I’m rooting for an Edwards/Obama 2008 ticket.

Mike: Yes. I saw the very end yesterday as well and wanted to hear the full interview. That would be a great presidential ticket. Never thought of that matchup but it makes perfect sense. Maybe more so than John Kerry and Edwards.

Greg: I think they (Obama and Edwards) share a similar tone and message that could really redefine the Democrats; refocus on honesty and social justice.

Mike: It’s a matchup that is not as alienating as some of the other moderate democrats because social justice, I think, is a good angle to approach for the democrats. Edwards and Obama have so much to offer in that aspect to help the Americans w\ education, farm aid, healthcare and re-emphasize the domestic issues issues that are currently being ignored. However their weaknesses will be perceived as foreign diplomacy but then that has been Bush’s as well.

Greg: Well, Clinton didn’t have much foreign experience either being a governor… Obama has been going to Iraq.

Mike: And I thought Clinton was great at foreign diplomacy, especially his Middle East progress (which has since gone to hell under new leaderships).

Greg: I think they can probably mount a successful foreign policy bid by emphasizing energy independence and education… They’re domestic issues that have international effects. People are freaked out about India and China, so a big push for math and science education domestically could go a long way with voters. And energy independence is somewhat of a cure-all. According to Thomas Friedman at least. But yeah, I agree. Clinton has the magic skills, man…all around. It’s fascinating to watch him redefine himself as a humanitarian… he’d be a perfect secretary of state.

Mike: I agree. He should run Hillary’s staff when she runs. What is interesting about ditching foreign oil, was once seen as a way to get more money for domestic oil companies…Now it is seen as a terror issue of security… while energy efficient cars are now seen as a way to decrease our dependence on oil for security and cost while bush doesn’t really speak about how it helps our environment…its an interesting approach.

Greg: I think the Geo-Green approach is just dying for someone to embrace it… I mean it’s a win win situation political. Strong on terrorism, strong for the domestic economy, strong on the environment. I’d just love to see someone come out with a nationwide challenge- get people excited about this stuff; create a huge program to help develop new technologies, support people going into engineering careers that will develop technologies for this new economy. Basically an entire political platform could be built off of that.

Mike: It’s funny that Jimmy Carter was so right on about this 25 YEARS AGO!

Greg: I know. Too bad we didn’t do it then. Did he have the terrorism viewpoint with energy independance?

Mike: I think he did during the energy crisis and during the Intifada and the Iran stuff…he saw our involvement and over-consumption of oil as a potential threat.

He also has been a great diplomat and humanitarian since his presidency, but relatively hated during his time because of his handling of the problems he inherited from the Nixon\Ford era. He and Clinton just got short ends of sticks historically for their legacies because of Republican opposition. (and sexy scandals)

It would really be amazing to see a mass movement towards technology and science as a means to a better global society…I just kinda worry about the capitalist ethic getting in the way of solid progress. It’s great for those who can afford it and it makes these companies money which will fuel economic growth, but what happens to everyone else? Does it further stratify the socio-economic gap or will new innovations make these things more affordable to mass society?

It’s hard to phase out old automobiles for example for hybrid technology when there are so many who will not be able to afford to make the jump.

Greg: That’s a good point, but on the flipside, I would argue that as more educational opportunities are created for people to go into math and science, then we bring more people who might otherwise not have gone to college into the middle class where they can afford the new cars. Of course- things never quite work as easy as that, or as simply.

Mike: I definitely agree… Education and math and science in particular will help in so many ways to better our society and help people move into the middle class…this is something that will be vulnerable though depending on what type of administration is in power. Education is something that is such a key, but taxes are always cut for this (as you know)…US wants better education but doesn’t want to help pay for public as a way to help others (hence the school vouchers).

Hopefully Bush’s move will light a fire to help fast track some action on this and change our perception…He is doing to fight terror, but really it helps the economy and social issues too…very different approach, and strange coming from the Bush administration, but ultimately good. Its hurts my head to agree with Bush on something for once. His motives are different but, it still works. If he pulls it off. Unless the capitalist Repub bastards f- it up for us.

So what do you think? Email us at hellocolumn@hellocomein.com

Coming up NEXT WEEK: Mike & Greg take a crack at the unwieldy world of local music.

mentos and diet coke…explodes at NPR!

Okay…GREAT NPR story from yesterday. And a chance for me to share some behind the scenes action…

Mentos and Coke
Mentos and Coke
So yesterday was a strange but amazing day at work. I had just gotten back from watching a Bob Boilen film about the ‘Chairs of NPR’ from 1989 that depicted the ergonomic plights of a low budget workplace. I think this brilliantly funny and quirky documentary depicting people’s work chairs in the thriftier days of NPR put everyone in a cheerful mood around the building. Anyway, I get back to my desk and shortly Sue calls saying she has arrived. I gather a few things and go to the 5th floor elevator to meet her in Chinatown.

I’m caught offguard when the door reopens on the 2nd floor to a camera carrying Bob accompanied by ATC host Michele Noris, Science desk correspondant David Kastenbaum and a few other ATC producers. Bob immediately starts questioning my knowledge of the web videos floating around of people putting mentos into 2 liter bottles of coke. Supposedly there is a chemical reaction that when adding a certain amount of mentos to a bottle of warm carbonated beverage (coca cola) causing a huge geyser.

The weird thing is the mentos for the most part do not disintegrate completely. You can imagine what that is doing to your stomach. Though I’d seen it previously before that, I had just been forwarded one that morning by someone here at work. The videos are pretty cool actually.

People were abuzz with interest for this, from the webteam and blogteam all the way to All Things Considered In true-NPR fashion, they decided to see for themselves if it actually worked. Bob told me that I was needed to grab questions for Michele at the All Things desk. When I got back outside with copy in hand, I did my short interview on camera for Bob about my perceptions of the science and then along with a handful NPR-staff members from the various departments awaited the explosion on the grass lawn adjacent to the building.

This is when Sue rolls up with her luggage in tow, wondering no doubt ‘what the hell is going on here?’ Just as soon as I explained what was going on, the first 12-15 foot geyser erupted from the bottle. Amidst a fair amount of cheers and woots from the captive NPR audience and a few random bystanders wonder what this liberal media was doing this time, Michele interviewed David about what is happening. They tried it several times with various sodas and even M&Ms. This is HARD hitting news here folks. Anyway, I felt that was a great introduction for Sue to the NPR. This might be the best place to work EVER.

Well here is how the final story turned out…

here is more from the NPR blog…

fire is old technology…

Like many people, I have a idealistic view of some Golden Age where everyone ate apple pie and left their doors unlocked at night while they gathered around the radio with their children. Too many sick days watching Leave it to Beaver I guess. Anyway I have developed a love for many a things retro including a new obsession: old radio plays.

While developing some ideas w\ Aryn & Greg (while killing time at work) I stumbled upon this resource.

Some of these are so bad they are amazing. It is an interesting form of entertainment. Sound effects and dialogue drive these mysteries and sci fi heroics and some of it is actually great story telling. If not overly quaint. We are thinking of developing a story that can be adapted to this awesome and oft forgotten format. If I had a radio and a fireplace I certainly would listen to this stuff all night.

So gather your surrogate family and friends, pop in a DVD of a fire on your 50 inch plasma telly, plug in your iPod full of classic radio play mp3s and listen to some great adventures.

hello.column #4 — Reviewing Reviewers


This week Mike and Greg and Aryn chat about the purpose of critics of art and media. Why do we need them? Why do they sometimes come off as angry? Read on as we review the reviewers…

Mike: Okay, so Aryn inspired me to try something for next week’s Hello.Column… I read this review and was amazed how bad of a review they gave it. It seems a general trend in rock critics is the ‘impress me now’ mentality…that is, they are always unimpressed and a bit cynical toward many a records, and oft they change their tone later on when its deemed a classic.

Now its all subjective, so why would someone take the time to write a bad review of a band they already know they dont like? Why do we write reviews in the first place? Its a very strange practice and who is it really serving? Our own tastes? Or the consumer? I find its much harder to write a good review than rant on and on about all the bad things we find. It’s easy to find negatives, but what are the positives.

First: look at the above review. What are your thoughts? Second: relisten to album. Third: what do you think? Here are some other tidbits and links of reviews.

Greg: Good call. A similar discussion was on Talk of the Nation a couple weeks ago concerning movie critics. It evolves into a general discussion on the purpose of criticism, check it out, really good.

Mike: Good call… I knew I had heard a discussion similar recently… So what do we think the point of criticism is, first of all…? Let’s start there.

Aryn: Good call.. (enter laugh track) Reviews are an interesting beast. Theoretically I believe that they exist to assist the consumer to whiddle down their infinite choices to something that they will enjoy. We all have reviews that we read, some we heed, some not so much. It doesnt even have to be a good review to grab someones interest. I do enjoy seeing/hearing something simply riding on the fact that it was regarded as trash by critics.

But it does seem a little self-defeating to review something with a heavy pre-bias, but Its possible that this cannot be avoided. You can take the “sophmore slump” phenomenon that seems to curse new bands. Their first record is heralded as the “saviours of rock” , and then they have to go back to the studio and do it all over again, but this time with a million more eyes/ears watching/listening. It is almost impossible to have an opinion on something without referencing the previous works of an artist, or just the previous things that you have listened to.

Greg: My first thought is that critics are exposed to a large volume of the particular form (movies, music, books, etc), which gives them the unique perspective to make knowledgeable judgements. So critics are an easy way to gain perspective.

Mike: Here is another example of negative reviewing by coming in w\ pre-meditative ideas and expectations.

I think its hard to go into a review or listening to a record or seeing a film or reading a book these days without having a preconception of what you want it to be like. Our opinions are now clouded and based on our past experiences and expectations of other music (or whatever media\art reviewed) but also we are inundated w\ other people’s opinions on the internet, television, radio, magazines and any other niche medium. We are also spoiled by others opinions before we even get to make our own judgements.

Are we willing to even try to give something a second chance? Do we ‘waffle’ when we realize that EVERYONE else likes it. I have often tried to force myself to like a piece of music that everyone is going nuts over when I just dont dig it. I wonder, like I did with the Artic Monkeys’ press orgy, if I am missing something.

So is a critic looking out for us, the consumer, who spends hard earned cash on this stuff? Or are they there to be the judge and jury on all things art for a greater good? It’s so subjective that there are people I trust and others I don’t. I know politically I will ALWAYS disagree w\ a Bill O’Reiley type, while with the Daily Show-mentality, I will seemingly always agree with. so are critics of art, the ones who get to set the bar of polar extremes…love it or hate it, but decide based on their review? It seems people lack perspective and have short term memory loss when it comes to reviewing particular things… ‘the GREATEST EVER’… ‘WORST EVER’… ‘weak’… ‘uninspired compared to the last GEM’ etc etc…

Aryn: That’s why I only listen to classical music out of my Parlophone coin-operated phonograph. Let those rock critic review this music. They can’t! Its already been deemed “classic”.

Mike: So if a certain album is considered a classic, how hard is it to approach listening to the followup without that tainting your expectations?

Aryn: I think its impossible.. but the good ones will shine through, regardless.

Mike: In the Flaming Lips case they are known for having a really great album followed by one that is not as good. Are people expecting too much for having every album blow them away? I thought the Soft Bulletin was good, but not as good as Yoshimi which is quite the opposite of many people’s opinions. In turn I equally like the new album but for different reasons.

As a consumer\critic I think we are looking to bands to recreate the exact thing we love about the band, but then when they do its lambasted as well. Its like saying ‘take a leap, but not too far or I will feel uneasy.’ Look at Kid A compared to OK Computer…to me its a great follow up and I think maybe even better than the former…but thats not what most think. The majority reaction said Kid A was a failure and too much of a departure. It made us feel uneasy because it wasnt like the others. But isn’t that what we want?

Aryn: We want to be entertained. Which usually means that we want something familiar, but still unexpected. As musicians and artists age and get better and more used to what they are doing, their output will change and grow. In many ways I am glad that Kid A was a change from OK Computer, both being fantastic albums, but you can hear the shift in mentality between the two records, so that by the time their latest came out (Hail to the Thief) you can get a great mixture of the two sounds.

Mike: Aren’t you glad that Thom Yorke evolved from this… to this? I am. We have to allow for musicians to take a chance to reinvent and follow up. It bothers me when critics do not understand that not every effort attempts to be a classic. Sometimes that status is thrust upon it unfairly. Plus who is to say what is the aspect that makes a band so great. I guess this is where the critic comes in w\ some perspective of listening SO much.

But I have found that I often get to the point where I hear so much that i dont want to listen anymore…it gets watered down. I hear ever tiny influence and chord change and lyric and arrangement in such detail that its hard for me to understand why critics get so worked up about some groups good or bad.

Does having too much perspective allow us to lose our ability to just listen? I would love to go back and rewatch starwars or hear Abbey Road for the first time and see what I think.

Aryn: Does our perspective allow us to lose our ability to just listen? I say no. It enhances it. Without having a good ear for whatever it is you are listening to you lose a lot from the music. Having that perspective allows you to hear the little jokes, and subleties of the recording. I still can go back and listen to Abbey Road and enjoy the hell out of it because it IS one of those bad ass albums.

Or it could be changing the way that you listen to something freshens the response from it. I had always listened to it on CD form , and when I finally got a record player and played it on vinyl I finally understood the way that it was meant to be listened to. The build right before the end of the first side is fantastic, and the way that it forces you to stop and flip the record to hear the pleasant “morning after madness ” sound of side B… Truly amazing.

Greg: Come to think of it, I’ve never heard Abbey Road on vinyl. Usually I think people who praise the subtle superiority of vinyl are full of shit, but what you’re describing sounds cool… What song ends the first side?

I think in the end, critics are neither good nor bad. And perspective, too, is a double edged sword. I think just because a critic doesn’t like something doesn’t mean it’s bad… When dealing with criticism it’s easy to confuse originality with quality. The two are totally seperate in my view. Quality is relative to each individual person. Originality is historical and can be analyzed. Pizza Hut’s meat lovers pan pizza is freaking delicious in my mind. But it’s unoriginal cuisine and a lot of people would find it disgusting. Like Aryn said, you sometimes make it a point to watch the movies that critics hate.

Aryn: Ooh you must listen to it.. It was originally made (as all of those old records were) to be released on vinyl, which added the extra time factor for each side’s length. The first side ends with ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ and the second side begins with ‘Here Comes the Sun.’ This little factor, which may sound trivial, is trully lost when it is all put together in one coninuous stream on a compact disc, but can be used beautifully if put into the right hands.

Mike: ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ ends side A of Abbey Road… it builds with that repeated guitar riff and it builds and builds and then suddenly cuts off. Flip side and ‘Here Comes the Sun’ plays… amazing. Vinyl is a great way for some of those records to hear great album programing… Some of my favourite albums have that break somewhere…even many of the albums that were never really released on vinyl originally have that sense of break…its like the common story arc of intro, climax, resolution …and on two sides you can have that twice. Listen to ok computer. Or Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot… its there.

Greg: I know I know. It’s easy to overdue the Radiohead transition music-intellect bullshit discussion. We’ve all had it a million times…. but for your viewing pleasure, more before and after: Before and After

Mike: Very true about overdoing Radiohead conversation. But I still love the song ‘Creep’… Here’s an anecdote: When I was in 6th or 7th grade I bought Pablo Honey for that song and just listened all the time. But then I forgot about that band, and sold that disc along with about seventy other 90s alt rock trash cds like Candlebox and Bush… I missed the Bends completely back then… until someone told me to listen to OK Computer(b\c I recomended Beck’s Mutations)… I was floored. This band got good all of a sudden. Really good. end flashback.

Greg: Where on OK Computer?

Mike: To me I hear the break occuring (at least in my own listening) after ‘Fitter Happier’… I know Aryn just bought it on vinyl and I assume its two records…so what is the last song on side B? That would be where the break would be i think.

Aryn: It is after side B on the two records. Last song is ‘Karma Police’ and side C starts with ‘Electioneering.’ Thats your classic story arc album sequencing.

Mike: I think my anger at bad reviewers has subsided.

So what did you think? Email us at hellocolumn@hellocomein.com

Coming up NEXT WEEK: Mike & Greg once again attempt to speculate about 2008 Presidential election and talk politik.

hello.column # 3 — The Google Behemouth


This week Mike and Greg and Aryn chat about the Google behemouth… Are they the innovators we want them to be, or a collage of bad hype in the eyes of the US Govt?… All this plus a few other random bits!!!

Mike: Much has been reported, speculated, and compiled about Google recently. Especially in terms of their in internet censorship with China and its refusal to hand over information to the US. Not sure what to make of it myself besides just soak it in and learn about intellectual property, Patriot Act information gathering, ethics, blah blah.

Should Google agree to censor the information we or have access to? Should the government have access to the information we seek on the internet (even if it might help people learn how to rid us of ?) What middle ground can be found?

What does everyone else think? Email us at to give answers… we will post people’s opinions soonish.

Some more related links:

Greg: Check it- inside Gmail. Just another reminder that Google will soon be ruling the world.

Mike: I’m loving this though… seems to cut out the middleman of AOL or the others… I use chat with excitement. Its how we all are able to stay in touch. I wish other people would embrace this stuff…especially other friends who seem to disappear. It makes periodical phone conversations less awkward. But yes, Google is taking over the world. One online application at a time.

Greg: Oh without a doubt- I will be fully embracing it. Google has been getting some negative press lately, but I think they’re the most innovative company around these days- and we live in an innovate or die sort of world. A company is only as good as it’s most recent innovation. Or lack thereof.

Mike: The bad press is mostly due to the lack or compliance with the US about Patriot Act investigations. I can agree with their decision for privacy rights for users. I dont really fear that there is some alterior motive for them to withhold acess information and control the universe. People are more skeptical about a forward thinking innovative company than they are about their own government who has far more a controlling influence on info. I’m suprised no one has made that clear.

Greg: I was impressed that they decided not to comply with the government’s request. Every couple of weeks I come across an article about various companies starting to worry about google- AOL is probably worried about Google chat. There’s some talk of google developing an operating system. and the king of all Google rumors has to do with developing a free nation wide wireless high speed network. I guess they’ve been buying up fiber optic pipelines.

The thing I really love about Google is that once a week they have their employees spend the entire day working on a personal project of their choice… fleshing out new ideas and the like. I think that’s how they come up with a lot of these great ideas.

By the way, Thanks for adding me on to your discussion about Good topic because I’ve been thinking quite a bit about them lately. Seems like people love them or hate them.

Did you hear on Morning Edition? As usual, hilarious.

Mike: Its on my queue of things to listen to… I’ve been hooked on the Ricky Gervais podcast these days and I have to test some NPR podcasts…it’s about fashion week right?

I think Microsoft is definitly scared of google (and mozilla) and have changed their business emphasis for development. I see companies like Google or Apple or Pixar (before the Disney buyout) or Toyota and wonder why other companies never took the effort to go that extra mile for design and highly integrated features that are actually useful. They just seem to get it while Ford still has to layoff hundreds of thousands of people and close factories because their stupid oil guzzling trucks cost too damn much.

So now it looks like Google has now joined the other K Streeters by in Washington. Thoughts?

Greg: Hmmm. I’d like to know more about what they’ll be lobbying for. If they are doing this to try to counter some of the power of the telecom giants, as the article briefly says, then this has potential to be a good thing. They will probably need help from lobbyists when they roll out free nation wide wireless internet and Time Warner freaks out :) On the other hand- I halfway feel like we’re witnessing the indie band who’s selling out. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah got too much press too fast. Same goes for Arctic Monkeys. Google is a media darling and I see about a half dozen google articles every day with the latest rumor, stock info, dealings with China, etc. In the end, it’s a business, with the priority of making money… more money.

Aryn: I wonder when Google will have officially turned evil… as large companies tend to do.

Mike: Some people already think they have. For example the initial non-compliance with information sharing.

Aryn: And with the china stuff.

Mike: With the new ideas of online applications to rival Microsoft Office, it looks like online harddrives are coming soon. This is a great innovation that will tie people less to a particular compy but a just any compy w\ internet access…if there was ONLY a place to where this so called interweb would be in the airwaves without all those wires…almost like a WIRELESS society… and for free… make is so google!

Aryn: Is that a quote from somewhere?

Mike: It’s all from my rotten brain.

So what did you think? Email us at

Coming up NEXT WEEK: Mike & Greg speculate about 2008 Presidential election and politik.