Friday, December 21, 2007

Witz Pickz: Holiday Gifts (Part 4 in the series)

I didn't think I was gonna have to do this, I really didn't. I thought that we were all set after my brief aside in a previous post. I thought the Star Registry post would certainly get the message across. But now I have to talk about how nobody, really, truly, deeply, NOBODY wants you to give a gift or donation "In Your Name." Nobody.

And yet I've now been given "A Donation towards Fighting ____" in my name. The blank means it's my choice, I can choose from all sorts of things, like Cancer, AIDS, Diabetes, Parkinson's, etc. , but I find the phrasing a little poor. While those diseases are obvious options, I think I'd feel much better about the whole thing if I could write in an answer. Sure, my $50 isn't going to be much in the research of AIDS, but my $50 would probably go a long way in fighting My Upstairs Neighbor Who Files Noise Complaints Against Me. Do you have any idea how much silly string, shaving cream, toilet paper, M-80's, raw fish, and duplicate keys that could buy? That's a battle I could win with a $50 donation in my name. Slip a landlord fifty bucks and you can have any noisy pet or baby in your building "escape." OR BETTER YET, slip a landlord fifty bucks, and you can have that cute as hell raccoon that's been rooting through the garbage outside INSIDE the building. I could also get down with freaking out people by giving, "A Donation Towards Fighting The Unseen Invaders or Those Who Come In Our Sleep, or The South." All because of poor phrasing and a selfish gift.

I mean, the other thing a lot of people say casually is "A Donation to Support ____." Meaning to support research of, but a lot of people don't say that. So there's the obviously issue of not wanting to SUPPORT any of those diseases. HOWEVER, like with the Star Registry, I think this provides an important window of misuse. While I don't ever want to receive a "donation in my name" to a foundation, I would love to give somebody a "Donation that goes to Support Cancer" in their name. Get that one on the books-- that kid LOVES cancer and HATES children! That would be amusing.

Reiteration: If you want to donate money to a charity of your choice, do so-- I fully support it. But don't use Christmas as an excuse to get the satisfaction of giving that gift PLUS the satisfaction of giving ME a "gift" to feel good about yourself. I don't get to feel good about the gift YOU gave, and if anyone comes up to me and says "Thank you for helping fight diabetes," I'm going to look sheepish and say "that wasn't actually me...". It's also like a vote of no confidence in me. If you think I'm a good person and I am smart with my money and help others, give me money and we'll see if I give some to charity. By giving me the donation gift, you're saying, "I want to give you money, but I don't trust you to spend it towards the improving our world." It's insulting. I'm all for giving to worthy causes, but that doesn't mean I want to do it for me.


That's all I'll say about that. In case you need to get a last minute gift, or in case you get an itunes gift card for Christmas (I am so so so against itunes. Get your mp3's elsewhere--,, AMAZON.COM now has a huge selection, or just download them or buy the real CD. Itunes limits the number of computers you can have it on, limits the way you are able to manipulate the file, you can only burn it to a CD through itunes, and from what I've heard, you can only burn it to CD a certain number of times. Good thing ipods replaced mix CD's-- itunes sucks) here is my TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2007. These are not necessarily the BEST ALBUMS of 2007, they are just my TOP ALBUMS of the year, and they probably will have a bit more longevity in my music library than, say, "Caribou" or "Film School."

10) Blue Scholars - Bayani
9) Brother Ali - The Undisputed Truth
8) Smoke or Fire - This Sinking Ship
7) The Flatliners - The Great Awake
6) Eddie Veder - Into the Wild Soundtrack
5) Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
4) Gogol Bordello - Super Taranta!
3) Parts & Labor - Mapmaker
2) Wyclef Jean - The Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant
1) Chuck Ragan - Feast or Famine

So a more eclectic mix and definitely some genres you wouldn't expect, namely punk (Smoke or Fire and The Flatliners), but within the punk genre, these two albums are tremendous and catchy and filled with good instrumental work and vocals. The Blue Scholars album might be getting more credit than it's worth because I'm a big fan and they are from Seattle where I lived until recently, but the album is packed with great beats, socially conscious rhymes and I want you people to download them and check em out. Brother Ali rounds out the indie hip-hop, and Wyclef Jean, although recent, put out a near perfect pop-hip-hop effort. Taking cues from Santana, each song features another famous artist, but maintains the Wyclef feel and sticks to the theme of the album. There are so many well constructed and catchy as hell songs that it gets #2. Eddie Veder's album is hypnotizing and while not a major departure from Pearl Jam, it's very well done, especially in context with the film. Beirut is crazy and drunken sounding, but that only adds to the complexity and bumped Bright Eyes' Cassadaga off the list because there are about four or five songs on Cassadaga that I can't stand even while the others are brilliant. Gogol Bordello is infectious gypsy punk (but not enough punk to fall under punk) with pretty straightforward lyrics and tons of creativity. Parts & Labor is my wild card pick with their insanely new take on an old genre, and Chuck Ragan wins for having the absolute best folk/punk album I've heard in years. Each song is simple, but deep, with amazingly raw vocals and heart. I can see myself listening to the album in ten years, whereas something like The Shepherd's Dog or Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga are probably temporary. Also, somebody needs to tell The Arcade Fire to write some bridges and content-- they are almost exclusively intros and outros. I didn't hear all of In Rainbows so I left it off the list. Here's a list of some other albums worth checking out that you might not have heard of and some songs that deserve mention even though their full albums didn't make the grade:

Bruce Springsteen -- Radio Nowhere
Kate Nash -- Foundations
Just Jack - Stars In Their Eyes
Band of Horses - Is There A Ghost (and I probably would put this album on the top 10 if I'd heard it enough)
Tegan & Sara - Back in Your Head
Matchbox Twenty - How Far We've Come (Yep!)
Jay Z - Roc Boys

Other Bands:
The View - Hats Off to the Buskers
Gentleman Auction House - The Rules Were Handed Down EP (2006)
Against Me! - New Wave
Two Gallants - The Fairwell of Scenery
Deadly Syndrome - The Ortolan

Happy Birthday today to My Friend With A Pool and Zak Jazz!

My Drop In the Bucket Cured Cancer,

P.S. I would definitely donate money to FACE AIDS, primarily because I don't know if I'm fighting AIDS or if I'm supporting AIDS of the Face. That is one organization with an identity crisis. (Shout out to C-Murda)

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