Tag Archives: Tempe

Treasure Mammal – Missed Connections

treasuremammal

I first met Abe from Treasure Mammal around 2002-2003 and briefly lived with him at a house known for late night pool parties in Tempe, Arizona. Before he had started Treasure Mammal, he had been in a number of more conventional and “serious” indie rock bands. Despite being a multi-talented and gifted musician, he probably found standard indie rock fare to be a rather stifling and boring endeavor. He was always the life of the party and someone with Four-Loko tier levels of energy, and so Treasure Mammal turned out to be the perfect creative outlet for him. Anyway, I didn’t intend for this to sound like an obituary and am happy to observe that 15 years later, Treasure Mammal is still around, even as a zillion other Phoenix bands have come and gone.

Treasure Mammal has always differed from other indie “fun” or “humor” bands in that usually these types of groups use theatrics, costumes and funny gimmicks as a substitute for musical ability. In Treasure Mammal’s case though, Abe is actually a very skilled and accomplished musician, who just so happens to prefer to let loose and engage in this kind of wild chicanery. Another thing which distinguishes Treasure Mammal from similar bands was the use of top quality recording and production. While most people would have been content to throw some crap together and record it on 4 track, Treasure Mammal worked on their releases with some of the top recording engineers in the valley (Mike Hissong, Ryan Breen, etc.) Nowadays, almost anyone can make a near radio quality recording (production-wise anyway) with the software available, but Treasure Mammal was insisting on the very best studio production even 15 years ago.

Over the years, Treasure Mammal has had a knack for capitalizing on faddish catch phrases as they become part of the popular lexicon, quickly turning them into songs while their usage is still fairly prominent among the public. Examples of this are Best Friends Forever, Spring Break, and Real TalkThe most recent example of this is the jam, Missed Connections, (from the 2015 album I will Cut You With My EBT Card) which appears to be  a musical satirization of  the kinds of bizarre messages one might frequently see in the Missed Connections section of Craigslist…and it’s epic.

Seriously, this track is awesome.  It combines subtle, ironic humor with an excellent and catchy  pop song. The chorus, where the female vocals kick in (featuring singer Lonna Kelley,)  channels its inner Olivia Newton John in the sense that it is simply magical. The style of the song blends 80s synthpop with avant garde spoken word.  Though it isn’t meant to be taken seriously,  Missed Connections  could be interpreted as a social commentary on the empty desperation that animates these kinds of classified ads.  I assume most people read these ads for amusement, but what about the ones that write them… and do so earnestly, without even a hint of trolling or irony? Who are they? What do they look like? What kind of low point are they at in their lives? There’s something deeper about contemporary society and atomization in this super fun time tune, whether anyone cares or not.

Like many of Treasure Mammal’s previous songs, one would easily envision this becoming a viral, chart topping hit. It’s one of those songs where you tragically muse to yourself, “I can’t believe that dumbass Travie McCoy ‘I wanna be a Billionaire’ song managed to become popular, and yet this crown jewel of a jam isn’t.”

 

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School of Hard Rocks

When I was in 5th grade, I was attending school in Chandler, Arizona. The school was called Kyrene de la Paloma, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My teacher was super nice and funny, and he even had the same birthday as me!

I was even head over heels for this dame named Renee, who lived down the block from me, and was nice enough to give me the time of day outside of class. I also had a good little group of friends that I palled around with a bunch. My best friend of the group was Sean. His mother was British, but he didn’t have any accent. She would always let us rent rated R movies from the store. Its how I first saw Evil Dead and The Road Warrior.

During that year, my family moved from Chandler to Tempe, and I hated it. I remember crying when they first told me, because I knew I wouldn’t see Renee again.

Tempe itself, and the new house, weren’t bad at all, it was the school though, that was the pits. The kids were different, the teachers were different, the school lunch smelled funny, it was dreadful to me. It was also an older school, made in the 50s or 60s, and to me, that was bad. I was just coming from a school that was only built a year ago, and all my friends and teachers I liked. Most of the hallways were indoors, so you didn’t have to go outside for classes, except PE.

This new school also had a lot more black kids, which I wasn’t used to. I remember trying to buddy up a couple of them by talking about TV shows like Good Times or That’s My Momma. They seemed to dig that about me I think.

The final straw though, was when I was in class, doing an assignment about pronouns. I had turned in my paper, feeling good about myself because we had already learned pronouns at my last school.

I got my paper back, with an F. I was shocked, to the point where I asked the teacher, in front of the whole class, why did I get an F?

The teacher gave me an F for using the context of “her” and “she” with the name Sam. I had just came from a school where the only classmate I knew named Sam was a girl. How dare this teacher not give me the benefit of the doubt, or at least acknowledge that Sam can be a girl or boys name?!?!

I plead my case, and I think any good teacher would recognize that I was using the proper pronouns, despite the sex of the person in question. But she was a hard ass, and refused to change my grade.

I came home that night, explaining this to my parents. I don’t recall what transpired after this incident, but not long after, the family was moving again, this time to Phoenix. I know I often complained and whined about the school, the teachers, and not making friends. So I must have forced their hand.

It was a big mistake really though, because ever since then, I have always felt most comfortable while in Tempe, and I always wanna live there.

I still pass by the house often, off of Hardy and University, wondering who lives there now, and how I wish I still did.

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Surviving Tempe

A post-apocalyptic ghost town. That’s what Mill Ave seems to resemble these days as I stroll down it, making my routine stops to the few remaining establishments that I have any remote interest in (Old Town Books, Slices, and Mojo Frozen Yogurt.) Vacant retail spaces once occupied by monolithic chain stores like The Gap, Borders, Abercrombie, and (most recently) American Apparel, remain dormant…waiting for the next sucker to brave the astronomical rent prices to get a piece of that coveted “college kid” demographic.

I don’t have quite the fond memories that others share of the so called “good old days of Mill Ave,” which may be because when I started hanging out there it was 1997 and 1998, and the area had already begun it’s decline. In fact, during those days, going to Mill Ave was a totally depressing experience for me. It was flooded with those annoying ghetto street racers, bumping Power 92.3 in their lowered Honda CRX’s and modified Mitsubishi Eclipses. Not that I don’t have an appreciation for automobile racing(I’m a bit a crazy driver myself,) but only if we’re talking about 60′s muscle cars, grand prix, or Steve McQueen. Indeed, not some quasi-horde of mid 90′s riff raff wearing those “Boss” T shirts(the ones with huge writing on them) or rocking Tommy Hilfiger jackets and speaking in ebonic tongues. Though I will confess to owning two pieces of Tommy Hilfiger clothing in 1997 which were purchased solely for the purpose of attracting normal girls and repelling the sort of mousy, alternative, train wreck chicks that would have mistaken me for one of their own at the time.

In the spring of 1998 I used to wander down mill ave nightly, handing out crappy 4 track cassette tapes to unsuspecting victims. I always hear people talk about Long Wongs, Gibson’s, Gin Blossoms and Dead Hot Workshop as the epitome of a lost golden era of Tempe. In my mind though, the Tempe I remember, while it certainly included those elements(I saw Buck O’ Nine at Gibson’s and MXPX at the Electric Ballroom in 1997) the ambiance was much more gangster, machismo, and hip hop oriented than what one would have expected on an episode of “Party of Five” or Melrose Place Soundtrack. I recall long lines of hoochies and thugs stretched outside Club 411. The scene was thriving though. And most importantly, the things you were looking for could be found if you knew where to go and could filter out all the nattering nabobs of negativism.

Speaking of negativity, when will they finally get around to doing something about the aggressive bums? Downtown Tempe has always seemed to be a magnet for the most ungrateful and obnoxious homeless people I have ever encountered. Avoiding eye contact, harassment, and annoying interaction with Mill Ave homeless people is an integral part of the Tempe experience. A friend of mine once joked that avoiding the bums on mill was likened to the game “Plinko” from The Price of Right. I occasionally entertain fantasies of “The Scoops” from Soylent Green coming and swooping them all up to be taken away to some waste management facility. Not that it’s cool to bag on the homeless, but let’s face it, the “Mill Ave Street kids” are not boat people from Cambodia or South Vietnam. They’re mostly lazy underachievers from suburban homes in the East Valley.

I did have some interesting times in Tempe. I used to play Tekken at Sweet Daddy’s Arcade(where Fascinations adult store is now?) on their big screen version. One time I played against a homeless dude who smelled so bad that I let him win and take over the machine just to get away from him. There is no denying that there used to be a plethora of live music clubs, and they were quite good. Electric Ballroom, Gibson’s and Nita’s Hideaway were my own personal favorites.

Tempe has been poised to make a comeback for a few years now, which seems to have been rudely interrupted by the real estate crash. The ruins of an unfinished condo tower loom high overhead, the developer of which committed suicide. Slowly, there have been interesting developments in Tempe. The Valley Art Theater is back in full swing, and the new Madcap Theaters venue replaced the old Harkins and shows cool vintage and campy films. The Fixx Coffee bar opened up where an internet cafe used to be. All the ghetto clubs have mostly been replaced by sexified pop music bars for the Sponge Bob Squarepants and Teletubbies generation. The college douchebags in their brodozers are still around, but as long as ASU is there, they will be too. Artists are slowly creeping back into the city, since word is getting out that you can sell on the street. I’m not into the whole “Tempe vs. Phoenix” rivalry. I love Phoenix and Downtown Scottsdale as well. It would be great to see Tempe complete its transformation from Mad Max style bartertown and 90′s Hippie wasteland to a 21st century, cosmopolitan art destination. Ready, set, go.


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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Tempe Girls vs. Scottsdale Girls

The difference between Scottsdale girls and Tempe girls is that Scottsdale girls are interested in money, brand names and image. They tend not to give you the time of day unless you can fulfill their expectations in these areas, which is not to say that they have good taste as far as these things go(some “gaud awful” stuff appeals to them as money rarely equates to good taste… with the atrocious downtown Scottsdale condo architecture being a perfect example) Tempe girls usually come from traumatic backgrounds and are merely interested in love and attention. In a way they care about image too, but much less so and having what would be considered a quality image(stable job, grooming habits, cool clothes, reasonably intelligent etc) actually works against you. With Tempe girls, you basically can be some heavily tattooed doofus slob who just drunkenly stumbles into them and mumbles some shit…and odds are you can have your way with them for an evening or two(a long term Tempe relationship is like 2 months, average is a couple weeks.) This may seem like it would be more advantageous to go for Tempe girls, but it can be frustrating since if you’re a guy who does care even slightly about intellect, image, goals etc….these things will not benefit you in your pursuit of said girls, and you will likely frequently lose out on these girls to many drunken, ugly, listless, worthless, morons. You will short every circuit in your body trying to compute how it happened and what adaptations will be required for future attempts. Such thoughts are futile. If you want to score a make out sesh with a Tempe girl, just say “Hey, ladies… I’m a tattoo artist, my band’s playing at Yucca Tap Room, sometimes I bartend at the Rogue and oh I’ve got some pills.” It doesn’t even matter if none of these things are true as the relationship will likely be over before she finds out, and lying about it makes you into a scumbag which will push you even further into the demographic of the Tempe girl, thus opening up all sorts of new opportunities with her friends and acquaintances.

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