Archive for the ‘Self-Indulgence’ category

POPULAR OPINIONS’ 3RD ANNIVERSARY! Or, something…

September 30, 2012

We’re Back-ish

So, it just occurred to me that this week marks three years since I began kicking out the jams right here on Popular Opinions. Of course, the first thing I thought of was earlier this year when Big Boi was given an award commemorating 20 years of Outkast. I love ‘Kast as much as you do, but to give someone a commemorative 20 year award when they’ve been inactive for half of that struck me a bit dubious. Likewise, it’s the same semi-shame I feel whenever Popular Opinions comes up in conversations with others who quickly ask “But you don’t write for that anymore, right?” And while my immediate reaction is to say “NO, HOW DARE YOU?!” I think to myself and realize, they’re kinda right.

Outside the year-end awards last January, this place has been pretty empty. There’s a reason for that as I’m now a full-time writer for a few places, all of which really wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for this site.

So, as we at Popular Opinions enter our FOURTH year, this site’s going to be back on the block. It’s going to be the one-stop shop where you can find my links to my reviews, interviews, and pieces from around the world (wide web) as well as all the personal works I really can’t get money for find an appropriate avenue to put anywhere else.

Thanks for reading my stuff, everybody.

So, always and forever, let’s agree to agree.

Supermarkets – Childhood Memories Review

April 29, 2011

LET'S GO TO THE SUPERMARKET!

Greetings dear reader, perhaps you’ve noticed things being much quieter around here than usual. Yes, April has come and just-about gone with little more than me shilling for my new FREE album A Personal Reference (featuring MAC LETHAL, ALASKA of DEFINITIVE JUX’s HANGAR-18, HOMEBOY SANDMAN, J57 of the BROWN BAG ALL STARS and MORE! NOW AVAILABLE for FREE DOWNLOAD at http://chazkangas.bandcamp.com ) and not much else. Well, although I have been busier these days writing regular pieces for Spectrum Culture and SYFFAL, as well as my first ever piece for COMPLEX, this is largely due to me getting sicker than I’ve ever been in recent weeks. What started as a misdiagnosis after an emergency room visit on Record Store Day resulted in several hospital visits and, to spare you the details, four of my five senses being painfully compromised. I’m just about completely healed now (thanks for asking) but it was quite an awful ordeal. With limited vision and no mobility comes great responsibility I found myself often face down half-conscious with only my memories entertaining me. It’s during this time that I remembered how much I used to absolutely love supermarkets.

The Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket" onesie, for when you absolutely have to show the world your baby has heard some song about why it's bad to bomb poor people or something.

This may just stem from my sheer love of spectacle rearing itself at an early age, but some of my earliest memories are being absolutely floored by the sheer majesty of the supermarket. When you’re three-years-old, your world isn’t a very big place. There’s your house, your front yard, your backyard, the park, school and the supermarket. While there’s no place like home and the park is a fantastic place to run wild and free, neither really preps us for how amazing our worlds were going to become like the supermarket did. Probably our first introduction to technology, I remember getting excited just to sit in the cart as my Mom pushed me through that other-worldly automatic door. How did it know we were coming? It was a door that opened itself! I GOT TO SEE A MINI-MAGIC SHOW EVERY WEEK!

Our market of choice was NewMarket, located just outside Minneapolis in Columbia Heights. I can’t remember the original name (although I recall cool looking cardboard boxes with ‘Country Store Foods’ written in a woodsy font on the sides) but it became NewMarket around 1992 and remained under that name until it was bulldozed around ’98/’99 to make way for an empty patch of debris and weeds for five years until condos were erected there in 2005. I’m somewhat surprised how much I remember of the original store. After you entered, there were the fruits and vegetables, with the two-sided wall of candy in the middle of them. The candy was arranged in a spectrum from spicy to sour, giving me a sense of tremendous pride when I was finally old enough to eat the sour gumbals without tearing-up.

Past the healthy crap and candy were rows-and-rows of typical stuff (food) until you got about 2/3s through the store and took a right. There, my friends, was the L-Shaped newsstand. I was four or five when I started grabbing comics off the rotating rack, starting with Ninja Turtles and eventually graduating to X-Men and Simpson’s. Some weeks I would turn around and partake in the magazines behind me incase there were any spotlight issues of anything on Power Rangers or something relevant to my interests in Mad, Cracked or Video Games Magazine. My final years there saw my first forays into actively following music journalism, namely taking a sharp eye to issues of Hit Parader, Guitar World and Circus, looking for foldout posters of whatever band’s logo I liked that week.

The Blood-Pressure Machine: Look at how much fun he's having! LOOK AT HIM!

But as fun as reading was/is, nothing at that young age compared to the endless entertainment provided by the sit-down Blood-Pressure Machine. We all recall being too young to really do anything when we would go to the drug store with our Dad and see him have all the fun, but once the supermarket pharmacy put that blood-pressure machine next to the comic books, the world became a much cooler place. Now, once a week, I could sit in a comfy chair, press some awesome-sounding buttons, have a robot squeeze my arm, and be told a whole bunch of numbers that I couldn’t begin to understand! For all the birthday parties I had at arcades or lazer tags, I wonder why I didn’t just have a bunch of friends follow me to the pharmacy and power-up? Probably because it would have set an unfair standard for the rest of our lives that no other party could possibly live up to.

After having technology blow me away, my mother would roll through with the cart and we would go to the check out. I’d help load the food on to the conveyer belt, help bag it and then the person behind the counter would give me a Dum-Dum sucker. If the fates were with me, it would be root beer. Looking back on it, the supermarket was the only destination that combined my love of robots, comics and candy. Before there was the internet, this was the only wonderland where I could have such a non-stop entertainment fix. Years later I worked at the Supermarket that ran NewMarket out of business, and it was the most miserable occupation I’ve ever had. Only the good die young.

We give Supermarkets a Five Out of Five

So until next time…LET’S AGREE TO AGREE!

Chaz Kangas’ FREE album ‘A Personal Reference’ is OUT NOW! DOWNLOAD HERE!

April 1, 2011

Here's the cover!

As I type this, it’s 11:21 PM on March, 28th 2011, year of our Lord. In about a half-hour I will be releasing something that I’ve been working on for almost two years, longer than I’ve worked on any other project, to the cold unforgiving void of the internet. While I’ve never been more confident in anything with my name attached to it*, there is a certain number of butterflies/dragonflies/fireflies in my stomach to match my excitement. Since there may be a number of you who read this site unfamiliar with my musical endeavors, allow me to demystify the previous paragraph and explain that the very Chaz Kangas who has been shocking your eyelids with reviews of the KFC Double Down and Top Ten Lists of obscene rap videos is a rap artist himself and really doesn’t like speaking in third person so let me cut to the chase and say my album A PERSONAL REFERENCE is available for FREE RIGHT HERE:

A Personal Referencehttp://chazkangas.bandcamp.com/album/a-personal-reference

A Personal Reference (Clean Version) http://chazkangas.bandcamp.com/album/a-personal-reference-clean-version

Being this blog is my primary long-form contact with the world, I’ve been going back-and-forth about how I was going to write about it. Strange as it may sound, I’ve never really been a big “talk about my own music” type of guy. I’ve known plenty of people who respond to a “Hey, what’s up?” with a 15 minute monologue about their latest project, but that’s never really been me. While I appreciate their enthusiasm for..themselves(?), I’m well aware that I’m the guy who once wrote 1,000 words on the Street Fighter soundtrack, so I guess my conversational passion falls in the category of everyone’s music EXCEPT my own. Still, A Personal Reference is my baby and I absolutely love reading artists I admire talk about their own work, so on the off-chance anyone actually likes the music I make, I think I owe it to them to explain how these 38 minutes of madness came to be.

I had known Richard (AKA Good Goose) for about a year. His group Menya had become one of my favorite live acts after a few subsequent conversations at different Nyle concerts, decided we wanted to work together. We recorded the first song “Garlic” a week after the Union Square Virgin Megastore, the last Virgin Megastore in the Western World, closed. I had been working there and going down with the ship was a sad process. I was a year out of college and in the five years I had been there seen New York City completely change. Everyone whose ever lived in NYC for any period of time has echoed this sentiment, but it seemed like everything in my life was slipping away really, really fast. When it comes to any art, I’ve always believed a changing man is infinitely more interesting than a changed man**, and the changes over the past two years that Goose and I made this album were among the biggest in my life. I put them all out on the table, made some obscure references about them, a few quick puns, and recorded it, and there you have A Personal Reference.

Here's the tracklisting!

As you can probably tell, I’ve very pleased with the record. The guest appearances, from Mac Lethal disemboweling “Scrambled Eggs” as the Q-Tip to my Mobb Deep, Alaska sending up conspiracy theorists on the political-rap satire “Truth ‘n’ Stuffz” and Homeboy Sandman bringing his special brand of awesome to “I Think, I Know,” I’m as excited to share their contributions as I am my own. J57 and Coco Dame make some fine cameos as well. Caroline Sinders took some incredible pictures of us at an Arby’s and Sneed put together a fantastic layout. My cousin Nick also bought me the Bloodsport t-shirt for Christmas two years prior, and I attribute that to my success more than anything.

That’s all I’m going to say about the album unprovoked. If you have any questions about it, put them in the comments and I will gladly reply. I’m not going to rate the album as this is the one time I might be slightly bias so in the name of my own credibility I’m going to refrain from giving it the world’s first seven out of five rating.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*With the possible excepting being a short film I made in 2002 for my American History class that had Louie Armstrong, Al Capone and Charles Lindberg snowed-in at a cabin they each though they had rented on the same weekend. Yes, I stand by Louie & Charlie’s Cabin Fever to-this-day as the most entertaining way for your children to learn about the Scopes Trial, Prohibition and Sinclair Lewis.

**If you’ve ever see Nyle’s “Let the Beat Build” video (and let’s be real, who hasn’t), when he says the line “my best friend says that music comes from someone in transition,” he’s referring to me. I’m also a “zigazig-ah.”

My 2011 Resolution: Meet Someone Named Chloe.

December 30, 2010

Chloes: Real Women or Creations of the Jim Henson Children's Television Workshop?

NOTE: It’s the last week of December and you’re undoubtedly aware that all those other blogs are wrapped up in “Best of 2010” hoopla. As some of you know, that’s not how we do things around here. The staff here at Popular Opinions met last week over a Pizza Hut Cheesy-Bites Pizza and unanimously agreed to once again reserve our “Best of 2010” lists for the cultural dead zone that is January. Fear not my boy, you will be told how good things were in convenient list form very soon. Until then, here’s more of our celebrated hard-hitting journalism.

I went from Phoenix, Arizona, all the way to Tacoma, Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A. Northern California where the girls are warm, and in 24 years I have never met a single person named Chloe. Ever. There isn’t one in all four of my High School yearbooks. There’s not a single Chloe in any of my workplace directories. Even at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, which presumably would be a National Chloe Preservation, did not one endangered Chloe cross my path. Do Chloes really exist? Some say “maybe,” others aren’t so sure.

A movie I not only haven't seen, but didn't mention at all in this article!

Now I have friends, and that’s a fact, like Agnes, Agatha, Jermaine and Jack Treasure, Henrietta, Memorie and Jed, but this one name seems to have eluded even my quaintest of acquaintances. I was first introduced to the concept of someone actually being named Chloe in the summer of ’99. I had become obsessed with VH1’s premiere non-Pop-Up related program “Behind the Music” to the point of having favorite regulars in the form of wistful groupies. Apparently, if you were in a band in the 80s, chances are you at least did shots out of the autopsy of someone named Chloe. The wild Los Angeles Chloe was a fascinating creature, often an aspiring actress (re: stripper / porn star / mobile bar fly) who would be decked head-to-toe in tight black leather, accessorized by either a torn neon t-shirt, pendulum earrings or hair more teased than the kid who had to sit in the hallway during the sex talk in grade school. They were looking for nothing but a good time, someone to talk dirty to them and to further investigate whether every rose did indeed have a thorn. I’ve always been of the belief that it’s always a good time for a good time, so this programming built up the legend of Chloes in my mind to the point where I knew the second that one unskinny-bopped into my life it would shift my rock and roll lifestyle* into overdrive.

That day has yet to happen. As of December 29th, 2010 at 6:34 PM I am Chloe-less. Of course I’ve seen motion pictures with Chloë Sevigny, cheered the swimming of Chloe Sutton and ignored Khloe Kardashian**, but these have all been through the same glowing picture tube that saw [insert instance of a politician being less than 100% truthful and accurate in their public statements] so I simply don’t know if I can take this as evidence. Perhaps the problem here is that I’m of the age where most of the wild party Chloes’ children would be, so they opted not to name their daughters after themselves in hopes they can escape their mothers’ decadent past. This would explain why I’ve also never met a Bambi, Candi or Adolf.

The very Chloe I would see week-in week-out on Behind the Music. I assume she was the first Chloe and all other Chloes are the result of her asexual reproduction.

But why let such a glamorous name die? According to the internet, the name “Chloe” has an even richer history than extras in the “Home Sweet Home” video. It was an alternate title for the Greek goddess Demeter, who represented fertility, the harvest and the sanctity of marriage. The connection to the name can be found in the literal Greek translation; “Young Black Teenagers” “Young Green Shoot.” Yes, that first little glimpse of a seedling’s flourishing promise is the basis for a name of such extravagant decadence. Oddly enough, the name is also found in the New Testament’s first letter to the Corinthians, as the title of the house of those who were contesting which God they were baptized under.

The name had a tremendous resurgence of popularity in the early 2000s throughout both the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, so it could be hypothesized that the “wild Chloe” gene skips a generation. Being ridiculously impatient a motivated person, I’d rather meet a Chloe before stories of Chloe encounters become as mind-numbingly ubiquitous as “so, have you seen Donnie Darko? What does it mean?” Thus my goal for the new year that I’m not referring to as a resolution because New Year’s Resolutions never get accomplished, is to meet at least one person named Chloe. You ever meet one? What was it like? What should I prepare for? How do they compare to Olivias?

*Sometimes at Taco Bell I’ll buy an extra Chalupa and heat it up for lunch the next day. I know, I’m out of control!

**Who I don’t recognize as a real ‘Chloe’ because she spells it with a ‘K,’ making her the exception to the Mortal Kombat theorem that replacing the letter ‘c’ with a ‘k’ in anything automatically makes it ten times better.

“Young Gifted and Chaz,” “Butt2Butt,” Good Goose and Me.

October 21, 2010

So I’m releasing a new song from my album, Personal References, every Thursday over the next nine (9) weeks until the full 15-track thing drops on December 14th. The album is entirely produced by my friend and homie Good Goose. You may know him from his group Menya or his numerous remixes as heard on his awesome blog. Our worlds have collided and since last week he explained his side of the story on how we came together, this week I’m giving you my account.

Richard and I first met sometime in Spring, 2008. It was the beginning of what was the most miserable time in my life, so I’m pretty sure my memory has suppressed most of it. What I remember unquestionably though, was my first time seeing Menya perform. It was fall 2008 during one of the early MeNyle shows that would feature Menya, Nyle and friends, with Nyle’s sets predominately being tributes to a certain artists/albums. I had just moved back to Manhattan after a summer in Brooklyn and no-one had really seen me for sometime, so Nyle wanted me to be a surprise guest. I wanted to make it as real a surprise as possible by hiding backstage for the entire night from before doors even opened. The two benefits from this were A) getting to genuinely surprise a typically jaded NYC audience and B) getting to see the absolute frenzy that Menya whips a crowd into. It was just frequent-compadre GenesisBe and myself backstage when I heard something female and vulgar come from the stage and had to investigate. What unfolded before my eyes were Menya members Good Goose, Coco-Dame and Angie Ripe turning into three technicolor balls of energy and making the crowd explode into a human popcorn maker. The only times my eyes weren’t fixated on the ensuing chaos in front of me were glancing back at Genesis to see if she was seeing the same things that I saw.

I spent the next year or so building a friendship with Richard and posting up in the back of Menya shows to see how they turn even the most stoic of concert-goers into a sixth-grade lip-syncing dance party. If you ever get to see them live, do it. Richard and I finally sat down and began working on the songs that would become Personal References in July, 2009. I’ve always believed a changing man was more interesting than a changed man*, and this was the start of a pretty big transitional time for me, which I’m happy to say that the album conveys. Richard and I are as similar as we are different, emphasizing each other’s strengths, covering each other’s weaknesses, and not afraid to tell each other “Chaz, that’s a horrible idea.”

Here’s what we have released thus far –

“Young, Gifted and Chaz”

“Butt2Butt”

*If you’ve seen Nyle’s “Let the Beat Build” video, you’ve heard at 1:14 the line “my best friend said that music comes from someone in transition.” This is a reference to me and that philosophy. The original line was “my n*gga Chaz said…” but I assumed it was changed for obvious reasons.

We Return June 30th.

June 21, 2010

Oh hi Populoids,

Long story short, we’re currently in Hollywood filming PopularOpinions: The Movie staring Adrian Brody as Chaz Kangas. Here’s a clip from the first day of shooting:

Actually, that’s a lie. This week I’m finishing my album and then setting another world record for non-stop freestyle rapping this weekend so I gave the staff the week off. They’re going on a staff retreat. I’m not attending as I will never retreat and never surrender.

I’ll see you on the 30th. Until then, let’s agree to agree!

xoxo,
the management

Chaznecdotes – My Pink Flamingos Story

June 16, 2010

Put this in your front lawn, middle america!

Welcome to a new segment here at Popular Opinions called Chaznecdotes. Yes, this is going to feature Chaz Stories to Tell in the Dark, little nuggets of entertainment from my endlessly fascinating life. Who knows what tremendous adventures and outstanding incidents I’ve witnessed? Well, I do, and you think you know, but you have no idea and abilities to know what I know now when I was younger, you know? Now, without any further Depardu, let’s get to the me!

Last Monday (June 14th, 2010 AD) I had the tremendous fortune to see the reunion show of one of my all time favorite bands, the Toilet Boys. Glam punk at a time when it was most needed, I’ve waited over a decade to see them and they absolutely obliterated the stage. Afterward I spoke with their drummer Electric Eddie who, when I was 15-years-old, actually responded to a fan letter I had written them. On their old world-wide webpage, Eddie said his favorite movie was the John Waters classic Pink Flamingos. It is with that knowledge of shared interests I told him this story that I’m about to tell you…

I’ve always been a huge fan of Director John Waters. He’s second only to Lloyd Kaufman on cinematic admiration list. From an early age I loved how he mixed the cutting edge bourgeois aesthetics of the Andy Warhol/Paul Morrisey/Kenneth Anger films with the genuine blue-collar bizarreness of his Baltimore background. He made such an entertaining cesspool out of everyday life, something I’ve blatantly stolen attempted to replicate in just about everything I’ve written. Back in 8th Grade, when I first got into films, my best friend Matt and I used to attempt to rent the most bizarre out-there movies we could find and share them with whomever we could. At an age where most of my classmates were getting busted for trading Porn videos*, my teachers would angrily apprehend this sole Hollywood Video with an NC-17 rating and then disappointingly return it to us as it contained “nothing any young mind could possibly find erotic.” After months of preaching the Pink Flamingoes gospel throughout that incredibly awkward always fun summer between junior high and high school, imagine my thrill when the clerk at Suncoast told me it was coming to the Minneapolis Uptown theater for a special midnight screening.

It was a clear black night, a clear white moon in September, 2000. Since my Mother is the absolute greatest Mom in the world (source: Guinness) she agreed to take me to the midnight screening as “it would be fun to experience a real midnight movie.” Imagine our surprise when we got there and the line going around the block of the theater was (to use high school terminology) all “jocks and preps?” As it turns out, our local newspaper the Star Tribune had listed that night’s screening to be the original Austin Powers movie. Seeing as us Minnesotans are a go-with-the-flow people, the crowd decided to stick around and take a gamble on this movie that, as far as they know, might not have had the familiar catchphrases they would love to repeat on end for the next decade.

I’d like to stop for a second and let you know this story is about to get gross and is not recommended for pregnant women, small children or small pregnant children who are eating. If you aren’t familiar with exactly what Pink Flamingos contains, and you aren’t at work, give it a Google. It’s pretty out there. Granted Austin Powers is some raunchy, silly fun, but no amount of “Yeah, Babies!” could prepare you for “the filthiest people on Earth.” Flamingos is an entirely different beast all together. To quote Roger Ebert “It should not be considered as a film but as a fact, or perhaps an object.” The Uptown theater is a very classy building. It’s a one screen theater with a balcony and art adorning the staircase, so this wasn’t just something hitting the uninitiated out of left field. It was a whole ‘nother stadium.

No less than three minutes into the the film, the packed theater had loud groaning, and not the type you would expect from midnight in Uptown, Minnesota. There were horrified gasps, audible retching and the site of shadows recoiling in their seats. Fifteen minutes in, people began leaving the theater in droves. The unfamiliar masochists who stuck around to the halfway point, however, were soon visited by the filth fairies who gave the rest of us a gift in the form of their curse. I can’t write exactly what happened on screen that prompted such a reaction (if you ever see it, and I highly suggest you do, you’ll find the movie is a series of trump cards) but at a certain scene the ENTIRE FRONT ROW OF THE BALCONY BEGAN VOMITING SIMULTANEOUSLY. One-by-one the chain-reaction of blown chunks shocked and delighted us all as all but about two dozen or so of us left the theatre. Waters himself had once said he’d rather make someone throw-up than get a standing ovation, so this night must have been his Palme d’Or.

Me @ 'Pink Flamingos' star Divine's grave in Baltimore. Be jealous.

That’s my story and you’re sticky from it.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*Which is why, to this day, the mention of Air Bud conjures up images of something quite different flying through the air.