Not so much a blog as it is a collection of essays about things and stuff or whatever
July 24, 2008
May 19, 2007
A recently-rediscovered poem I wrote in high school. It was so totally the leading entry in the Hopkins High School 1999 Literary Magazine.
My writing abilities have only regressed since this bright, shining, dazzling, sparkling, flaming (not in a gay way, but like, hot white flames and stuff) debut.
By Jeff Allen, Junior, 17
Who would ever really want to write a poem?
that's for sure, dude
"Poems" are for suburban kids who go to coffee shops
and smoke cigarettes without inhaling
and read from their tattered notebooks
and pretend that they're vampires
and vainly try to inject their lives with some culture
'"Poems" are for 12-year old girls who write about
and their divorced parents
"he kissed Suzy Wilkins behind my back!"
they write on tear-stained pink stationary paper
"Poems" are for retired, elderly women who have nothing to do
so they write about nature
and the second world war
and drink weak tea
"Poems" are for pretentious, art-house rock bands
who play at art galleries
and stick screw drivers in their guitar strings
and use reverb pedals
and sing about an "orange rhyming dictionary"
I'll take the rhythm and soul
I'll take the language
I'll take the feeling and melody
but you can keep your poems
Did that shit just blow your mind?
May 18, 2007
There is a “we” – did you know this? It’s true. We’re out there, pretty much everywhere. Minneapolis. Saint Paul. Chicago. San Francisco. Brooklyn. Chapel Hill and Iowa City and Las Cruces and Portland and beyond.
We’re not a generation. We can’t be defined by our age. Or the fact that we’re the children of a previous “we.” To tell you the truth, we’re a hard group to describe.
We live in old, warped mansions and shoe factories, carved into misshapen sets of three or four or eighty-four. We sit under sagging power lines. We ride bike. We drink tallboys. We smoke cigarettes. We traverse in alleyways that suture the city’s ancient and bloody wounds. We congregate in backyards, porches and stoops—lightly sweated, hoods down, backpacks full of warm six-packs, ears open. We don’t have landlines. We don’t pay for the internet. We don’t call our moms enough. We have too many student loans. We have unsavory debt-to-asset ratios. We have restless legs and arms and hearts and minds. We have things inside us that have to come out.
So we draw. We design. We write. We compose. We rap. We blog. But we’re not attempting to communicate. No, no, not at all. We are trying to stay alive.
We know the score—our own destruction is around the bend. We recognize that life is short, wild, fleeting, a precious and delicate bird just passing through. To waste even one minute of it letting ourselves be defined by the world rather than defining it ourselves is tantamount to death. To lose control of your destiny is death. To just be along for the ride is death. To answer to the whims of others is death. To simply trade time for money is death. Our friends become our new families because they understand this truth more than anyone else on earth. Our friends are everything we have, and they are our only chance for survival. Our friends are our last, best hope of staving off death for one more day.
And if this at all sounds macabre or overdramatic, then you’re probably not one of us.
So we fight, together, to carve out grand ambitions and larger-than-life dreams. We have to. We have to because the simple and important truth is that if we don’t do something massive and epic and powerful and fucking monumental and if we don’t do it right fucking now as soon as humanly fucking possible—well, then we die. We wither and we rust and we die. We’ll be dead by all measures that really matter and, and, and, and…
And this is what defines us, unities us, draws us to each other inexorably. We’ve each had our eyes opened to harsh truths: life is brief, mediocrity is tragic, and the status quo is a shallow grave. If you understand this, everything else is irrelevant. Creation is not a medium of expression, but a desperate attempt to survive. Medium and genre and message aren’t sacrosanct—they’re simply means to an end, tools to participate and prevent your one fleeting time in this universe from being a colossal and tragic waste.
So rappers are illustrators. Bloggers are composers. Photographers are designers. Sculptors are rappers. Architects are painters. Writers are bloggers. Designers are illustrators. Since creation is a tool and not an expression, it’s all a part of the same family. Empathy is king. We recognize the symmetry of desperation across boundaries. Collaboration becomes a necessity rather than an obligation. Combining forces makes us all stronger, more powerful, more effective in the struggle to survive.
But this isn’t a movement. There’s no ideology, no edicts, no rallying cries, no worldwide zeitgeist. We’ve seen that before and we hold it in respect and regard. But what we’re doing is different. This isn’t about creating a better future, a safer and cleaner world, a fair and equitable and just utopia. No, no, no, not at all.
This is a fight to save our very lives. This is survival. And we do it every day, everywhere, all the time. From coast to coast. From border to border. From hardland to heartland. And we can’t stop. Not ever. This is a fight to the death.
March 25, 2007
The Ubiquitous "Why I Haven't Been Blogging" Blog
Don't get me wrong, I love the internets.
The way it's gradually transformed since its birth from a top-down communication tool for businesses to reach consumers into a topless and bottomless (just like the strip clubs in Montreal, or so I've been told) full-fledged interactive network where the collective intelligence (or lack thereof) of the entire globe is transmitted in an endless feedback loop is, to put it simply, fucking dope. Blogs, wikis, message boards -- I will go on record as officially endorsing their existence. A controversial position, I know.
But here's the thing most people don't talk about: keeping up with the blog-reading demands of this new world (wide web) order is like, super hard and stuff. For real, though. Especially if, like me, you enjoy having friends and maintaining gainful employment.
Which leads us here, on this very blog, to the now-officially cliche territory of the Blog Post About Why I Haven't Been Blogging Which Will Likely Not Be Read By Many People Because Not Many People Actually Read This Blog Except My Friends.
We've all seen these diatribes before. Maybe we've written one. They're the 21st century equivalent of explaining to our neighbors why we haven't been to church recently (suggested explanation: God created the world, cruelty exists in the world, therefore maybe God is cruel, hard to reconcile this troubling dichotomy, been eating waffles at home on Sundays in protest of mean-ass God). These rambling lists of excuses for absence from the blog world are usually the following: presumptious, self-involved, boring and (most importantly) endearingly human. Here's my attempt.
Reasons I haven't blogged lately:
Been writing this and the follow up to this
Been reading books about this and this and this
Been watching this and this
So there you have it. Mystery finally revealed. You can and should blame real estate, rock music, the new digital economy, grad school, John Locke and the NBA.
Just don't blame me; I love the internets.
December 29, 2006
2006 Year in Review
2006 ALLEN FAMILY CHRISTMAS CARD
By Jeff and Alison Allen, St. Paul Minnesota
2006. Wow. Holy shit. What a year.
The above map was made by Alison. It charts all our movements in 2006 and, as you can see, it was the year we brought the Allen party nationwide. Special shoutouts go to our recently-engaged friends from Chicago, Bob and Urs, who had the map idea first. We shamelessly copied it (and maybe improved it? Oh snap!) cause we thought it was such a great idea.
With so many media sources giving you their lame "Year in Review" of the "important" events of the year, we thought we'd throw our hat in the ring and give you a rundown of the best stuff that happened to drunk, poorly-dressed people from the Midwest in 2006.
Consider this equal parts a) news-anchor-year-in-review b) Christmas-card-to-our-friends and c) sweet-ass-blog post.
The Trifecta of Awesome. The Trifecta of Allens.
TPC RECORD RELEASE PARTY
What a way to start the year. We billed it as the "Hugest Most Biggest Awesome Huge Party in the History of Ever" and quickly realized that we had a lot of work to do to live up to the hype.
At one point, our entire apartment was filled with still-wet paper mache volcanoes, thirty industrial garbage bags filled with balloons, a giant TPC flag, two smoke machines and 4 confetti cannons. All the hard work paid off and both shows sold out. One of the best nights ever. You can see the end of it all in the video above, thanks to our friend Isaac.
JANUARY HOLD STEADY TOUR
The day after the release show, TPC hit the road for three weeks opening for the Hold Steady. Jeff was stoked that Alison was coming along for the ride. TPC had toured before, but never on a tour of this magnitude where the shows were usually full and the band usually got many, many drink tickets.
Suffice to say, we had some really amazing times on this trip. We accomplished a lot, including building up a inhumanly high tolerance for alcohol. See video for evidence.
TWO ARMS TWO TATTOOS
To commemorate this crazy year and its crazy adventures, we both got inked this year. This was a first for both of us and we're glad we did it. Both of us had it done in New York, at the same parlor, by the same guy -- but six months apart.
The artist ended up being someone that Jeff had played a show with a year ago. It was a friendly face. Shout out to Myles!
TWO OCEANS, ONE GULF
The Atlantic - Florida
Gulf of Mexico - Florida
Pacific - California, and Oregon
The ocean is as old as time, bros. Wrap your noodle around THAT jewel.
ST CLOUD AND DULUTH
In May, we did a weekend tour of Minnesota's hidden jewels: St. Cloud (aka tha 320 aka the Granite City aka Shots Cloud aka The Home of Anti-Semitism) and Duluth (aka Vision Quest Portal aka the Air-Conditioned City aka that 218).
We took our dawg Coles with. Along the way, some ravenous sea gulls stole our pizza and Coles and Alison kept a drinking ledger. Rapper nugs are "xtra credit," apparently.
NYC FRIEND TRIP WITH TUBS AND JAWS
Later in May, we took a friend trip to New York to pick up the new van that TPC was buying and drive it home through the coalmountainrustbelt of middle america. Our good friends Tubs and Jaws came along.
After raging in NYC for a few days, we headed home, stopping in Pittsburgh (inexplicably Jeff's favorite city) and Chicago to see friends on the way back. We slept on Bob's roof deck in Chicago and considered this an important achievement.
THE HOTTEST WEEKEND OF THE YEAR
I mean, seriously, it was wicked hot, as they say in New England. Nasty humidity. To beat the heat, our guy 50's took us up to his parent's lake place in Cross Lake, MN. There was boating, tubing, adventure, homemade pasta-making and a lot of sitting in the warm water in a plastic deck chair while drinking High Life from cans.
TPC AT FIRST AVENUE
In July, TPC headlined a show at the infamous First Avenue Mainroom (ever see Purple Rain? We haven't either, but you get the point). They were crazy nervous that no one would come, but it ended up selling out. This was hard to comprehend.
There was more confetti cannons and handmade stage prop mischevity. That is not really a word, but tevs.
MANY MANY LOST PARTIES
Somehow, everyone we knew (including us) discovered the television show "Lost" in 2006. It was crazy addicting. Lost Parties gathered where we would all sit around Cam and Beak's plasma-screen and dissect each episode with the precision of a ninja and the passion of a hobo.
END OF SUMMER TOUR AND ALL NIGHT DESERT DRIVE
There are times in life where you feel like you're winning. It's hard to put it another way. You're just winning. You've won and you are continuing to win. Somehow, these moments often come when your sleeping schedule is on the opposite spectrum as the rest of the civilized world.
In August, we drove all through the night from Austin, Texas to Tucson, Arizona. It took 18 hours. We felt the cool desert air at night through open windows. We saw the sunrise and head truck stop breakfast at 5AM. We won. We were winners.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY TOUR
If you've never been to San Francisco, then you are most likely an incredibly depressed person. Seriously, its like no other place on earth. While on a TPC west coast tour in September, we took advantage of a day off and had a tourist day on the bay.
50's made a camouflage friend.
A continuing story line throughout the year was Guitar Hero. In case you haven't heard, Guitar Hero is a video game that lets you play lead guitar on some of the world's hottest and most famous jams including "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas, "Free Bird" by Skynyrd, and "Killing in the Name of" by Rage Against the Machine.
There were countless Guitar Hero parties, including some formal competitions. Here, McTubbins is a pirate rocker. Alison's band, Jazz Nugs, has won many accolades from The Daily Dose on their awesome shows.
WE BOTH TURN 25
Quarter of a century. In September, Jeff celebrated his ascent into manhood by throwing a kegger at our house and partying with the visiting Thunderbirds Are Now.
In December, Alison celebrated her ascent into womanhood by hanging at Mancini's, driving to Iowa City to see a show, and throwing a friend feast party at our place (photos of that to follow).
CMJ NYC w/ Colez
In November, TPC was on an East Coast tour to hit up CMJ. Alison flew out with Coles to take part in the craziness of the weekend festival. We went to 100 billion shows, 300 trillion bars, 225 million restaurants and walked 800 trillion city blocks to do it.'
FRIEND FEAST '06
The last of Alison's birthday celebrations and the first celebration of holiday spirit. A ton of people came over, all dressed in Holiday or Cosby sweaters, to rage in the name of J to tha C (aka tha madd sin absolva aka Jesus).
50's made everyone a delicious feast, Coles and Chips brought Greenie Mix, everyone else brought beer, the iPod brought the dance party pain.
So, that was our year. Obviously a lot of other things happened that aren't discussed here, much of which was experienced without being drunk, rest assured. But these were the highlights. The highlights of what was easily one of the best years of either of our lives.
We hope 2006 treated you kindly as well. 2007 should be pretty alright too. Maybe. Probably. Most likely. We hope. See you there.