14 Nov
2014

Don’t Ever Buy A Barnes & Noble Nook HD+

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There’s no purpose to this post other than stating my regrets for putting good money out on a piece of electronics that ended up being a total piece of shit. It’s like waking up with a growth in your private region regretting “trying out legalized escorts” during a trip to Vegas.

I try to live my life as spartan as possible. It is really important for me to have a really functional computer that is as small as I can find. It has to act as both a functional computing thingy, and also my center for entertainment.

After buying a really expensive not that functional Microsoft Surface, I settled on getting a much cheaper tablet because there seriously is no difference between that and more expensive ones (at least not in a way that isn’t covered by owning a smart phone).

In March I bought my Nook, and at first it seemed great. Really small and light, very portable, and Google’s app store let me find a functional version of every piece of software I needed, like MS Word and Excel, for free. The picture was good, it streamed video and music fine, and actually used it regularly to write which is really hard on a virtual keyboard.

All for $175. Sounds great, right?

About three months the Nook literally fell apart on me. While streaming a movie on Netflix, it just turned off. When I turned it back on it said the battery was on critical and it needed to be plugged in.

That’s strange, I could’ve swore that it was more than half full?

After plugging it in, the battery meter jumped up to 60%. Huh?

And this is the battle I fight everyday with my Nook. I never know where the charge is, and often times it turns off from no battery power only to still have battery once plugged in.

I’ve searched the internet and apparently this is a very typical problem. Which is outrageous. And now that Barnes & Nobles switched their Nooks to being manufactured by Samsung, the old ones don’t quite get the same attention.

Even worse, when I went into the Barnes & Nobles where I purchased it to complain, they didn’t care, offer any solutions, or provide any form of exchanges.

So fuck you Barnes & Nobles, you aging dinosaur whose doors will close in a very short period of time, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’ll be the guy sitting with his portable tablet plugged into the wall, mumbling angrily under my breath.

4 Nov
2014

Revolution Will Only Happen When We Help This Man

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There’s nothing I love more than watching YouTube videos of people standing up to The Man, usually courtesy of various Cop Block Facebook pages or Photography Is Not A Crime.

Standing up to authoritarian figures who don’t abide by the rules they’ve set for themselves is a fundamental aspect of living in a free nation. Unfortunately, this country has a major hard-on for professional assholes, and the “respect” has unfortunately turned into a very bad tolerance of unacceptable behaviors.

The people in these videos, that stand up to such bad behavior, should all be treated as heroes with an even greater gusto than we give to cops, soldiers, or firefighters because they do this to fight for freedoms and rights not for a paycheck (or getting the opportunity to flex their power over ordinary people like cops and soldiers do).

As I saw in one video, these people are our servants. We are the masters.

But this video in particular struck a bad chord in me.

Good for this guy. He knows his rights and he wasn’t going to back down. Anyone that’s ever had a run in with cops knows that once you start challenging a cops authority, they will start to flex their bully stick.

And good for this guy, he didn’t want to follow that rule and he paid for it, and I really appreciate that.

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The biggest problem is the surrounding crowd. As can be seen in the video they all acknowledged and recognized that the cop was stepping outside the boundaries of his power. They even go so far as booing the cop as the man is arrested. Yet they do nothing once the man starts getting brutalized and assaulted.

Who protects us from the cops when the cops are the problem?

Booing will never be enough because a cop could give a flying fuck if he’s booed. And let’s not fool ourselves, this is another person’s life. The man getting arrested could face jail time for resisting arrest or who knows what other bullshit charge the police will bring against him. And the people stand around booing as he is being assaulted by the cops.

In my perfect world the crowd surrounds the man and tells the cop to fuck off. In my perfect world they tell the cop that he has no right to arrest the man and he is not disturbing them.

But instead they stand around and watch him be attacked by a cop abusing his power. Only when that isn’t accepted by the public will there be significant changes made on a country that appears to be spiraling into a police state.

29 Oct
2014

How I Overcame Hyperhidrosis Aka Massive Armpit Sweating

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It was around the time I started my first barista job, in 2005. One day things were great, I was a normal t-shirt wearing guy – particularly band shirts. Then, literally out of nowhere I started to experience massive discomfort due to an unnatural amount of sweating under my arms.

It was awful and embarrassing. I tried everything. Putting on stronger and stronger deodorants until there were no stronger ones to try. I tried wearing lighter materials of clothes. I even changed my diet so that I didn’t have anything with caffeine or acids.

Nothing worked.

I’ll never forget one summer day I went to a writers meeting when the sweating had first started. I wasn’t fully aware of the causes or how the sweating happened, I just know that halfway through the meeting I felt so uncomfortable and went to the bathroom to see how bad things were. I was horrified when I realized that the sweat stains had ran at least four inches onto my chest.

I left immediately.

At first I had to give up t-shirts that were any color besides black. Then black wasn’t enough. They had to be an extremely new black shirt that wouldn’t show the difference between a wet spot and the rest of the dry shirt.

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Eventually I could only wear shirts with a plaid pattern. But even those would show through, and I was constantly paranoid and checking mirrors to make sure my pit stains didn’t show through.

My biggest concession was having to buy $250 worth of undershirts from a company in Spain that promised to hide sweat stains – which kind of worked for awhile, but after a few washes it was back to hiding behind black and plaid.

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Then I stumbled across an article on one of my favorite websites, it was titled How to Stop Armpit Sweating by an author named Trouble Maker.

Before I go on, yes this article is on a highly controversial website focused on male topics, and, at times, can get really really fucked up. Not that I mind, but for anyone who may potentially negate the wisdom of this article because they don’t like the site, trust me, let it go just this once.

There are basically three key points to eliminating excessive armpit sweat:

1. Stop using soap to wash your armpits, it aggravates the sweat glands.
2. Scrub your armpits like crazy with a loofah, at least 30 seconds.
3. Don’t use antiperspirant, only deodorant, and try different brands until you find the one that causes the least sweating.

That’s it. And thank the good lord that it worked.

It was like being released from prison, or losing my virginity. After 10 years I was finally free.

Any problems I had with underarm sweating were gone in a matter of weeks. To go out and celebrate I bought myself a light purple t-shirt, the kind that would’ve shown really embarrassing sweat stains.

I owe a massive thanks to Trouble Maker, and only hope that this article gets to more and more people suffering from hyperhidrosis. Hopefully this man-made disease will end as the knowledge of how to overcome it spreads further and further.

27 Oct
2014

Two Movies That’ll Make You Love Jason Ritter

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A few months back I was going through a massive Netflix movie binge and I discovered a really important fact – I really like Jason Ritter.

The son of deceased Three’s Company and Ten Rules to Date My Teenage Daughter star John Ritter, Jason has been making his own name, most notably staring in NBC’s The Event.

But what makes Ritter so special are his indie films. And without needing to analyze too deeply, there’s just a pleasurable level of depth and fun in the movies he makes.

Here are two of my favorites, which I really recommend you go and watch when you can:

A Bag of Hammers (2011)

Good Dick (2008)

22 Oct
2014

A Tower of Ego Built Upon Intellectual Superiority

I’m trying to reconcile sine other blogs I’ve written into HD&HF. Previously I was writing a self-help blog that I liked but often felt too stuffy. Hopefully on HD&HF I can write more self-help posts without them taking over. You can see the original one here: http://wp.me/p4Aqyt-w.

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This ego that lives within each and every single one of us truly is a son of a bitch. Its the thing that separates us from each other and the world. Its that naughty little voice that sits inside your had convincing itself that it exists, that it is different, and special.

I have particular strong issues with ego, especially in how it makes me treat others. It’s been the source of an odd intellectual superiority complex. While ego is an issue for everyone, mine had a well intended nurturing in my youth.

Growing up I was placed in “special” classes for “gifted” children. Repetitively it was hammered in our heads that our intelligence made us better than the “regular” children in the other classes. Everyday we would be removed from class, paraded in front of the other children, and taken away to our own special classroom, because we were too advanced to sit through the lessons that they did.

In the special classes we didn’t have to do normal lessons, we got to build super complex and creative mousetraps. We got to use the computers that none of the other kids had access to. We would do work play lessons where our answers were deemed “creative” or “non-creative”.

And let me tell you, that environment definitely made it seem like being smart made us better human beings. My ego couldn’t have asked for anything better. It latched onto this ideology with full gusto. It was an “observable” way that I was a very special human being.

The ego searches for ways to perch itself on a tower of lies. It insulates itself behind hubris and false self-assuredness. In the meantime, the world, truth, and acceptance all drift further away like a volcano pushing lava from its mouth.

For me, I tend to use knowledge and information as a perch of superiority. I maintain skepticism for everything I don’t know, while also basking in the righteousness of everything I do, using it as a club to beat people over the head with. It screams, “I am special, please notice how smart I am.”

I’ve alienate friends, loved ones, and even people I’ve just met because of this righteous attachment to knowing things. The irony is that I more than likely didn’t belong in the “special smart kid” classes. I struggled with the classes and information they taught. I was always in trouble, and was punished almost everyday. The teacher would usually sit me in the corner, making me play with clay, while all the other kids got to learn, and play the fun intellectual games (which I usually couldn’t keep up with anyway).

I remember one specific instance where my friends in the class were getting ready for intelligence games called “Odyssey of the Mind.” One of the qualifying games was the “creative” or “not creative” wordplay game. The question was “name all the different types of rooms you can.” I kept saying rooms of a house, and didn’t understand how I was supposed to answer. Eventually one friend leaned in and said, “say mushroom,” because they wanted me on their team, even if I wouldn’t be a very strong teammate.

My attachment to my intelligence, which my ego has used as a self-definition, is just a way of coping with insecurity and my own inferiority over my own intelligence.

There probably is no single way to overcome these issues within oneself. The ultimate answer, of course, is to meditate, separate yourself from attachment to your mind, and try to become more compassionate.

Knowledge and intelligence is a tremendous way of separating yourself from others. Personally, I’ve been trying to be open to any perspective that anyone may have, and not making snap decisions of skepticism or blind acceptance.

This does not mean becoming a receiver of all perspectives. In Buddhism the first noble truth is that life is suffering (and therefore empty), and desire is the cause of that (the second noble truth). Plus, being totally open to everything all the time is completely unsustainable.

But on a more practical level, when interacting with others try holding a position of learning rather than knowing. Be modest in your beliefs and opinions, and be willing to give credence that no matter how difficult another person’s beliefs may be to accept, you fully acknowledge that to them it is gospel, and therefore hold a strong personal attachment to it.

And if someone is that willing to grab onto a belief there has to be some sort of relatively truth behind it, and bears finding out why.

20 Oct
2014

Hate “The Media” All You Want, But It’s You

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Ebola-mania is sweeping the nation! Watch all the sick little Africans vomit their way into our country and cause a national panic the likes only seen… a couple of months ago.

After the hysterics of the Ebola virus outbreak in western Africa – a truly horrible occurrence – and the subsequent few cases that have found their way into the United States, the mainstream media news cycle has caught Ebola fever, and the news channels have nothing else to talk about.

Tell me if you’ve heard this before: cruise ship safety, missing planes in the Indian ocean, school shootings, or any number of rotating stories that take over the news cycle, only to disappear shortly with absolutely zero follow up.

Anyone remember this guy:

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Richard Jewell was the first time I remember the media going ballistic over a story. For a very short period of time he was, in the eyes of the media, without a doubt, the bomber of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Village. The story at the time portrayed him like there was absolutely no doubt in any of their mind that he was guilty.

Incidentally when he was exonerated of any wrong doing the story just disappeared, and there was no apology issued.

But that’s not the point. The point is that there is a constant complaint about “the media” and their doings. It even goes so far that people incessantly cry that there are vast media conspiracies trying to lead the country to nefarious doings.

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But instead of treating the media hysterically (hypocritically invoking the same line of reasoning that the complaints are founded on), take a step back and just think about the model of how media operates.

Mistakenly, people believe that “corporations” (a whole other hysterical argument) feed money into “the media” and therefore have the ability to tell them how and what to report. Leading to conspiracy theories like “Ebola reporting is hysterical so that the President can send in troops into Western Africa at the behest of diamond companies due to a four month long diamond strike in Liberia.” Or some other nonsense like that.

Ironically, turn on MSNBC for about six minutes and the majority of their stories are on the evil things that “corporations” do. I guess MSNBC isn’t controlled by corporations?

The media makes it’s money like all other forms of entertainment – through advertising. Advertising only cares about one thing: eyes on screen. With a whole array of ways to tell which stories are getting the most attention, be it from website views, internet search engine analytics, or good ol’ fashion surveying, news channels can very accurately tell what people are interested in.

And to the chagrin of the country, people want the sensational nonsense, and the media is willing to give it to them for the purpose of higher ratings and more commercials sold.

Complaining about the media is complaining about a mirror. While there are some of us who have managed to avoid the news, it’s the people who continue to watch it that continue the perpetuation of ridiculousness. The problem will only be solved once the public in general listens to moderate views that urge caution and not hysterics; unfortunately that will only happen when people become that way themselves. Which will probably not happen anytime soon.

17 Oct
2014

In 20 Years You Can Kiss The NFL Goodbye

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I love the NFL. Growing up in Miami there was really only one option of which sport to like, and that was good ol’ head smashing American Football.

Back then our local hero was the wonderfully curly mulleted Dan Marino, Don Shula, and the long shadow of the 1972 perfect season. I was so obsessed with football that for a long time I had delusions of playing profession football. Well, up until the moment I puked on myself during high school football try outs.

And that was the late 80s and early 90s. Since then the NFL has experienced a tremendous upswing of popularity, including an effort to bring the NFL to the rest of the world (ahem, proposed 2020 London expansion team).

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So then why would I say something so preposterous that in a relatively short time there will be no NFL? Is it because of the recent Ray Rice domestic abuse incidents? The growing attention on player’s behaviors? The fact that most athletes end up broke after playing?

Not at all. Just like most things, it comes down to a question of economics from the people who benefit most, in this case the super talented athletes that draw in audiences, and the costs they’re willing to pay to be part of it.

To make it short, being a professional football player hurts. A lot.

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Randy Gradishar's mangled fingers.

But the types of stories that have to deal with players being unable to move in the morning from pain, or the life after sports of physical disability never dissuaded any athlete from wanting to be part of the barbaric sport that captivates the World’s attention every Thursday, Sunday, and Monday.

That is until the threat of concussions. And while it’s becoming ever more apparent, especially because of recent studies, and even court settlements having to deal with them, the looming shadow of the NFL’s demise is starting to grow ever longer.

The most significant stories have to deal with several deceased players, including former Bengal’s wide receiver Chris Henry, who apparently died due to aberrant behavioral caused by degenerative brain disease (at the age of 25), or former San Diego linebacker and Hall of Famer Junior Seau, who committed suicide with a shotgun blast to the chest so that his diseased brain could be studied. (Something also repeated by former NFL players Ray Easterling, Dave Duerson, and Paul Oliver, all of whom showed brain damage caused by concussions.)

But some would argue that’s the price of doing business, just like the cost of being a fisherman, which had a death rate of 116 fatalities per 100,000 workers, is worthwhile to keep at it, football and concussions have a much different problem.
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It’s like Muhammad Ali. At one time in the United States boxing was as popular as baseball, and it’s most notorious hero was Muhammad Ali. Fast forward and Ali is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, many of whom attribute it to a lifetime of being in a sport based on concussing each other to blame. Now boxing is an after thought in most Americans minds, due in large part to the loss of their talented athletes who don’t want to end up a shaking and speechless old man.

For some reason walking with a crutch is fine, but shaking and being unable to talk right isn’t, which oddly makes sense.

There’s already signs that football is starting to feel the impact, with school’s football programs already being shut down all over football crazed places like Pennsylvania.

What does this mean for the future of sports in the US? As much as I enjoy watching football, it probably won’t be so bad that a sport where people bash their heads against each other would end.

On a positive note, those super athletes that are overflowing in the NFL will have to go somewhere. And while some will go to basketball, my hope is that the majority of displaced players will go play soccer. Think about the possibilities of a player like Calvin Johnson being a goal keeper, or a freak speedster like Dri Archer playing forward for the LA Galaxy. World Cup would take on a totally new meaning as the United States would use it’s newly integrated super athletes to dominate the tournament.

But it’ll take time, and at least until then we’ll get to enjoy the sport for just a bit longer.

14 Oct
2014

Aliens: They’ve Never Been To Earth, And Here’s Why

 

I get really really annoyed when people talk about aliens. Reasonable people, who most other times acknowledge science and reason, make themselves look foolish. They base terrestrial existence of aliens on weird and unknown human happenings, like pyramids or weird carvings in hillsides, just like people claim the shape of a banana is proof of the existence of God.

But breaking it down scientifically, it makes little sense that the aliens that do exist (because they do) would ever come to visit a self-centered race of squishy flesh creatures like humans.

First, let’s acknowledge the deep truth odd the matter – the desire for aliens to visit us is born from human narcissism tantamount to believing that Earth is the center of the universe. As human beings we very desperately want to matter in our existence. We want to make a difference and do something that matters, but set against the cold, distant, and impossibly enormous universe, it’s really hard to feel special or even matter.

But if in this ridiculously huge place other life managed to find us, then we must matter, and are therefore special.

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Here’s a fun fact. The closest star to Sol, our home star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 ly (light years) away. 4.2 ly, in imperfect human distance is 24 trillion miles.

To put that in perspective, the Earth is 238,900 miles from the moon, 92,960,000 miles from the sun, and 54,600,000 million miles from Mars at its closest point.

Basically, Proxima Centauri is a hell of a lot further than anything that is already really really far away from us.

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Then, taking it a step further, if we were to assume that a human made space craft were able to make the journey, how long would it take?

The space shuttle is a good place to start, but let’s not use Apollo 11’s moon orbiting speed of 5,000 mph, instead allowing our interstellar vehicle the absurd continuous Earth gravity exit velocity of 25,000 mph as it’s traveling speed.

Over one year the super vehicle will travel 219,000,0000 miles, barely twice the distance between the Earth and sun. (A comparison to our current limitations, it is estimated that it would take 7 years to each Mars, which is about half the distance to the Sun).

Making someway calculations, the amount of time it would take to travel to Proxima Centauri is 109,589 years.

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Then, of course, that’s assuming that Proxima Centauri has intelligent life on it. And that the intelligent life discovered space travel in a time relatively around the same time that human civilization have existed on earth – a mere 100,000 out of 4.5 billion. And that they could’ve predicted before even the most remote traces that intelligent life existed on Earth, and then decided they wanted to travel here to examine us, make us build pyramids in honor of them, or implant us with their alien DNA so we can make movies about them featuring Tom Hanks.

The universe is just way too big, and the chances are just too small.

Of course, this assumption allows that there is definitely life out there, but by the very nature of being able to observe other universes, galaxies, and stars over great distances prevents any advanced culture from realizing any other civilization even existing.

9 Oct
2014

What I Learned From How I Met Your Mother

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Let’s just start this post off with the biggest truth we know about CBS’s now defunct hit (who’s final season was just released on Netflix): Ted Mosby is by far the most annoying protagonist in the history of sitcom television. Yes, even worse than Ross Geller of friends.

And it’s weird too, because the show is focused on his entire journey. Thankfully, the friends he’s surrounded by made the show worthwhile, particularly the brilliant reemergence of a slumbering Doogie Houser, M.D., the one and only NPH (Sir Neil Patrick Harris).

Also surrounding him are Jason Segel, the man with the most sincere face in Hollywood, and Alyson Hannigan, formerly of Buffy the Vampire fame. Throw in Cobie Smulders, who is well on her way to being a Marvel Hollywood hottie, and the show created eight wonderful seasons that may ended last year.

All in spite of having a main character who is so easy to dislike, that there are moments during the show that caused me to yell “grow a fucking pair you little bitch!” way more than once.

SPOILERS – Even the series finale àproved to be more proof of Ted’s incessant annoying over-romanticizing of women.

The guy can never just ask a girl out, or be forward with his desires. He spends eight full seasons telling his kids about “How I Met Your Mother”, and lo and behold, the entire premise of the show is actually about how Ted really wanted to be with, you guessed it, the ever uncatchable Robin.

And instead of being a man, and being direct with her, he yet again chases down some imaginary scheme, showing that he is never going to be enough for this girl, and can only get her through gimmicks and tricks.

Damn you Ted Mosby, you and your stupid face.

6 Oct
2014

Rock Music Is Dead

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During my sophomore year of college I discovered a program called Napster. It was great! In my first month I literally downloaded thousands of songs from mainstream bands and underground ones alike.

I downloaded so much music I barely listened to any of it (especially since it predated my getting an ipod by almost ten years). This was the beginning of the death of rock music, the start of the incoming digital age, and the beginning of a new music economic climate that may have annihilated an entire industry but had led to a music awakening.

Chicken or Egg

Playing a guitar is hard. It’s really really hard actually. I’ve read interviews with classic rock greats like Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, or Brad May and they all talk about how in the 40s and 50s there were no music schools that taught guitar. Instead, they all stumbled across a guitar and fiddled around with it long enough until they figured something out and were good enough to try to play in blues clubs.

Now there’s this…

The value of being a good musician is becoming worthless due to the effectiveness of online lessons, schools, and just the desire for parents to make their kids look cool.

Which has led to an extreme oversaturation of musicians trying to “make it.” Just go on Facebook or Reverbnation. There’s so many bands in existence it would be impossible to even attempt to listen to them all.

Compare that to the 1960s, where there were probably under a thousand rock bands that had even managed to record an album!

Shit, an ipod 160GB can contain tens of thousands of albums now, and there are plenty of people that have theirs filled with just rock bands.

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Getting Owned By Hip-Hop And Electronic Music

I’ve had the pleasure of being very closely involved with rock bands back home in Miami. I managed a couple, but mainly had a close enough friendship that I was allowed to sit in on the writing and recording process.

Here’s the main thing I learned: writing, learning, and recording live instrument based music is at the heart of why bands can’t keep up with the digital age.

This is the process a band goes through to write a single song:

  1. One musician in the band gets an idea for a song and hashes out a rough draft with other members.
  2. The band works on the song together during practice, in which they’re also spending time rehearsing other songs, or working on other ideas.
  3. It takes time to bring a song to completion, but it takes even longer for a band to get it down together, getting it as mistake free as possible.
  4. The band plays the songs out during live gigs, feeling out audience responses.
  5. After the song is revised several times, it’s ready to be recorded.
  6. Repeat three more times for an EP, which no one will buy. Or repeat ten to fifteen times for an LP, but then will require touring support, which then eats into the time it takes to write more songs.
  7. Hence why it takes years and years for rock bands to come out with albums.

Now look at how hip-hop and electronic artists write music:

The producer creates a track based on a loop, sampled music, or a bunch of multilayered electronic tracks. Because it’s only a single person there’s no need to teach anyone anything, and since it’s all electronic, it’s perfect from the moment of creation, with little to no rehearsal necessary (depending on the singers alone time practicing).

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The producer then hands the track to a single artist or a group of artists. Again, there isn’t much need for collaboration since it’s usually a single artist singing or rapping over a recorded track.

Recording is easy since the backing music is created electronically, and there’s usually just single vocal tracks to record. In contrast, try properly mic’ing a drum set. There’s at least 7 microphones involved, each specially made for the various pieces of a drum set.

While a rock band takes years for new material to be released, hip-hop and electronic music can literally release new material on a monthly basis. Inevitably this leads to rock bands losing the ability to build a fan base due to audiences ever decreasing attention span. It’s the reason why the only successful touring rock bands anymore are from before the 1990s.

On the other hand, technology has made it possible for almost anyone to be able to record their own rock bands, as opposed to a period in time when it would cost thousands.

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This has all led to a socialization of being in a band – something that used to be incredibly difficult to do. The idea of being a “professional” rock musician is becoming ever more rare, but there’s been a skyrocketing of weekend warriors, aka people who play in weekend bands.

And maybe that’s a good thing. Keeping the joy of playing in a band locked in a closet that only a rare few can enjoy seems really unfair, and inevitably, while my beloved genre continues to slowly fall into obscurity in a pop culture sense, there’s still plenty of places to go see it yourself. Granted, it’ll be played by your next door neighbor, and not some ridiculous clown that drives a Ferrari into a tree from the billions he made off your love of music, but that seems like a good thing, doesn’t it?

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