Presidents of the United States of America
case you’ve been living under a rock, that magical day is
nearly upon us once again, folks. That’s right, Election
Day is looming, and the signs are—literally—popping up everywhere.
So what better time for aptly named pop-punk rockers the
Presidents of the United States of America to make their
return to the music scene?
Yes, the Seattle band who brought us such ditties as “Lump”
and “Peaches” while the rest of their brethren were wallowing
in self-pity have reunited, and are touring in support of
Love Everybody, their new—and also appropriately
named—album. While the Presidents are known for relying
on cheery, catchy hooks instead of more thought-provoking
fare (much like our current commander-in-chief), you’ve
got to hand it to them for making some smart career moves.
After putting out a few sound-alike albums during their
short time in the national spotlight, the band—and we’re
just guessing here—decided not to push their luck, parting
ways after just two years. Rumors had the ex-Presidents
collaborating with fellow Seattle resident and famous derriere
connoisseur Sir Mix-a-Lot during the band’s down time, but
two-string “bassitarist” Chris Ballew, three-string “guitbassist”
Dave Dederer and drummer Jason Finn elected to reunite in
2000, releasing what many critics consider their best album
yet, Freaked Out and Small. While the Presidents’
sound hasn’t changed all that much from the mid-’90s (how
many different ways can two people play five strings?),
recent reviews would indicate that the time they spent flying
below the music world’s radar was well spent.
Oh, and in case you’re looking for yet another shameless
political hook here, the Presidents have been known to arrange
various benefits in their home state of Washington, as well
as recording the cover of “Cleveland Rocks” for The Drew
Carey Show—so they’re no strangers to wooing the swing
states. That said, after a night of listening to the reds
and blues argue about war records and tax cuts, it might
be the perfect time to join the Presidents of the United
States along the campaign trail.
The Presidents of the United States of America will take
the stage at 7:30 PM this Saturday (Oct. 9) at Northern
Lights in Clifton Park. Tickets are $12 in advance, and
$14 at the door. Call 371-0012 for more information.
Mystery and Masquerade
Albany Institute of History and Art is presenting three
fascinating exhibits united by the theme Magic, Mystery
and Masquerade: The Photography of Phyllis Galembo. While
the timeliness with respect to Halloween is obvious, the
exhibits go beyond the lore associated with All Hallows
for Thrills: Photographs by Phyllis Galembo with Halloween
and Masquerade Costumes is an exhibit of costumes from
Galembo’s personal collection, and photographs Galembo has
taken of people wearing the costumes. The photos emphasize
Galembo’s interest in the transformational aspect of donning
a mask or costume. For example, there’s Evil Bunny
(2001), pictured, a Cibachrome print on Plexiglas of a 1930s-era
mask. Creepy, eh? This exhibit will continue through Dec.
The complimentary exhibits are Kings, Chiefs and Women
of Power: Images from Nigeria and Visions of Haiti:
Vodou and Carnaval à Jacmel. The former, which is on
view through Dec. 5, “depicts the lives of Nigerian spiritual
leaders and illuminates some of West Africa’s elaborate
cultural and religious traditions.” The latter, which is
on exhibit through Nov. 7, “explores the human and divine
faces of Haitian Vodou and the spiritual power behind Carnaval
Magic, Mystery and Masquerade opens today (Thursday, Oct.
7) at the Albany History of Institute and Art (125 Washington
Ave., Albany), with an artist’s reception from 5:30-7:30
PM. For more information, call 463-4478 or visit www.albanyinstitute.org.
Thai Jones (who will read from and sign his new book, A
Radical Line, at the Book House tonight at 7 PM) has
credentials to make any standard parent of any run-of-the-mill
nuclear family proud: He’s a graduate of Vassar College
and the Columbia School of Journalism, he’s worked as a
reporter for Newsday, and he’s now the author of
a well-received work of book-length nonfiction. According
to the first lines of the initial anecdote of A Radical
Line, Jones once thought of himself as a member of just
such a happy and unremarkable unit:
me, we seemed like a normal family—no, a terrific family.
I was four years old in October 1981, a kid in day care
with dinosaurs roaming the brain. My father, who went by
the name John Maynard, worked as a printer in Manhattan.
My mother, whom I knew as Sally, was a secretary.”
Jones’ quiet qualifications about his parents names are
clues, however, that his family was anything but run-of-the-mill.
Jones’ folks weren’t quite what they appeared to be to the
other families living in their Bronx neighborhood; but then,
neither was Jones, who was known to his playmates in 1981
as “Timmy Maynard.” This all became clear to the neighbors—and
to Jones himself—when the feds burst through the family’s
door, in full riot gear, to take John Maynard, aka Jeffrey
Carl Jones, Thai’s dad, to prison.
Jeff Jones, it turns out, was not the simple printer he
appeared. As a member of the bomb-throwing activist group
the Weather Underground, he had been heavily involved in
the 1969 Days of Rage, when hippies and cops clashed violently
in the streets of Chicago. As a result he had been on the
lam ever since. The run-of-the-mill family with which Thai
Jones was familiar was just a cover story. And, as is related
in A Radical Line, the roots of his family’s difference
stemmed back through his agitator folks to their folks—an
array of committed communists, pacifists and labor- and
Thai Jones will read and sign his book, A Radical Line,
at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza tonight (Thursday)
at 7 PM. For more information, call 489-4761.