Later that same evening, with a very, very sore body . . .

The giant tree is up at the C+CC, and I’m going to be paying the price tomorrow morning unless I take a bath in Ben Gay tonight.

It was about 23 feet tall when it arrived, a foot or so taller than the one we put up last year . . . but this one was much fatter around the bottom, and it had been cut a couple of days ago and laid on its side, so it had a lot of snow and ice inside and on the boughs that we couldn’t really get off before we got it into the building and let it melt. Note well that snow and ice add weight.

With four big, strong, reasonably beefy guys, we spent about two hours trying to get it vertical, and failed. I’m estimating its weight at about 800 pounds total, so we could lift it horizontally (barely), but raising the top and then holding it vertical was a bigger chore. I finally got the chainsaw out and took about three feet off the bottom, and we were finally able to get it lifted and wired into place after another hour or so, and lots of ropes and pulleys and whatnots, but my hands are a mess, and my arms, back and legs are still shaking from the exertion.

How big around was it at the base, even after we cut off three feet? I bought several packages of tinsel that were 40 feet long. A whole piece of that tinsel only went about 80% around the base of the tree, so I figuring the circumference at the base was about 50 feet, which means the diameter (of the boughs, not the trunk, obviously) is about 15 feet across . . . almost as wide at the base as it is tall, in other words, a great hulking mass of a tree.

Of course, that all means that it really looks quite spectacular. I’ll take a camera in tomorrow and get some shots for perspective (we decorate it simply: gold tinsel and red glass balls) and post them here. Or, if you’re in the Capital Region, you can come see it at one of our holiday services. Think about how proud your parents will be if you tell them you actually went to church this year. And, no, you don’t have to be Catholic. I’m not, and I’m the Director of the place, for perspective.

Lists, Lists, Lists (well, actually just two lists):

Just submitted my end of year lists to Metroland and the Village Voice. For the first time in a decade, I didn’t do live lists, since 90% of the shows I saw in 2003 were at the C+CC, and it seems kinda cheesy to vote for shows that I booked myself. But here’s what I submitted:

Top Ten Albums of 2003

1. Wire, Send (Pink Flag)

An awesome return from one of the most eclectic, eccentric and powerful bands of the past quarter century. Experimentation and weirdness never kicked ass this hard.

2. Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (La Face)

The most excessive, over-the-top sprawl of too-much-of-a-good thing by popular artists since Guns n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion, only with much, much higher quality control, and the single of the year in “Hey Ya!”

3. Steely Dan, Everything Must Go (Reprise)

Loose and tight at the same time, as the world’s most anal studio geeks let their hair hang out just a bit, producing their best record since Aja in the process.

4. Kraftwerk, Tour De France Soundtracks (Astralwerks)

Twenty years after the single “Tour De France,” the world’s second most anal studio geeks round it out with a tour de force of old school electronics and ultra-modern post-electronica.

5. Electric Six, Fire (XL)

The biggest, stupidest rock record of the year, built around a lyrical construct that somehow manages to blend sex and combat into a cohesive whole, good for dancing or making war.

6. Turbonegro, Scandinavian Leather (Burning Heart)

The second biggest, second stupidest rock record of the year, built around a lyrical construct that somehow manages to blend sex and denim into a cohesive whole, good for dancing or pillaging.

7. Warren Zevon, The Wind (Artemis)

Jeez, how can you not include this one, a sweet and sour goodbye to (and from) Mister Bad Example himself, just as the Grim Reaper was finally about to run him down in his Clownmobile.

8. Ween, Quebec (Sanctuary)

The “brownest” record Ween’s issued in quite some time, preserving the solid production techniques of White Pepper, but mating them with the weirdness of Pod; a welcome return by producer Andrew Weiss.

9. Jethro Tull, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (Fuel 2000)

The best record they’ve issued since Songs from the Wood is actually a like-minded affair: pastoral, heavily acoustic, introspective and wise. The best Holiday Record of Year, bar none.

10. Fleetwood Mac, Say You Will (Warner Bros.)

This would have been my Record of the Year if they’d cut it in half, eliminating most of Stevie Nicks’ material and preserving Lindsay Buckingham’s work. Still, that’s what the “skip” button is for, and his half of the album still beats most everything else out there.

Top Five Singles of 2003

1. Outkast – “Hey Ya!” (La Face)

2. Electric Six – “Danger! High Voltage!” (XL)

3. Turbonegro – “F**k the World (F.T.W.)” (Burning Heart)

4. Johnny Cash – “Hurt” (American Recordings)

5. Chemical Brothers – “The Golden Path” (Astralwerks)

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