The only thing worse than opening a blog post with an apology for a lack of updates is continuing that post with a litany of reasons as to WHY said blog has been ignored by its curator.
I’ll meet you halfway by skipping the apologies and getting straight to the excuses.
Before I start whining, it’s best to retrace our steps: The entire premise of RJKT was/is peer into our city’s nightlife and culture. It’s never pretended to be all-encompassing, but its limited scope was usually dependent on my ability and/or enthusiasm for getting out and doing things.
During the month of October, I went full-on hermitcore. I didn’t go out, I didn’t talk to people, and I sure as shit didn’t write. (Well, that’s not entirely true, but more on that later.) Lots of cool things were happening around town, but due to my the seasonal demands of my dayjob–which involves coaxing literally hundreds of temporary laborers into schlepping Star Wars memorabilia at maximum speed, for 60+ hours each week–I locked myself indoors.
Usually, my seclusionary tactics were the result of sheer exhaustion. But often, I felt defeated. My rhythms and routines had been ground underfoot and scattered into warehouse dust. My little pocket of the world had been thrown into chaos and doubt. Would I ever get out to a show again? Would my friends forget about me? Would I ever redevelop a taste for fruits and vegetables after spending an entire month surviving on donuts, Red Bull, and Pizza Ranch?
I was so, so close to losing hope. BUT I NEVER GAVE UP…
…on consuming degenerate art.
Without the therapeutic benefits of human interaction, I was forced to supplement my usual diet of heavy metal and beer with healthy doses of sci-fi in the following formats:
⦁ Last-gen video games
⦁ Hardcover pulp
⦁ Graphic novels
…and honestly, these nerd ‘roids were probably the only things from keeping me from being crushed under the wagon’s wheels.
So, in the interest of getting back on track, consider this the thank-you section of the liner notes for RJKT’s unreleased harsh noise triple-album, October Crust. After we slog through this together, we can return to our regularly scheduled programming: Publicly shaming under-educated bike lane opponents and grown-ass adults that still listen to nu-metal while previewing Kato events that don’t totally suck.
But first, THE SURVIVAL JAMS:
While albums from Clutch, Kylesa, and VHÖL received a ton of pre-release anticipation, the only intelli-heavy record from October to truly cash in on its massive hype was Deafheaven‘s New Bermuda. Next to Royksopp & Robyn’s “Do It Again,” “Luna” was the only thing that effectively charged my batteries when the coffee quit working.
Incidentally, it was an entire pot of dark roast (imbibed at noon) that powered my review of the record, which the Angry Metal Guy himself graciously allowed to desecrate his pages.
While lingering in the AMG offices, my friend and colleague Grymm’s delightfully OTT take on the new Killing Joke album, Pylon, caught my eye. While only a few cuts got me deep–“Big Buzz” being the sharpest–it reignited a love affair with their 2006 opus, Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. New records from living legends don’t have to be revolutionary, they just have to stoke the flames.
Meanwhile, left field winds brought us fresh radness from Beaten to Death, who established themselves as the most effervescent band in grindcore with 2013’s Dodsfest! (which I also ranted and raved about at AMG). Their latest, Unplugged (which isn’t), whips their whims into tighter, more concise assaults, and the result is absolutely batshit.
But against all odds, the month’s king comes from the realm of death metal, as Dark Descent‘s crown jewel, Horrendous, crafted a masterpiece. Old-school DM has been the most played out sub-subgenre for ages now, especially if you still think “occult rock” has legs. But Anareta‘s blend of Asphyxiating vocal delivery, Atheist / Cynic prototech homages, and absolutely bonkers timechanges have prog-pushed the record into AOTY contention. (And actually, everyone’s favorite record-label-ad-revenue-driven heavy metal catalog, Decibel, recently crowned it as such.)
And now, some auxiliary acknowledgements, for without these non-aural cathartic devices, I’d have barely survived.
The copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution I swiped from We Got Game for $2.99 (TOP-NOTCH sci-fi stealth / RPG yarn that actually rewards you for not being a murderous shitbag, even when thrust into the cold machinations of a libertarian dystopia), bicycles, Transmetropolitan Volumes 5 and 6 (because the New Scum shouldn’t forget where they came from), bicycles, John Scalzi’s The End of All Things (proving that there’s serious legs left in the Old Man’s War saga), Fargo Brewing Company’s Wood Chipper IPA (get it?), bicycles.
NO THANK YOU / SLIT YOUR WRISTS AND LAUNCH YOURSELVES INTO THE SUN:
My janky bottom bracket, Scott Walker (the shitty one), big-ass trucks with North Dakota plates that don’t use their turn signals, Five Finger Death Punch, people that order Coors Light at Boulder Tap House, Wallace and Gromit, the loathsome old crank in the dark blue Nissan Xterra that tried to start a fight with me last winter (with his seat belt still fastened), solitude.
Whew. That felt good. You ready to do this again, Mankato?
Well, folks, we’ve finally arrived at that crucial time for compiling best-of-the-year lists: Spring.
The Mankato Free Press has released its Best of Mankato 2015 poll, and while the list of categories is certainly exhaustive, the nominations seem rather arbitrary.
For instance, NaKato is nominated for breakfast, yet, perplexingly, not lunch or “hamburger and french fries.” Also, there’s a “fast food” category, pitting the likes of Wendy’s and Burger King against local establishments.
Additionally, The Wine Cafe’s Wine Rack offshoot was somehow left off the liquor store list, and upstart pubs and eateries such as The Bicker Inn, Ummie’s, and the Garden of Eat’n go totally unmentioned, while Taco Bell gets a nod under “Mexican cuisine.”
Curious as to why this list is/was so haphazard, at least in its initial form? Well, scope this nifty little note at the bottom:
“Don’t see your pick? Nominate your favorite below, let us know which category and we’ll get it added!”
Ah! That’s the reason why the ballot has ballooned since the first draft of this post.
What could be more professional than letting your readers compile your cultural data for you? And after they’ve already placed all of their votes?
Certainly not predicting the victors in an overly-cynical blog post.
Here’s what we’re banking on the voters of Mankato choosing as their Best of 2015, in various categories:
Breakfast – Perkins
Look, we’re just banking on sheer numbers here. No establishment so wholeheartedly captures such diverse demographics: Blue-haired octogenarians that need to kill time between trips to Menards; the coveted 18-to-34 pisshammered-at-three-a.m. crowd that cares little about their unthawed, barely-cooked eggs Benedict; youth-group teens that are trying their damnedest to fill their free time with anything but what their bodies are telling them to do (namely, ingest drugs and have sex).
It’s almost unfair.
Coffee Shop – Caribou Coffee
Give Minnesotans some credit. Even the most milquetoast of sprawl-shoppers will gravitate to a homegrown chain. And, honestly, we’re the only ones that can stomach Caribou’s 800-calorie concoctions. It’s like Dairy Queen…for breakfast!
Hamburger and French Fries – Culver’s
However, we’re not above sampling fare offered by our exotic neighbors to the east, who are the only ones with the guile to put butter on a goddamned hamburger and serve it with freaking cheese curds.
Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt – Cold Stone Creamery
Because it’s not a treat unless it makes you feel like dying.
Fast Food – Chipotle Mexican Grill
Seriously, have you been to this place at any hour of the day? It’s hey-there’s-a-new-restaurant-in-Mankato panic mode ALL THE TIME. The shine never wore off.
Plus, it’s right next to Wal-Mart.
Pizza – Papa Murphy’s
I mean, why dine out and interact with other humans when you can cook someone else’s food?
Don’t forget to stop by the nearest Redbox on the way back to your cardboard mansion in Skyline. Night At The Museum 7 just dropped.
Steak – Applebee’s
Barring the inclusion of Benderzzzzzzzzzz’s TUESDAY STEAK NIGHT, Applebee’s saline-injected sirloin will reign not only by virtue of its sumptuousness, but its affordability. Again, the Perkins formula is at play: If you can nail down the high school / Social Security recipient ends of the spectrum, you’re gold.
Sub / Sandwich Shop – Jersey Mike’s
This will win because, somehow, it was listed twice on the ballot. This could be because there are two locations (both located in strip malls adjacent to superior fast food outposts), but it’s most likely due to the fact that the Free Press’ editors are terrible.
Mexican Cuisine – Taco Bell
One of the best things about the southwestern Minnesota is the glut of quality Mexican restaurants, but since college students can only afford Baja Blast and ergonomically-designed burritos after they’ve spent their allowance at South Street Saloon, this should win out.
Plus, it’s right next to Wal-Mart.
Asian Cuisine – Leeann Chin
Sure, getting a Leeann Chin in the mall was a decade late and twelve bucks short, but we FINALLY GOT ONE. (“Just like Rochester!“)
Italian Cuisine – Olive Garden
Mankato’s Italian game is bleak, son. BLEAK.
The Neighbor’s might put up a bit of a fight, but it’s crazy expensive. Furthermore, it’s marooned in that weird part of west Mankato where the town just kinda ends.
Wings – Buffalo Wild Wings
Nothing tempers the indignity of smashing your face full of barbeque sauce like being served by a bunch of depressed millennials forced to wear the leftover football jerseys from gym class scrimmages.
Bakery – Panera Bread
One time, I was tripping on acid at 7 a.m. in Nicollet Mall and couldn’t get into a Panera Bread bathroom because they had a keypad on the door that prevented homeless people from using it unless they entered a code from a valid receipt, so I bought a bagel and only finished half of it.
Also, if it’s good enough for Mark Kozelek’s dad, it’s probably good enough for Mankato.
Buffet – Pizza Ranch
Remember when you were a kid, and your parents hated taking you to the pizza buffet? It wasn’t because they were terrible parents. It was because it was loud, packed with screaming kids, and the food sucked.
But portions were unlimited, so they made concessions. However, you ultimately realized that the opportunity to play Pit Fighter on an arcade cabinet wasn’t worth the ensuing domestic dispute, and the dessert pizza really, really dried you out.
Date Night – Red Lobster
Look, we know you’re on a budget, and your date is probably going to want to throw down on a huge platter of crab and lobster, so you need to fill up on those free Cheddar Bay Biscuits if you have any hope of pulling off the “wining” part of the equation.
Happy Hour – Number 4
Behold! The best place to crush discounted drinks (that are actually the same price as regular drinks everywhere else in Mankato) amidst an ambiance of bizarre condescension and glitter.
Sports Bar – Rounders
Of all the places in Mankato that have lots of televisions and Bud Light with olives, this place has the most televisions and Bud Light with olives.
Patio Dining – Blue Bricks
“Dining” isn’t really something that one does at Blue Bricks, unless that’s the new euphemism for “smoking cigarettes with dangerously-drunk college students that haven’t yet mastered the art of social interaction.”
But the chicken sandwiches are pretty good.
Locally Owned Restaurant – HOW IS THIS A SEPARATE CATEGORY
Okay, this is exhausting. I’m tapping out before we even escape the dining bracket, and I’m sure you are, too.
Up next? The Mankato-area businesses that should take home the championship belts, with runners-up included.
See you soon, Mankato.