Benson Memorial Library, Chattanooga Public Library, Chattanooga, TN, Libraries, Music, Portland, ME, The Beach Boys and Libraries, Titusville, PA

The Library Career Arc of Justin Hoenke As Told Through GIFS of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys and Their Overall Career Arc

It lines up! You’ve gotta trust me!

1964 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2008-2012/2013: Cape May (NJ) County Library and Portland (ME) Public Library. Little stuff. Teen Librarian. Neat little programs. The surfing songs version of librarianship. Very basic ideas that were creative and at the same time hinted at the fact that I had some bigger ideas up my sleeve. People seem to dig it.

The Beach Boys GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2013-2015: Chattanooga (TN) Public Library. Let’s do some neat stuff. Month long code camps (DEV DEV), sewing machines, 3D printers, maker and learning tables, one gigabit per second super fast internet, entire floors dedicated to creativity, thinking outside the box, and trying to reinvent the library. The PET SOUNDS and SMiLE of my library career. Like Brian Wilson, I was surrounded by some of the most creative and talented people I have ever met. The best of times. The most creative library experience ever.

The View Abc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2015-Present: Benson Memorial Library (Titusville, PA). Little stuff. Very focused to this tiny community. The equivalent of the bedroom tapes, SMILEY SMILE, FRIENDS, and other tiny little Beach Boys and Brian Wilson gems between 1967-1971. The songs don’t change the world, but if you hear them you like them and they bring you happiness. Good work. Out of the spotlight.

Beach Boys GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A POSSIBLE FUTURE: A retreat. This stuff is wearing me down. I can’t please everyone and I do my best to make the experience a positive one for everyone, but the loud voices just keep getting louder. Do I want to use my time here on earth and my limited energy on battles? Do I have to change the world? I don’t. All that I have to do is take care of myself and my family and be myself. I can retreat. I don’t have to do this forever.

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Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 9/14): Hurley

MI0002999056

Released: September 10, 2010
Length: 34:16
Label: Epitaph
Producer Rivers Cuomo, Shawn Everett

I have been putting this one off for long enough. To be honest with you, I haven’t wanted to write this one because there really isn’t a lot of great things to say about Hurley. I don’t want to put negativity out into the world, but with this one there is just not much else I can do. Hurley doesn’t work on a lot of levels: it feels like a badly patched together solo album, the songs are rather bland and cookie cutter, and the whole thing feels rushed. When I listen to a Weezer album, I want to hear the band performing the songs that Rivers writes. On Hurley, I’m hearing songs that Rivers wrote being performed by something that’s just not Weezer.

MEMORIES

Songwriting: The most “classic Weezer” sounding thing on here. A simple straight forward rock song. It works.
Arrangement: The band is tight on this and moves from section to section and never lets go.
Production: It’s crunchy and I like that.
Performance: Like I said above, it feels like the band played on this one together. I can dig that.
SCORE: 6

RULING ME

Songwriting: An absolutely wonderful pop rock song, but it sounds too much like a song that a band that wanted to sound like Weezer would write and perform. Weezer shouldn’t be doing that, right?
Arrangement: Classic power pop. It never lets up and that’s good. The chorus drums are great at moving the tune along.
Production: It sounds like it was made for the radio.
Performance: Here’s where we get to the “is Weezer on this song?” question. I hear elements of Rivers but I don’t hear anything from any other members. The drumming doesn’t 100% feel like Pat. It feels off.
SCORE: 6

TRAINWRECKS

Songwriting: Written with an absolute gem of a songwriter (Desmond Child), this is a great tune overall. Well paced, well written, great emotions.
Arrangement: The song chugs along just like a train. I love it.
Production: The chugging guitar and bass really work well for this song. Some of the overdubs and adornments can distract from the great tune underneath them.
Performance: Once again, who is playing on this? The bass feels like Scott, but everything else feels off.
SCORE: 6

UNSPOKEN

Songwriting: Some interesting chords that throw you off at first, but the climax of the song really works well. It feels like Rivers there.
Arrangement: Bare bones at the beginning, crunchy at the end, and the backing vocals are really great.
Production: I question the flute flourishes in the verses. They don’t really need to be there and distract the listener.
Performance: It feels like Weezer and I like that, especially on this album.
SCORE: 6

WHERE’S MY SEX?

Songwriting: You can tell something is gonna be off from the weird synthy drums at the beginning, and then you hear the lyrics. These are the worst. Great riff though in the verses.
Arrangement: The verses do a great job a using the riff to anchor the song. The chorus is great when it kicks into the second part of it. The time shift off kilter bridge is great.
Production: This song should rock harder. That riff is great. It just doesn’t get to that level.
Performance: Once again, it rocks but who is playing on it? And Rivers’ vocal performance should have been scrapped. It is embarrassing at points.
SCORE: 2 (I want to give this a higher ranking, but those lyrics destroy the tune)

RUN AWAY

Songwriting: A decent tune, but one that just doesn’t sound like a Weezer sound. Then you look at the songwriting credits and you see it was cowritten by Ryan Adams. And then you realize that its a Ryan Adams song sung by Rivers.
Arrangement: The chorus, which is usually a pick me up part of a song, just really drags here.
Production: I like it, but once again it doesn’t sound like a Weezer song and instead sounds too much like a Ryan Adams song. If I wanted to listen to him, I would listen to him.
Performance: The Ryan and Rivers show. I like my Weezer with Brian, Scott, and Pat.
SCORE: 3

HANG ON

Songwriting: The little single that never was. It has all the makings of a great single…wonderful and triumphant verses into a great chorus. But there’s just something that holds this song back.
Arrangement: Maybe the arrangement holds it back? Nah, this is good pop rock.
Production: Once you hear Michael Cera you can’t un-hear him.
Performance: It feels like a band moving in a new-ish direction. I appreciate that.
SCORE: 6

SMART GIRLS

Songwriting: The lyrics just creep me out, but the melody and the chorus are so very strong and you wanna sing along to them.
Arrangement: It is structured in such a way that makes you want to sing along.
Production: It feels like it would’ve been a great Rivers Cuomo solo song with this production.
Performance: It doesn’t feel like there’s a performance. It feels like Rivers with some loops of people playing instruments.
SCORE: 5

BRAVE NEW WORLD

Songwriting: It feels so “modern rock band on the radio” derivative. I could hear Nickelback doing this song. Why not just give it to them?
Arrangement: “Let’s rock out on the chorus just like a high school band”. It just doesn’t work. The bridge should pick it up but it just leaves it even flatter than before.
Production: The song is so bad I don’t think any kind of production could save it.
Performance: Mechanical and going through the motions. I have to force myself to listen to the whole song.
SCORE: 1

TIME FLIES

Songwriting: Written with legend Mac Davis, this song has a great tune but…(skip to production)
Arrangement: A nice little folk song structure.
Production: What is going on here? Why is everything so dirty and muddy? Is something wrong with my headphones? This just isn’t fun to listen to. I hear a good song destroyed by a production choice.
Performance: The production just destroyed this song for me.
SCORE: 4

THE FINAL WORD

I just can’t get through this album unless I force myself to get through this album. Rivers writes great songs, but the songs on this one just ain’t that great. Some of them are decent but a bunch of decent songs don’t add up to make a good album. I love Weezer as a four piece band making great music. On some records you can just hear Rivers directing everything and it not really being a band effort. That is the most apparent with this album. Hurley may have been looked upon as an interesting oddity if it wasn’t a Weezer album but instead a one off Rivers Cuomo solo album. But here, as the 8th Weezer album, it just stands out as a really bad album.

TOTAL POINTS: 45
AVERAGE SCORE: 4.50

A Day In The Life, Idea Share, Libraries

A DAY IN THE LIFE from Information Today

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If you’re not a subscriber of Information Today magazine and you like my writing, you may want to consider subscribing today.

How’d this come about? A few years ago, Information Today asked me to be a part of things like this and this and it was really nice to be a part of something like this. This past year, they asked me to write a four part series called TALES FROM THE LIBRARY TRENCHES and that was a blast. I also dabbled in writing some quick News Breaks for them (like this one) and that too was great. At the core, I just really like to write and share things with other human beings. So when Brandi Scardilli, Editor of Information Today reached out and asked if I wanted to do a column the answer was easy: of course!

For the first two entries in my column, I’ve interviewed three great librarians: Cath Sheard and Katherine Bosworth (South Taranaki Libraries, NZ) and Warren Cheetham (CityLibraries Townsville, Australia). I’ve got a lot of really great people coming up in the queue: Porsche Schlapper, Sarah Houghton, James McNutt, Erin Wincek, Alex Lent, and more. Basically this list reads like a who’s who of people who I find interesting, inspiring, and just basically awesome, and my hope is that through this column they will inspire you too.

For now, this column is available via the print publication only, so that’s why I am suggesting that you subscribe….plus there is a whole lot more to read. I’ve always enjoyed this publication. It has a strong tech focus but what shines most about it is that it has a strong focus on people. The contributors all have their own styles and ideas and when brought together they really create a unique read for librarians.

You can read more about my new column A DAY IN THE LIFE over here at this post.

And once again, if you want to subscribe to Information Today click here!

***please note***

  • Yes, I get paid to write this column.
  • No, there is no part of my contract with Information Today that says that I have to write any blog posts on Justin The Librarian promoting anything I write for Information Today.
  • Yes, I am writing this post just because I want to share what I and others have written for Information Today.
  • No, I am not a sell out.

 

 

3D printing, Libraries, Life, Online Identity, Social Media

Writing About Libraries

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This happened a long time ago in what feels like another life.

For a website/blog called Justin The Librarian, I don’t feel like I talk about libraries that much anymore. There’s a reason for that and today I’ll try to sort out the thoughts in my head.

I feel out of touch with the current topics being talked about in the public library sphere. I’ve really never been one for political debates, and there are a lot of politics to be discussed with the current topics that are being talked about. To be honest with you I don’t have the mental strength and capacity to deal with those topics now. My focus is to put in a good day of work at my library and then go home and be the best father and husband I can be. Diving into the deeper layer of public library talk is just not something I want to do right now or in the foreseeable future. Libraries are for everyone and I think it is in our best interest to be everything to everyone that walks through the doors of the public library, but I’m not gonna be on Twitter talking about it or writing about that here. I need to be aware that I only have a limited amount of mental energy. I am learning to channel that energy in the best way possible.

The second reason is that I feel that sometimes what I’ve written and shared can be misunderstood. I am really proud of the work I did in Chattanooga TN but to be 100% honest with you I think a big reason why it was successful was because of that particular moment in time in Chattanooga TN and not much else. I wrote about the experience a lot because I wanted to share the excitement and enthusiasm that I felt every day when I went to work with people like Megan Emery, Meg Backus, James McNutt, Nate Hill, and more. That time in libraries for me was really exciting and the enthusiasm happening was infectious. But now I look back on a lot of what I wrote and say “well that was very Chattanooga specific, and I don’t know if that would be good for any other library.” I can’t tell you how many times library people have said to me that they’ve read about what I’ve been a part of in libraries and said “well I guess our public library should be doing things like you do” and specific things like “we should probably get a 3D printer like you” and “well let’s make more things with patrons that was successful for you.” That wasn’t the intended purpose of what I wrote/shared, but I guess I should have expected it. When people read something (and I do this too), they think about what they read and wonder how and if it could be applied to their lives. Nowadays there’s this thing that weighs on me…if someone tells me they were inspired by the work I was a part of there’s a bit of me that regrets even writing and sharing in the first place. What if these things they’re doing fail for them? What if these people have a miserable experience with their maker program/3D printer/code camp/etc? I think about all of that and I keep it in my head and in my heart. It brings me down. No library is alike because no community is alike. We are all so very different, yet we share the same name and idea behind what we do. So why do feel the need to copy/paste ideas? I don’t know.

So with all that said, I don’t know where I stand. I think I’ll be taking a breather away from writing about libraries in the future. I know part of that is in me: I’m just burnt out and I’m not inspired. Unfollow away if you’d like. The librarian part of Justin has gone for the time being.

Libraries, Life, Technology

Sensory Overload

Jonny Nintendo, I like this tweet and you know what? I can’t prove you wrong because I agree with it so very much.

I’ve never seen the show Rick and Morty but someone tells me it is about time travel. I really like time travel. But you know what? I read about what their fans did after they didn’t get some special sauce at McDonald’s and you know what? I don’t ever wanna watch this show.

I struggle with being a Weezer fan, and a big part of it has to do with the band’s fan base. Sometimes it is great and sometimes it sucks. It is a thing that now weighs on me heavily when I listen to this band.

This is the way of the world these days. Fans believe that passion should be brought to the table at every moment. Coupled with the internet, a place where people feel the need to be as loud and obnoxious as they can dream of being, and what you have is a hot mess. Things just don’t feel right these days. The world feels a bit off, and I just can’t help but to point a finger towards fandom and being loud on the internet as one of the things contributing to this feeling.

Of course I still have social media accounts. We all do and we’re not getting rid of them anytime soon. These feelings have been brewing in me a long time. Facebook has basically replaced email with Messenger as one of the defacto ways to communicate with another human being (texting being the other). The Facebook News Feed however, is a mess of rubbish, noise, and advertising. Twitter seems to be the place to figure out a way to wittily relevant things in 140 characters or less. It used to be my favorite social media channel that would inspire me endlessly. Now I just want to close the window and log out.

Things are moving so very quickly. Things are so very loud. Sensory overload has taken us all over. We need a break from the fans, from social media, from the world. We need to learn what how to be human beings again.

 

Music, Rivers Cuomo/Weezer Rankings 2017, Weezer

The Weezer/Rivers Cuomo Song Rankings (Part 8/14): Raditude

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Released November 3, 2009
Recorded November 2008 – January 2009 & Summer 2009
Length 34:34
Label DGC, Interscope, Geffen
Producer Dr. Luke, Jacknife Lee, Polow da Don, Butch Walker, Rivers Cuomo

This is the moment where, as a long time Weezer fan, I started to back away from my undying devotion to Rivers Cuomo and his songs. Rivers made some questionable choices on this album: leaving certain songs off the album (a trend that started with The Red Album), stopping work with producer Jacknife Lee, and more or less putting an album together that is really just a hodgepodge of ideas. I find myself wishing I could hear more of the recording sessions with Jacknife Lee (and you can if you get the bonus edition of the album) and wishing that someone stepped in here to help Rivers craft a really good Weezer album and also a really interesting solo album.

IF YOU’RE WONDERING IF I WANT YOU TO (I WANT YOU TO)

Songwriting: A great pop song, but at the same time I don’t know if it is really a song Weezer should have done. Would’ve been great on a Rivers Cuomo solo album.
Arrangement: Very pop rock, very Weezer verse chorus verse chorus bridge.
Production: The acoustic guitar rings out in this song
Performance: A wonderful bass line by Scott and a galloping drum beat by Pat.
SCORE: 6

I’M YOUR DADDY

Songwriting: At this point, Rivers was 39 years old when he wrote this song. I’m 37 at the moment of this writing and I’m just gonna go on record and say that writing a song called “I’m Your Daddy” in your 30’s should just be illegal. If you can look past the lyrics, the bridge is pretty good.
Arrangement: Standard pop rock stuff. Nothing special here.
Production: I really appreciate the guitar sound in the verses.
Performance: Rivers and who? I don’t hear a lot of Weezer on this track. Feels like Rivers and a band of people.
SCORE: 5

THE GIRL GOT HOT

Songwriting: A good boot stompin’ pop rock song. I feel like you can never go wrong with a groove like this.
Arrangement: Pretty standard stuff here. The bridge/solo part is really great.
Production: Good stuff to emphasize the boot stompin’ groove.
Performance: A great performance on this one.
SCORE: 7

CAN’T STOP PARTYING

Songwriting: I guess it’s an ok song, but it just doesn’t feel like a song Weezer should be doing. At this point in Rivers’ career, I’m thinking he should’ve started up a solo project for songs like this.
Arrangement: I mean I guess it’s fine. I don’t know. At this point this new direction is just tiring me out.
Production: It sounds like something that should be on the radio.
Performance: It works, but it doesn’t move me.
SCORE: 5

PUT ME BACK TOGETHER

Songwriting: A tired attempt at a pop rock song. Sure, it has you singing along but the minute it is over it is out of your head
Arrangement: More basic stuff, and at this point it is really just very tiring.
Production: Designed to make you tap your feet and hum the melody.
Performance: The band goes through the motions on this one.
SCORE: 4

TRIPPIN’ DOWN THE FREEWAY

Songwriting: Bizarre lyrics, a great melody, and a killer chorus. Rivers does pop rock right on this one. I wish he would’ve done more like this.
Arrangement: Basic stuff once again, but you don’t notice how basic it is because the song is so good.
Production: Great little touches from the background vocals really give this song a personality.
Performance: You can hear the band being excited about this one and that is what you want.
SCORE: 10

LOVE IS THE ANSWER

Songwriting: A really wonderful pop song at the core. Great verses and chorus.
Arrangement: The song flows nicely.
Production: The production takes this song down a notch. There’s so much going on in this version of the song that it is distracting. And forgive me for saying this, but it just isn’t a Weezer production. Other versions of this song are much better. For starters, hunt down the (gasp!) Sugar Ray version of this song. It is, in my opinion, the definitive version.
Performance: Rivers and some studio musicians. Not Weezer.
SCORE: 7

LET IT ALL HANG OUT

Songwriting: In one ear and out the other. Designed to hook you but it never does.
Arrangement: So basic that it hurts.
Production: Why does this song sound louder than the rest of the album? It just make me want to skip it even more.
Performance: Cookie cutter rock band production.
SCORE: 2

IN THE MALL

Songwriting: A song by Patrick Wilson. Not one of his best, but compared to some other songs on this album it stands out.
Arrangement: The middle bridge/breakdown section is interesting but overall is lacking something.
Production: It emphasizes the rock, and that seems to be Pat’s thing.
Performance: The band seems to be into it more than most of the songs on this album.
SCORE: 5

I DON’T WANT TO LET YOU GO

Songwriting: A great song that marries classic the 50’s pop sound with some Weezer touches. The song feels good to listen to.
Arrangement: Very basic, but it is good for this song as it allows that brilliant melody to shine.
Production: Sometimes I wonder if it is too much, but for some reason it works for the song.
Performance: Feels a bit like Rivers and the occasional flourish from a band member.
SCORE: 8

THE FINAL WORD

Raditude is a really weird moment. I think there should’ve been a split in the band at this point. Rivers should have given part of his energy to putting together really good Weezer albums here and there and then given the other part of his energy to writing pop songs with others that would either be recorded by other artists or put on a Rivers Cuomo solo album. Raditude changed Weezer forever and probably not for the better. I hear less of the band on this album and to me that’s not a great thing.

TOTAL POINTS: 57
AVERAGE SCORE: 5.70

Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Music, Titusville, PA

Prozac Is The Dam & I Am The Dynamite

It feels really good to create music and then release it out into the world. This collection of ten songs was especially great to create and now release out into the world. I didn’t expect this album to happen. I had already released an album (EITHER WAY I’M FINE) and remixed/remastered my entire catalog earlier in the year. So when these songs started flowing out of me I captured them as quickly as I could. In just a few months time, I had a full album on my hand and I just thought why not put it out into the world? 

The album came together during a weird period in my life. In June 2017 I began weaning myself off of Prozac. It was in the planning long time in advance. My thought was to do this and nothing else in the summer. However just about a month after I began my Prozac journey these songs started happening. I felt a creative fire inside of me that I had not felt in years. The music and the words came out so easily and everything just felt so right. I couldn’t set this stuff aside….I had to record it, complete it, and release it. So here it is…ten songs written and recorded in the middle of a drug withdrawal. I hope that people out there will enjoy this album and those that are going through the side effects of anti-depressant withdrawal can really get something out of it.

The original announcement