John Roderick’s Answers & Advice: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Passing on Auto Shop was almost as bad a move as that earring, Dad.

You are required to use one of the following tools/instruments in your band—AutoTune, harp, or theremin. What would you choose and why? Cheers,


Roderick: In small doses I have used ALL THREE, because it is required by the Indie Rock Code of Conduct that I utilize each and every annoying instrument in the world at least once or have my commitment to Sparkle Motion questioned. But you’re asking which of the three I would FEATURE in my band if I were forced by a totalitarian cabal of Indie Fascists to conform to “twee standards” by hiring five extra twits in gingham shirts to stand there making whale sounds and looking bored.

Indie bands are locked in an arms race to see which can have the greatest number of moon-faced hurdy-gurdy players onstage at once, a contest in which everyone loses. I suppose I would pick the harp, because at least they are excellent at signaling the start of a dream sequence.

How does a man no longer in his youth dress well without looking like a douche?


You’re making the somewhat flawed assumption that it’s possible for the average adult male to age gracefully no matter how he dresses. Have you seen Harrison Ford lately, with his shitty little earring and his dad jeans? If he can’t manage the transition gracefully, what makes you think there’s any hope for you?

The fact is you’re tired and misshapen now, and the only remotely classy option is to buy your clothes from fly-fishing catalogs and golf pro shops. If you can’t handle the thought of dressing like an old man and hope to remain urban and cool, you need to resign yourself to looking like a creepy oaf.

I was at a show recently and I thought I had been magically transplanted into Mars Hill. It’s not the music. It’s the vibe. And all the people who really love Jesus. Am I the only one to notice that part of Seattle’s local music scene is beginning to look decidedly Christian?

—D. Ball

There are several forces at work here. On the one hand, Evangelical Christians realized a few years ago that their strategy of condemning rock ‘n’ roll as “Satan’s Negro Jungle Rape Music” wasn’t really filling the pews with young people. Suddenly, those same “taboo rhythms” were deemed appropriate church music, as long as the lyrics were ambiguously about Jesus rather than ambiguously about teens humping in cars. During this same period, rock music was assailed from the other direction by Antioch feminist-studies majors and Olympia punk-rock white knights who decreed that ambiguous lyrics about teens humping in cars were sexist and hurtful and colonialist. Somewhere along the line, the two schools of thought crossed paths.

Now rock musicians all have comb-overs, dress like youth pastors, and gently remind each other in soft voices not to use prejudicial or suggestive words, while hard-core Christians are covered in tattoos and denim and grind against their amplifiers while cursing and screaming gibberish.

If the show you attended felt like a sweet-natured praise circle, it was probably a completely secular rock show by one of Seattle’s edgiest indie bands. If you were at a Christian show, it would have felt more like Jane’s Addiction.

How do you change the drive belt on a ’67 Chevy Caprice? Yours truly,

—Kimber Smith

My freshman year of high school I signed up for French II instead of Auto Shop, with the smug certainty that since I was on a “college prep” path, if my car ever broke down I could just throw $100 bills at grease monkeys until one of them fixed it. Unfortunately for me, I flunked French. I then proceeded to not graduate from college, not become a high-powered lawyer, and, in the final irony, develop a total fascination with classic cars. Here’s what I can piece together from your question:

The drive belt is something that is apparently not the drive shaft nor the timing belt, unless it is just a different name for one of those that only Chevy people use. I’m inclined to think that you’re making it up, like asking me how the spanner fits into the Ansinger gear spoik. Then again, it might connect the cam lifters to the leaf springs. I’m guessing that it is somewhere up with the other belts there, by the radiator, and my money is on it being the bottom one.

You will almost certainly need a wrench, maybe two, and you will need to loosen and/or remove parts until you are holding the old drive belt in your hand. Trade it for a new drive belt and reverse the process. Voilà!

Send your questions and conundrums to