Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bask in them

In order of appearance from the last 24 hours: The mighty Andre Williams (subject of my OA Music Issue piece) at Chelsea's last night, a succinct hour of old school rock 'n' roll laid out by a 76-year-old bad muthafucka. I got a signed copy of his book Sweets and Other Stories. Notice the blue lizard skin shoes that match his suit, or as my friend Jerry put it, "Bask in them." Videos forthcoming; an unexpected treasure trove of 78's from my parents' house including: "Love is Strange" by Mickey and Sylvia, "Diddley Daddy" by Bo Diddley, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" by the Teardrops featuring Frankie Lymon, and, my personal favorite, "Life Problem"/"Congo Mombo" by Guitar Gable and the Musical Kings, highlighted on the Ponderosa Stomp site;My mom's breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches, and; a delicious strawberry-filled first birthday cake for my sweet ol' niece Luna who I finally had the pleasure to meet today.

Not pictured: A 78 of Hank Williams' "Hey, Good Lookin'", a three color 45 sleeve for Jimmie "The Singing Governor" Davis' "You Are My Sunshine", a couple of Red Sovine sides, a 45 of the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", and a bound set of 78's by Fred Lowery entitled Whistling For You.

Here is Fred performing "Lola" with Betty Hutton and the Victor Lopez Orchestra.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"Let's do 'Spanish Fandango.'"

The Zinnias - Sand Dollar (via Mystic Signifier via P4K)

The pre-69 Love Songs Magnetic Fields don't really do it for me, but this muddy cassette from Stephin Merritt's pre-Magnetic band the Zinnias does it plenty. It has a fire pure as that from shoplifted lighter. Thanks, Mystic Signifier!

My review of Gil Scott-Heron's latest record I'm New Here is up at outsideleft. Among the bon mots packing the review I call the elder poet "A snake charmer with a cobra fed on a diet of a desperation, insight and hope."

Also appearing on the Internet is a Country Roads (in the March 2010 issue) story I wrote about mountain dulcimers and the people that play them and the festivals they have so that the people that play them may gather in surprisingly large numbers and play them. Like at this one across the river in Port Allen this March. The above photo was taken at one of the Lagniappe Dulcimer Society practices. I'm not positive, but I believe that might be the woman that sighed, "Let's do 'Spanish Fandango.'"

pretty girls are on the prowl

Massimo Vitali, Sacred Pool Russians. Hierapolis, Turkey, 2008

Over lunch, Massimo Vitali's photo series "Bathers" in the Winter 2009 Paris Review totally knocked me out.

Right before that, I witnessed a spectacular skateboard wipeout in one of the arched walkways that form the perimeter of the Quad on campus. A pretty girl walked by, he craned his neck like we do, and down he went like a brick chimney under a wrecking ball. His skater-loop of keys became un-cabinered in the fall and scattered everywhere. She paused for a second to see if he was OK and he was too dumbstruck to speak. He lumbered up once she left. Not even that pretty but pretty enough, I suspect was his assessment.

So skateboarders and readers of highbrow lit journals alike, beware! for pretty girls are on the prowl today, ready to disrupt your mundane pursuits at any moment with their prettiness!

Christian Zeal and Activity and Lego's

Efterklang - Magic Chairs
Michael Nyman - Man And Boy: Dada (lala)
John Adams - "Christian Zeal and Activity"

I adore this Efterklang record, maybe more than I directly love it or enjoy it. It's a pretty girl smiling as she passes my headphones.

I feel the exact opposite about Michael Nyman's music - I love and enjoy it for its clunky cosmopolitan machinations, the grace of a bull actually navigating a china shop and even fitting in there, but I don't feel blushy and stammery in its presence. Anne Midgette feels the same way in this NYT writeup of his 2004 opera about Dada titan Kurt Schwitters.

Mr. Nyman refuses to let the music do anything as conventional as underline an exit line, leaving many of the 19 scenes to end in a state of suspended animation. He is, however, unable to resist setting the mood with bits of nostalgic dance tunes and other musical evocations of the period, which give the piece texture and enhance its accessibility.

Kurt Schwitters - "Undbild"

I spend a lot of time with generally obtuse music rattling in headphones while walking on crowds, hearing snippets of conversations, the two tempering each other. The other day Charlemagne Palestine's severely tourniqueted melody (one-chord stretched over an hour's time) was in perfect counterpoint to a loud guy on the bus, debating the clarity of the system's bus stop signage with the driver. That's him up at the front on the right.

It reminded me of John Adams' "Christian Zeal and Activity" - a lush string bed holding up a diced-and-scattered televangelist sermon. I work in the notion of having "a withered hand" into my general routines because of this piece. I remember sitting in my dorm room with this playing just as the extended bell tower song kicked off and rustling of the trees and my girlfriend trying to talk to me over it all and it was just one of the best musical experiences ever. A good song, one that is not even a great one, can hold up the whole world.

Some clever person made a Lego movie out of "Christian Zeal and Activity."

I'm not sure the Lego dioramas really support the send-up of sentimentality the filmmaker seems to be referencing in the comments; rather, I think they underscore the sweetness that makes John Adams so rewarding a listen. Maybe I just feel sweet about Lego's because it is a current bonding agent with me and my daughter, but if there is any commonplace item that is all about arranging the abstract to manifest the concrete, it is Lego's.

I feel every which way about the Japanese magnolias outside my office building, hence why you dear readers have been so frequently subjected to their brazen displays. All these pink leaves are about to fall off and I will have to find something else to photograph, but until then...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Location 1880"

Charlemagne Palestine & Pansonic - Mort Aux Vauches (ROOT BLOG)
England in 1819 - Three Cheers for Bertie (MySpace)
Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City (Amazon)
Jaga Jazzist - One Armed Bandit (lala)

I listen to long droney things like the Charlemagne Palestine piece linked above with relish; they order my head like dutiful library pages re-shelving books left askew by careless, fickle patrons, but just the idea of tackling a really long book exasperates me. I chuckled as the protagonist of Chronic City chucked a stand-in for Infinite Jest into an infinite ravine. So, that is why I've never stepped foot into a Neal Stephenson book and probably never will. Chronic City is a mere 480 pages*, a pithy greeting card compared to Mr. Stephenson's tomes, and look how long it is taking me to read that. I'd probably go to my grave with Cryptonomicon tucked under my coffin pillow.

I tore through 2666 (912 pages) with the idea that it was a ransom that would free me from being kidnapped by Roberto Bolaño's writing. And it did.

Thing is, I applaud Stephenson and other long-winders for their muse and how they horsewhip the words out of them. I've found that folks that write long books also write lots of long books in succession; sometimes long series of long books where the story (presumably) arcs over the spines and creates a full and inhabitable world. And even if they don't, look at those gorgeous spines, screaming out among the dull reds and blues of library binding. My Kindle home screen will never look that sexy.

England in 1819, Baton Rouge's own answer to Sigur Rós et. al., is quite a lovely thing. Jaga Jazzist, makers of one of my favorite albums of 2005 has only gotten more interesting.

* I am iPhone Kindling Chronic City, so page numbers become quickly and startlingly meaningless. I'm currently on "Location 1880," whatever that means. Somewhere in chapter six.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the pink hand of an angry God

Dillard Hartford Dillard - Glitter-Grass from the Nashwood Hollyville Strings (lala)
Various Artists - Anthology of American Folk Music, Volume Two: Social Music
Big Love, Season 4 DVD (Amazon)
Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City (Amazon)

I'm going to go out on a limb and say Pretty Goes With Pretty's favorite record is Dillard & Clark's The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark. Every time he posts it I want to listen to it but I don't have it, so this lysergic hayride involving the Dillard half will have to do for now.

Living with a couple hours of the spiritual and social tectonics of Weird Christianity on Big Love every night has made me feel a little sweet about religion as a concept lately, which is I guess how one should feel about it if one is not going to participate in it. I grew up near Nauvoo, Mormon Ground Zero, and use to play Frisbee in the yard of the Carthage Jail where Joseph and Byram Smith were lynched by angry Midwesterners dressed as Red Injuns. When the Hendrickson clan made their pilgrimage in the show, I knew it was the actual Carthage Jail not from the exterior shot, but because the guide didn't point out the blood! There is a blood spot on the floor near the window that is whispered to be that shed by the Prophet.It looked like a blob of varnish to me as a kid, but still! Actual Blood of the Prophet, y'all! If you are going to complicate your life with polygamy over the hocus pocus of religion, then you should be able to groove on Actual Blood of the Prophet.

I love, love Harry Dean Stanton in the role of Roman Grant, the wretched/holy compound leader. It such an obvious bad guy role for this show, but ol' Wiseblood totally ratchets it up. When he's bellowing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" against the howling of the other inmates in prison, when he kisses Bill Paxton full on the mouth, you feel like HDS is probably really crazy like that, and the directors are charged with keeping him from actually crucifying someone.

It made me want to revisit the old weird gospel on the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music. Particularly these three songs:

Rev. Mason Moses - "John the Baptist"

Reverend Sister Mary Nelson - "Judgment"

Memphis Sanctified Singers - "He Got Better Things for You"

I appreciate jwbos1388 posting these songs from the Anthology, but why the Grand Canyon?

Rev. Moses goes right off the rails with his mumbly testimony; one can almost picture the recording engineer looking up in bewilderment. If I had a blues band, we would do a classic soul version of "Judgment" so maybe its a good thing I don't have a blues band. And even if I don;t believe, I love the sentiment of the Memphis Sanctified Singers. It's all the Hendrickson's want, all Roman Grant wants, all anybody wants is for there to be better things for us.

The above pic of the Japanese magnolias look like the pink hand of an angry God, the One True Biggest Whatever, fixin' to snatch that little white van up and dangle it over the flames. Or the Grand Canyon.

The Bard of Highland Coffees

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Who Killed Sgt. Pepper? (lala)

Jim Engster introduced me as "the Bard of Highland Coffees" on his show this morning to talk about Andre Williams' Friday appearance at Chelsea's. Here is a streaming version of the broadcast, I show up about 15 minutes into it."The Bard of Highland Coffees" is a sobriquet I will endeavor to deserve. I talk about Andre in this week's 225 blog, and in case you forgot, in the last Oxford American music issue.

I am worn out from all that linking!

A few assorted photos: the Nabei Udon at Koi, featuring a poached egg atop; 20! or "twenty factorial" as I explained it for some reason to my daughter; the Play-Doh duck of hell; the Japanese Magnolias!; a perfect cappuccino executed by Parisa at the aforementioned coffee shop of which I am now Bard.

The new Brian Jonestown Massacre record is the perfect soundtrack by which to digest this schizoid ego-post. I sorta think of BJM as "rock band factorial"; feeding back on itself, getting a little bigger and more out of control with each step. Like factorials, the BJM is also an interesting function whose best use is to justify an exclamation point.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sean StarWars

Sean StarWars - "Frankenberry vs The Klan," giclee print

Jonathan Lethem - Chronic City (Amazon)
YouTube covers of Owl City - "Fireflies"
Tindersticks - Falling Down a Mountain
Wanda Jackson - "You Know I'm No Good"/"Skakin' All Over"
Johanna Newsom - Have One On Me (streaming at NPR)

Someone on Facebook mentioned Sean StarWars. Twelve years ago, when we were first dating, my wife and I went to a show of his at a little gallery here in town that I showed at as well, one that eventually became Insomkneeack's and is in the process of becoming something else. We have been talking about Sean Star Wars ever since, especially this print of Frankenberry. Sean was before the loosely-conceptual Pop Art silkscreen T-shirt onslaught of image appropriation, at least before it manifested itself down here. An art friend said at the time his little studio in the stadium was a popular hangout because of the Atari 2600 he had hooked up and running at all times; he would just chisel out a woodcut of Darth Vader torturing Indians while drunk MFA slackers played Pitfall. Great to see he's still at it. I may have to get this poster.

Speaking of appropriation, I made a stab at learning Maya's favorite song "Fireflies" on guitar last night and she was slightly horrified. The Jack White-produced Wanda Jackson single is kinda perfect, like a greaser dance-off in the Pussycat Lounge of the mind. The new Tindersticks is my favorite album of 2010 so far. The new Joni Mitchell Johanna Newsom will outlast us all, just like the old Joni Mitchell will.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thanks, Charles Burchfield

Various Artists - Dark Was the Night (lala)

At lunch, I snapped the above photo from the current Art in America so I could remember the painting, "The Insect Chorus" by Charles Burchfield, when I got back to the office. It illustrated an article about Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield, an exhibition at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, curated by the most curious Robert Gober, an artist whose work I will confess to not understand at all and enjoy all the more for it. I've never thought much of Charles Burchfield before, but I think I might be a fan. I'm sure I would be if I attended this show. Maybe, I don't know. Maybe the painting looks more enigmatic curving away on a glossy magazine page than on a well-lit gallery wall. I generally feel that way about the Gerhard Richter paintings I've seen in person. That candle looks so much better on the Daydream Nation cover than it did on the wall.

I do know that I have never said Burchfield so many times in such a short duration, and am likely never to again.

Here is one of those untitled Robert Gober pieces (1999, more info at the Walker Art Center website) that I like to not understand.

I don't even know if the drain in the ground is the piece, or if the photograph of the drain in the ground is, and I like that too.

In the same way, now I'm not sure if I like "The Insect Chorus" (which I have never seen in person) more or less than I like my photo of a reproduction of a photo of it. That roof peak in there made me think of one I saw in Eunice on Mardi Gras

and the Gober photo, a little of this photo of a pitchfork mounted on the side of a City of Eunice truck


and both are photos I like but didn't know what to do with until now. Thanks, Charles Burchfield!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

the ghosts of the Sons of the Pioneers

Frank Tenaille - Music Is the Weapon of the Future: Fifty Years of African Popular Music (Amazon)
Thurston Moore, Byron Coley, and Lydia Lunch - No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground (Amazon)
Johnny Cash - American VI: Ain't No Grave
Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago
Alex Ross - Listen to This
Robert Pollard - We All Got Out of the Army
Zao - L'aguille
James Chance & the Contortions - Live Aux Bains Douches - Paris 1980 (lala)

I am both excited and fearful of the possibilities in Alex Ross's new book. The Rest is Noise is just the best as far as music writing goes, and I'm not sure I need another reminding me I have no business in this business, but the point it to share whatever insights we can pull out of the vibrations so I will take it like a man when I get my hands on it and hopefully it will at least build character.

I came across the incendiary survey of Afrobeat, Music Is the Weapon of the Future at the library and was struck how death is a plumage to many of these artists. The chapter on Fela was subtitled "The Man With Death in his Pouch" and this one about Zao was extended by the sobriquet "Mr. Corpse." Speaking of plumage, wrap yr peabrain around Mr. Corpse's headdress in the above video.

Further speaking death as plumage, yeesh, the American Recordings Johnny Cash records. Don't get me wrong, they are mostly terrific records but, man, I'm glad it's the last and we don't have to watch the old boy wither away any more. The version of "Cool Water" he intones on this final volume is magnificent. I half-expected a spectral choir of the ghosts of the Sons of the Pioneers to rise out of the speakers and carry him home. Keep a movin', Dan...

The No Wave coffee-table book is best used as a checklist of abrasive punk to check out on sunny afternoon and as a reminder that life is short and sharp and I should be listening to James Chance and the Contortions contort Michael Jackson. And get to work.

airtight plastic can

Scrabble on the iPhone
Casino Royale
Jonathan Lethem - Chronic City
Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here
Stereolab - Instant O in the Universe
Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump

You may have noticed the more comprehensive list of media intake at the beginning of these posts. I hope you actually have better things to do than notice this, but in case you are noticing, thanks for noticing. And if I am to be honest about what media has been influencing me the most in this little bracket of time, I would have to include Play-Doh.

Maya cashed in a forgotten Toys-R-Us gift card on a 24-pack of lovely virgin Play-Doh, little cylinders of pure-color possibility. We used to spend many hours on Play-Doh monsters but the Doh and her interest in it seemed to dry up a while back so we moved on, separately a little. It happens.

But we are happily, if temporarily, back on Dr. Frankenstein duty. My dog-faced boy - were I more on my game I'd have named him Jo-Jo - seems appropriately concerned about his proximity to her fang-toothed, multi-eyed sea slug, and nobody wants a piece of "The Tunnel Worm."

As for everything else on the list, I've always liked this song

but Grandaddy is always a bit of a bummer to me. I'm starting to feel like I'm roommates with the guys in Chronic City, occasionally touching base for an hour somewhere in the house and otherwise forgetting they exist. The new Gil Scott-Heron is a revelatory thing about which I will have more substantial things to say, and Stereolab, like Play-Doh in an airtight plastic can, cheerily abides the ravages of time with nary a blemish.

I mused that Jason Statham should be the next James Bond while idly losing at Scrabble during Casino Royale this morning, but my wife intriguingly offered up Michael Chiklis (Vic from "The Shield.") He'd be a definite game changer for the franchise. She and everybody else with whom I am playing iPhone Scrabble is beating the pants off me, but I'm starting to get that it's the final score that wins, not the cleverness of the individual word choices, something that would be good to remember as I work on this book, which I am actually working on.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Full steam ahead!

The Jancee Pornick Casino - The Truth About the Jancee Pornick Casino (website)
Various paintings by Clyde Broadway; Above: "The Dawn Keepers", 8" x 10" Medium: acrylic on board, LeMieux Galleries, New Orleans
Jeffrey Rotter - The Unknown Knowns (Amazon)

Had I not had the pleasure of making Scottsboro, Alabama painter Clyde Broadway's acquaintance this morning at the usual coffee place through the usual people, I might have shrugged "naive" at this painting, but of course, that shrug, like all shrugs, would have been a cop-out. There is no such thing as a naive artist. There might be ones who don't have a total jargonesque chokehold on their muse, or ones use the canvas as a trap to catch what is in the breeze (though I tend to not believe them when they say that's what they are doing) but I've never met one that didn't know exactly what they were doing when they do it.

Clyde explained that these riverboats are at the precipice of the Millennium (more opaquely so in "Leviathan"), a breach in time as arbitrary as one drawn on the surface of a river. The boat in "The Dawn Keepers" is squeezed thin, engines at full spin toward the future as if the millennial turnover is some kind of finish line. I imagined the experience would be similar to that of finishing any race: the runoff, some heavy breathing, hands-on-knees contemplation of one's performance and then casual disbursement. Back to business.

He brought this one up because he likes the angels. I like them too. They part the curtains of night to reveal the painting's light - ultimately all a painting has to physically offer. The painted label on the painted frame and the Plutonian curtains are the metaphysical stairs to reach the image. I'm not sure what the proud, domed temples on the back of the riverboat are yet, but I'll say the steps continue from the frame to the gangplank, through the mysterious interior of the riverboat, on up to the temple and maybe beyond that.

He is having a show in March, 2011 at the LeMieux Galleries, New Orleans, around the corner from the Ogden Museum in New Orleans where his "Elvis, Jesus, and Robert E. Lee" currently holds court.

Picking through the first short chapters - if there is one over-riding characteristic in The New Literature that I will applaud, it's short chapters. You feel like you are getting somewhere. - of Jeffrey Rotter's The Unknown Knowns continued the water theme. The protagonist spends an inordinate amount of time (his own assessment, not a story judgement) submerged in a hotel pool spying the hidden aquatic world. He posits the following:
We're in the habit of calling it the surface of the water, but couldn't it just as easily be the boundary of the air?
I suspect all this boundary musing is going to be justifications for the transgressions that wrecked the guy's life - a hallmark of The New Literature that gets a little old; there are other conflicts besides man vs. himself - but yes, good stuff. Glad to have met this book smiling at the shelf at me with all it's cheery blue, and Clyde, and even Jancee who gave me a copy of his band's CD before roaming off to parts unknown.

Clyde and the other coffee shop tablees, all gathered because of a mutual friend that ain't doin' so hot, contended that the point of this kind of networking, whether internal or interpersonal, is the business of road building, that even when starts and destinations fade away there are still things to see on the road. Good stuff all around. It might have been the coffee talking, or the water, or maybe the dark Leviathan lurking underneath that we try to ignore. Full steam ahead!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Bill Frisell - Unspeakable
Spoon - Transference (lala)
Bill Withers - Still Bill (lala)
Flying Lotus - "Computer Face/Pure Being" (via Pitchfork)
Broken Social Scene - "Work Sick" (via Pitchfork)

Still Bill is the 1972 wellspring of the eternally stellar "Use Me" and "Lean on Me," but Bill Withers + harp + strings is pretty hard to beat

except if you replace that harp with a wah-wah guitar way in the back and a tambourine right by your ear. All the other music listed above is good 'n' all, but they seem like a waste of valuable time that could be spent listening to Still Bill instead. Who are all these other songs, and what are they to you anyway, dad-gummit?

The camellias are raging full-force in case you are keeping track.

Welcome to Team Alex Cook!

Charles Mingus - Me Myself An Eye (lala)

Yet another Alex Cook has emerged, this one the composer of Transformers: The Musical, embedded above. She, I believe it's a she - there is a different actor playing Bumblebee in the video, provides the voice of Bumblebee.

It really was a coincidence that I was playing such an introspectively-titled Mingus album when this video revealed itself. Or maybe not. I understand that the ego instructs its host to organize the world to only see others as a reflection of oneself. Like the whoops in "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting;" are they so God can hear us or so that we can hear ourselves trying to be heard, so on our spiritual checklist we can remark, "Well, I did my part?"

Whatever. Well done! Other Alex Cook, welcome to Team Alex Cook!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

long moist looks of love everlasting

Monk Hughes & the Outer Realm - A Tribute to Brother Weldon (lala)
Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt - Boss Tenors in Orbit (lala)
The Necks - Mosquito
The Heads - various tracks

I went to the campus library to photocopy an article from a 1985 Time magazine. I wonder if one of the shiny students sitting at the endless rows of computers didn't frown what is that creepy old man doing with those books? as I lumbered by with the outsize library bindings cradled in my hands. I inquired where the copy services room was now (It is not where it was 20 years ago) and had to be led like a child to a little machine in the lobby to put money on my ID card, because none of the photocopiers take cash. Then it told me I didn't have an account linked to my card but I could put my remaining $2 in cash on a temporary card, only to discover it charged me $1 for the privilege and that put me exactly $.05 short of copying everything I needed, so I took to photographing the pages with my phone.

The whole ordeal felt Sisyphean as I chucked the temporary card in the trash. We still photocopy things? The only good thing that happened was when I loaded up the images from my phone wirelessly, without a card or any demoralizing Xerox bullshit, and saw this line: He gave her one of those long moist looks of love everlasting. It kinda made the whole exercise worthwhile.


The Magnetic Fields - Realism (lala)
Big Love, Season 3 (HBO)
Jonathon Lethem - Chronic City Kindle Edition (Amazon)
Adam Green - Minor Love (lala)
Chris O'Riley's From the Top Show 138, Omaha (NPR)

So many things are so good. I never really got in Big Love when it started, but I should always defer to my wife's excellent taste in TV because Season 3 is The Thing. Nikki, played by my Internet girlfriend Chloë Sevigny, is maybe television's greatest character since Tony Soprano. She is wretched and pious and embodies the conflict that the rest of the polygamous marriage - read: society - glosses over because somebody else always handily embodies the conflict. And the deal is, she actually believes the rhetoric that the rest merely utilize.

Bounce that against Jonathon Lethem's Chronic City where nobody believes what they are saying. I'm on Chapter Four. I'm a little uncertain how good this book is - I'm having trouble tearing into it but that may be a Kindle iPhone problem more than one with the writing - but I know it is how I would want to write a novel were I to do so: pit yourself as a once-was drifter (former child actor) between impossible story lines, one around an idolized personal hero (the exact Lester Bangs character that I would probably interject) the other an intangible tangible (his fiancee the astronaut stranded in space, whose letters he compiled in the superb 2008 New Yorker story "Lostronaut") and loosely bind them in a mortar of weed and heady internalized discourse. Big Love is the mechanism of game players while Chronic City is that of the bleachers.

On the above mentioned episode of From the Top, Chris O'Riley asks a young cellist "Are you a rock or a feather?" I missed the context of the question. Does he ask everybody this? The kid was decisive about being a rock, and I guess that is what it takes to be a concert pianist at 17 that gets asked questions on NPR. I feel markedly more feathery, and only partially the "float in the breeze" sense. Feathers are the evolution of dinosaur scales, the bright colors that get you laid, and the coat that keeps the rain and the cold out. I'm still thinking about the feathers on the drunken chicken from Tuesday, but haven't given a thought to the trillions of tons of rock on which the two of us stood. A rock will sit in that stream and takes what-may until it erodes off while the one with the feathers skips from rock to rock without even getting its feet wet. The feather needs the rock, and the rock gets along for a million billion years just fine without the feather. One might strive to be a rock, but I think the feather might be the way to go.

I think the tree out in front of our house looks like feathers against the dusk. Lots to think about. As Stephin Merritt and crew so drolly claim, we are havin' a hootenanny now!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

If I ran Sandals: Garbage Island

John & Ernest - "Superfly Meets Shaft, Part Two" (Jukeboxmafia via Bruce Eaton's BIG STAR RADIO CITY blog)
The Eternals - Black Museum (lala)
Madlib - Madlib Medicine Show #1: Before the Verdict (lala)
The Meters - "Zony Mash" (Boogie Woogie Flu)
Various Artists - Mississippi Records Tape Series, Vol. 37 – Ghost Dance (ROOT BLOG)
Suzanne Vega - "Gypsy"

I wanted to post this picture of the camellias in the backyard while they are still adamant about displaying themselves. It has little to do with the music described below.

All I can say about "Superfly Meets Shaft, Part Two" is wow, that is an abrasive song. Be sure to read Bruce's story about it. The post-everything burglar alarm racket funk of the Eternals will do little to sooth any jarring of contents experienced during "Superfly Meets Shaft, Part Two," nor will Madlib's concept DJ album about the OJ Simpson trial, but the Meters should set everything right for but a moment, but the latest missive from the mysterious Mississippi Records will known down that house of cards.

Or, you could just look at the flowers and be glad you don't yet live on Toxic Garbage Island, the Texas size island of garbage floating somewhere out in the Pacific. A friend and I wondered during the parades how many tons of Mardi Gras beads wind up on Toxic Garbage Island, and then wondered if one day people would build floating resorts on it, like Sandals: Garbage Island. If I ran Sandals: Garbage Island, I would find John & Ernest and have them play their hit single "Superfly Meets Shaft, Part Two" during the Flotsam Luau on a beach made out of actual foam sandals every night as our visitors watch the sun sink into the garbage horizon.

Suzanne Vega remade "Gypsy," my favorite song of hers recently. She would be a suitable substitute were the John and Ernest deal to fall through.

kid feeding his daiquiri to a chicken


I took a lot of pictures during my stagger through Mardi Gras in Mamou and Eunice yesterday, but this kid feeding his daiquiri to a chicken he'd just bought outside the library in Eunice kinda sums it up.

Here is the street dance on the north side of Mamou

and the courir riders (the guys that dress up in costume and collect chickens on horseback) at the street dance in Eunice.

Here are a few other favorites:


The glitter man in Mamou; Cajun Country Queen in Eunice; the Lafayette Rhythm Devils at Fred's Lounge in Mamou


Boudin Ball before; and after


Again, that chicken is my new spirit animal.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rough weekend for guitar players

Lil' Dave Thompson at Teddy's Juke Joint in Zachary, LA, 2008

Dale Hawkins at the Ground Zero, Clarksdale, MS, 2009


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Give Iron Maiden the time of day

Orchestre Philharmonique De Monte-Carlo, James DePreist cond. -
George Tsontakis' Four Symphonic Quartets
London Sinfonietta, Esa-Pekka Salonen cond. -
Stravinksy's Pulcinella
The Jancee Pornick Casino
(via MySpace)
Ruthie Foster - The Truth According to Ruthie Foster (lala)
Sonny Landreth - Levee Town

While parading, I met the guitarist/singer for the Jancee Pornick Casino, a one third German/America, two-thirds Russian rock trio that features a tiger-print bass balalaika in its lineup. On description alone they are already my favorite band, but behold their rawk majesty. He described the trials and joys of touring Russia by hitchhiking and train because the cops will bleed you dry from bribes if you try to drive, and how "people take a lot of drugs in Southern Spain." I like anybody who will give Iron Maiden the time of day.

Here is my other favorite version of that song by the wrongfully maligned supagroup Zwan from the soundtrack to the excellent Spun.

The presto from Pulcinella is just as badass a thing, if you can believe it. If only old Igor had lived long enough to witness heavy metal, he might have seen some of himself reflected in all that leather.

Share Stravinsky: Pulcinella; Ragtime; Renard; Octet by Esa-Pekka Salonen

Here is the promised video of the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Lawnmower Brigade. Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Year of the Tiger. Image from the calendar in our kitchen from China Taste.

That's the spirit!

Van Morrison - "Brown Eyed Girl"
Owl City - "Fireflies"

In order: The cute one of the organization with some huge beads that she caught off a float at the Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade, establishing her ranking as #1 in the bead procurement game; A venison-kabob grilled by the kind folks with which we paraded. I could quite happily eat only venison forever. The kabob looks like an archipelago; Grilled Spam on a biscuit! We are a pro-Spam family - it is integral to our version of onigiri - but I was surprised to see a Joe Hunter type putting this on the grill. It was thick enough to be juicy, which, if Spam already grosses you out conceptually, should gross you out worse but, yum y'all; The requisite parade Bloody Mary. I was a bit let down that they didn't pop in the pickled okra, as is the custom here, but it did the trick that Bloody Marys do; The masses. We caught the parade not in Spanish Town proper and I have to say, I enjoyed the parade part much better this way. STown is much more suited for the mayhem aspects of post-parading; Finally, myself reflected in the baubles of one who I love, which seems a fitting thing on this Valentine's Day.

Not pictured: the poor dude who was trying to get back to where the hell he parked with a bag of beads perched precariously atop his rolling ice chest. He took a turn wrong and the beads fell off, out onto the concrete, which prompted his equally drunken spouse to publicly exclaim, "GODDAMMIT Fred! You are such a fucking idiot!" That's the spirit! Somehow I think this was not the dumbest thing Fred has done, even that day, nor was the incident really a product of his proclaimed stupidity.

Maya heard "Brown Eyed Girl" booming out of some soundsystem during our epic hike to the parade catching site and said "Hey, I know that song!" I'm glad she has mastered the musical sophistication of 90% of everyone. She also heard "Fireflies" from Owl City from another camp and surprised me by knowing most of the words, despite her radio station of choice being exclusively Country Legends 107.3. It's good to be worldly.

Speaking of, I started reading Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux, about his late life revisit to Africa, going from Cairo to Cape Town to wallow in the continents misery and celebrate its joys, but also to be incommunicado for a while. Upon leaving he proclaims
I am outta here, I told myself the next Web site I visit will be that of the poisonous Central African bird-eating spider.
I don't share his desire to be off the grid at all but again, that's the spirit!

I will have a video of the famed lawnmower brigade of Spanish Town Mardi Gras up shortly.