Monday, July 16, 2012

scenes from the high life

Here's where I was.

Alex Ross, Listen to This
Mission of Burma, Unsound
Black Francis, The Golem
Yes, Tales from Topographic Oceans
Ned Rorem, Nine Episodes for Four Players/Dances/Spring Music

I WAS HERE at Beckham's Books where I picked
up the Alex Ross book and was delighted
to see my book in there as well. I signed them like
I am somebody
I picked up a copy of Alex Ross' already excellent second book Listen to This (his The Rest is Noise is the best book ever written about music.) while in New Orleans this weekend and am trying to trace the progression from Mission of Burma to the Eroica Symphony but I didn't make its quite there.  Mr. Ross does I attempted the reverse of what Mr. Ross does so well in the opening piece, his all-"classical" post-adolescence sliding into slumming it with the college radio punks. There are music writers whose stuff I admire and emulate even, but his is the kind of stuff I wish I knew how to do. History and context and anecdote and love and disdain and he makes you hear the music. I'll get there one day.

(Edited to add: Perhaps copy editing is his secret.)


It should be stated that the new Mission of Burma, about which nobody is talking - are we finally over our post-punk nostalgia thing? - is a gleaming orb of righteous rickety racket, telegraphing over the lines like an urgent message from your youth, a message of "KEEP GOING STOP KEEP GOING STOP".

I'm working on the story about the Audubon Cottages for the August issue of Country Roads so I won't say much more than I'm worn out from being so relaxed. Re-entry to my less pampered workaday, though, has left me even more appreciative for what I've got. My wife and daughter are aces; I can't imagine better people to roll with. That said, below you shall find scenes from the high life.

Among these depictions of excess you will find


this shot of the second line for Uncle Lionel as it made its way toward us.  The way New Orleans publicly experiences the passing of one of its own is as outsize and peculiar as the way it celebrates itself. There is a discussion brewing about this on my friend Alex Rawls' My Spilt Milk blog. It struck me that the public outcry for someone that likely a lot of the participants do not know personally is not unlike how Facebook sometimes becomes a parade of RIP's. It is sweet and maybe a little morbid and maybe that morbidity makes it a little sweeter, a little more revealing about how loose the threads between us might be when the weave is exposed.  I don't know.

In that vein, RIP Kitty Wells. The closest I ever got to Kitty Wells was repeatedly almost buying a concert poster in an antique store I used to visit near our loft on Kansas City. You retrace your steps a lot with a stroller baby in the Midwestern winter and notice all the little details on your route and I think about that time of my life every time Kitty Wells' name is mentioned. 92 years old, y'all. Maybe God did make honky tonk angels, or maybe the someone else just made them built to last.

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