Thursday, August 30, 2012

kids care about the world

isaac 01

I've pretty much spent the week either readying for or enduring Isaac up at the office, the basement of this building becoming the whole world for a bit.

Jamie Lidell, Compass and Jim
Matthew Dear, Beams (via Spin)

isaac 02

We just got to come out in the daylight now that Isaac's slow warpath has passed. The craziest thing this storm did was knock all the osage oranges out of the tree near the office. Maya said she remembers when she was a kid we'd come up here and gather some and plunk them in the fountain in the quad. The Avett Brothers are singing right now about "when I was a kid". Y'all are all still kids.

The Orb, C Batter C

isaac 07

We stayed the night last night to bask in the University's infrastructural fortitude and to shepherd the LSU Student Media staff, for which I am proudly an adviser, through their storm coverage. They were packed up in here in a massive sleepover. I stepped out at 12:30 in a daze to see them darting silently from door to door. Hide and seek is a thing they do when it gets squirrelly. I really admire these kids. They are nice as hell - the radio station manager brought is some French press coffee yesterday afternoon - but they are also staying the course. There was plenty of clowning around going on but I stumbled into a debate raging over the RNC in the break room and was, oh yeah, these kids care about the world. They are gearing up to go cover the Governor's speech as I type this.

Dan Deacon, America
El Ten Eleven, It's Still Like a Secret
Gentle Giant, Acquiring the Taste
Return to Forever, Romantic Warrior

isaac 03

I was never so happy to see cafeteria breakfast hours posted in an email.

The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter (via NPR)

isaac 04

So yeah, we are in the hurricane honeymoon where we are all in it together, three days of power outages out from it being all Thunderdome with old ladies spouting theories about who gets bottled water from a truck and who doesn't, calling the radio station demanding answers from the government and the power company. At least Saturday's game is still on. We retain some values.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Sliders, Q Bowl, and Robot Devil sauce from Bushwood BBQ. The season has cycled to the point where we huddle in restaurants to watch the Weather Channel and pretend we understand meteorology. Then the bad Weather Channel music comes on and it clashes with the bad restaurant lite rock and I'm not sure, I'm no meteorologist, but that is a little like how storms are formed.

David Lipsky, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace 
Kronos Quartet and So Percussion, Reich: WTC 9/11, Mallet Quartet, Dance Patterns
Brad Mehldau, Highway Rider
XTC, Skylarking

Have I mentioned that my daughter listens to side one of Skylarking over and over? I want to gently inform her there is a side two, and that there are unique sonic pleasures to be found in "Sacrificial Bonfire" but whatever. There is a world of more maddening choices. That is what makes for hurricane preparedness around here. BBQ & XTC. I think we have some water but generally we don't need any. Maybe we'll just show up at your house if things get too primitive under Isaac's wrath. "Hi, everybody!" is what we'll shout from the driveway. "We're here!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fête Rouge

This was the business at hand at the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society's Fête Rouge event. I was sat on stage with the Country Roads crew judging the whites. We wondered if it is because they saw us as the whitest magazine in Baton Rouge, but I'd argue there are some more likely contenders in town. We requested a spot at a moonshine table next year should that scene take hold here.

#3 was my favorite, deemed by me to be "snow just before it dissipates". One I enjoyed less was "like jumping off a trampoline into a waterbed" meaning it sounds like a good idea at the time and then it isn't. Wine tasting is a poet's labor.

I blame the quality of the following photos on the preceding quantity of wine. You are supposed it spit it out, you say?

Iggy Pop, New Values
The Remains, The Remains
Lyres, Some Lyres
The 13th Floor Elevators, Easter Everywhere

King Tuff, King Tuff
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Lyle Lovett & His Large Band

There were so many amazing little things to eat, and by amazing, I don't mean the way cool people describe the near-random doings of their layabout friends, but stuff designed to amaze. The above seared tuna wonton topped with Pacific rim salsa by the Edible Event was a key example. I almost skipped it. Who wants catering hors d'oeuvres when the area's finest are flaunting their finery? But, damn! it was balanced like a tightrope walker, revealing layers of salt and tart and breadiness and vinegar each time I walked away. Maybe because this dish was made for this event, catered and all; it was one of my favorite items on offer.

I want to play some kind of high stakes 3-D chess against a drunken eastern European galley cook using this array of duck terrine morsels.  One of them could be poisoned and each player has eat his captured piece.

This slider topped with bacon and a quail egg from Fat Cow surprised me in that I really liked it. I don't care for how Fat Cow does its patties; they squeeze the life out of them leaving one's $15 lunch to be carried by gourmet toppings and their righteous fries and Austinesque environs. This was right on. Fat Cow, make your burgers like this and I'll sing your praises. Cook them on a butane skillet in a hotel ballroom and have them ferried to your restaurant if that's what it takes. Also, let go of the sweet bun thing. It doesn't help.

I will take a similar spoonful of the Louisiana Culinary Institute's sweet potato ice cream with lychee caviar minutes after my daily morning espresso. Thanks for asking.

What a mess of people drinking a mess of wine eating a mess of food. The room teetered with excess. I love these kinds of things.

Should you be concerned that I've lost my way in epicurean high cotton, I'm about to get busy with this Classic with jalapeño from Philly Me Up. Bony appetite, y'all!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

controlled burn

WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports
This is a video of the "vent and burn" of the isobutane tanker spill that shut down I-10 yesterday.  I love a controlled burn. My father-in-law was forever conducting or threatening to do a controlled burn on his farm and it sent terror rightfully into the minds of everyone involved but I like how it was a problem solver in his mind. In tribute, I offer it up as a solution to pretty much any problem. I think sweet thoughts about old Robert every time a controlled burn takes place.

The Psychedelic Furs, Talk Talk Talk
Bloc Party, Four
Donald Ray Pollock, The Devil All the Time
Art Brut, Art Brut vs. Satan
The Hold Steady, Separation Sunday
Fucked Up, Year of the Ox
Yuck, Yuck (Deluxe)
Kurt Vile, Childish Prodigy
Atlas Sound, Parallax
Au Ras Au Ras, The Great Nothing

We did "Surrender" in guitar class last night and it occurred to me this morning that you could break into "Pretty in Pink" at the bridge which would be an interesting contrast of messages: exalt our wreckage -> exploit your sweetness. Plus, it would sound cool and the crowd would go bananas.

I really like The Devil All the Time, but I'm ready for it to be over. I am at the 60% mark and the apocalypse of indignity that is to inevitably befall his characters lies just up the tracks. Where the smoke billows and the blood pools, just over there.  It would make the best HBO series if they were willing to go down in the hole with Pollock's appetite for human degradation and his ability to tweeze out some sweetness from worst people imaginable. It is vivid, cinematic, melodramatic even, horrifying and so human. Like all of us!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


It's downright inspirational out there!

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Mature Themes
Lotus Plaza, Spooky Action at a Distance

Ariel Pink's mom, sister, unidentified
family member.
I met Ariel Pink's mom.

It was years ago, the same night I went out to Birdie's Roadhouse in Angie, LA, which is still one of my favorite places detailed in Louisiana Saturday Night. Did I mention my book Louisiana Saturday Night to you?  At least the Kindle and Nook versions? That you can buy it from hippie Portland book stores too? Surely I must have.

Hey, classes went great today! I felt like I knew what I was talking about. I think they may have listened. Education may have occurred.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ecstatic state in today's youth

Ecstatic state in today's youth brought on by the mural at the dry cleaners. And maybe chemicals at the dry cleaners.

Janka Nabay & the Bubu Gang, En Yay Sah
Orchestra of Spheres, Nonagonic Now
Paris Suit Yourself, My Main Shitstain
Liturgy, Aesthetica
Marnie Stern, Demo
Lightning Bolt, Wonderful Rainbow
Breaking Bad
My syllabus

Terry Riley, A Rainbow in Curved Air

Prince, "Purple Rain"
Medici String Quartet, Janáček and Fauvré: String Quartets
Emerson String Quartet, Intimate Voices
Owen Pallett, A Swedish Love Story
Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan
Robert Wyatt, Ruth is Stranger than Richard

This teaching life. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking teaching is a cushy gig. And I'm not doing even a quarter of the work an elementary school teacher does. I have three classes, two days a week and I'm already dizzy from piercing the clouded attentions of sixty college students with whatever I have to say on the subject of communication. One class is from 2:30 - 4:30, naptime for the contemporary American post-adolescent. I asked them what is up with the napping with their generation and I received barely hidden yawns as my answer. I'm hoping to bring them up to a "visit to the dry cleaners" level of enthusiasm by midterm.

I'd forgotten how heavily "Purple Rain" leans on its string section. It's like when you glance back to notice that every song in the 1980's had a saxophone solo in it, and somewhere we lost our coupling with the instrument and had to find a whole new way to get the pop music message across.

My first real interface with string music (and in many ways, with Music) was a recital of Janáček's second quartet when I was in college, about the same age as my students now. I remember thinking it sounded like "doing algebra during a plane crash" but I don't know if I feel that way now. I got invited to the reception and remarked to the cellist that I got into the arts because they always had great snacks at the parties and he said that's what attracted him as well.

From here.
I went to a party at a colleague's house (great snacks) over the weekend and he had a Red Grooms three-dimensional lithograph in his foyer, similar to the one at the left, but of a newsstand. I have colleagues now. With art collections. And dry cleaning. Weird.  At least there's snacks.

Anyway, he acquired it from a former editor who had it in his office and he made it known that he wanted it when the editor retired and he got it. Not saying anything. Just sayin'. I don't mean to cause you any sorrow... any pain. Just putting in a word if there is a word to be put. Communication. It's how things happen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

a better reality than a concept

Donald Ray Pollock. The Devil All the Time
Dance Moms

I'm not sure which turns a more harsh lens on Middle America.

Snoop Lion, "La La La"
Lee "Scratch" Perry, Cat "Scratch" Fever
Jonathon "Boogie" Long & the Blues Revolution, Jonathon "Boogie" Long & the Blues Revolution

Lee 'Scratch" Perry is the best soundtrack for getting a mango drink from the Smoker's Palace at 7 AM.

Franz Nicolay, Do the Struggle
One Night Stand in North Dakota, Dissatisfaction
Beirut, March of the Zapitec & Realpeople: Holland and The Flying Club Cup and The Gulag Orkestar
Elvis Presley, Dirty Dirty Feeling

I broke a mandolin string at Adult Music Club from rocking too hard. We played Fleetwood Mac and a reggae version of TLC's "No Scrubs" which is a better reality than a concept.

Swamp Dogg, The Excellent Sides of Swamp Dogg Vol. 1
Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton

This week is taking a toll on my blogging habit. I was wondering if a full teaching load (which hasn't even started yet) would bring an end to the arguably pointless detailing of every album to which I listen, but I'm soldiering forth. Look at all these jive-ass album covers! Where are you gonna see them arranged just so? Nowhere.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

the world is weird


Tell us about that time you lived in the toolshed with the old Mexican man with the nightmares, Billy Bob.

Billy Bob Thornton with Kinky Friedman, Cave Full of Ghosts: The Billy Bob Tapes
Grinderswitch, Macon Tracks and Pullin' Together
Henry Kaiser, It's a Wonderful Life (via the UBUWeb Avant Garde Project archive)
Donald Erb, Donald Erb I (also form UBUWeb's AGP)
Peter Novelli, Peter Novelli
Otis Taylor, Otis Taylor's Contraband
MC5, Kick Out the Jams
Melvins, The Maggot

On Macon Tracks, second-tier southern rock band Grinderswitch sounds like Paul Stanley of KISS fronting Creedence Clearwater Revival. They are better than that on Pullin' Together, but just let the image of Paul Stanley fronting CCR set in your mind a little. Picture a state fair or minor outdoor festival, scraggly long haired rhythm section wondering what their lead singer is doing with that face paint and the really tall boots.  I'd've never heard of Grinderswitch were they not mentioned in the Billy Bob Thornton book, which I would've never started reading had it not popped up on the the library's Overdrive eBook site. I'm glad it did. It's the best sort of book. It's like if John Fante's Arturo Bandini were real and had made it big and that bigness only further shored the barriers against harnessing success. In the chapter detailing the nature of his OCD and phobias, he offers the following about why he is not afraid of Komodo dragons per se, but that he doesn't want them to exist.
"Now I'm all for saving animals but Komodo dragons are dinosaurs and have no business here."

I endorse the Billy Bob Thornton book with the same enthusiasm that Nicolas Cage's character in Wild at Heart does his snakeskin jacket. Put it on your syllabus, or let me teach a class where I can put it on mine.

Speaking of endorsement, I did a podcast conversation with The Cargo Culte about my own book. I'm beyond flattered; I've been following their site for years thinking myself as somewhat of a fellow mystic traveller and now I get to ride up front in the Illuminati truck. Get it in your talking box machine via this link.

Now if I could only conduct my life in such a manner so that my minor works are archived on UBUWeb. They have the best stuff. I watched part of Orson Welles' first surrealist movie on there and am delving into the Avant Garde Project recordings. Composer Walter Cianusci wrote a piece for me, Email Sonata for Alex V. Cook, or realized an idea I put out on FLUXLIST, a Fluxus oriented email list  It was something like this:
Set the email alert sounds on your computer, or use the default sounds.
Send yourself emails.
The resulting alert sounds are the song.
Not too bad, and it is up on UBUWeb on Walter's page. It sounds like a slowed down version of this Henry Kaiser album I'm listening to. Did you know that Henry Kaiser is also a renowned cold-water research diver?  He is the focus of Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World. It is worth seeing just because the world is weird down there under the ice. The world is weird everywhere, which is what I think I'm saying in the podcast and in the book and in general. Look how weird it all is! It's right there, being weird, waiting for you to look at it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

the twenty-first century

Edison footage of Mark Twain and his family via the Smithsonian. I love how jaunty people are when they walk in Edison's movies. We just bopped everywhere in the twentieth century.

The Fratellis, Costello Music
The Libertines, The Libertines
The Kooks, Inside In/Inside Out
French Kicks, The Trial of the Century
Les Savy Fav, Cat and the Cobra
No Age, Weirdo Flippers

It's not until I spend time around students that I remember that people have spent a majority chunk of their lives in the twenty-first century. I'm not sure it means anything; the century divide was largely a bust when Y2K failed to shut down The Mainframe of the World. When Rodney King died, I remarked to a couple of the students in the student newspaper office that there was surprisingly little chatter about it on Facebook where every death becomes a parade and he said, "Well, we [our generation] aren't really aren't sure who he was. I know he started the L.A riots and all but..." I wondered if he was going to add, "Or was that O, J.?" so I set him straight, or at least sent him to Wikipedia.

I think I saw French Kicks or maybe just remember a 2004 when bands were "ripping off French Kicks." Now I wonder if any of the French Kicks have to stop to remember they used to be a French Kick. That was years ago, they might think.

I woke up with this song from way back in 1997 wedged in my head, or at least the one little bit where he tells Gladys Knight he loves her. It is older than the aforementioned students can actually remember. Have a good weekend old and young people of America and beyond.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pretty sure

Mastodon/Feist, Mastodon/Feist
The Notorious B.I.G., Greatest Hits
SpaceGhostPurrp, Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp
Madlib, Madlib Medicine Show #11: Low Budget High Fi Music and Madlib Medicine Show #7: High Jazz
Prefuse 73, The Only She Captures

Tom Waits, Frank's Wild Years
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Your Funeral... My Trial
John Cale, "I Wanna Talk 2 U"
Lonesome Sundown, Been Gone Too Long
Rockin' Tabby Thomas, Going to New Orleans
Chris Thomas, Cry of the Prophets
Joe Guitar Hughes, Texas Guitar Slinger

Here is a picture of the broken phone taken with the new phone. That image of the broken screen is being used as the wallpaper for the unbroken screen in the new phone. Pretty sure I short-circuited the fourth dimension with that move, but we, of course, will never be able to tell because we are in the event's causal universe now. I'd have to break this new phone to find out for sure. It's a matter of time until I do.

Think about how stupid "changing the wallpaper on your phone" would have sounded fifteen years ago. See? I did it again!