Friday, August 31, 2007

Velvet Lunchtime River Road Vortex

I grabbed lunch at the grocery store, intending to take a quick drive along the river, devouring it on the way and hitting my second client of the day. Usually when I get to Bluebonnet and want to do this, I hang a right, take Gardere to River Road, go right until I hit Brightside, drive past the deaf-school (and admire that they are the "War Eagles") and take the wasteland road of Burbank back to work.

Today I figured, hey, I'll turn left on Bluebonnet, take the next road to the river and loop around that way. KLSU was surprisingly in effect, starting with some innocuous cover of Lou Reed's "Stephanie Says" - the so cold in Alaska one, treading that urban country rock vibe VU/Reed never really quite gets the credit for inventing. To my ears, they had more sonic impact on The Eagles than they did The Ramones, especially the third VU album. I love it when radio is your friend.

So after the 4th song, I start thinking, I have been driving down River Road an awfully long time, and I pass the ramp for the Plaquemine Ferry and I know that I am somehow way out. Still I love plowing down River Road too fast, (like 70, I drive a 15yo Corolla) feeling the curves and contours of the empty road slinging me and the detritus in my car around. Cows wandering up on the levee. Weird little shacky houses too close to the road. Stands of thick trees hiding something. That sand pit on the river so immense that if you stand in the right spot where you can't see the river to your left and the trees off to the back right, you feel you are on a Dali-infinite desert.

I get back to civilization and as I head down Burbank, easily the most heinous road in all this city, the DJ closes his VU fetish set with the viola rattle (though I've always suspected it's a mandolin put through a tape delay) of "All Tomorrow's Parties" - Nico's hoary howl rings out as I pass the lousy chicken place and I pull into my parking spot just as the final harrrranggGGG of Cale's viola arcs quickly to the sky.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Musical Meanderings: The Ogden After Hours

Down on Camp Street in New Orleans, right off Lee Circle, lies the Odgen Museum of Southern Art—a glorious temple to the reassessment of our Southern identity. The boxy front of the building is softened immediately by the presence of lawn chairs in the entryway, creating an inviting front porch.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Russian Caravan Tea

is the bomb. Sitting right on the edge between sweeter, milder English tea and the more wooly Asian varieties. I am on my third cup today. It goes through some transubstantiation process (I always suspected the Russians had a handle on the Jesus hoodoo) with smoky mystery in the cup becoming slightly sweet when it hits your taste buds. It leaves the top of my mouth tingly. It has a bit of a fireplace smell to it, coming from the roasting process. If I was more of a nostalgic person, a thousand bittersweet memories would come rushing back with each whiff.

The Record Crate: Keep Coming Back

I feel like I just wrote about The Drams, the exquisite Denton, Texas, rock outfit that rose out of Slobberbone’s ashes, but if they keep getting better with each show here in town, I’ll keep writing about them. Also, someone lit a fire under The Myrtles...Read more...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thumbing Through Music Lust

Thumbed through at the library this afternoon, and thumbing through is exactly the way to experience this book. The author, Nic Harcourt, is the amiable host of KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, the sturdiest bastion of inoffensive yet usually engaging performance and intelligent interviews with the up-and-comers in the cafe-society pop scene. You will never get SunnO))) melting the monitors or The Nels Cline Singers pushing needles slyly into your brain, but I listened to the podcast of The Clientele a couple times in a row last week and it served as a cocoa butter balm to my soul.

This is part of a x-Lust series of books of which I was previously unaware (in fact, I grabbed it because I mistakenly thought it said Music Slut, and I thought Perfect! Book! Title!) and while he rarely gets in a lather enough for lust (for instance The Barenaked ladies and Siouxsie and the Banshees come up a lot more than seems fitting for the truly lusty), its one-page categories like "Sisters" and "O, Canada" are perfect little conversations, peppered with band names in nice tidy bold print. I walked away wanting to check out some music I'd neglected to listen to/fogotten all about over the years (I know I've listened to Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque a number of times over the years, but I'm drawing a blank when trying to recall it, so off I go) so in that alone, it is highly successful music writing.

I usually strive for Don Quixote (the character, not the book) zeal in my music writing, but here he is the post-stoner uncle with the amazingly comprehensive record collection and the ability to point you to the right Dandy Warhols or Kitty Wells or Plastic Bertrand record for that precise moment.

OK, Completely obsessed with geodesic domes.

I took a long lunch and drove out to find the abandoned KC Southern traincar repair (map, background) off Scenic Highway in Alsen, north of Baton Rouge. It is the ninth largest geodesic dome in the world, and when erected in 1958, was the world's largest industrial used of the architecture, 125 feet high and 384 feet wide. It's all fenced off, which limits how much of it you can see, and I wasn't quite up to meeting the guard and/or dog, should there be one.

Here is the fifties postcard view from the front gate.

I drove around the back side to attempt a closer view.

Zoom shot from the field behind the dome.

At the back fence, I was close, but there were too many trees and vines to be able to get a good shot, and I was thinking "Man, I wish there was some way to get up high and take a good shot of this thing." and I turned and saw this ladder going to a rickety treehouse. I climbed most of the way up and realized I wasn't going to see anything because of the trees, and figured this might be a set-up for grand ironic hilarity if I got up there and the ladder fell away, so I left my afternoon daredevil level set at "trespassing."

Here is the whole flickr slideshow.

Nope. Not obsessed at all. Not with geodesic domes anyway.

This one came out pretty good, and the pattern works for inscribing text thereupon. At first I thought it was too complicated to build but is easier than it seems. But yes, I totally have a brain filled with interlocking triangles and the Divine Hum of ARCHITECTURE!

Somebody showed me a picture of a giant one on the outskirts of town that was used as a traincar repair facility. It's a Superfund site, and this guy told me he talked the guard into letting him peek in. It was up for sale once for $300K, but being a Superfund site, that means it is where they dump alien DNA mixed with asbestos. If something is so noxious that they need to hide it away in Louisiana, it is pretty bad. We have spectacular green sunsets every now and then thanks to the petro-chemical industry.

Here is the google maps image. Click on it to see the interactive map

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Wild Hair Pluck'd From Buckminster Fuller's Ass

So I'm starting to figure out that when you pitch something, it's a good idea to start with a long drawn out description of something that either you might not want to do, or sounds clever but is ultimately flawed, and then throw in your actual good idea as an aside, looking tossed-off, because that seems to be the worm that catches the publishing fish. Like if I said "...or, you could put me and my family up in Iceland for the month of August and I could hang around with Björk, sample the hot springs, maybe spend a day with a lady whose job is to check potential road paths for fairies and elves. Just a thought."

One of these very ideas got a nibble, and it preposterously involves creating a pattern for a geodesic dome that theoretically, the reader can cut out and glue together, and once assembled will see the piece in its greater poetic vision. I'm shocked they gave it the time of day, but since they did, I've spent much of the day crafting a relatively user friendly geodesic dome pattern, and succeeded! so my structural proof of concept is down, now to get the rest of it in order.

What I was shocked by is that there is no quick and dirty origami-stylee geodesic dome pattern on the web, or that I could find. Uhh isn't origami the other reason besides porn, that the Web even exists? Has knitting pushed the swan-makers from their eLympian vantage?

I found a site that showed how you could make a tarp for your dome, and that gave me the magic ratios required. Plus, this push-started my math brain into high gear today and I folded paper and messed with glue sticks like a lunatic. I was also informed that one of my coffee-shop people, unbeknownst to me, is considered somewhat of an expert on geodesic domes and might possibly be able to show me how to make the perfect one.

I read a shitload of Buckminster Fuller back around the time equal shitloads of Alan Watts and Marshall McLuhan made the bulk of the cinder block bookshelves in my apartment days. McLuhan was the king communicator of the pop-philosopher set, especially War and Peace in the Global Village and the deliciously designed The Medium is the Massage. These books looked so cool, groovy paperbacks full of soft bullets to the brain. I think everything they said was generally self-evident, but he said it so well.

The book that really tickled my metaphysical fancy was R. Buckminster Fuller's Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth where he took Nietzsche's concept of the last man and gave it a duty now for the future, positivist spin. He talked at length about pirates, how they were the last true fully-actualized humans: having to master navigation, human relations, morale, discipline, personal presevation, organizational tension, poilitics - everything. Plus, what an awesome title, and he totally justified it in his dry humor without the slightest twinge of hubris. Fuller was a man of brilliant ideas, ones that even today most would agree that their adoption with drastically improve the lives of us all, yet we never will take them on, a realization that possesses the most deafening irony, considering how eager we generally seem to be when a half-baked idea rears its head.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Look Out , Honey, I'm Usin' Technology!

Dig this awesome OG digital projector I got to use for a presentation this morning. All the good projectors were spoken for, so I got this Cylon technology wonder . So what if it can't handle "grey," when the cassette deck hydraulics are engaged to get the lens to extend out the top, you're not just presenting, you're representing. Also dig it's gigantic hard shell flight case sitting behind it. Not to get too sci-fi nerd about it, but the similarities between it and a number of sci-fi icons are undeniably disarming.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Harry Smith's Abstract Films

Most people know Harry Smith as the folk music collector that inspired Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to go find gold in the mountains of song via his Anthology of American Music, but that is but one strange facet of Harry Smith. I was talking to Donald Miller from Borbetomagus this past week (I cannot name drop very often, so I jump at any opportunity) about the occult and Jack Parsons, arch occult master and founder of JPL and basically NASA, and he mentioned hanging out with Harry Smith in NYC back in the day and it sent me back to when my college girlfriend and I discovered a Blockbuster on the outskirts of town that for some reason had the entire Mystic Fire experimental film catalog for rent, so we would hook up friend's VCR's with RCA cables and dub off everything we could find. By 1992, I'll venture I possessed perhaps one of the more formidable VHS experimental film collections in the south, having tracked down and copied Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger, Harry Smith and Maya Deren movies. I had all that shit.

One day I came home to see my stereo in disarray, and a broken window pane directly over my now empty VCR shelf. There was some kind of juvenile delinquent situation going on in the house next door, like the boy was no longer allowed in the house, but would show as soon as his mom would leave for work and hang out with a couple friends on the porch all day. She even boarded up the window he'd crawl through , and I saw him out there with a crowbar in the morning, prying that board off, and then nailing it back up around 4:30. So sad, I can't imagine things ever getting to that point, but sometimes it does, and as a parent, I suppose it's a useful thing to have seen it.

Anyway, I assume it was them, and they hauled a pile of videocasettes through my window, trudged through the heat to the pawn shop around the corner, and subsequently dumped my hard-won collection in the nearest trash can when they woudln't give them a cent for it.

Now though the ridiculous magnanimity of YouTube (really, who has this stuff and goes through the trouble to put it up, nowadays?) Harry Smith's handpainted films can be seen (in probably comparable quality to my sketchy dubs) in a matter of clicks.

I am particularly partial to the fourth one, animated from paper cutouts, but they are all worth the trip, pun intended.

Copious info on Smith can be found at the Harry Smith Archives.

Perfect Song: Neutral Milk Hotel - "Holland, 1945"

I think this is a no-brainer to anyone that's ever heard it. The hooks in this song jerk around like a rollercoaster and send you screaming, plummeting in the thrilling depths of Jeff Mangum's melancholy. I just pitched a story about Jeff Mangum that got not-quite-rejected by a magazine I like, so I am in high NMH obsession mode today. I mean, look at these lyrics, and imagine them issuing from the fevered mind of a shy sensitive boy who was about to become completely famous and as a result would go into hiding. All that love tangled with death, the whole of goddamn WWII squeezed into a metaphor for his own broken heart. I don't know why I'm all caught up on lyrics lately, because usually it's the sound of a song that gets me. Maybe because lyrics just don't make much sense anymore, any half-baked imagery will do - so when something is atom bomb huge, it tears me up. Watch!

The Record Crate: Bluesman Lil Ray to represent B.R.

Lil Ray Neal and his band emerged victorious in the Blues Challenge staged by the Baton Rouge Blues Society at Teddy’s Juke Joint this past Saturday. Usually when I head out to Teddy’s, I know I’ve almost arrived if I start to think I’ve driven too far down Old Scenic Highway. But Saturday night his parking lot was overflowing onto the main road, so there was no mistaking where the action was.

A Musical Abecedary of Self-Aggrandizing, Nerd-Macho Posturing in Appreciative Return for Another's Help

My boy Jimmy is perpetually handy in helping me sort out some knucklehead coding issue that would otherwise plague me for hours, and I am his hook-up for new music, so here is an ad-hoc abecedary of music suggestions from our chat this morning:

10:32 AM me: that did it
in return I will turn you on to the following:
10:33 AM Akron/Family - wild wooly contemprary psychedlic hippie rock
jimmy: awesome. I'll check em out
Good trade
me: in fact hold on, I'm going to go alphabetically until I run out ideas
jimmy: cool
10:34 AM me: Blitzen Trapper - Portland all consumptive rock, like having the best tape case dropped into a BLENDER AND MADE INTO A SMOOTHIE
jimmy: mmm. smoothie
i'm digging this akron family
10:35 AM me: Caribou - brilliant techno-inspired pop that uses live drummer and is refreshing as running through a sprinkler
jimmy: it's like a bunch of hippies ran into a bunch of aboriginees and started playing music
me: The Drones - gothic australian desert rock that makes Nick cave seem like a sundy school teacher
10:36 AM jimmy: i've actually heard this blitzen trapper "Crazy On You" cover before. Good stuff
Do they have a Gothic Australian Desert Rock section at Best Buy yet?
me: Electrlane - female harmonie over driving exquiste poer pop, reduced to its essence
10:37 AM Fela - get anything y Fela, and there is a ton of it but its all goot, esp the album Expensive Shit
jimmy: the electrelane girls are hot
10:38 AM me: Grinderman - nick Caves new sorta garage band
jimmy: Nick Cave is everywhere.
me: Hawkwind - get one of the live Space Ritual albums, lemmy from motorhead was his bass player
Isis - like Tool but more better-er
jimmy: whoa...loving this electrelane
10:39 AM me: Jesu - like Isis but more better-er-er
jimmy: would have to get a lot better than tool for me to be into it, but cool
i'll start with Jesu
there's something cool about a sexy sounding girl mumbling in French over a drum machine
me: King Kong - totally stupid music but comletely infectious
jimmy: awesome
10:40 AM me: LCD Soundsystem - hip girls in shiny short dresses will want to bed you for listening to them
The melvins - useful in driving said girl out of your apartment/car
10:41 AM jimmy: hahahaha
you crack me up man
me: Neutral Milk Hotel - In teh aeroplane under the sea - defintive record of the last 20 years i think
Of Montreal - less defintiive but more fun
10:42 AM jimmy: i'm already digging the Neutral Milk Hotel
Yahoo has been forcing them on me for a month or so now
digging the LCD Soundsystem a lot also
I also have a bus and a trailer at my house
me: Papa M - Live at teh Shark cage - best instrumental rock album ever
10:43 AM Q, the best I can do is Queensryche which I have been threatening to listen to and reassess
jimmy: hmm
me: so maybe you can do that for me so I don;t have to
jimmy: Q is a tough one
don't wanna!
10:44 AM me: r.l. burnside - Mr Wizard - since everyone needs more miss. mountain blues in their live
jimmy: I don't think there are any hidden gems in the queensryche repertoire
me: Sea and Cake - if you ever have to go shopping again, this will get you through it
10:45 AM jimmy: nice. this LCD Soundsystem dude is playing bottles
me: Television - marquee Moon - classic crucial album I'm gues you've never heard
jimmy: I bet his house is awesome. It has robots, PAs, busses, trailers, freaks, etc.
never even heard of them
10:46 AM me: Ulver (hahahaha) just do it dood, it's awesome
Vetiver - wispy angelic folk with more sex appeal than Iron and Wine
10:47 AM jimmy: awesome
so far ulver sounds like someone running through a wind chime store
me: the way high men - local sleeze rock band I think you'd like
jimmy: hahaha
I love them for their name alone
me: wait until Ulver starts destroying said store with viking death rays
10:48 AM jimmy: hahaha
ok...this is weird as hell
and awesome
me: X - you ever listen to X? "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline"
jimmy: it reminds me of that "Shout, Shout, let it all out" song
hmm...never heard of them either
10:49 AM me: Yo La tengo - Electro-Pura, another crucial record
jimmy: love me some Yo La Tengo
me: finally The Zincs - erudite, snotty, perfect pop music
jimmy: haha
10:50 AM awesome. the fact that you can do that makes you the worlds foremost music nerd
me: I am king of all I survey

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Perfect Song: Belle and Sebastian - "Sukie in the Graveyard"

Damn, I love this Belle and Sebastian album, The Life Pursuit. I received a bio questionnaire from a magazine to which I am contributing, a bunch of "what's your favorite line from a song" etc etc kind of questions and right this very moment, I am tempted to answer them all compulsively with this joyous song about an art school girl with an A1 body and a face to match. On this song, Stuart Murdoch titrates the essence of T. Rex, Bowie and Paul Weller and mixes it with rum-filled jellybeans and serves it in an oversized martini glass as you and your secret crush have playful sex in a sun-dappled student apartment in the middle of the afternoon.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stock me up for the winter time

I considered putting "Mr Phramacist" up as a perfect song, but The Fall has finer moments. This video, however is superb, capturing their diffident weirdness while playing up the flatline monotony that makes The Fall perpetually relevant

Notable video star with the polka-dot face is the also perpetually disturbing and relevant Leigh Bowery.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Muffin

A while back, Maya and I were at the coffee shop and we forgot to bring cards with us, so I taught her how to play rock, paper, scissors but Maya kept adding new variants. Basically any vague shape one can make with ones hand is fair game, and its ability to beat something else is highly subjective and often cause for a debate. It is a vast improvement on the game, frankly:

ShapeHand GestureRelative Fighting Skills
Rocka tight fistBeats scissors by smashing, is defeated by being covered by paper
Papera flat handTrounced by scissors, but vanquishes rock
Scissors horizontal "V " signObliterates paper, is smashed by rock
Bowling Balltwo hands making a "hold a ball" shape accompanied by thunder noisesWorks like rock, only much better. Nuetered by Blanket
Blankethand with finger spread outCan oddly vanquish just about anything
Octopus wiggly fingers grabbing opponent's handThis is a judgment call each time, since you can't squash an octopus, but sharp things cut right through it
Muffinfingers making an umbrella shape Everything beats muffin
Dinosaurhands up followed by a roar Usually played as a comical win, espcially against...
Baby Antfinger making a pinch shapeComical loss, except against muffin, since a baby ant can pick off a piece of muffin and carry it back to the hill.
Zombiefinger walking in exaggerated mannerCan defeat anything with a brain. Steps on muffin.

Me and Dan

It's always a good thing to have an idea and roll it around on your tongue, trying to figure out exactly how it tastes, whether it's bitter and chemical or it's smoky and savory. I think good ideas are a mix of the two - links of juicy Italian sausage with little pockets of laundry detergent just waiting to shock you awake. Ideas that do that to you are the best ones to explore and last night, two book ideas I've toyed with came up in conversations with multiple people, and they both are striking me as great ideas with blatant flaws that could sink them.

The first is doing a history/collection of stories of the blues and R&B in Baton Rouge. I know enough people that know stuff that have been forthcoming , offering the coffers of their personal scrapbooks and knowledge. The tricky part would be making this compelling and honest, which is the tricky part with anything.

My other idea, over whose validity which I vacillate a lot, is the Steely Dan book, or more specifically, the anti-Steely Dan book. I am not a fan of the Dan, in fact throughout most of my music listening life I considered them the worst, the depth of what I did not like about music, but a couple years ago, I discovered I was rather alone in this opinion. I would casually mention, in the well-do-you-like-so-and-so music conversations I thrive on, that I hate Steely Dan, and it would be like I said I hated babies, slack-jawed disbelief. I used to think this kind of reaction meant I must be on the right path, but as I get older, and have seen my own opinions and tastes stretch and bend with the wind, I'm less confident in my resolve. I started this project of critically re-listening to Steely Dan to get a fresh perspective a while back, but like most decent conceptual quests, I got three segments into it and then backed off to less esoteric concerns. Looking at other projects equally marooned in the harbor of creativity, I can evidently get three chapters into anything.

But last night, I was in one of those conversations and made my cursed admission and some burnout lurker within earshot felt this to be incendiary enough a statement to compel him to invite himself in and correct the thinking of a complete stranger, which is a beautiful thing in human discourse. If not loving motherfucking Steely Dan can set that kind of dynamic up out of the breeze, I think this book needs to be written.

Here are my first stabs at this from my old blog, and these are stabs in every sense of the word, with viscera dripping off the blade, but far from being particularly useful incisions. But they were fun to write. Part 1, part 2 and part 3

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Max Roach 1924-2007

I will not pretend to be able to speak cogently on the relative qualities of jazz drummers, since that world is its own short circuit, but Max Roach always seemed to bring a haze of cool to everything I ever heard him on. One of my favorite jazz records ever is Charles Mingus' Live at the Bohemia, and while it would be a stretch to consider Roach the star of the session, what with Mingus making the earth rotate with each groan and bump from his bass, and George Barrow channeling Chet Baker the best he can on a tenor sax, it's the first record that I heard cymbals on, like really heard the point of cymbals.

My caveman concept of drumming is that you hit something and it goes thud and things follow that thud, but Roach's cymbals swarm in an out through the cracks, like light passing through trees on a drive at dusk. He creates a light airy mortar that connects the comparatively heavy bricks of ego that comprise the bulk of Live at the Bohemia.

I think it can be relatively safely stated that jazz is a music on the search for a connection - it is a signal sent out among the players and back in feedback loops, building on recombinant actions and reactions, becoming layers of itself, but for that signal to be able to travel, it needs a conduit, and the drumming, particularly the static hiss of cymbals, serves as the axons and dendrons, and I'm thankful Max Roach was kind enough to demonstrate that to a knucklehead like myself.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Solid Gone - Merv, Lee, Tony, Ingmar and Michaelangelo

Lamont and I callously chat our way through a week marred by the deaths of innovators in varying media, over on outsideLeft. I didn't even know Antonioni died, so thick was the carnage. Oh well, I always thought he was riding Ingmar Bergman's coat-tails anyway. READ MORE....

The Biblical Violence of a Well-Tuned Piano

The coffee shop was pleasantly empty when I plopped down at my perfect corner table. The hodge podge of flyers in the window is such that my keyboard is dappled in sunlight but the rest of me is ensconced in refreshing shadow. I thought I may have latched onto a perfect coffee shop morning, where the great work can be done in peace.

Then befitting of my calloused view of the modern condition, both tables adjacent to mine were subsequently filled with murmuring ninnies. One set of perfumed ladies are bemusing that fact that one neighbor is always late and she has tocall her15 minutes ahead so she'll only be 30 minutes late and OH I KNOW!!! and immediately to my back, there is a quiet guy that apparently has no boundary issues, since I can feel his back only inches away from mine. It is an intimacy for which I am not looking, but there are limited plugins in this place, so maybe it can't be avoided. He could've sat at the other chair.

I told my daughter this morning, who is feeling the weighty struggle of the transition to first grade, to try to have a good day today, go into it with a positive attitude, so I want to take that own advice and make lemonade here in this very crowded lemon bin, but then I just heard some business-suited harpy at the counter order loudly A DOUBLE DECAF ESPRESSO IN A LARGE CUP AND FILL THE REST WITH DECAF!!! which strikes me right now as an order so asinine I want to throw a chair at her from across the room. I can see it, if for some reason you want to stink up your breath with the taste of espresso without any of its magical effects, but to then drown the whole mess in decaf is too much to bear. You are ordering something stupid just to make somebody make it. I am not meant for this world today.

So, deep inside this sun-dappled laptop I find La Monte Young's 5+ hour long The Well Tuned Piano - 5 discs of minimalist rolling thunder that, once he gets through 5-10 minutes per disc of arid single notes, comes on in an unending rush, attacks all the stupid people, sitting too closely and ordering stupid coffee and kvetching about the level of control in their social lives, like a swarm of locusts, leaving them bleached, slack-jawed skeletons when each disc comes to an abrupt end. I wish these headphones had speakers pointing out so that I could create a sphere of protection/menace, a forcefield of ice-cold monotonous piano gibberish, an untethered Tesla coil of sonic mayhem laying waste to those around me. Just the idea of it makes me feel better already.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Record Crate: You could say my summer flu by....

Down and out with the summer flu this week, so no shows to report, but there are a couple must-see’s this week. Jason Isbell (the guy that wrote and sang “Outfit” by Drive-By Truckers) and Centro-Matic promise to be the best straight-up roots rock show of the summer. And on Saturday, trek on out to Zachary to witness the Capital City’s finest blues players duke it out in the 2007 Blues Challenge at Teddy’s Juke Joint to see who goes on to represent Baton Rouge in Memphis. By sheer determination and cough syrup, I’ll see you out there. READ MORE....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

James Brown, Little Richard, Lee Greenwood and Weird Al Yankovic are on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune

It sounds like the set up for a terrible joke, doesn't it?

Thank you, death of Merv Griffin, for making WFMU unearth this unearthly segment from your most popular creation.

A couple things worth noting:
  1. Weird Al's extended dance at the beginning
  2. Little Richard looks gargantuan standing next to James Brown, shockingly so. James Brown looks like he could be Little Richard's ventriloquist dummy.
  3. The board at one point says "ASS" on it.

No other delights, actually

I don't usually remember dreams, but I'm in the codiene zone, so I'll take advantage. Last night as I was falling alseep, I kept having flickering sleep-awake dreams of everything in the house slowly being befouled with Cool Whip. Like at fist there would be a little strand on something, or a blob of it would fly off when you grabbed something, increasing until everything was buried under a foot of it, like you had to drag everything through it leaving messy tracks everywhere. The whole house looked like a a parking lot after a heavy snow, with scumbles and tracks and little buildups of cool-whip everywhere.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

John Fahey Explosion

Listen to this bit of brilliance from John Fahey's hand. I think he maybe commands the deepest understanding of tuning - look at how little fretting he's doing compared to how complicated the melody sounds. John Fahey is one of those rare technical geniuses that somehow give me hope for my own guitar playing rather than underscore my own ineptitude.

Then check out how bombed he is on this PBS show. I love it when the host takes his cigarette for fear that he's just going to drop it in the guitar or snub it out on the carpet. TV was so much cooler back then. Low on the expectations, high on the raw humanity.

Finally, this is one of my favorite Fahey pieces. "America" is almost New Age, in fact, it might be responsible for the whole Windham Hill thing as an inspiration, but he plays with wide, ragged brush strokes, veering from Chinese fakery to blues to bluegrass with reckless abandon. Someone set "The Great Train Robbery" in this clip which is cute and all, but the song is the thing.

Dr. Feelgood

I finally broke down and went to the clinic and lo, Dr. Feelgood has left his tony private practice tending to athletes and Rod Stewart and is now rolling with the no-insurance/I-needa-physical set. He hooked me up with a GIANT bottle of Hydrocodone. All I need is some peach soda and I am on my way to nasal health South Houston stylee!

And as I was sitting in my own sufferable stew in the exam room he asked, "You want a steroid shot?" Er, lessee, how would Lil Jon respond? YEEEEEAAAAHHHHHHHYAAAA

For the first time in two weeks, I feel awesome. A congested version of awesome, but awesome nonetheless. I came home and swept the house, ate lunch and then Maya and I made a volcano and a sunflower out of clay. Now I should probably watch El Topo and then go start my own religious cult. Paint that Ragnarök mural on the back of the house like I've been wanting to do. Make a relative link out of every word in this post.

Do the important work that needs to be done!

Or maybe I'll just watch this over and over again: (Mandelbrot set the size of the known universe)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Neu! and not so Neu!

CTD brought up Krautrock band Neu! this morning and it reminded me of the story about their second album Neu 2. Neu! formed when Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger of the original rockist Kraftwerk lineup left the group because of the increasing "machine" aspects of the band. Thier first self-titled album was regional success in West Germany, so they went into the second with high hopes, recording two stellar tracks "Super" and "Neuschnee."

Problem was, the duo started fighting and exhausted their recording budget, so they just remixed those two tracks at varying speeds to make enough songs to fill out the album.

Listening to it now, I can totally hear it on the blatantly titled "Super 78" where the easy glide of "Super" is ramped up Alvin and the Chipmunks style, or on "Hallo Excentrico!" sounds like when I would put the needle on my Blue Öyster Cult records, but turn off the speed, just moving the record with my finger so it would make demons howl from the grooves. It worked just as well (or even better) with my mom's Herbie Mann "Supermann" album.

Still, I think the record works in a Warholian/motorik mashed-up mindset, that if it once was human, it will remain human no matter what is done to it. Pretty ballsy for 1973.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

This must be what it feels like to be jack Bauer, Blogging from my phone.

Perfect Song: Blondie - "Hanging on the Telephone"

I just heard this as I was sitting in flu-misery in the Walgreens parking lot hoping this cocktail of pills and sprays and lozenges will drag me back amongst the living, and like every time I hear this song, I had to stop everything and listen. Blondie's take on The Nerves' minor new wave hit is the best thing ever. Debbie Harry's icy strut run through all that echo, the guitar and keyboards injecting the slightest bit of danger. She is positively writhing, I can't control myself, wants to jump right through the lines and fuck the hell out of me, er, the person on the other end of the line. Who would not pick up he phone if 1978 Debbie Harry was calling? Hell, 2008 Debbie Harry?

Debbie Harry is/was everyone's dream girl. I remember flipping through a photo book at the Waldenbooks at the mall when I was 12, having somehow realized that there were lots of naked women in photography books, and there was a picture of Debbie Harry, sprawled in front of a black car, lifting her sweater to expose one breast, and I could hear and audible clunk in my brain. I don't think I've yet recovered from that.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Perfect Song: The Clean - "Point That Thing Somewhere Else"

New Zealand's finest, circa 1978 and beyond. They were indie rock before indie rock knew what it was. I profess that Yo La Tengo is Spanish for we are nowhere as good as The Clean and "Point That Thing Somewhere Else" is perhaps the finest example of their supremacy. It trundles along with sing song distortion as if its arriving to shore via a surfable wave, constantly crashing as another crest of it rolls in.


Go Widgets!

I re-added to my real-time, online, ego-tronic, lifestyle interface here, so you can go off to the left and listen to what I'm listening to. Now I can have those obsessive minutes back where I dig up album art and post it to the Now Hearing section. productivity, ho!

My profile can be found here.

The Record Crate: The Kids are Alright

Last night I had a particularly serendipitous treat, a show within walking distance to my house. Usually, the music skews toward the punk side of things at house shows, but the crowd will disarm whatever outdated preconceptions you might have of a punk audience. The crowd stood in the impossibly hot dining room of the old palm reader place on Government Street as Richmond, Va.’s Botox Party tore through their abbreviated set (the bill had expanded to nine bands at that point) with wild abandon, and surprisingly, reasonable volume. House shows are very susceptible to neighbors calling the cops over noise, so the groups in attendance were cognizant of that.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Boudin is my madeleine

I have been hearing the praises of the boudin at Jerry Lee's Kwik Stop besung in dulcet tones for many a season, so Maya and I took an overlong drive out to get some, and will be sampling their po-folk rice 'n' pork sausage splendor around my friend's pool this afternoon. According to The Boudin Link, Jerry Lee's is THE place on our side of the river to get the stuff. I've had some, according to them, B- boudin from M&S in Lafayette and it was pretty freaking good, so this A- dope from Jerry Lee's should be the bomb.

Boudin is a tricky sell, because it gets lumped into the head cheese/scrapple category of marginal, regional cuisines - poor folk food made of leftover scraps with filler, but I have come to see boudin as a superior product, surpassing both andouille and tasso (the two local varieties of sausage) that make for good seasoning but lousy stand-alone eating.

I used to get boudin from this little gas station in Houma across the street from the donut shop I worked at in high school. This unfriendly Cajun woman would bring it in from home and let the oversized links rotate in the hot dog rotator so the casing would get perfectly crispy and the inside was nearly emulsified into a paste you would squeeze out and dawb with a little mustard.

I'd sit there there staring at the donut shop across the street, eating this glorious mess over a paper towel, watching the husband of one of the women working there circle the parking lot on his bike. According to lore, he was the third brother in a family that she had married. Divorced the eldest, out lived the middle and hooked up with Jr., who inherited the family no-tell motel on the outskirt of town. He used to sit inside and drink coffee all during her shift to keep an eye on her, in case she try something with some man in the back of the donut shop.

We considered telling him that he should just keep any immediate male relatives out, and he'd be fine, but she came in with a black eye one time "because I was talkin' to you", so I decided to keep my nose out of things. He shortly got banned from the store for being in there drunk, and if I may stereotype - nobody knows how to be publicly wronged like a wronged Cajun. Just mention the ban on publicly speaking French in the 1950's in Lafayette and you will get a but a taste of their righteous indignation. So he would make the perimeter the parking lot on his bike, dutifully informing all in earshot that it was public property and he had a right to be there, and either mutter or yell obscenities through the cheap tinted film of the giant windows, until her shift was over, and they would bike back down the highway to flickering neon of their motel.

Friday, August 3, 2007


I am rather fond of oaths, even though I don't think they hold water. I just like the formal poetic declaration before doing something, the memorizing of a complicated phase. My favorite oath used to be the opening of Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain"

Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for y'all have knocked her up.
I have eaten the maggots of the mind of the universe.
I was not offended, for I knew I had to rise above it all, or drown in my own shit.
It would please me greatly to see a grade school class, hand on hearts, reciting it. George Clinton, on the whole, is not the biggest sense-maker, but these words are weirdly inspiring to me. Maybe because my hearing of "Maggot Brain" was a race-awareness moment for me. It was recommended in a bit in The Wire years ago, when someone was reviewing it because Stephen Stapleton of Nurse With Wound said it was the most important album ever made or something - but it was all-white recommendations of this very black record, and I realized I was listening to nothing but XTC and Elvis Costello and needed some soul, and "Maggot Brain" delivered. And still does.

My new favorite oath though, is the one Team Rocket, the bad guys in Pokemon, utters (albiet with variations) before they reveal their soon-to-be easily foiled, dastardly plan:

Prepare for trouble
Make it double!
To protect the world from devastation
To unite all peoples within our nation
To denounce the evils of truth and love
To extend our reach to the stars above!
Blast off at the speed of light!
surrender now or prepare to fight, fight, fight!
Maya and I learned this by heart once she got into Pokemon and will bust this out at the slightest provocation. I like the fact that they somehow seem to be saying that they are saving the world from love, and are, in fact, countering love's divisive erosion through evil. They are clearly the comic relief in the endlessly humorless world of training and competition that is Pokemon, so it warms my heart that my sweet daughter, while loving cute monsters like she should, will side with the funny over the righteous.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Musical Meanderings: La Pousserie

Come along as I join some wide-eyed academic hipster friends into the deep realms of Cajun country and we attempt to two-step our way into discovering our region.