Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's a good day when Ellie May Clampett is one of your bullet points

Dosh - Wolves and Wishes (lala)
Owl City - Ocean Eyes (lala)
Tindersticks - Falling Down a Mountain

Pictured, in order:
  • My day began with a Lego vehicle building session and subsequent epic battle. Were I a wealthy, wealthy man, this would be how I would start and likely spend most of every day. You will note that my blaster-festooned walking attack vehicle on the left has springs for legs which not only make it suitable for any terrain, but also means it can hilariously do the splits.
  • Then, the brunch at Byronz Bistro (I know, the Z is problematic for me too but evidently it has been like that since the bronze age) split order of shrimp potato cakes and Eggs Sardou, all topped by a riot of Hollandaise barely kept in line by a loose phalanx of capers.
  • We got Sukie ready for the Krewe of Mutts dog parade. She took to faerie wings better than I suspected and subsequently became my spirit animal.
  • The USS Corsair, the local Star Trek club was out at the dog parade soliciting new members. I encourage their participation in more public events. I want them to buy time on public radio so that their gospel of going where no other public-radio-supporter has gone before may be spread far and wide. I like that their shuttlecraft is the "Beignet." I may have to join.
  • Donna Douglas rode in the parade. You may remember her as Ellie May Clampett in TV's Beverly Hillbillies. It tried my best paparazzi moves to get her to look at the camera, but, ever the pro, she stayed the course. It would be awesome if I could get her to join the crew of the Corsair with me.
  • The dog parade had a loose space theme going - "2010: A Space Pawdessy"; maybe the USS Corsair is exerting its influence. I'm not sure if I get the meaning of the Galaxy Poop-A-Lot float, but the dogs, like all of them were totally cute.

Not pictured:

  • I am reading Peter Murphy's John the Revelator, which kicked into gear about half-way through. I have a hard time telling exactly when the book takes place. Its Irish-ness makes it a bit timeless to me. I thought it might be set in the mid 1960s until Jabba the Hut came up.
  • I have also been playing iPhone Scrabble a lot. Now that is an app. I am open to wiping the floor with any of you Facebook tile-pluggers out there.
  • Also listening the tar out of (what's the right way to say this?) the new Tindersticks record, though this one may actually be recorded for headphones and not speakers. It didn't have the same locust-swarm loneliness when it wasn't pumped directly into my head. I am nursing a theory that Tindersticks is the evil twin of Roxy Music, but then I need to address the particular evils in the Roxy catalog again, and possibly remake/remodel my notions.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

better iPods made from shredded dreams

Pixies - "Debaser"

I started reading Andrei Codrescu's The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara & Lenin Play Chess which touches on a lot of the things re: my relationship to this here thing and others.
Memoirs and history further dismember the past by articulating it: every articulated experience is as good as forgotten.
Hm. I sort of know Andrei, have certainly known plenty of people that know him well. He is a big deal around these parts. I would occasionally hear that same vampire accent at the coffee shop or the bar that I heard on his NPR stories. He (or someone on the editorial staff for his long narrow literary journal Exquisite Corpse) wisely ignored an enthusiastic but naive paper I wrote on Artaud one hot undergraduate summer.

I thumbed through a gorgeous new (2008 anyway) Dada compenidum at the library; all that scrap paper and scattered typography rendered in vivid reproduction. I bet that stuff looks better in the book than it does in real life.

I also listened to "Debaser" on a my way to the grocery store. Salvador Dali, whose film Un chien andalou the song is about, was neither official Dadaist nor surrealist though I think his practices at times better expressed the sentiments of both movements than the sanctioned cheerleaders ever did. Dali understood the dismemberment of meaning; you didn't attempt to solve the human mystery with conjecture and wit; you did it with a sharp knife and a rolling camera.

Andrei talks about how
Dada is the Western now, a Zen that employs fullness instead of emptiness, so much fullness, in fact, that there isn't enough matter to fill its fullness, so it resorts to imagination in order to create even more paradisaical objets, better iPods made from shredded dreams.
That hits home, or at least a chord. I like fullness, this blog is about expressing a fullness. It is an iPod of shredded hours if not dreams.

The above photo is a Dada-rific (or at least Joseph Cornell-tastic) box of discarded IBM Selectric type-balls in the pile outside my office and I thought about taking it into my sanctum, but instead I took a picture, because even fullness can get too full of its parts looking back at you and you are driven to start slicin' up eyeballs, oh ho ho ho!

morning, noon, night




Friday, January 29, 2010

the droll urge to illustrate "realism"

The Magnetic Fields - Realism (lala)

I'm not completely crazy about the photo of haphazardly stacked file separators awaiting office supply vultures or The Heap in the hall outside my office, but the droll urge to illustrate "realism" with it is difficult to suppress.

Edited to add: For a better look at stacked realism, check out this installation by Michael Johansson entitled "A person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm’s reach." (via MBV)

"instead of you"

Even with all that cheery tile, his self-image remained elusive.

That would be my caption were the above photo of me looking despondent in a modernist interior (instead of the bathroom at work) and posted on Unhappy Hipsters, the funniest thing I've come across all day. Don't wear it out like you did that dude pretending his dad still says all that shit, OK?

Second funniest, actually. Maya and I were saying two-word non-sequiturs to each other this morning on the walk to school and she came up with "piranha blanket." That was the funniest. I proposed that be the title of a surf rock tune for our band Dirty Silverware. She asked if her friend could be in the band; I thought I could detect an unspoken "instead of you" at the end of her question.

They say all comedy is laced with cruelty. And people wonder why I'm an unhappy hipster.

I'm so choked with despair that I messed up my blog format order! MY BLOG FORMAT ORDER! I'm just a big phony. Where's my goddamn pirahna blanket? I feel a chill.

Karlheinz Stockhausen - "Mixtur 2003 (Forward version)" (ANABlog)
Tindersticks - Falling Down a Mountain (Streamed from them)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

F the NFL

Doctor L/Tony Allen/Jean Phi Dary/Jeff Kellner/Cesar Anot - Psycho on Da Bus
Quintron - Too Thirsty 4 Love (lala)
Various Artists - Gypsophonic Disko mixtape NOLA-PHONIC No. 1 (from MySpace)
Four Tet - There is Love in You (lala)

Psycho on Da Bus is like plugging your headphones into the cortex of an actual psycho on the bus. It conforms to a peculiar logic in his head, but is scary when it manifests outside.

Speaking of bus, this lone rusty handcuff was sitting in the grass by the bus stop last night.

Lala lists the Quintron album as having come out in 2012. The near future sounds an awful lot like a homemade B-52's. His gallery installation where he is recording his next album at the New Orleans Museum of Art opens tonight with what I suspect will be a bangin' reception.

Gypsohonic Disko comes about as close to capturing the current manic charm of New Orleans on the NOLA-PHONIC No. 1 mixtape, shammelessly throwing klezmer against R&B against brass bands against transgender rappers against drunk people against alla y'all fuckas, go saints, who dat forever.

And, by the way, F the NFL for reminding me that money ruins everything. I mean, I knew that already so you didn't have to remind me. They barely gave half a shit about New Orleans until they actually started winning. And as I discovered the other day, "Who Dat?" is older and more rooted in what made New Orleans what it is than the NFL ever was. So, uh... go Saints!

Phonies. That's what the NFL is, a bunch of phonies.

As for the less turbulent aspects of my fair state, sweet ol' Country Roads Magazine polled its readers for their favorite Louisiana everything in the February issue and I got to further illuminate their favorite music and venues here. My review of the new Four Tet album is languishing all dehydrated and overstimulated in the chill lounge at outsideleft.

just qualitatively better

Tony Allen - Black Voices and Secret Agent (

I want shirts like his. I am convinced I would be a better person were I to dress in shirts like his. Not better morally or spiritually, just qualitatively better.

I thought it said "Fela" in the credits of this short film about his new album; Tony was Fela's drummer and music director for decades, but with Fela being dead and all, I feared this was a Natalie Cole from-the-vaults situation. Turns out it was Flea. Debating....

I would have taken a photo of the Medusoid mass that is Koi's seaweed salad but I ate it all before I got my camera out, so there is the sashimi from my bento box lunch.

My friend and I were talking about the iPad over said lunch, how we both want one but don't really. I think when Apple figures out the shiny new way they will do multi-tasking then this thing will make more sense. I am full on with the iPhone internet experience - I rarely touch my laptop at home except when I have to do something besides whittle my life off with social networking. I've tried doing this blog from the iPhone and with all the cutting and pasting that goes on between Flickr and lala and YouTube and how none of the iPhone flavors of those sites are keen to expose the embed/link codes, it's kinda impossible to do.

What I think would be cool is to integrate eye tracking with the camera, which the iPad doesn't have, and voice recognition so you could have a seamless interface between what's on the screen and what's on my head. I can double-blink shit and move things around with my mind. It will turn the computer screen into the real Magic Mirror we want it to be.

Here is how the Dragon Dictation iPhone app interpreted the above paragraph: But I would like to see is some integration my site tracking from the camera which the iPad doesn't have and voice recognition she could actually have a seamless interface between what's on the screen and watching my. Either it cut short, or perhaps, unlike me, it knows when to stop.

So yeah, I'll just settle for some of those badass Tony Allen shirts for now. And tampon jokes. Those never get old.

filling the Nilsson-shaped hole in my life

Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson (lala) and Son of Schmilsson (lala)

I'm filling the Nilsson-shaped hole in my life. He's one of those guys I know but don't know in a deep music nrrd sense. Like I knew Nilsson Schmilsson contained a song I'd loved forever ("Without You") and one I've hated forever ("Coconut") but wasn't expecting this perfect little trifecta hiding behind that bathrobe of his.

"Early in the Morning" is soul minimalism at its finest - two notes and a broken heart, and all three are celebrations of malleability. Life cannot contained by something as flimsy as the meter of a song. Like a tree, a song better be ready to bend with the wind. And it's hard to not like a good acid boogie when it comes around.

"We can make each other happy" meant something a little baser and animal than it does in these cautious, psychoanalytical times. I expect happiness was just as elusive in 1971, but they were not above hunting like a fox.

Son of Schmilsson is reportedly the loose rock of his artistic landslide, and I can see it. His magpie act is more pronounced, to the point of including Firesign Theatre style comedy. But then I like magpies. I am one myself. Some of my favorite records - Julian Cope's Jehovahkill, Badly Drawn Boy's Bewilderbeast, Exile on Main Street, the "White Album"- are all records that might be less than the sum of their widely varied parts, but what a cool batch of parts.

If I ever get my piano man act together, I'm going to work up "You're Breakin My Heart." I imagine it is great catharsis to have a whole bar of drunks roaring "fuck you" in unison by the end.

I would've taken a picture of my bathrobe if I had one, and it seemed weird to take a picture of anyone else's bathrobe, so above you will find two really large empty picture frames I pulled out of a dumpster on campus a couple of weeks ago. They are waiting to be filled as well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

hormone backseat purity

Stephan Eicher - "MiniMiniMiniMinijupe"/"Sweet Jane"
Alex Chilton/Alan Vega/Ben Vaughn - Cubist Blues (lala)

This bowl of vegetables is part of what I had for lunch. I'd call it a salad but there was no dressing, so bowl of vegetables it remains.

The 1980 Stephan Eicher single is as rock 'n' roll a thing I've heard in ages, despite it being "minimal wave" as celebrated by this roundup in FACT magazine. How the article fails to mention the stripped-to-the-marrow variant of the Velvets classic that comprises the B-side (I think; maybe it's all one song) is beyond me, but forgivable. Side A is hormone backseat purity. If you like Suicide (the band or otherwise) you will be all over this.

But then have y'all heard Cubist Blues? If you have, why didn't you tell me about it? The guy from Suicide and the guy from Big Star and a Dickinsonian producer type who recorded a song called "Rambler '65" in the back of his car. Whole lotta feral goin' on.

"Fat City" is so primitive that I accidentally had the YouTube video playing over the song on Rhapsody and it sounded even better. An army of teenage delinquents bearing jamboxes with this playing out of sync would be unstoppable.

On "Candyman", they reinvent Joy Division in their own fractured image.

In this week's edition of my 225 blog I say of Lafayette's Givers "[They] strike me as a band that does only one narrow thing, but they do massive amounts of it – kinda like creating a whole pie by replicating that perfect piece enough times." This assessment can be applied here as well.

the same but different

The Fall - Slates (lala)
Drive-By Truckers - "This Fucking Job" (via Stereogum)

I love any old Fall song and any new Drive-By Truckers song (their new album and documentary come out in March.) The two bands have a few things in common besides being my two favorite bands, but the differences are more glaring. They are two outside columns that support my curious architectural details, not unlike those in the photo above. If you listen to both at the same time, they will cancel each other out and I will come flying out your speakers. Note: do not play both while listening to headphones.

Drive-By Truckers - "This Fucking Job" (MP3)

I walk by that thing in the photo every day on my way to the bus, but I am a little afraid to walk through one of its openings, like I might sudden disappear and then reappear coming out the other way, the same but different. Don't laugh, I watch Fringe. I've seen some shit.

whole note

Dosh - Wolves & Wishes (lala)
Aphex Twin - "4"
The Fall's Mark E. Smith and Ed Blaney - "The Train, Part 3"

The moon looks like a whole note on the music staff of the universe.

My review of Owen Pallett's Heartland is up on outsideleft, in case you were waiting for my signal to see if it was safe to like it or not.

I am picking up what this Dosh person is laying down; sorta like LCD Soundsystem while being sorta like Bruce Hornsby. The notion of "If You Want To, You Have To" seems like sage pop trifle wisdom; it speaks not to impulse but listening to the requirements of one's nature.

"4" by Aphex Twin is just about one of my favorite little songs ever. There is not much there, but what is there is perfect. You can do that with the precision of synthesizers.

The Fall is supposedly my favorite band ever, yet the existence of this rambly gambol form last year between their lead singer and (I think bandmate) Ed Blaney completely slipped past my radar. It is 40 minutes of unformed geezer racket that whispers the hidden command language of my inner lunatic. Maybe I didn't hear them before because of the whispering. What's that, love? Where are parts 1 & 2?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

'piano glued to a sport-car-sized satellite dish'

Joanna Newsom - songs from Ys, live at First Unitarian Church Sanctuary in Philadelphia 11/16/2006 (YouTube playlist)
Pearls Before Swine - These Things Too (lala)
Dosh - "Subtractions" (Pitchfork mp3)

The video is Jupiter's rotation as viewed by the New Horizon's satellite which "has been compared to a 'piano glued to a sports-car-sized satellite dish'", via ROOT BLOG. You should go full screen on both the video and the comparison.

This Joanna Newsom concert is gorgeous and intense, but I think I would be getting antsy half-way through, kinda like any time I'm in church. Or any time I listen to Joanna Newsom. Her new song streaming up on the Drag City site is sitting with me rather well, though.

I really like Pearls Before Swine.

I hate email. There is a big goofy movement going on about deleting your Facebook or whatever, committing social network suicide, but I'm more tempted to delete my gmail account, which has turned into an avalanche of impersonality. It has become my official envoy to the world, so it will stay, but it makes me smile less than status updates do anymore. Social networking is still not quite social, but it at least feels like I'm in space watching the planet spin by catching a glimpse of people I know dotting the surface. Email feels like a loading bay most of the time.

I have a Google Wave account cookalexv at googlewave dot com if you are hip and want to get funky with new correspondence protocol and attempt a successful wave or just talk over each other like we would in real life.

Dig this time-lapse-ish one of Voyager I's approach to Jupiter while listening to the aforementioned track by some guy/band named Dosh. One frame per rotation. That spot is coming to get you.

Evel Knievel

Owen Pallett - Heartland (lala)
Ablehearts - The Flood (OngakuBaka)
Eels - End Times (lala)
Midlake - The Courage of Others (streaming at NPR)

That is the Duck and Andouille Gumbo pizza at Oscar's Ice Cream and Pizza Joint, which should technically be called "...Joints" because the two are completely separate adjacent storefronts, like you have to exit one to get to the other, creating the worst possible restaurant workflow. When I first heard of this pizza, my mind said stunt food, but we needed to eat the pain away after a harrowing hour where the dog went missing, and some bullshit Evel Kinevel pizza and fancy ice cream always does the trick.

It tastes like gumbo a little and pizza a little without blowing either, nice toothy crust and it maintained its synergy cold today for lunch. It has the leg up on actual gumbo in that regard. I also had a sample of their perfectly balanced spicy chocolate ice cream once we navigated their poor planning issues - really, they moved into a brand new building... OK I'll let it go - and it was worth the circuitous trip.

Edited to add: It almost looks like a secret message is coming though the glistening grease.

Soon as the PR guy sends me some press photos I will have my long mulled and even longer-winded review of the Owen Pallett record on outsideleft to share. I can't really get over this album, nor can I the edgier and insular-er Ablehearts record. The talented loners are inheriting the Earth of my 2010 so far. Midlake puts the "mmmm" back in "autumnal" on their new record. And, God, that Eels guy. He can bum you right the fuck out, but he's such good company while he's doing it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Origin of "Who Dat"

Scene from "Swing Wedding"; Cover of the libretto for "Who Dat Say Chicken in Dis Crowd." from 1898, found in the Paul Laurence Dunbar Digital Collection of Wright State University.

I linked to the Wikipedia "Who Dat?" entry in a previous post but didn't read it. The ubiquitous chant for America and Freedom's Alltime Underdog Heroes the New Orleans Saints has a more interesting history than I previously knew.
The first reference to "Who Dat?" can be found in the 19th Century. A featured song in E.E. Rice's "Summer Nights" is the song "Who Dat Say Chicken In dis Crowd", with lyrics by poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.[1] A common tag line in the days of Negro minstrel shows was: "Who dat?" answered by "Who dat say who dat?" Many different blackfaced gags played off that opening. Vaudeville performer Mantan Moreland was known for the routine.[1]
The article points to the 1937 minstrel-heavy Happy Harmonies/Harman-Ising cartoon "Swing Wedding" viewable on the Japanese video site YouKu. Click here to view it; I couldn't decipher how to embed it. "Who Dat" appears at the 6:00 mark.

Edited to add: the clever and talented DJ Misc figured it out.

demanding love

The Creole Zydeco Farmers - My Big Foot Woman (lala)
Hugh Masakela - The Lasting Impressions of Ooga-Booga (lala)
Laurindo Almeida - Chamber Jazz

Copies of this sign are all over the street by my office. I don't know whether it is demanding love for all or proclaiming that it is there to be recognized. Whichever, and by any means necessary.

"Who ___?"

The Dixie Hummingbirds - The Best of the Dixie Hummingbirds
Les Breastfeeders - Déjeuner sur l'herbe (lala) and Les matins de grands soirs (lala)

In Sunday's NYT puzzle, the clue for the three letter 52 across was "Who ___?" and I did all I could to make it "Dat" and do a whole post about it and the Saints game, but it was revealed to be "Who AM I?" which is the question on which I seem to always be stuck.

I'm as not a football guy as one can be without collapsing into a pile of paper dolls and pussy willows, but man, I really cannot believe the Saints are actually going to the Super Bowl. This is about more than stupid football, something which I've accepted is unavoidable and is not pulling away from the cultural backwaters I prefer. It's not like if LSU dropped their athletics program that suddenly the art openings and indie rock shows in Baton Rouge would be packed with frenzied fans looking to channel all those millions into something more "enriching."

The Saints going to the Super Bowl is about the weight of being Southern, corny as that sounds and real as that is (much like the above photo I snapped on my way to the bus.) Believe it or not, we have picked up on the fact that the rest of the country looks down on us, and many of us totally concur with the reasoning behind it, but we are it and it is us and if we can compete in the milieu that everybody deems so goddamn important, then either that weight is being lifted a little or we are getting jailyard strong and can bear it.

It made me so optimistic I wanted to listen to gospel this morning. Les Breatsfeeders are bringing their Quebecois garage retro blastorama to Festival International this year. Allons! Get together and believe! The song of destiny is being sung!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

big help

Gram Parsons - GP (listen)
Efterklang - Magic Chairs

The above images:These crazy flowers at the farmer's' market yesterday, called something like Dumbrey's something. Big help, I know; Zydeco Man Mel Chavis lays down a sweet little groove and does not care for embedding; The lights still on the trees downtown by the Shaw Center looked magical. My boy Ed stole the show at the LSU Faculty art exhibition therein with his massive, satiny, funny, ominous stack-o-birds painting The Long March; Lafayette's party band answer to Brooklyn hispter jamz Givers played the tent behind the Baton Rouge Gallery's Surrealist Soiree, which saw a marked increase in the quality of the art this year; At the Red Star, Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue have let their hair down a little since I wrote about them a year ago, and are all the better for it.

Before I embarked on the evening of art dissection and free wine sipping, my wife was looking at pictures of Nudie suits online; after Gal Holiday I wanted to be wearing one. Actually, I always want to be wearing one. Dig this one Nudie made for Porter Waggoner, or Webb Pierce's salmon suit with a jail cell scene stitched on the back. I wonder if ol' Nudie can make one of me hunched over a laptop eating a sandwich in goldenrod with black piping. Until he does, Gram Parsons will remain the official Nudie suit poster boy.

Separate topic: I'm not usually so go team promotional about bands up in here, and outside of sending me a digital promo of the record, my praise is not being compensated, but Efterklang gets it. Philip Glassy-eyed piano rolling thunder against unashamed pop vocals is apparently what has been missing in my life. Check out "Modern Drift" from their website.

Oh, and Go Saints! Another unpaid and for me uncharacteristic promotion in which I am happy to participate. Destroy the Vikings for union, justice, and confidence and also for that terrible "Purple and Gold" song Prince phoned in for them, one that I pray will not become a ubiquitous LSU anthem somehow. I'll tack on a couple of fleurs-des-lis to my Nudie suit order.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


The goat cheese, turkey, cucumber, and tomato sandwich in the above image was largely sourced from a morning trip to our congenial if a bit overstuffed (as in furniture, not food) farmer's market, which a talented friend of mine contrasts with that in her new home in Austin on her freshly scrubbed blog She Eats Beats.

Since you are riveted by my every food purchase, here is what went down at the Starbucks just now. An old hunched-over man was holding up the line trying to use his gift card.

"Why doesn't it work??"

The barista explained with forced cheer, "You have to register it online."

"How do I do that?"

"You have to go to"

"Where's that?" he blurted in a twinge of confused anger. This is how I will henceforth respond when someone directs me to a website.

"Sir, do you have a computer?" The barista was swallowing a giggle as he responded "No." There was some discussion about the 1-800 number until one of the Junior Leaguers my friend accurately depicts in her post could no longer take it and intervened.

He then performed complex chemistry with Splenda and the cocoa powder and cinnamon and whatever else they have at that little contoured table. It was the manic procedure of one clearly in over his head; turning and stirring and throwing things away, muttering. He frowned at the silver half-and-half pitcher and gave it a shake, sighing a perfectly Beckettian


and skulked off back toward the counter.

If you like this story, you will love Nico Muhly's account of trying to get a cell phone and a goddamn glass of wine in London. Caveat emptor!

Friday, January 22, 2010

the human factor

Oneida - Rated O (listen)

These following two things go well together when started simultaneously, both conceptually and sonically. Like Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz, but even moreso. A happy, if a bit harrowing when the screaming commences, accident.

Much like the work by the author in the above clip, Rated O is so dense and hard going that I suspect I will never make it through the whole record.

Edited: I did it! Maybe I'll actually take home this copy of Consider the Lobster I checked out two weeks ago.

The above image of the Obamas (I think) watching Avatar in the White House movie theatre was ganked from Ann Marie Cox.

you can Handel it

IL Complesso Barocco, cond. by Alan Curtis - Handel's Ezio
Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago
Skullflower - Transformer (listen)

With spring come the students and hot on their scent are the idlers whose life's work is to stand in front of the union and condemn them to Hell. I landed in a funk this morning, and this hoarse bastard with his frank sign somehow cheered me up a little. A skater kid (or looked the part, or maybe I'm so old they all look that way now) sat opposite him holding a sign scrawled with "You deserve Love" and while I appreciate his sentiment, I'm kinda liking the "You deserve Hell" guy. His message is a little more fun to roll around with.

Don't get me wrong: the itinerant preacher seemed like a perfectly horrible person, one I would categorize as a specific strain of the self-righteous about which my friend astutely remarks: It's people like you that make me hate people like you. And OK, perhaps we are all whores and liars and maybe we do deserve hell. That thought has probably crossed the mind of every person walking by, wincing at your strained bellow, frowning at being in the crossfire of the pissing match you are having with love boy. Just trying to get a bagel here, OK? It is like superfluous punctuation; one exclamation mark is enough.

The selection of Handel's monumental failure of an opera to soundtrack this scene was inspired by a mutual acquaintance my friend lumps into her category. The Shearwater is a grower. Skullflower sits atop a mountain watching the sun set toward the apocalypse. The weather is lovely; it can be noted that the students of this university did not deserve Hell when it was cold and rainy out. The writing is on the wall for you to read, if you can Handel it. See you in Hell!!

Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago from KMS on Vimeo.

it's time to play the music

Four Tet - There is Love in You (MySpace)
Efterklang - Magic Chairs (MySpace)

Hello, spring! Season one of The Muppet Show was being viewed when I got up. Quality surreal entertainment we had back then; I totally can see the argument that 30 Rock is really the Muppet Show in disguise, except 30 Rock doesn't yet have the guest star thing down. Rita Moreno was quite a powderkeg back then. Ruth Buzzi mimicked doing yoga during one skit and it even made the Muppets a little uncomfortable. We did not get to the Jim Nabors episode by the time we all had to get dressed for work and school. Also there is some disappointment in discovering that Beaker does not show up until the second season.

The Efterklang album that just arrived is just lovely. If Radiohead is anthem rock done electronic and Coldplay is Radiohead done pop, then Efterklang is Coldplay done smarter. Beaker might argue this point, having spent some time with the material.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

zithers are employed


The Magnetic Fields - Realism (streaming at their MySpace)
The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs, Disc One (listen)

I have love at first sight for the Magnetic Fields' new antsy-pantsy, artsy-fartsy folk record. Zithers are employed. They borrowed Devendra Banhart's tablas. The word "hootenanny" comes into play. A friend sent me a link to a blog illustrating all 69 of 69 Love Songs drolly called howfuckingromantic. And how! Realism doesn't quite have the immediate intimacy you find in Love Songs, but when does it ever? This one made me go back and listen to disc one of 69 Love Songs, but, not to discredit Huw “Lem” Davies' lovely use of the comic form, it doesn't take much.

This song makes me wish I could play piano and had a forceful rich baritone and a semi-ironic wine bar gig so I could put it on my setlist.

Another view of the planet room at the planetarium; I was too dazzled by this lovely weather to take a picture of it.

watch your intake of fresh fruit

A friend called me up for lunch at Roul's Deli, a sketchy burger place right by my office that has "Juicy Juicy" as its catchphrase. The spectre of the dietitian visit is still on my mind, with her perverse little cautions: watch your intake of fresh fruit, lots of carbs in those. So I saw on the menu Steve's Burger: Grilled chicken and shrimp. That doesn't sound too heavy.

Except, of course, as you can see above, it is grilled chicken and shrimp ON a juicy juicy burger. A total Man Vs. Food abomination of which I consumed about 1/2. I'm tempted to send the dietitian this picture and ask "Is this what you had in mind?"

you can walk, you can talk just like me

Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food (listen)
Wadada Leo Smith - Saturn, Conjunct The Grand Canyon In A Sweet Embrace

The camelias have arrived! Their whorl is a detonation against the brief but oppressive gray of the Southern winter.

I woke up with the opening of "Thank You For Sending Me an Angel" in my head, which is not a bad way to burst into a Thursday. I tried to match my strides to the bus stop with those of David Byrne's clipped observations. The vinyl sign on the gospel radio station. The hand painted banner above the tattoo place that says "Tattoo's and Piercing's." Some might be driven mad by such a thing but I find it charming, though I might think twice before getting a tattoo there.

I saw the bus reel past my stop as I was a block away but I figured fuck it, it's the first day in weeks I didn't need a sweater. A perfectly insouciant looking hard rock chick was at the stop with me with headphones on as well. On this bus we are all simultaneously united and girded by out little white headphones. David Byrne was going on about how the girls only want to talk to the girls and the boys only talk to the boys when I had an urge to ask her what she was listening to. Tune in and commune. I was imagining it was some bloodcurdling metal record that brought her succor in her morning trek.

Then she walked over to me and messed it up by complaining about how there were only two buses running on this route and how it made her late and one time I had to wait 45 minutes for- and I was tempted to interrupt with a little practice your can walk, you can talk just like me...

Jack Pendarvis has been on a Wadada Leo Smith kick at his "blog." Wadada is conversant music. There are gaps in the music you are forced to fill with the loose pieces from your own head. I completely concur with his assessment that "Twmukl-D" sounds like Webern.

Webern is so good. He is like the guy you know from the coffee shop that rants in mysterious tones about his inventions, their intricacy, how they line up with his sense of doing things right. Finally, you go to his little workshop behind his house to see it and it is a flimsy little contraption made out of a couple toothpicks, a small box and a lantern battery. It does not work or really do anything of discernible merit except express the longing of the inventor, which is invaluable.

Stravinsky said of Webern: Doomed to total failure in a deaf world of ignorance and indifference, he inexorably kept on cutting out his diamonds, his dazzling diamonds, of whose mines he had a perfect knowledge.

After the bus stop chick killed my high-on-life buzz, I switched over to the mutterings of Wadada's Saturn, Conjunct The Grand Canyon In A Sweet Embrace, less cerebral than Mr. Smith's Kabell Years, more interpersonal. The conversation Mr. Smith is having with Anthony Braxton is that among crazy coffee shop inventors, each applauding the other's impenetrable diagrams, trying to get my toothpicks to work with your lantern battery, grumbling in existential frustration, and bellowing "Yes!" when the damn thing starts working.

If you are still reading this, you are either a kind soul that listens patiently while a lunatic raves or are a big jazz nrrd and perhaps have a copy of the Thelonious Sphere Monk: Dreaming Of The Masters Vol.2 by Art Ensemble of Chicago with Cecil Taylor to which I could be pointed or made privy. That, my friend, is a record.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

dig my awesome lamp

Led Zeppelin - Live at LSU, Baton Rouge 1975, soundboard recording (still, this link)
Spoon - Transference (listen)

Seriously, dig my awesome lamp. I rescued it from the closet of my old office to address the marked and oft-commented-upon gloominess of my current one. It is huge. Carrying it down the hall wrapped over my shoulder made me think of the post-coital caress a male praying mantis experiences right before his head gets bitten off.

I made it all the way through the above linked tremendous recording of LZ at LSU up to the 8-minute mark of "Moby Dick." I think this is where they reach the palace of Wisdom down at the end of the road of excess and decide to repave that road in one more layer of gold, just to be sure. I'm recovering with the new Spoon, where formerly one of the more the anti-Zeppelin bands around gets their nerd-reduction Plant/Page on, or is that just actual transference at play? And glance adoringly at my new lamp.

I like America and America likes me

The Membranes - Kiss Ass, Godhead! (lala)
Led Zeppelin - Live at LSU, Baton Rouge 1975, soundboard recording (this link, thanks Dave!)

Hey, lookit me, I'm a music critic! Vampire Weekend and Dengue Fever get put through my rusty culture analyst paces. I also weigh in on cover bands and tribute shows at the 225 blog. I tackle all the important issues.

A dip into emails I usually ignore from an old list serv reaped the rewards of the Membranes, 80's post punk when punk was freshly post, formed out of snottier recesses of Blackpool Sixth Form College in Lancashire. Kiss Ass, Godhead appeared in '88 and sounds it: the drums are a rubber mallet on a cardboard box and chopsticks on a pie pan and the guitar is run to the amps via wires salvaged from rat cages. They could title a song back then.

The above photo is of a haphazard display of NASCAR RC vehicles stacked in front of the nightie section of the Family Dollar I pass on the way to the bus. Caged up and formalized like that, they and the chest-beating from both sides over the liberals failing to hold onto Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts made me think of the Joseph Beuys 1974 performance "I Like America and America Likes Me"

where he holed up in a caged gallery with a bolt of felt, a cane, copies of the Wall Street Journal and a coyote. The coyote symbolically tore the paper to shreds and pissed on it but rational man and feared beast soon found some common ground. Partisan posturing seems so facile that I lose sight of who is wrapping themselves in felt and who is befouling the newspaper. What do you win when you win?

I am going to ponder this as I take a walk by the building where the mightiest of our culture thieves let the hammer of the gods ring some 35 years ago.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise
Shearwater - The Great Archipelago
Four Tet - There is Love in You (full album streaming at

I am basking in the afterglow of Koi's beef noodle soup, writer talk, a cappuccino and soon-to-be-released CD's of shimmering, unassuming beauty. My life at this moment is a precious Facebook status update, which is probably not unlike things feeling as good as "Dancing Queen" in Muriel's Wedding, or were I manlier man, something involving a particular play in a particular game.