Monday, May 31, 2010

R.I.P. Louise Bourgeois

Eye Benches IV, Lafayette Square, New Orleans

NYT Obit

(doesn't work) vs. "works"

Charles Mingus (with Eric Dolphy), Cornell 1964 (2007, Rhapsody)
Albert Ayler, Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe (1969, Rhapsody)

I love Albert Ayler's improbable free jazz-pop crossover records. They don't really work, but they (don't work) in a beautiful way. This one blues number, "Drudgery," however, totally "works," sounding ironically ebullient and effortless against its name. It's the sound of the after-party for the battle of (doesn't work) vs. "works." It goes great with the empty cicada shell on the grooviness of the patio table.

♫ Albert Ayler, "Drudgery" (Rhapsody)

memorial day

Implied American flag in a barber shop window in Mamou, LA, 2010

star power

Bayou Country Superfest 2010

Steve Reich, Triple Quartet (2005, Rhapsody)
The Masada String Trio, Book of Angels, Vol. 2: Azazel (2005, Rhapsody)

Media Announcements: I have a piece innocently titled "Ode to a Summer Afternoon" on page 78 of the shiny new issue of the Oxford American, just 12 pages before the piece by Sharon Stone. That Sharon Stone. Don't laugh, it's a good little piece, as is, I think, mine. The OA is one of the last great magazines, my occasional presence in it notwithstanding. They are the Martin Scorsese of lit rags, getting the goods out of whoever is in the cast.

Also, my conversation about the nature of jazz (as well as the nature of jazz listeners) with renowned bassist Bill Grimes in the latest Country Roads in conjunction with the Hot Summer Nights and Cool Jazz program at the LSU School of Music.

Maya and I went to the Bayou Country Superfest here in Tiger Stadium, along with 44,998 other people to bear witness to the pan-downhomeness of Keith Urban and the weapons-grade cute-onium of Taylor Swift. Maya swears she saw her girl Selena on the jumbotron. More on that forthcoming, but here's another pic.

Maya at Bayou Country Superfest

When not humming that cursed "But she wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts" TSwift song, I am otherwise super locked-in to Steve Reich's Triple Quartet, particularly the Romantic, Middle-eastern-tinged second movement

♫ Steve Reich, Triple Quartet, Second Movement (Rhapsody)

as well as John Zorn's Masada songs as rendered by a crack string trio. They render it as string trio crack.

♫ The Masada Strings, "Symnay" (Rhapsody)

Speaking of star power, here is Sonic Youth in a rare acoustic moment doing one of their finest songs.

Friday, May 28, 2010

you look through crystal spectacles

Joe Bonomo, AC/DC's Highway to Hell (2010, Continuum)
Donovan, "Epistle to Dippy"
The Critters, Tracks (compiled 2008, Rhapsody)

The only sunset in town better than that viewed from the Whole Foods parking lot is that viewed from the pool.

The Critters were a New Jersey 60's pop group indebted stylistically to the Lovin' Spoonful, even scoring a hit with John Sebastian's "Younger Girl", of whom I've never heard, and to whom I only arrived via computer generated suggestions stemming from my seasonal need for Donovan's "Epistle to Dippy," for which I, were I the blog-naming type, would name this blog.

This may seem pointless to report and a flagrant abuse of prepositional phrasery but if, like Donovan, you look through crystal spectacles, you can see I'm having fun.

Here was the Critters #17 hit in 1966, the beautifully titled "Mr. Dieingly Sad," possibly (if the speculation in the comments are correct) from a show called "Where the Action Is." "Mr. Dieingly Sad" is also a great blog name. Great blog names are the new great band names.

The Critters, "Mr. Dieingly Sad"

I think these Critters sound an awful lot like Byrds up in this one...

The Critters, “Little Girl” (Rhapsody)

...and the least convincing heartbreak victims ever on this excellent number. Wes Anderson needs to get hip to these cats if he isn't already.

The Critters, “Heart of Love, Heart of Stone” (Rhapsody)

Really, I can listen to this song ten times in a row.

Robert Steinbrecher's What the Hell is This? featuring Donovon's "Epistle to Dippy"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

action shots of writing

Steve Reich, Triple Quartet (2005, Rhapsody)
Terry Riley, Autodreamographical Tales (2010, Rhapsody)

I'm on a busy-busy minimalism jag today; Steve Reich might make the all-time greatest get-things-done music there is

Steve Reich & Musicians, “Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint” (Rhapsody)

while this new Terry Riley joint is stop-the-presses weird, like a Robert Wyatt record gone loose-er.

Terry Riley, “The Miracle” (Rhapsody)

Earlier today I was interviewed for a student paper about a writing workshop I'm conducting in a couple a weeks, which was weird because I am usually on the other end of that process. I stayed true to interview subject form by missing the first appointed interview time and running late for the second. There is a very nice photographer taking "action shots" of me typing right as I type this. She wants action shots of writing. I highlighted some text for her.

I should have insisted they use one of the pics above, found while leafing through a book titled New Dimensions in Paper Craft (1969, Amazon).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

a literal bowl of cherries.

Steve Reich & Musicians, From the Kitchen Archives No. 2: Steve Reich & Musicians, Live 1977 (2005, Rhapsody)

Media announcements:
This week's column for for 225's The Record Crate blog urges my fellow Louisianans to take a good look at the good and the bad of the state of our state before we launch headstrong into the master embiggening effort that is Bayou Country Superfest this weekend.

Also, the "Best of the South" issue of the Oxford American is making its way to subscriber mailboxes and discerning consumer newsstands as I type, containing a story of mine of which I am openly proud. I'll most likely remind you about it again.

My life is a literal bowl of cherries, or was before I ate them for lunch. Actually, the cherries were in a bag and the bowl depicted above contained sliced tomatoes which I ate first and then was where I deposited the pits and stems, all while writing some memoir-ish things for a theoretical book and an actual chapter for my actual book, all the further while considering how deep you gotta go in the detail to get it right, further considering, like the young adult of the Clinton era that I was, what the real meaning of "it" and "right" are.

It all sounded a little like this while it was happening:

Steve Reich & Musicians, “Music for Pieces of Wood” (Rhapsody)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Not That 'Rocket Man'"

Silver Apples, The Garden (1968/1998, Rhapsody)
Kurt Vile, Square Shells (2010, free today from Matador's blog)
Pearls Before Swine, The Use of Ashes (1970, Rhapsody)
Guided By Voices, Under the Bushes, Under the Stars (1996, Rhapsody)

Early synth + hippy jam + a one-named guy playing a self-invented instrument named for himself (Simeon plays the Simeon) + futurist manifesto Saturnalia = I should be all over it, yet I don't really get Silver Apples in a way that makes me feel like I get that I don't get it. Which is my favorite kind of getting something.

Silver Apples, “Fire Ant Noodle” (Rhapsody)

I'm picking up what this Kurt Vile kid is laying down.

Kurt Vile, “Invisibility : Nonexistent” (160k mp3 from Matador)

I can't let go of what I've picked up from Pearls Before Swine. This is not that "Rocket Man."

Pearls Before Swine, "Rocket Man" (Rhapsody)

"Not That 'Rocket Man'" sounds like a Guided By Voices song title. UTBUTS is just the best.

Guided By Voices, "It's Like Soul Man" (Rhapsody)

The above photo is of master Elvis impersonator Donny Edwards who is featured in a story I am working on. He might actually be that Rocket Man.

there is only do

24 (FOX)
The National, High Violet
(2010, Rhapsody)
Samamidon, But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted (2007, Rhapsody)

Media Announcement/Addendum: My review of the National's High Violet is up at This record is a grower. I love Alligator like a movie teen does a girl out of his league, really like Boxer but ultimately cannot really get my arms around it, but this one had to get in my bloodstream and seep up to my head that way. It says something that I am still listening to it. Usually by the time I review something I am done. And now, I'm really into "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" which didn't even register in previous rounds enough to get mentioned in the review. It touches on their early country-ish leanings without quite going there. Like a said, a grower.

The National, "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" (Rhapsody)

Wasn't I just talking about the surprising legs that songs from Songs from the Big Chair seem to have? I guess that was his first tape too. Somebody do some folked-out Depeche Mode songs already, like a more homemade and teenagery version of this. Anyway, Samamidon...

Samamidon, "Head Over Heels" (Rhapsody)

Maya got some awesome Star Wars pancake molds for her birthday (Thanks, the Porters!) which are not as easy at it sounds to use, but in the ways of the Force, there is no try; there is only do. Samamidon's version of Mississippi John Hurt's "Louis Collins" is shockingly appropriate and lovely.

Samamidon, "Louis Collins" (Rhapsody)

And 24, you were some good TV, a little dicey politically perhaps, what with the torture and wiretapping and all, but still good, unclean, antihero fun. No one beat their breasts trying to figure you out. We just wanted to watch you do your thing with nary a wisecrack in real time. I know when they shit really does go down, no one is going to say "Man, I wish one of those psychologically wounded plane crash victims were here right now to save the day. Perhaps a love triangle, stilted despite being stranded on Love Triangle Island, right now would do the trick." They will want a guy with Special ops training and awesome phone skills who never needs to sleep or eat or pee on the case. I salute you for years of action-packed, mindless service, and Dub Trio salutes you as well.

♫ Dub Trio, "Jack Bauer" (Rhapsody)

Monday, May 24, 2010

it's a lot (it's a lot)

Depeche Mode, Some Great Reward (1984, Rhapsody)

Some Great Reward was my first tape, I think. I bought the Tears for Fears tape right around the same time, but tired of it quickly. I'm surprised it has the legs it still does with a lot of people. Blue Oyster Cult's Extraterrestrial Live was my first album; Purple Rain, the first bought with my own money, but tapes went with you like a comet trail. The Army shirt I wore all the time could fit one cassette in its breast pocket and a lot of the time this was it with Bauhaus 1979-1983 in my little red Walkman until I traded off. Those were the two I never left in anyone's car.

But yeah, SGR. That's the one I should've pitched to 33 1/3 even though I gather the general consensus is that Violator is their finest hour. I say no way; "Personal Jesus" is still weak with Johnny cash's gravitas thrown atop it. The should've let the old bastard do "Blashphemous Rumors" with a guitar and a string section in the other room bleeding through the walls. Get a rusty windmill for the rattle; maybe push a coffin down a flight of stairs for the opening racket sequence. Imaging his old nose doing the sniffling at the end and then stopping. That would be a cover version.

Depeche Mode, "Blasphemous Rumors" (Rhapsody)

I have no way of connecting the half-jalapeño, sausage, and cheese biscuit/half-kolache business from Ambrosia this weekend to all this, except maybe there is also a lot of sniffling at the end of eating that many peppers that early in the morning.

Depeche Mode, "Master and Servant" (Rhapsody)

And aww, "Somebody" is still a lovely, rambling thing of devotion after all these years. I'd do this one at open piano night if there was such a thing and I could play piano, which makes it good that there isn't and I don't.

Depeche Mode, "Somebody (Live in Basel and Liverpool)" (Rhapsody)

The whole ocean

Image via Oxford American via Times-Picayune

Charles Wuorinen, On Alligators (2005, Rhapsody)

Charles Wuorinen's music is too much; it's like trying to listen to every bird in the park at once, Which is what I like about it and mostly don't like about it.

Charles Wuorinen, "On Alligators" (Rhapsody)

The above picture is of the oil at Grand Isle, LA, where I first saw the ocean all lazy and muddy and bad-tasting and how it could totally kill you if you let it and I've always liked the ocean since. I suppose it's not a rare thing to like, oceans, but why you wanna further ruin an already ruined place like Grand Isle. I mean, it wasn't much already but it's what we had. That and Port Fourchon, a place where, because of some structural anomaly, a person could surf.

We even had a surf shop in Houma growing up, where most of us bought OP shirts but the brave few obtained actual surfing supplies. Regrettably, I never went and now all I wanna do is surf on the Louisiana coast like a misguided, sunburned idiot and no, can't. Which would be one thing, poetic if it was just my little wants and whims dashed but the whole ocean is jacked over this. The whole ocean. From here to out there. I've avoided saying anything because what can I say? That's what you say when the darkness comes lapping at your feet.

the single point of contact with a bigger world

Pushing Daisies (comprehensive fan site)
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (HBO site)
Various Artists, The Complete 10-Inch Series from Code Blue (compiled 2003, Rhapsody)
Breaking Bad (AMC)

I never got into Lost, and I don't say that in some superior, nrrd-pwer declaration of my individuality by subtraction - I watched a couple seasons here and there - but it didn't really do it for me. I don't have sci-fi patience, I guess, to want to reach the singularity at the end. I am really more of a 24 kind of guy. Let me jump in and then ditch a show after an hour like it was a stolen car. Breaking Bad is good TV, though they do existential dread on a day-to-day basis better than they did with last night's Tarantino-does-Beckett psychodrama but they had to do something with the Titanic of everyone's TV hopes and dreams finally pulling into port last night.

I was, however, smitten by a DVD of Pushing Daisies, an I-see-dead-people-show of almost English saccharine levels. It was as if Sufjan Stevens rewrote Dead Like Me after seeing The Royal Tennebaums, or the kind of show you might write if you'd just spent a minute in an elevator with a sobbing Zooey Deschanel. In other words, I have no standards. I'd rather watch hours of Criminal Minds than any movie. I feel goofy even talking about TV, like I'm lending it a power I don't want it to have. I liked the one episode of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency I watched this weekend too.

What I really dug this weekend besides the sweetness of my daughter's swimming pool birthday party, was this piece by Rick Cox.

Rick Cox, "These Things Stop Breathing" (Rhapsody)

It seeps in on withered wisps of tinny melody, like a description of the golden age of radio by someone whose life was saved by it, for whom radio serials were the single point of contact with a bigger world and on the backs of his prepared guitars or whatever come the Weight of Realization, thick clouds of rumbling tone heavy as summer. This compilation from/of Code Blue's catalog of early California minimalism is a treasure trove of mystery and wonder, like that show is for you, so I get it, and you, a little.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

old, sweet Marina

You know who's a badass? Arthur Danto is a badass. He can say things like this in the New York Times:
Because of my role as critic and philosopher, and as a New Yorker associated with the arts, I am often asked for my opinion of what this new work, designed for this occasion, means.
because it is true. The piece in question is the Marina Abramović piece The Artist is Present, where she sits in a chair in the atrium of MoMA, across form a chair where you or I can sit and commune with the legend in public silence. I am pretty sure I would fall in love with Marina Abramović if I sat in that chair, thinking about when she stood nude in the doorway of a gallery with her partner making you choose against who and what you will brush to get in,

Marina Abramović & Ulay, "Imponderabilia" [1977]

or how they spent a year tied to each other by a 6-foot rope or when they sealed their mouths together and breathed up all their air until they passed out or when she took pills for the express purpose of inducing seizures all for the express purpose of expression. This was a good one.

Marina Abramović & Ulay, The Other: Rest Energy, 1980

Her immediate art, filled to overflowing with self/ego/me/you/us/them dynamics, is some of the finest that the naked, bleeding spectacle of performance art has produced. The Artist is Present is pretty tame by her standards, just sitting in a chair interacting-by-not with those who stood in line for the pleasure of her not company. And badass Arthur Danto, confined to a wheelchair had the chair removed so he could roll up and participate on his terms, as it were. It is a beautiful subversion that only a critical mind with clout can pull off.

Last night I went to an opening where the latest Sweet Tooth was distributed, in which I have a piece where I critique a performance art event and I was talking about it and the changing nature of performance art over the years. Simplifying, of course: in the 70's it was brutal and confrontational, about making you squirm in your skin while watching the violation of another's. Now it seems more about coming together, kinda Cumbaya stuff.

Anyway, it was a fun event, and I walked to it from my house thinking the whole time "Oh how I like walking to an art opening from my house" and considering putting it on Facebook and Twitter and wherever else all that stuff goes (I think my Google Chat status is wired up in it too) but was hesitant to pull my phone out. The walk toward where I catch the bus gets a touch dicey at night. So I got to the bus stop and no gallery. Not even no opening but the building wasn't even there. Where was it? I pass this fucking place every time! I considered - it might be an instinct now - pulling out my phone and looking up the address and then my hesitation and the coming-together-thoughts and how am I supposed to tell people about things I can't find right under my own nose all bubbled up to the surface.

Turns out the place is exactly one block away from my house, like I could have possibly thrown the beer I eventually retrieved from the ice chest on their little patio onto my own patio if I'd tried. I had it mixed up with an arted-up flower shop right next to the Domino's, which kinda fits the gallery a little. Getting there felt like its own performance art - walking a circuitous path, slightly out of context from familiar, freshly imbued with panic, only to get back to where you started. That's what performance art does, I think, wipes your glasses clean, like, really clean. It gets in the cracks, runs water over them, dries them with a clean towel, doing a much better job of it than you do with your hot breath and the hem of your shirt. You just smear whatever you've been looking through already around. Somehow I think when Arthur Danto wheeled up to old, sweet Marina, who was likely bored/in deep thought/needed to pee like a motherfucker, I suspect his (metaphorical) glasses were clean.

Portrait of Arthur Danto, left, taken while sitting with Marina Abramovic, right, from the article.

Friday, May 21, 2010

assuredly abrew

Various Artists, The Complete 10-Inch Series from Code Blue (compiled 2003, Rhapsody)
John Sinclair, Criss Cross (2007, Rhapsody)
R. Scully & Rough Seven, Rough Seven (out soon, MySpace)

Event announcement: BE S.L.I.C.! with CultureCandy's SweetTooth #9. Save Louisiana's Irreplacable Coast! Fund Raiser for BP Oil Spill at the Gallery Bohemia, 3774 Government Street, Baton Rouge, LA this Saturday night from 8pm on. $8.

We will be handing out fresh copies of the latest Sweet Tooth, there will be gallery chow, glittery people, a DJ and if I have my facts straight, rickshaw rides. More info awaits.

Dude! Chas Smith on this compilation! It's really hard to make a pedal steel sound like anything but open plains lonesome, and his still sounds that way, but on a existential level. Like the cries of lonely molecules to the moon instead of that of some old coyote.

♫ Chas Smith, "After" (Rhapsody)

Last night while taking the dog out, we came across a family down the street taking their new pet snake for a walk. The boy was letting it down into the precision trimmed grass of a grandma-type on the corner, one with the fountains full of angel statues, and I was sure it would burrow into the thatch only to hours later scare the daylights out of the old gal and meet the business end of her pruning shears. She would cut that sucker exactly in half. The boy yanked the snake up just before it got away, probably to save his own hide more than that of the snake. I was thankful a witnessing of the street whippin' assuredly abrew was avoided. The spared child let us pet the snake for a second. The dog made perfunctory motions toward "getting it" like we encourage her to do with imagined squirrels and birds in the backyard, but Maya kept her in check with the slightest breeze of discipline.

♫ Chas Smith, "October '68" (Rhapsody)

Speaking of old coyotes and the slightest breeze of discipline, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. John Sinclair. Happy weekend all! See you at the thing!

The Delta Sound: Charles Shaar Murray, Bill Smith, John Sinclair live in Croydon, UK, 2009

♫ John Sinclair, "Brilliant Corners" (Rhapsody)

Here's to jumping to the next line!

Fringe (Fox)
Lil' Ed (Williams) & the Blues Imperials, Rattlesnake
(2006, Rhapsody)
Magic Sam, Magic Blues (2006, Rhapsody)
J. B. Lenoir, One of these Mornings (2003, Rhapsody)
Various Artists, The Complete 10-Inch Series from Code Blue (compiled 2003, Rhapsody)

♫ Lil' Ed & the Imperials, "Icicles in my Meatloaf" (Rhapsody)
♫ Magic Sam, "Magic Blues" (Rhapsody)

J. B. Lenoir, "Alabama Song" and "The Whale" from Vim Wenders tribute to Martin Scorsese's "The Blues"

♫ Peter Garland, "Matachin Dances, Dance 2 (Live at New Music America, San Francisco)" (Rhapsody)
♫ Michael Jon Fink, "Track Veil for Two Pianos" (Rhapsody), both from the Code Blue compilation.

It took most of the day, a web search for "minimalist blues," a disappointing stroll through The Poems of Hart Crane at the library (I read something of his last week that sent a spark up my spine but nothing today) and the insight of Kyle Gann to get from Lil Ed's frozen meatloaf to the paralyzing, spectral melancholy of Michael Jon Fink, likely the same amount of time it took the climbing cypress to jump to the next line, as illustrated above.

Here's to jumping to the next line!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

classification: Z

The Whitefield Brothers, Earthology (2010, Rhapsody)

I spent the day learning how to apply a rubric in order to systematically assess the value of an educational unit, but am bookending it before and after with the exquisite fake-ass cosmofunk wonderbread of the Whitefield Brothers just so the sandwich of the day tastes like something. Speaking of sandwiches, adding jalapeño to one's club at Louie's is a good idea.

It was Maya's last day at her current school which is bittersweet; the school she's attending in the fall has their act together to a higher degree but I'll miss walking to school every day. The new one is in biking distance, so we will adjust our rubric accordingly.

♫ The Whitefield Brothers, "Safari Strut" (Rhapsody)

I'm gonna pick up my office a little before the crew from Hoarders shows up.

Our class was taught in the husk of the former satellite library (servicing library students, an actual meta-library) where 480+ 240+ moons ago I had my first student job. I may have gotten busy up in that loft among the obscure library journals once. Library of Congress classification: Z.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

hang (like a noose does the neck of the condemned)

Harvey Milk, A Small Turn of Human Kindness (forthcoming, streaming at NPR)

It would have been nice to be informed how much the music of hoary doom metal practitioners Harvey Milk lines up with my taste for glacier-paced sonic brutality by one of you demon types around which I hang (like a noose does the neck of the condemned) than the buttoned-down, low-culture slummers* at Nation Goddamn Public Radio. Thank you NPR, even though your guy's Charley Patton comparison is a bit of a stretch; no thanks to you, Satan.

Image from the field trip Global Wildlife Center.

*One of which I would gladly be, should a position open up. Just sayin'. How cute would the story about a blogger mildly criticizing public radio one day becoming one of its rising new voices the next sound on All Things Considered? Super cute, I think. Did I mention I have a great radio voice? I have a great radio voice.

pork butt or pork blood

Janelle Monae, The Archandroid (2010, Rhapsody)

Media announcement: I cordially invite you to get down with Chuck Brodsky, Mose Allison, and Cohen & the Ghost in this week's Record Crate blog for 225 Magazine. I take a swipe at Tom Waits while I'm at it, mostly because it's fun.

The Huế-style vermicelli soup and bánh mì at Little Saigon (my friend Frank captures the scene rather well in this review) both corrected my drifting compass. We weren't sure if the waiter said there was pork butt or pork blood in the soup. Guess which it was!

The aroma was wonderful and the way those three jalapeño rings looked floating atop seemed almost spiritual placement, but really, it was only good in flavor and interesting in spectacle. A more adventurous array of ingredients will be difficult to find in this town, bur f'real, get the phở instead.

The bánh mì on the other hand... half of this mini-po-boy of pork and pickles and peppers will leave you in a state unable to rattle off those tongue-twister ingredients without drunkish giggling. $3 of perfect sandwich heaven.

The Archandroid is the bomb. The "Tightrope" video is like Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon reimagined by Prince in those years he was making art films. Or at least at the end, anyway.

the smoldering, infernal fort

The Black Keys, Brothers (2010, Rhapsody)
Damien Jurado, Saint Bartlett (2010, MySpace)
The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan (2005, Rhapsody)
The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street (Deluxe Reissue 2010, Rhapsody)

Our neighbors John Michael and Chris graciously gave us this tiled concrete patio table before moving and man, it makes the patio. Also notice how the climbing cypress branched out to colonize the extra line I strung up just yesterday afternoon. I no longer cluck my tongue in dislike the latest Black Keys album now that there's a new latest record that better channels their R&B ambitions better than Danger "Just make it sound like an old record and call it a day" Mouse did. It's no Thickfreakness but it'll do.

This one is a keeper.

♫ The Black Keys, "Never Gonna Give You Up" (Rhapsody)

I've always wanted to do a folk-up of "Rainbow in the Dark" even before Ronnie James Dio's departure from this plane, but until I do, Damien Jurado holds down the smoldering, infernal fort with "Holy Diver" up on his MySpace. Folk covers of metal songs are easy wins but they hit the nail with Thor's hammer. Once I saw Austineers Matt the Electrician and Southpaw Jones tear the house down at the Red Dragon in Baton Rouge with a genius take on Danzig's "Mother." I can't find it, but here is a song by them about metal song moments that I like a lot.

You can bid on the marimba the White Stripes used on Get Behind Me Satan here, to benefit the Nashville flood victims.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

nothing better

Tower Recordings, Folkscene (2001, Rhapsody)
Mose Allison, The Way of the World (2010, Rhapsody)
Megafauna, various tracks (MySpace)

Now this is the rainin'-ass place I grew up in. Like, generally speaking, a sprinkler system was just there to show that you had nothing else to spend your money on, but in the last couple years it's been dry in Louisiana. I don't expect this one show to be a reversal, but it felt pretty familiar now that I am an old man that has nothing better to discuss than the weather.

I'm well rounded though; I also talk shop. I've been envious of Mac-enabled writer types when I first saw the serene writing tool Ommwriter, though honestly it's a little Hallmark-card for my tastes, until I took a minutely closer look at the controls on my clunky but efficient weapon of choice Google Docs. I like GD because I can work on a thing anywhere: at the office, at home, on my phone (through the Doc² app) but damn it's ugly like all Google's shit is.

But hit View->Fixed-width page, Ctrl-Shift-F to go widescreen and then F11 to become fullscreen on the browser and the tabby din of the cockpit gives way to the demenued blank page. Just get to writing, you writer, you, it whispers to me. Finally get the handle of CTRL-tabbing through tabs, ALT-tabbing through programs. Learn to use the tools before you like you tell your classes. I know, that's a lot of whispering but I got the message. It's lovely.

Old Man Harry

Harry Partch, Enclosure 2: Historic Speech-Music Recordings (compiled in 2000, Rhapsody)

Jack Pendarvis' recent explorations of the citherns, cithers, citterns, zithers, and kithara at his "blog" is my kind of exposed research. Lay it bare and let 'er rip.

It reminded me that I've been meaning to pull out the Harry Partch records from the non-existent cloud-shelves that are the Internet because Old Man Harry had his own anachro-musicological take on the kithara, demonstrated plainly here but with more flare at 0:19 in part 2 in the following dazzling act of documentation. The old man gets funky on the surrogate kithara.

Music Studio: Harry Partch, Part 1

Music Studio: Harry Partch, Part 2

If I had a studio like that I would never leave it. The long-haired camel above is not a Harry Partch instrument but instead just a long-haired camel from the Global Wildlife Center field trip last week.

Here he is going on about the ruthlessness of Wagner and offering a dream.

♫ Harry Partch, "Text and Music: A Wagnerian Wrestling Match" (Rhapsody)
♫ Harry Partch, "Ten Li Po Lyrics: 1 - A Dream" (Rhapsody)

among the English

John Fahey, Live in Tasmania (1981, Rhapsody)
Barry Hannah, Airships (1978, Amazon)
The Real Housewives of New Jersey (2010, Bravo!)
Henry Cowell, New Music: Piano Compositions By Henry Cowell (1999, Rhapsody)

Bare and quivering one and all, but particularly salient to this fine morning is...

♫ John Fahey, "Fahey Establishes Rapport with the Tasmanians" (Rhapsody)

and an emu sighted from the bus at the Global Wildlife Center. I like how short these Barry Hannah stories all are in Airships; you can just about read one in the time it takes to get hit in the face. Also, Henry Cowell strategically eviscerating a piano for the purposes of releasing ghosts does the trick. I recognize that my trick is a weird one.

Henry Cowell, The Banshee, horror movie style

My wife and I both grew up with Amish/Mennonites/German Baptist semi-separatist sects in our midst and I don't really entertain the moony notions of their vowed simplicity. My memories of the Amish involved them standing barefoot in my aunt's kitchen to use the phone or young gorgeous couples looking each like a nervously pre-coital young Abe Lincoln and the Swiss Miss girl, riding up in a buggy to get some of the ice cream they kept in her deep freeze - an ice cream truck broke down once out near their enclave and they hurriedly gathered up the melting bounty and brought it over for safekeeping - and peek in at the TV through the screen door. This is what they did on dates until the buggy's got to rockin' in the Missouri dark. Like most people, I liked them much more for their hypocrisies than I do for their principles.

But the term they have for consorting with the outsiders - being out among the English - I like very much. I feel like I am cautiously trespassing on English territory a lot of the time. "Be careful out there among the English," is a running gag in our house, and I'm making a conscious effort to quit watching for the whites of their eyes and instead be thankful there is at least buggy parking at the coffee shop.

This is a rather inspiring number.

♫ Henry Cowell, "Exultation" (Rhapsody)

Monday, May 17, 2010

the Pilates of freak rock

Matt Marks, The Little Death: Vol. 1 (2010, his website)
Flying Saucer Attack, In Search of Spaces (1996, ROOT BLOG)
Keiji Haino, New Rap (2006, Rhapsody)

The photos above and below are from Maya's field trip to the Global Wildlife Center where gigantic hooved and horned creatures scare the living shit out of you as they come right up and beg for pellets. Serves us right, and they are all kinda awesome.

The knot on my neck is courtesy of an article I forgot to finish during all the death business of last week. It is working its way up to being a pulled muscle in the Discretion Over What Assignments I Take On.

The alleviation of said knot and strain is the thanks to the bat-crazy, rabid monkey antics of one Mr. Keiji Haino, who I'd say is like the Pilates of freak rock if I really had a handle on what Pilates is all about.

the dream about the ocean

Dio, Holy Diver (Rhapsody)

I had the dream about the ocean last night. Not like a dream I usually have, but The Dream about The Ocean one has, brought on by the onset of pool season (a perfect portrait thereof is up top) and my friend Terry's passing. The spread at his wake is in the middle. I was out "past the breakers," wherever that is - I know oceans more as a metaphor than as a fact - and Maya was sort of there and sort of not and maybe we were drowning and maybe not and could see the shore as a thin sandy line and I couldn't remember if you were supposed to float it out or swim parallel to shore or what.

As I'm typing this, I'm listening to my friend Jim read the obituary I wrote about Terry on his radio show, which is a strange elation. I feel a little adrift but, of course, not really. I have dad issues and Terry was a dad kind of friend, and etc. and I'm here, and he's here in the ways that the departed are, and we sent him off in great style, I think. Jill brought over a mini-keg of Cherokee homebrew beer (bottom) to the wake . I wrote a story about Terry and all our friends getting transcendental on this stuff that will appear in the next issue of the Oxford American.

I am not corny enough to say that I am choked up about Ronnie James Dio's death even though "Rainbow in the Dark" was likely one of my first favorite songs, my jam in 5th grade. Only one bus was running this morning (summer schedule already) and in the interminable wait I listened to all of Holy Diver just to get to "Rainbow in the Dark." When let off, the little staccato opening made me want to break into a run and I pictured the most cliche action movie fight scene, one where the hero's mettle is proven as cuz' it's free and I see that it's me railed, devil horns aloft, in the heat, in the dark, and choked up a little, just like I did when I saw the coffee urns from Highland Coffees - where Terry daily held court - at the wake yesterday afternoon, and it's allergies. I ain't cryin' so shut up already.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Terry Kennedy, 1945 - 2010

Note: Terry's wife Elizabeth asked me to write the notice for the paper, and the paper asked that my name be attached since it veers into first person. I feel weird about such a byline, and a little self-conscious about the first person, but then what doesn't feel weird and self-conscious when one of your best friends is gone? Here it is in a slightly more digestible format.
Obituaries are traditionally formed of the facts: the full name of the deceased, Dr. Joseph Terry Kennedy; who the deceased was preceded by in death, his parents, J.T. and Marie Kennedy, who were of Cartersville, Ga.; the pertinent dates and locales, born Dec. 8, 1945, in Cartersville, Ga., and died Thursday, May 13, 2010, in Baton Rouge; those by whom he is survived, wife, Elizabeth Pratt, and daughters, Eva and Caitlin "Cassie," sister, Irish Murphy, brother, Fred Kennedy, sister and brother-in-law, Fran and Sammy Butler, sister and brother-in-law, Rebecca and Al Johnson, and cousin, Charles Grier; the capacities in which that person served, a few: father, partner, teacher, artist, veteran, boat-builder, coffee shop ringleader and friend; and maybe some professional honors, Purple Heart Medal for service in Vietnam, longtime associate professor of mass communications at Southern University, Baton Rouge.

Those facts are important, but if Joseph Terry Kennedy has helped innumerable people realize anything over the years, it is that there is a greater truth than the facts, that the things we know and the things we do are but the first step toward something larger than ourselves.

And this was a guy with great facts! Mere hours after Terry's succumbing to the ravages of cancer, we gathered under the patio of his house just like a hundred other nights with him, recounting his remarkable participation in the anecdotal. "Remember the time he taught my son to smoke a cigar?" "Remember the time he took the dean for a ride on the back of his motorcycle and turned the mirror to see the terror on his face?" Terry had read every book, listened to every piece of music, knew every piece of art and had a way of rerouting a question or story into uncharted waters, where the real interesting questions and stories lie. He was the best friend an inquisitive soul could have.

Once he and I set out to find where Hitler's horse was buried out on River Road near the airport in New Orleans. His $500 Mercedes (another story - there is always another story with Terry) kept breaking down. We ended up in a hot auto parts store in Gonzales with souls in a similar desperate state and yet Terry pointed out powerful beauty in them all, the aging cashier's fallen beehive hairdo fighting against the busted A/C, the girl's name on a prison tattoo, how good a Coke tastes in such a situation. He loved everyone and everything and when you tuned into Terry's wavelength, you loved everything, too.

The part he bought didn't fix the situation and that delighted him as well. "We are circling in on a solution; I can feel it," he chirped as we lurched and chugged back home. We did find that horse the following weekend, but that success was on par with the previous fiasco, just another stepping stone on the path toward the immense, unfathomable truth that surrounds us, that is us, and it is in that truth that Terry lived and all of us whose lives he's touched live as well. - Alex V. Cook

The viewing will be held at the Owen Funeral Home, 12 Collins Drive, Cartersville, Ga., (770) 382-3030, Thursday, May 20. The funeral service will be Friday, May 21, at 2 p.m. There will be an informal gathering at his house, 728 East Blvd., on Sunday, May 16, at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to The Nature Conservancy at

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bozeman's Simplex

"Bozeman's Simplex" Scenes form David Lynch's, On the Air, 1992

My favorite cultural reference I can never use is the Bozeman's Simplex running gag from David Lynch's short-lived 1992 anti-sitcom On The Air .
Narrator: Blinky Watts is not blind. He suffers from Bozeman's simplex. He actually sees 25.62 times as much as we do. If we were to see what Blinky is seeing right now, it would look something like this:
and then they show Santa Claus and puppies and ballerinas superimposed on the scene.

Bozeman's Simplex would be an extremely handy reference when talking about those who see more than the rest of us see, but almost nobody remembers On the Air. Too bad, for it made fine post-Laverne & Shirley use of Squiggy and, as sitcoms go, was as artfully unfunny as we were gonna get in 1992.

The only way to be more egregious in my cultural posturing would be to make Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman references, a show even I never watched but my parents did. I remember her getting out of the cabinet under the sink a lot but that's about it. And this:

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Classic TV is awesome! I wouldn't've been sure that I hadn't made up No Soap, Radio were it not for the IMDB entry.

This trip down obscure media lane was brought to you by HTMLGIANT, and their posting of David Lynch's The Alphabet.

David Lynch, The Alphabet (1968)

the big deal

MGMT, Congratulations (2010, Rhapsody)
Man or Astro-Man?, Spectrum of Infinite Scale (2000, Rhapsody) and Made from Technetium (1997, Rhapsody)

In all that's been going on in the last couple of days, I have somehow neglected to mention the coolest addition to our household - a drumkit! Early birthday present for her. The campaign for a family band is back on! Maya even scored out a beat she was working on last night and tried to teach it to me in the interest of helping my freeform ass find a rhythm. It is all we can ask out of each other ultimately, isn't it?

♫ Man or Astro-Man?, "Within One Universe There are Millions" (Rhapsody)

Also, I don't get the big deal about MGMT, abbreviated or otherwise.

RIP Terry Kennedy


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

slumming it in teenage nowhere

Section 15, From the Hip Live - In the Flesh
(2001, Rhapsody)

The beauty of postpunk industrial music is that it is nowhere music, identifiable because we are all slumming it in teenage nowhere, man and yet we are someplace of some meager sort and nowhere music makes us feel veritably existent in comparison. So I thought "who's the most nowhere-music-playing industrial band I can think of" and came up with Factory Records b-listers Section 25, only to find out they recorded a 1985 live album in little old Baton Rouge, right at the tail end of the golden era of nowhere music. We must've been someplace back then!

Anybody know where they played? Did Tächsläge open up for them? There are really no hilltops to look from here. Maybe that's why it sounds their hearts were not in it, though, it was the style to not have hearts back then.

♫ Section 25, "Looking From A Hilltop (Live Baton Rouge 2.2.1985)" (Rhapsody)


Living With Music: A Playlist by Rachel Kushner (PaperCuts)
John Lydon DJ'ing All Songs Considered (NPR)
Public Image Ltd., Live in Tokyo (Rhapsody)
Jarvis Cocker, The National Trust: Music to Think To (The National Trust)

I like that Bob Boilen hasn't listened to PiL in ages either.

I daydream of one day being asked by the New York Times or NPR to craft such a playlist, and have the daynightmare of sounding like a jackass/cliche in my commentary.

Speaking of cliches, this is one of the finest

♫ Public Image Ltd., "Public Image" (Rhapsody)

A girl in my high school circle was all into the Live in Tokyo record. Maybe because punk rock & new wave was available as scraps in the hinterlands in the 80's and somebody accidentally shipped a copy of this to the Record Bar at the mall. It's not my favorite PiL moment but us all slumped living room and the dark paneling and the smell of Domino's pizza and me giving a prickish, self-righteous cold shoulder to a guy that had recently been in an accident where he stopped his jeep on the train tracks and couldn't get the car started and the worst happened like they always warn you about, all comes rushing back with this is not a love song! this is not a loooooove song! railing in the background.

♫ Public Image Ltd., "(This Is Not) A Love Song (live)" (Rhapsody)

If you look dead center in the photo above, you will see one of the hawks that lives in our tree out front.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

this information helps you

Suicide, American Supreme (2002, Rhapsody)
Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel, various tracks (MySpace)
Indian Jewelry, Totaled (out today)

American Supreme is not Suicide at its best. It hits me like Alan Vega was skulking around his loft nursing the idea that he created rap music and that a couple speed freaks in the vicinity egged this on: You did create rap music! and so Martin Rev was awakened from his hibernation chamber and summoned to make something now, theoretically for 2002's now, except that the only calendar in the loft was a Wax Trax calender from 1989, resulting with something that comes across as De La Soulless. And in that light, it's kind cool.

Suicide, "Power Au Go Go" (Rhapsody)

Duet for Theremin & Lap Steel played in New Orleans last night. I didn't go. I realize this information helps you not at all now.

Natalie Elliot did a fine review of the Indian Jewelry record at the Oxford American site, spurring on this whole Suicide attack, and if you clicked on that site to open this page and then click on here to open theirs, you might tear the space-time continuum and that will only make Suicide do another record, so keep that in mind.

Suicide, "Child It's a New World" (Rhapsody)

Meanwhile, above, the garden is attacking the pergola.

snake eye die

The National, High Violet (out today) and Alligator (2005, Rhapsody)
Padgett Powell, The Interrogative Mood (2010, Amazon)

Media announcement: "Mad Dogs and British Columbians," my twofer review of the recent recordings by the Fall and Frog Eyes is posted on in all its writhing, convulsive glory.

Repeated listens to the sorrow drowned in perfect sound that is High Violet has made me further appreciate Alligator, the album I might be tempted to put up as my favorite of the 2000's. He's so naked and raw on that record. I've said it before: I saw the National on that tour at a bar here in town along with 30 other people and it was the show that kickstarted my pro-critic career, so you can thank/blame them depending on how you feel about it. I want spraypaint the lines of "Baby, We'll Be Fine" on the long concrete ramps of parking garages so you experience the whole thing from roof to street level. So heavy. I'm glad I didn't have a cubicle gig when I heard this song.

The National, "Baby We'll Be Fine" (Rhapsody)

Or maybe I'll just tattoo "I won't fuck us over!" on my back for pool season.

The National, "Mr. November" (Rhapsody)

I've heard my daughter sing the chorus of "Looking for Astronauts" in the backseat after her father keeping this on perpetual repeat. It kinda chokes me up now just thinking about it. It's more than my medium-sized American heart can bear.

The National, "Looking for Astronauts" (Rhapsody)

Last night with half a lazy eye on the TV I read the Kindle sample (I love a Kindle sample of a book; it's what I want to read of most books anyway) of The Interrogative Mood, Padgett Powell's novel built entirely out of questions. Even in the brief chunk of it, a rhythm emerges, a hook and you get completely sucked in by the barrage, taking microseconds of your life to answer things like In what area does your want of learning concern or disappoint you most, botany or mathematics? (botany) or Would you rather have, in principle, fifty one-pond bags or one fifty-pound bag? (in principle, the latter, but aesthetically, the former) and so on.

The future of publishing rests in the brevity of smart things to read on the toilet (my first book Darkness, Racket and Twang was laid out with that in mind, and is available for Kindle) and the devices with which the content revolution will be fought reflect that need (one handed operation) as well as those of the standby engine of communication: pornography (also, one-handed operation.) Is a body catching a body coming through the rye regarded as a good thing or a bad thing? I don't really know, but I like how all this questioning is dragging me out of the parenthetical to find out.

Above: that single snake eye die was waiting for me at the bus stop this morning.

Monday, May 10, 2010

his fellow Nerve

The Nerves, One Way Ticket (compiled 2008, Rhapsody)
Buzzcocks, A Different Kind of Tension (1979, Rhapsody)

I mean, it is inarguable that "Hanging on the Telephone" is the perfect pop song, even more perfect with Jack Lee's tender desperation than with Debbie Harry's incredulousness in Blondie's cover version a few years later (like you would leave 1978 Debbie Harry hanging), but "When You Find Out" by his fellow Nerve and future Plimsoul Peter Case is a keeper too.

The Nerves, "When You Find Out"

If you were wondering what is the other perfect pop song in the world, it is this one.

Buzzcocks, "You Say You Don't Love Me"