Friday, July 9, 2010


Maya and her friends found baby frogs at the pool. No gators (yet.)

Joshua Cohen, Witz
The Who, "Who Are You"
Mute Math, "The Nerve"

King Crimson, Discipline

Media Announcement: My review of the Best of LSU Fiction collection is up at the Oxford American site. My outsize praise for it had to be whittled down for size but it is a much better read than the accurate but unavoidably insular, campus-gift-shop title implies. Speaking of the OA, should you find yourself near the sweaty regions of the Mississippi Delta this weekend, you should head to their Most Southern Weekend On Earth. I'd be there just to pretend I have any business hanging out with Peter Guralnick, but my maladies of late have knocked me off my rounds.

Awesome Man Vs. Nature Announcement: A seven-foot-long alligator waltzed into one of the buildings on campus yesterday, albeit a warehousey, down-near-the-river building, but still a building on campus. Gator! The subject comes up a lot in extra-Louisiana correspondence, so I'm happy to fuel the myth they are running around loose everywhere with the fact that they actually are running around loose everywhere.

Once I was teaching a class at an aluminum plant downriver and half my class was late/absent (typical at the plants, they have stuff to do and don't like to go to class) but they all trundled in giggling with a phone-cam picture of one of them holding open the mouth of a ten-foot alligator they'd found in one of the most assuredly contaminated cooling ponds around the plant. Contaminated alligator. Wrap your brain around that.

I'd forgotten how much I like the 80's Talking Heads/Pere Ubu upstager version of King Crimson until I heard a Mute Math song on the radio last night and was shocked it wasn't King Crimson. Adrian Belew was a brilliant frontman for those times - absurd against the grind, grinding against the abject. It succeeds where the Who sorta dropped the thread in 1978 with Who Are You.

The title song was playing on the radio at the pool last night and my friend Jack and I were discussing how anyone would write a song like that. It's not a bad song per se, certainly not the worst Who song, but who would sit down and write that song? The Who were always the greatest sort of train jumpers, firmly aping the trend with an eye on the next one, but "Who Are You" seems too much a crazy quilt. Wiki explaineth:
Who Are You was put out at a time when the two major camps of rock, progressive rock and punk rock, were conflicting due to their antipodal styles. Pete Townshend's compositions were written as an attempt to bring the two styles together.
Jack said he heard a radio interview with Pete Townsend once around that time (I am old but he is old as dirt) where he talked about going to a Sex Pistols show and that everyone there called him "grandpa" and spat at him and nearly ran him out of there and that really excited him, and then they played "Pretty Vacant" on the show, maybe for the first time on the radio in Gulf Shores, AL.

None of this factors into the plot or the understanding thereof in Witz, but I think everything else does.

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