Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the liking of America, especially bald eagles

One of my contact in Conway, AR confirmed this guy did run for school board there. NSFW, but SF America!

Max Tannone, Doublecheck Your Head: Beastie Boys vs. Beastie Boys
Beck, Guero
Nico Muhly, I Drink the Air Before Me

Joseph Beuys' "I Like America and America Likes Me." The video snapshot reminds me of a certain record all about America and everything else, so that's how the afternoon will play out.

Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime

Minutemen, "Theatre is the Life of You"

Welcome to the LSU Center for Conceptual Art

Welcome to the LSU Center for Conceptual Art!

It started easily enough with a Facebook meme drill, where I did actually listen to the Nick Drake record (and had him fronting the Bad Seeds) and the John lee Hooker

1. Richard Youngs - Sapphie
2. Pearls Before Swine - The Use of Ashes
3. Nick Drake - Bryter Layter
4. Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career
5. Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Equinox
6. Juana Molina - Segundo
7. Ogurusu Norihide - Humour
8. Suicide - Second Album
9. Arab Strap - The Week Never Starts Around Here
10. Nick Drake Cave and the Bad Seeds - Tender Prey
11. John Lee Hooker - Urban Blues
12. Funkadelic - Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow
13. Sun Ra - Space is the Place
14. The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
15. Yes - Fragile

and then went into this kidney punch of  "A Love Letter to Elvis Costello" in The Paris Review, after which, once I dredged all the hummus out of tall used sour cream container with my fingers, it all went Astro Black. Thanks, Paul.

and now I'm all like this:

Dub Kweli by Max Tannone

Who knows what the future holds?

Monday, August 30, 2010

man vs. instrument vs. material vs. himself

Another aspect of Fleur de Lis' neon signage: ellipses.

Justin Townes Earle, Harlen River Blues (via NPR)
Yoko Ono, A Story from Onobox (Disc 6)

Media Announcement: I have an unabashedly enthusiastic fan's profile of Richard Buckner in this month's Country Roads, in accordance with his appearance at the Shaw Center's Hartley/Vey Studio Stage September 14. Don't worry, I'll remind you.

As a diversion, [Buckner] hid out in a Bakersfield hotel (formerly a hunting cabin at the end of an airstrip built by Howard Hughes, no less) with the book he had with him, Edgar Lee Masters’ "Spoon River Anthology," a guitar and a four-track recorder. There he set the darkened vignettes of small town drama to song, and then moved on. It was years later when the tape was recovered and finished as The Hill, a stunning tour-de-force of man vs. instrument vs. material vs. himself. The songs dip and lace back into themselves, getting tighter and tighter to the point of strangulation and then suddenly let go.

Also I have a piece in the forthcoming Oxford American "Future of the South" issue hitting discerning newsstands everywhere real soon. I will likely remind you of that too when the time comes.

I've had the Onobox on my computer for ages but I don't think I've gotten to her cornball mid 70's aggresso-balladry (see Lou Reed Transformer through Sally Can't Dance) until it popped up on inadvertently and I'm into it. It suits her non-screaming side - a little lounge act-y, a little empowering, a little wonderful, a little terrible. It's helping me formulate the Justin Townes Earle interview questions I have on my to-do list.

Yoko Ono, "A Story"

Ed. to add: I'd totally put "O'Oh" on your mixtape and if I were smart, I'd lie about who it was and tell you after you heard it.

come on, baby, let the river roll on

Waiting for a pizza from Fleur de Lis Friday night. I am not that guy at the window. I am the one wearing a damp towel wrapped around damper swim trunks behind the camera.

This red glowing sign says "TELEPHONE TAKEOUT." It differentiates this window from the one where golden era Baton Rogeans ordered their pizzas by telegraph.

The blue says "AIR CONDITIONED"; the red, "ROMAN."

Then on Saturday, a thing got moved in a house and a sweet, dumb dog was totally confused.

Church barbecue was acquired for lunch. I got the "meat plate."

Maya made a catfish and cheesy spaghetti sandwich and offered me a bite. Thank you, indeed.

Then onto the OA block party thing in the 9th Ward with Little Freddie King

and the ubiquitous Rebirth Brass Band. The fact that Rebirth is the band that shows up everywhere reminds me of what a special place this all is.

The light was gorgeous down there after the rain. The party was to celebrate the release of Dave Anderson's One Block, a photo essay about 5 years of this corner since Katrina. I saw a pit bull, lovingly featured in the book, knock a  little kid down to take his hot dog and then cavort in the mud. The most commonly uttered remark from among my crew and myself and those with whom I spoke was that five years and one week ago, we would have never stepped foot in this part of the 9th Ward, such was the neighborhood's reputation. We're awesome about things sometimes.

Like I said, the light was unreal.

Unpictured: The karaoke breakdown at the Kingpin. I will never hear "Purple Rain" or "Shout" from The Blues Brothers the same way again

Also unpictured: the amazing tacos from the Taceaux Loceaux truck (@TLNola)

Among the simpler pleasures of Sunday at home, there was a hummingbird

and then it was gone.

This was all done while Cotton Jones, Tall Hours in the Glowstream purred its slow jams from the prom of the Angels. It hasn't quite torn me apart like Paranoid Cocoon did last week, but it has a rip going. There's this one song whose chorus goes "come on, baby, let the river roll on" which is the general tack I'm talking with this Katrinavale Disasterversary. Here was my take at the time. Obama lost points on his NOLA (y'know, it was never widely called NOLA, written or spoken, before The Storm) visit by still kicking around the phrase "natural disaster" in regards to it, but gained points with a poboy stop at Parkway Bakery. If he wanted to do it right, he'd've made his feel-good speech to the brave people of NOLA with a conspicuous roast beef jus stain on his American tie.

I also read a lot of Gert Jonke's The Distant Sound this weekend, and I'm kinda ready to get through with it. It's good, and a third of the thing is pointlessly dogeared with "oh this part!"'s but man, Eastern Europeans sure are all bound up about trains and circus magic = escape from tyranny. After a girl walks a tightrope strung through a train car, takes it down and than walks the memory of a tightrope, this is observed:
But it is as if Daniele has been swallowed up by a suitcase again. The director is right, you think, one day she may climb up through the air on the rope ladder of her imagination, all the way to the trembling flashing weather intersections on the shores of the atmosphere.

Speaking of part, this morning I'm listening to the new Arvo Pärt, Cantique, via NPR Music, and his is a gorgeousness so simplified and serene and distilled that you figure it is probably there in the background of everything all the time if you'd just listen.

Twice I typed wondow instead of window and I like the sound of wondow (window + wonder) but it is really too corny to use.

Friday, August 27, 2010

blinking "01"

You know what's a good record? Elephant Shoe is a good record.

Arab Strap, Elephant Shoe (most of which is in the YouTube playlist above)

When I got my first little mp3 player - a Rio something from Radio Shack that could hold 100 songs if you ratcheted the quality down;  a two-digit track number its sole readout - one of the first albums I put on it was this one and I would skulk the office in Kansas City silently with "Cherubs" throbbing from therein, blinking "01" at me.

I was walking up this huge spiral staircase they had, exhausted from overwork and a relatively new baby and saw the first snow fall against the massive atrium windows to "I see cherubs swarming all around..." and a heartbeat.

I can taste the cheese fries at the terrible little bar where we ate lunch nearly every day. I remember one guy had a motorcycle with a sidecar and we tore off to that bar in it one day. Riding in a sidecar is so weird because you turn laterally, like no lean into anything. It was like being on the turn of a conveyor belt: straight ahead... pivot....straight ahead. Another guy was a stock car racer and he had removed the interior door panels and glovebox and most of the dash to make whatever souped-up piece of shit he drove lighter, and it was a much more terrifying a ride than the sidecar. My own car had exhaust problems and developed a habit of stalling. I ended up driving to lunch one day and a co-worker told me he was too scared to ride back with me and within days, we got a new car. Something about the winter on the Kansas/Missouri line promotes ignoring the shoddy state of one's conveyance through life. You're just happy to get there.

I remember walking all the way to the Starbucks through the crunchy ice, at least a 20 min trip each way along the vast arc of a slippery sidewalk in the neighborhood behind the building a with Elephant Shoe going and someone was on the far end of the parabola coming this way and we met at the middle and it was really weird. We smiled weakly when we passed. It's what planets do on long, slow orbits.


Awesome video for "Judy and the Dream of Horses."

Belle & Sebastian, "Judy & the Dream of Horses" and Dear Catastrophe Waitress and Belle & Sebastian Present: Books and The Life Pursuit


I am all stuck up in some Belle & Sebastian this week. I don't even think "Judy" is a particularly good song in the details, but a great song on the whole.

Tangentially connected, ("Books") I really like this promo video for Patrick DeWitt's The Bastard. It reminds me of the animation in the original Wild Wild West show. I can't wait for the Internet to be about books instead of cats. (via Bookninja) Also via them, and book nerd Internet-y, the Man Booker Prize app for the iPhone is totally unnecessary and biblio-precious and exquisitely tight. And free. Like ha-ahhh-ahhhh-ah-orses!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

why I like what I like

Maybe it's like how you can't easily take a picture of fireworks. These were shot off in honor of my buddy Lance's daughter's birthday last weekend, and now here it is his birthday. Happy birthday, you old bastard!

Page France, Hello, Dear Wind
Cotton Jones, Paranoid Cocoon 
Gert Jonke, The Distant Sound  
Owl & the Pussycat, Owl & the Pussycat 

Media announcement: I suggest you go out to Teddy's this weekend for an all star blues jam benefit for Sherill Jackson as suggested by my most recent post on The Record Crate.

I'm really smitten with this Cotton Jones album of 2009, as I am of this album by their former band Page France of 2005. I suspect Cotton Jones' album of 2010 will smite me similarly when I get my ears on it.

The Distant Sound is joining a group of books that I enjoy without really knowing what exactly is going on. I tried explaining it and the pleasures I extract from its ilk to my well-read and sensible wife and she said it sounded awful. It might be. It's making me question why I like what I like which is probably good for something. I compared it to abstract painting, something we both adamantly like, but I don't think that's it because abstract painting is visceral and immediate when it works and in abstract literature (a terrible term that I won't use again) the good stuff comes on like a fever dream epiphany after spending too much time in the sweat lodge. Which, when I say it like that, still doesn't sound all that fun.

Ed to add: Cotton Jones made me think of Owl & the Pussycat's song  "Don't Play Me" which once made me drop everything and run out and go someplace to buy the album. Like, "Excuse me. I gotta go do something." That's when you know you like something!

a heartbreaking anecdote of staggering amusement

Don't get too excited.

William Brittelle, Television Landscape
Ted Hearne, Katrina Ballads

Yesterday I saw this check from a noted cool publisher poking out of my wallet and thought I should post a picture of it in a cocky, oh this old thing?, way even though it's was for a $30-kill fee for an article that won't be appearing in one of their fine publications after all, and thought better of the notion. I instead took $30 as $30 and deposited it at the ATM in the Union and moved on. Then, not two hours later I see this on Facebook:

LSU School of Art Anyone going to see Dave Eggers speak tonight? (7 pm Student Union Ballroom)

and smacked my head over the missed opportunity of having Dave Eggers sign my check from the company he founded with maybe a "Better luck next time. Ha ha."or something. It would have been a heartbreaking anecdote of staggering amusement, and I'd probably have framed it, or laminated it and used it as my go-to bookmark or something, supposedly like Einstein did with a $1500 check he'd won for something, except Einstein did it out of pure ether-wandering, absent-mindedness, and subsequently lost the check when he lost the book. I would have been tempted to be horrible about it, making it a forced conversation starter (like I am doing with this post) so it probably worked out for the best.

I didn't make it to Eggers' appearance. In true Baton Rouge style, nobody ever mentions when something cool goes on and instead fills the gap with complaints that nothing cool ever goes on. I found out about it only hours before the event, my wife started her night class last night and for a moment considered making my daughter sit through it but then it would've required the organization some slapstick vehicle trading-off business and then there's dinner and her homework and the dog and the only book of his I've read is How We Are Hungry and I didn't exactly love it and they don't have Staggering at the library even though I look every time and it was going to require a lot of maneuvering just to possibly make a perfectly good check into a novelty. Friends of mine with impeccable taste swear by Staggering and What is the What, and I like the parts of Zeitoun I've read so they are all on the list

Someone else on Facebook said it was " inspiring..." so, cool. I hope it was a packed ballroom.

I have the check stub in my wallet just in case he's like hanging out at the coffee shop or anything. If anyone let's me know...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I love the library. Just sayin'.

Cotton Jones, Paranoid Cocoon 
UVB-76 Temporary Internet Repeater 

I've never heard of Cotton Jones either - they have a new album out - but it's great stuff, like if a band got stuck coming out of the experimental time tunnel and decided to just play sweet, sexy songs right there in the lab to woo the favors of that one demure lab assistant whose charms went unnoticed by her dull compatriots, hellbent on finding the Answer rather than succumbing to the Question.

Cotton Jones, "Gotta Cheer Up"

The UVB-76 thing is from this story: basically one of those crazy buzzer stations that just puts out little pulses over Russian shortwave channels for decades suddenly changed. I would like to interview the people that monitor these channels. I don't know what for, but the findings will be important. I feel I should be monitoring them, but after five minutes I lose my nerve. I'm afraid I'll never stop. I did, however, once put a bunch of the Conet project recordings on an iPod and listened to it on shuffle all day, so I'm picking up what they are laying down. Try it yourself, comrade.

Recordings of number stations. Somewhere in here is the one that inspired the Wilco album title Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

if I may, sir

Gert Jonke, a space invader against sexism, in HTMLGIANT

Gert Jonke, The Distant Sound
King Crimson,"Thela Hun Ginjeet"
Bill Evans, Conversations With Myself

I started The Distant Sound last night and know I've at least thumbed through Jonke's Geometric Regional Novel for it is precisely the title that appeals. "Thela Hun Ginjeet" got me through the morning walk home. Man, Adrian Belew is good. He lends the compulsive machine of 80's new wave/post-punk totalitarian rock the perfect amount of feral, gonzo humanity. Listening to his stream-of-desperation vocals, referring to desperate recording played back during an even more desperate situation, is like watching a mountain goat jump from office tower to office tower.

This Bil Evans is at the suggestion of Rosencrans Baldwin's "Living With Music" playlist in the New York Times' Paper Cuts blog.  I'm never sure what to put in quotes and what to italicize when referencing a blog, which is pretty sad considering how much I do it. I defer to The Chicago Manual of Style because they have a sublimely Midwestern passive-aggressive way of making you dig out an answer. Like you'll learn it better if you have to work at it. If there was a Southern Manual of Style, it would simply just change the subject by showing a  little cleavage and defer the whole messy affair to a later time.
Q. How would you treat the title of a blog—roman with quotation marks, roman without quotation marks, or italic?  Answer »
 Anyway, Conversations with Myself is a brilliant example of talking to oneself (he plays along with a recording of himself playing)  and old Gert's protagonist in The Distant Sound speaks to this from the loony bin.
 There is nothing more beautiful than a conversation with yourself in which you consistently address yourself with if I may, sir. Because when your thoughts address them,selves informally with hey, yous, that often leads to one taking offense, and often a real hostility develops in your own thought process, both among and between your various ideas, and when your own opinions can't even get along with each other inside the same skull, that naturally causes a state of violent agitation that soon becomes entirely unbearable. 
 Or as Billy Idol once put it... 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Duane Reade 61, 83, 145

All the facial expressions in Richard Yates.

Windsor for the Derby, Against Love
Tao Lin, Richard YatesJoy Division, Still
Sufjan Stevens, All Delighted People

They did pull it out in Richard Yates. I'm not going to say it was the most enjoyable read, but man, it is drumhead tight. The perfect ending to this novel is the index. Here are the D's
dark chocolate   41
Delaware River 14, 16, 20, 71, 139
Delta   113
Dinova, Neva   20, 123
Disney   176-8
Dixon, Matt  82, 151-2
driver ant   69
Duane Reade   61, 83, 145

You could likely reverse engineer the novel from this index, so close is the narrative to the details. The entry for facial expressions reproduced crudely above is coldly poetic. I'm glad I read it and gladder to be finished. A more (or at least equally) complete review is forthcoming.

"Dead Souls" is my favorite song lately.

The Official Baton Rouge Twitter food truck rankings

Chicken caprese and banana Nutella crepes from the @Goyayas truck

First: @Goyayas Crepe Truck -  The chicken caprese was almost too messy to eat in a food truck context (which is actually a plus in its own way) but the whole experience was fast, substantial, delicious, fresh, unique and any friend of Nutella is a friend of mine. And they take credit cards.

Tied for second: @NinjaSnowballs and @LeMGelato - NinjaSnowballs gets the credit for getting the ball rolling and for giving the ubiquitous snowball a makeover; LeMGelato is the bomb and would pull ahead if they were out more and $1 less.

Third: @TacoDePaco - I'm pulling for y'all -  as Whitney Houston feels about children, I believe that taco trucks are the future -  but the chicken and steak tacos taste have the same honky taco flavor and there are some speed issues. Kick out the jamz, y'all; you aren't feeding a bunch of flavor-wary Midwesteners out here.    

Questions: Who else is there? C'mon, we are a city of easily led consumers. None of the 1,000 Greek/Lebanese restaurants in our fair city have access to decommissioned bread trucks?  Same for our Vietnamese brothers and sisters down Florida Blvd. Come ply my favor with a bánh mì cart. Where are those festival BBQ trucks when we need them? Is there a compelling reason for me to not be constantly confronted by a shrimp and catfish po-boy truck wherever I go? Has no one realized that the bulk of the landed eateries walking distance from campus kinda suck (Louie's and Koi are marked exceptions; the Chimes is losing some of its perennial luster)  and that people have their gastronomic hopes and dreams resting upon a chain called Pita Pit? Pita Pit?  I think not. Save us from ourselves, twitter food trucks.

this is not a party nor is it a disco nor is it fooling around

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens. Or it's a farm north of St. Francisville where just the right amount of things happen.

Tao Lin, Richard Yates
Talking Heads, Fear of Music
Tortoise, Beacons of Ancestorship

Something finally started happening at the tail end of Richard Yates and, in a way, it was a little disappointing. I was hoping our pro/an/pan-tagonists Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning would remain steadfast soldiers in the militia of the disengaged. I've got 20 pages to go, they might pull it out at the end.

I was kicking Talking Heads around on a friend's blog and then someone else posted the cover of Brian Eno's Before and After Science on Facebook and it reminded me to listen to Fear of Music, something I've been meaning to do ever since I read that Jonathan Lethem was writing a 33 1/3 book about it. I never could interface with Fear of Music while every other record of theirs, even the aggressively spotty True Stories and the who cares last gasp Naked, totally pushed my buttons shortly after their times. I'm pretty sure I came home the summer of  '89 with all my Talking Heads tapes and informed my friends who were still listening to Peter Gabriel and Rush that Talking Heads were the greatest band there was. I think I did the same thing the following summer with my Sonic Youth tapes, both times to little avail. One of those friends is now the guitar player and music director for Seal and has probably basked in the glow of Heidi Klum in person a time or two, so his might be the opinions to follow.

Anyway, this record sounded great walking back from walking my daughter to school. It's a walker's record. If one does treadmills or spins or whatever, the bulk of Fear of Music will hit you right in your reptilian escape reflex. So much so that when it is declared that this is not a party nor is it a disco nor is it fooling around in "Life During Wartime," the exposed part of this album's heart, you might just trip over your headphone cords (or oversized suit) and might ask yourself: how did you get there?

"Heaven" is a lovely tune.

Monday, August 23, 2010

yawning to life

Hallway adjacent to the boring recess. The library's listening rooms used to be back in that door and despite the admonishing, I did smoke in there at least once.

Tao Lin, Richard Yates
Vic Chesnutt, Silver Lake
Michelle Shocked, Texas Campfire Tapes
Billy Bragg & Wilco, Mermaid Avenue

Per Drive-By Truckers, I called (her) home on my sister's birthday.

I did go to read in the most boring, uninviting recess of the library and yet one student sat on an adjacent couch in a corny peace sign t-shirt eating a Subway sandwich  and then another, having finished her Subway sandwich in the chairs across the way, once the chattering gaggle of foreign students moved on, kicked off her shoes, strew her backpack and things about the tiled floor and stretched out on the other adjacent couch for a nap. It was like Richard Yates yawning to life as I read it. I closed the book and marched up to the 4th floor to look up books by the actual Richard Yates, for whom this novel is named, and wondered if instead I might find the author curled up asleep, stuffed into the shelves.

You know

Sukie in Clarke's headlights.

Swamp People 
Lambchop, The Decline and Fall of Counrty and Western Civilization: The Woodwind Years
M. Ward, Transfiguration of Vincent
Tao Lin, Richard Yates 

You know, Swamp People - basically Deadliest Catch with the parameters being readjusted and the budget drastically reduced on  retooled to portray Louisiana alligator hunters - isn't all that bad a show. Too bad they couldn't have had Waylon Jennings narrate it like the real Dukes of Hazzard, though. You already know how good Mad Men is. I'm waiting for some brave incalcitrant soul to pop up with "God, I hate Mad Men!' like a friend of mine did once about James Brown. There are plenty of compelling reasons to hate anything, but c'mon... I stood slack-jawed at how anyone could hate James Brown, but I admired his steadfastness on the subject.

You know, I really like Lambchop, but listening to a whole album of theirs is like eating all your vegetables. No matter how much you like vegetables, some of them get cold and soggy at the end. M. Ward, on the other hand - each little song is like finding one more french fry in the bottom of the bag. I love the way he says "killa whale, please!" in "Sad, Sad Song," and how he says everything in this song.

He only sings when he's sad, and he's sad all the time.

You know, putting my lunch down in the communal fridge down the hall shames me out of compulsively eating it 30 minutes early in a fit of rash Gotta Do Something For My Happiness Now, which will likely benefit me in the long run. If there was only a fridge in the library (10 min walk away) where it could be kept.

You know, Hurricane Katrina formed in the gulf five years ago. I was, have been and will be perpetually aware of when it went down, but it seems like longer to me, a slow, bumpy normalization, and I didn't even live in New Orleans. I wrote a story for Oxford American a couple years ago about Katrina's effect on Baton Rouge, but then and now I feel a little weird telling that story when this was happening just down the road. The OA is hosting a block party in the Ninth Ward this weekend. Y'all should go. I'm going.

Thanks, Offbeat.

You know, my lunch plan sorta failed. I just kept looking at this post instead of getting on with the business of the day while ignoring my lunch down the hall and M. Ward is breaking my heart in two with his version of "Let's Dance" and I dredged all the hummus out of the little hummus container with my finger and now I'm going to make that walk to the library and let old Tao Lin bum me out a little more with his characters' (I think it's just his characters') steadfast refusal to enjoy or celebrate anything but I think my mood will jump in the balance and lift me up and I will, for the experience, thrive. I ate all my vegetables. The new students are fully aswarm today with their little folders and notebooks and awkward steps. If things get dicey, I'll just imagine Waylon Jennings narrating my progress.

The state that I am in

The driveway at the farm.

Belle and Sebastian, Tigermilk and The BBC Sessions

The state I am in: a little sunburnt, exhausted/refreshed, full from the gnawing on  life's juicy marrow.

In order:1) The weekend commenced with that which made Milwaukee famous. 2) Later at Teddy's, Clarke ordered the setup and 3) I the tamales. Top) We headed out Saturday for a weekend in the perfectly named Felicianas. 4) RIP Sportsman's Deli, where I usually get the bait and boudin for these weekends. Thanks for 27 years of service!  5) At the lake they have posted a "No Diving" sign at the lake. 6) We did anyway. There was birthday cake, endless trays of snacks, squealing sleepover country hijinks, fireworks!, beer and the subsequent shit talking among the best people and a number of rides back and forth to the lake in 7) the mule. 8) Maya proved herself to be the most capable fisherwoman, baiting her own hook and 9) catching here the first of like 16 fish she caught that afternoon. The secret is using the Whole Foods chicken sausage that the ants got into.

I agree with the girl in Muriel's Wedding that one should want life to be as perfect as "Dancing Queen" but that might be hoping too much. I am lucky that my gig is occasionally as full and sweetly detailed as a Belle & Sebastian song.

"The State that I Am In."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sufjan Stevens! Philip Glass! Streaming! Freedom!

I love going through this archway. I go through it every time I walk to the library from my office and doing so feels like I'm going somewhere!

Sufjan Stevens, All Delighted People
Daan Vanderwalle, Alvin Curran: Inner Cities

A new Sufjan Stevens album is upon us! Streaming freely like the acceptance of huddled masses does from the copper lips of the Statue of Liberty! Streaming like the last Dodgers banner in Brooklyn! Streaming like, well, a stream! It's gorgeous and I just started listening to it, so I think its only going to get more gorgeous!

<a href="http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/album/all-delighted-people-ep">All Delighted People (Original Version) by Sufjan Stevens</a>

Also there's finally this!

Philip Glass listening to and commenting on his "Openings" being played on marimba by Brian Bell at an LSU School of Music master class, April 13, 2010. It has somehow taken forever for me to upload this. I love how he has Brian explain the remarkably simple architecture that comprise this piece, and gives his insights on playing it toward the end of the video. On not notating tempo:  "A good musician will know what to do and a bad musician will never get it right, so why bother?"

Ed. to add:

As if on cue, I was confronted with this streaming video of Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom, talking about why he doesn't like streaming videos, or making them or something. I mean... !

hold its own

It is interesting that so quiet a music as this

Daan Vanderwalle, Alvin Curran: Inner Cities

can hold its own against a woodchipper.

RIP Jimmy Pitts and the guy from the Call.

Jimmy Pitts, "Clover"

The Call, "Everywhere I Go" live 1986

He could have stopped there

Avo is a post-modern master of signage/assemblage.

César Aira, How I Became a Nun
Tao Lin, Richard Yates

I started and finished Nun in the course of waiting for, catching, and being carried home on the bus yesterday afternoon. It is one of those magic novellas whose beguiling strangeness is akin to watching a match flare up, burn out, and smolder. I missed the part about the nun if it is actually in there, and found the floating gender identity of the narrator a little confusing, but its opening chapter about the promise of ice cream resulting in a murder and a lifetime of bewilderment is as good as anything ever. He could have stopped there, but thankfully he didn't and saw this snake of a story through until it finished off its tail.

I'm wondering how much of the success of this prose might be due to translator Chris Andrews, who also translated the bulk of the Bolaño novels I read, and they held a similar riveting distance between the reader and the prose. Bolaño was a fan and vice-versa so that might be it too. It's almost like there is a cop holding us eager readers back lest we destroy the thing we love. I only wonder if it's Andrews because I didn't find that same distance in Bolaño's 2666, translated by Natasha Wimmer. 2666 had its own particular gravitational pull, generating a greater sympathy for the characters, and was easier to read than The Savage Detectives despite being nearly twice its length.

Ed. to add: Dig this anecdote from the publisher's website:
A few days after his fiftieth birthday, CÉSAR AIRA (b. 1949, Argentina) noticed the thin rim of the moon, visible despite the rising sun. When his wife explained the phenomenon to him he was shocked that for fifty years he had known nothing about "something so obvious, so visible." This epiphany led him to write How I Became a Nun.
I like this guy.

Nun was the perfect perverse aperitif to prepare me for the cold, bitter meal of Ourselves served up by Richard Yates. I flipped though Lin's Shoplifting from American Apparel while browsing the Urban Outfitters at Perkins Rowe - maybe the finest marriage of reading material and setting in which to read it; unfortunately my shoplifting days are long behind me otherwise I'd have completed the circuit - and thought he was onto something, but 20-something pages into the blunt instrument ennui of 20-somethings indicates that he's caught it.

Ed. to further add: More great signage about knowing when to stop: I was listening to a friend's 90's flashback e-mixtape as I typed this and ducked out just as the dog barked in "Been Caught Stealin'."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I don't want to escape from reality; I want reality to escape from me

Watch your step.

Big Star, "September Gurls"
Pearls Before Swine, These Things Too

Media announcement: My review of Josh Cohen's daunting mega-novel Witz is up at outsideleft. He "vivisects the contemporary neutering of the mystical by letting its details pour out on the ground like a roadkill’s guts."

On the way back from walking Maya to school on the little greenbelt path next to the house that isn't a Frank Lloyd Wright house after all, I was singing "September Gurls" to myself, except imagining it slow and cataclysmic, lonely echoes in a mountain castle with an overdriven amp and crackly, spotty generator power style. Then I heard and immediately saw a demure woman pass me from behind silently on a bike and felt self-conscious about singing. I tried to re-establish my synergy with the Universe's crackling electricity by snapping the above picture of magnolia pods and while doing so, stepped in some fire ants, getting my shock.

If it will load, you should look at these pictures of what happens when you put a glass jar over the hole in a beehive (via Boing Boing) and you'll see what I'm after today. Like in the song below, I don't want to escape from reality; I want reality to escape from me.

Pearls Before Swine, "Sail Away"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

pass the biscuits, please

These subjects beg for large format: 1) The menu at George's. 2) The ceiling at George's. 3) The shrimp po-boy at George's. 4) Has anyone ever recommended to you the smoked catfish po-boy at Jay's BBQ? To me either. I will never stop recommending it now. 5) An oak in the rain on campus. 6) Further under that oak. 7) Under another.

Rick Moody talking about writerly desperation and digital media
Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Together
Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Cow Fingers & Mosquito Pie  
Andre Williams, Rib Tips and Greasy Chicken

Media Announcement: My take on the roller derby and an early-bird notice about country legend Guy Clark practically playing a living room show here in Baton Rouge in October appears in this week's installment of The Record Crate blog for 225.

I was talking with someone the other day about our respective writings and he mentioned a story I'd written of which I was particularly proud and then suddenly neither of us could remember the name of who it was about, and only just now remembered it was Andre Williams. I even met the guy in person while writing the story. How do you forget Andre Williams?

Andre Williams, "Pass the Biscuits, Please"