Monday, January 31, 2011

The ringer is an actual bell!

I haven't had a phone hooked up in my office since I moved in but recently people have been on me about it. I found everything but the power cord for the cheapo cordless (irony!) I had at my last location and was sighing at the concept of wading the bureacracy to get a phone I didn't want when, like a mammoth blowing its trunk from behind a clutch of giant ferns, this dinosaur revealed itself in the back of my closet. It's seen better days; it may have been used to bludgeon someone, but it works. The ringer is an actual bell! No power cord because it runs on the electricty of the universe! I wonder how much unused power is pumped through the phone system just for me and the old grandma that still has a phone like this. I still hope it never rings but if it does, it will do it with charming electrical universe wonder. I secretly hope I can't do voicemail on this phone but I'm sure I can if I just call myself, which I can do now because I have a phone. The fact that the picture of this phone I didn't want was taken with the perfectly good phone I already had and prefer to use says something about the human condition. Maybe the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence is at play. I just got an email asking that I call somebody about something. Look out world, I'm phoning!

Robert Pete Williams, Robert Pete Williams
Earth, Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1 (streaming at NPR)
Kurt Vile, God Is Saying This To You
Sandy Bull, Still Valentines Day, 1969: Live at the Matrix, San Fransisco
Steffen Basho-Junghans, Late Summer Morning


This says something about the fallibility of memory. Or about shooting out sparks. Or maybe that's the button I press to call Throbbing Gristle.

Burning Rose

The bell tower is a hipstamatic penis penetrating the sky's burning rose.

Dr. Harry Oster, Living Country Blues
Billy Falcon, Billy Falcon's Burning Rose
Billy Thorpe, Children of the Sun...Revisited

Bright Eyes, The People's Key (streaming at NPR) and Cassadaga

Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club member Chris Franz is on my friends list and he posts great flyers from back in the era like the one below. And so yeah, I've never heard of Billy Falcon either. Adrenalized, highly-saxophonized Springsteen/Costello/Thin Lizzy-esque inna 1979 stylee, i.e. freakin' awesome, yo, full of dreams big enough to level all of Asbury Park if not channeled properly. "Billy Falcon's Burning Rose" is a great band name. Why doesn't anyone do that - go ahead and claim ownership of a band rather than maintain the pretend democracy of "and the." I suppose owning a Burning Rose sounded flashier than owning a Sunshine Thunder Band.

Billy Torpe, "Children of the Sun" I first heard this in the nth hour on a car trip somewhere early in our marriage and my wife couldn't believe I'd never heard this song and I can't either. Maybe because each time I hear it is like its own cocaine electric sunrise of a hundred blazing suns, roasting unicorns where they stand on the red plains of Mars.

NPR is saying this new Bright Eyes is the best Bright Eyes album ever. I'm the only person walking the earth, Conor Oberst included, the believes Cassadaga is and this one is good but segues perhaps a little too well into the discofied bonus tracks on the Billy Thorpe reissue and unless he hollers something better than "THE WHORE OF BABYLON" and makes me believe it, I'm sticking with my original decision.

Bright Eyes, "Four Winds"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

a quick laugh


Todd Selby, The Selby Is In Your Place
Andrew Ervin, Extraordinary Renditions
Sunn O))), Black One
Composers Ensemble, Milton Babbitt/Morton Feldman

I haven't been posting food pictures as much lately because we are on a reprogramming plan and it's not that I'm taking in wholly unphotographable fare, in fact, very much to the contrary, but I'm trying to de-Henry VIII myself a little with relation to food. That said, the phở at Phở Quynh is pretty phở quynh good. I wonder if it is named that way on purpose? I'm inclined to say no, they seem rather no-foolishness up in there.

The Todd Selby interior design hipster porn compendium through which I thumbed at Books-a-Million is the opposite - constant nonsense, NutraSweet hipster interiors populated by beautiful people that you want to throttle for being wondrous specimens. The only places in there that bespoke a marked sense of aesthetic were Karl Lagerfeld's studio and some Parisian rich kid and his model girlfriend in his family's ancient spectacular library. Of course those places are amazing. Oh, and Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan's place looked cheery and tacky and fun. And a gal who lived on a tidy little boat in a London canal and hung out at the harbor club's ramshackle private pub housed in an ancient water tower. That seems an enviable existence. Otherwise it was one wheelbarrow of juvenalia spilled out and rearranged on re-purposed detritus furniture mixed with a level of nature that is unwieldy in a real person's home after another.

The sense of aesthetic will weigh into my review of Andrew Ervin's three-novella book about Budapest and those who don't belong there when it appears this week.

RIP Milton Babbitt. I met him once when he lectured at LSU and I asked him beforehand how technical his lecture was going to be. He asked if I was a graduate student in composition and I said no, an engineering student (which I was for a while) and he laughed, "Well, you might be able to follow the math then." All I really got from the lecture, something he didn't say himself, is that the secret to his art lies not only in the rigor but also in the puns. The whole of the architecture housing the meaning contained inside and nothing else. All that setup to the end of a quick laugh if you have the deication to make it to teh punchline.

Milton Babbitt, "Septet But Equal"

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I am the February 2011 king of introductory source material

Sweet Abe from Mardi Gras World. One of these days I'll take some more pix somewhere.

Friday afternoon
Anthony Braxton & Chris Dahlgren, ABCD
Sigfried Palm, Intercomunicazione - Cello Recital 

Saturday afternoon
The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street
Little Milton, Rockin' the Blues
Slim Harpo, The Best of Slim Harpo
Funkadelic, America Eats Its Young

Namecheck alert: In his forthcoming Louisiana travel book Louisiana Rambles, Ian McNulty somehow recollects some possibly inebriated blather from me at Teddy's Juke Joint in his intro (down at the end). Also, in this month's Country Roads, editor James Fox-Smith puts me in his intro as well. I am the February 2011 king of introductory source material. Call me for your project! Reasonable rates apply. In the same issue of Country Roads, I take a shot at saying new things about perennial favorites The Chimes, Jazz Fest and the  Manship Theatre.

When Funkadelic is good, they are the best band in the world. Also tzatziki sauce! It's what's for lunch every day from now on. Or at least on what's on.

Funkadelic, "Loose Booty"

Friday, January 28, 2011

speaking of neon octopus

Love this kid.

Fuat Kent, Crumb: Gnomic Variations - Processional - Ancient Voices of Children
Halcyon, Close Ups
Rolf Juilus, Early Works Vol. 1 (1979-1982)

Hat tip to Robert aworks Gable for pointing out this album. I went through a lengthy George Crumb thing a few years back but don't remember ever hearing Gnomic Variations. Crumb's music tiptoes on cat's feet, like does Carl Sandburg's fog, then smothers you like that neon octapus might.

A composer with a similar ghostway with palpable intangibility leading to cataclism is Earl Kim; his Earthlight, discovered on a  Smithsonian Folkways record at the library in Houma when I had to slide under a locked gate to get it. Earthlight is one of my favorite piece of music.

Christie Finn (Soprano), Rachel Field (Violin) and Baris Buyukildirim (Piano) perform 'Earthlight' by Earl Kim live at a concert by contemporary performance program at Manhattan School of Music (in two parts)

I don't really know what I heard in Earthlight twenty years ago, but now I hear those delicate violin lines as the whine of nerves, electricity passing over the synapses in purring sputters and flaring arcs and the tiny piano jolts are the clunk of these bridges, like when a train passes makes a clack on the track. The Beckett fragments intoned by the soprano become a fractured consciousness that has to somehow manifest itself from this wiry, fleshy grid. The stage instructions call for spotlights to go on and off as each performer appears in the score; I'd like them to be triggered by microphones, rising and dimming with teh intensity of the sound of each performer, so that it would become a maddening off-kilter strobe at the manic points and a succession of alien sunrises and sunsets in the calmer parts. It would be a glimpse of the mind-body at work.

I've not really given any of Kim's music the time of day because of how much this piece means to me, so I'll let the rather anonymously named chamber group Halcyon run through a few, because I'm generous like that.

Speaking of neon octopus, I'd be remiss if I didn't invite Captain Beefheart to weigh in on such an image. Imagine Captain Beefheart delivering one of those maddening, claustrophobic Samuel Beckett monologues like in Not I. Imaging Beckett trying to tell Captain Beefheart how to do it. Imagine having Beckett's haircut. The man had great hair.

I am woefully ignorant of the sound art of Rolf Julius who passed away last week after an illustrious career in that field, but the go-to folks at ROOT BLOG have early recording up for filling this gap.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Like his bird

Hitch at Mardi Gras World. Like his bird, a firm dedline now looms after a pleasant lunch with the editor. I'm on it.

Young Jazz Rebels, Slave Riot
DJ Mark Farina, Mushroom Jazz Six
Sun Ra, Space Probe
Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Forty-Fort

Young Black Rebels, "Forces Unseen"

DJ Mark Farina, " a 3 1/2 hours Sunset Service from 6:30pm to 10pm as the sun sets over beautiful Lake Irvine..."

Sun Ra, "Outer Spaceways Incorporated"


Hipstamatic traffic.

Talib Kweli, Gutter Rainbows

Like three times already this morning. How come no one is talking about Talib Kweli's new record? It's like those other hip-hop albums folks are going on and on about except it is not asinine and doesn't sound totally like "product" nor does it suck immediately.

Talib Kweli (feat. Sean Prince), "Palookas"

Last night, while eating a slice of pizza, I somehow aspirtated some hot sauce and it went all through my system, up my nose, back of the throat. I swear some got in my brain. The experience was shockingly painful, and it was the relatively weak-ass Crystal hot sauce I prefer over the standard Tabasco. I can't imagine if it had been the real deal. Kids, don't snort hot sauce.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Jerri shot this at lunch. I'm liking the beard, just when it is nearing the time to shave it off.

Media Announcement: In this week's Record Crate for 225, a Sonic Youth mixtape, and appreciation of this new angle of the Decemberists, and passing along some info about a couple of informal shows that might just happen in the area if y'all step up.

my alley

Image from Georg Kaiser's Von Morgen bis Mitternachts, ganked from a blog called Malcolm Lowry @ the 19th Hole which sounds right up my alley.

Radio Dept., Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002 - 2010
Andrew Erwin, Extraordinary Renditions
Emerson String Quartets, Bartók: The 6 String Quartets

I said I'd listen to Radio Dept and I am, if nothing else, a man of my word when it pertains to the relatively inconsequential. Good band, like Jesus & Mary Chain a generation later without the upfront hubris, which is probably how it goes if you are from 2002 Lund and not 1983 Glascow.

Andrew Ervin's book is, so far, spellbinding - the first story going down in Budapest, nestling into a concept of Mitteleuropa that I have from back when I was even more pretentious than I am now and liked those early dour Wim Winders movies (The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick was a particular favorite) and reading German Expressionistic plays. Georg Kaiser's trilogy of The Coral, Gas, and Gas II was something I was dying to talk about, but no one would bite.

Ervin's first third of the book is named for and maybe modeled after Bartók's 14 Bagatelles, and the temptation is to listen to those but I don't remember listening to his string quartets and I like string quartets almost as much as anything.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the recursive properties of oneness

Yoda statue at Mardi Gras World. I started editing my photos a little; I hope you're happy. It turned a crappy photo into a Thomas Hart Benton painting lacerating the myth of Star Wars.

Monoton, Monotonprodukt 07 20y++

I love when someone else puts their favorite thing on the Internet because for just that moment, it will becoem your favorite thing, or perhaps just that perfect thing like Monoton is that Scott posted at incidentals and accidentals, a sidecar to his zippy Vespa of a blog, Pretty Goes With Pretty. I've never heard of them before, might not remember them tomorrow, but today Monoton completes me. I believe this is precisely how The Force works. I'm gonna heed his suggestion of listening to Radio Dept. first thing tomorrow, but for now I'm gonna bliss out on the recursive properties of oneness.

Monoton, "√1 = 1"

Scott wrote a great little book on Slint and made me care about a band I never really cared for. Spiderland came on after the Ramones while Maya and I were playing cards last night and we both looked at the sound coming out of speakers like bemused animals.

Monday, January 24, 2011


One of Jerri's Hipstamatics from Mardi Gras World.

Chicago, At Carnagie Hall
Various Artists, Mississippi Records Tape Series, Vol. 64 – The Sound Of Fear Vol. 1

Botswana Heavy Metal Generation (at Kontinent, via The Rumpus)

This Chicago album is thirty-seven hours long and is by goddamn Chicago, and yet it is fitting into my day/aesthetic needs quite nicely, opening up some sort of band-nerd wormhole. Probably has to do with weird time signatures being mapped over our four-on-the-floor world over an extended period. Warps not only the fabric of the parameters of taste but also time itself. No wonder they have to ask people what time it is! Whether anyone really cares! About time!

Do check out that photo essay from Botswana's metal scene linked above. Who understands a troubled people better than does the devil?

Much like how my Elvis is Old Fat Elvis, my Moses is the Old Crazy Horned Moses. Also from Mardi Gras World.

When the wizard points at the moon


Saturday, my mom came up with the rest of my stepbrother's/uncle's/grandmother's records with which I had not already absconded. My stepdad had a son concurrent with his mother having her youngest but they were all three music nuts. I got all Mama Cook's old Beatles albums at one time; word has it she went down to the hotel in New Orleans in 1964 to see, with screaming masses, the gods emerge from the lobby.

Larry McMurtry, Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen
Lester Bangs (ed. by Griel Marcus), Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung
Chicago, At Carnagie Hall


Sunday we played tourist in New Orleans and visiting two landmarks that had somehow gone unvisited: Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World where the big floats are all built and their surreal props stored; and Stein's Deli where the closest thing to NYC Jewish deli fare can be had. And if there is another/closer, tell me!


Sunday night I took the above photo of whichever relative's Chicago V with Tommy peeking around the side. Jerri took some amazing Mardi Gras World photos with the Hipstamataic app and so I gave it a whirl. As I went to sleep, I flipped through Lester bangs' collection Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung and landed on his review of the above mentioned Chicago live album.

I'd been reading the Larry McMurtry memoir all weekend; its a treat to read one by a guy who's had success at writing about not himself and it gave me a lot of food for thought about my own book, who's deadline and scope will be discussed with some finality this week. McMurtry and Bangs both are in love with the rawness of their subjects (1950's Texas and the antiquarian book trade; methamphetamine and post-1960's rock, respectively)  and have a distinct knack for turning a reader on to something, which is what got me into writing in the first place. When you point something out to someone, it gives one's narcissistic ass a moment to really look at the back of that hand that one supposedly know so well. Look at the veins and weird ridges, the scabs on the knuckles and follow our own finger out to something more interesting than ourselves.

IMG_6721Or, as a painter friend of mine once scrawled on a flyer: When the wizard points at the moon, don't look at his finger.

Old Larry started to lose me in the second half when it became less about things like
In a tent (later a shack) not far south of our ranchhouse, in a post oak scrub near the West Fork of the Trinity River, lived a woman who had (reportedly) been traded for a whole winter's catch of skunk hides, the exchange occurring when she was about thirteen.
and more about reading and finding himself as a young man in a world of books at Rice University. That skunk lady is worth the price of admission, more stupendous and wrought with hubris than all four sides of Chicago At Carnegie Hall and I might just power through at least until the Alan Lomax biography shows up and this whole book thing becomes more crucial and negates all else.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bout that time

Brother Jed has been out there casting the fornicators of our fine university into the fiery mouth of hell for countless springs now, though I wonder what has become of his cohort Sister Cindy? Did she succumb to her oft-mentioned former sinning ways? I always kinda liked her; she was scrappy. Who will condemn our soroity sisters now? It occurred to me when I took this photo that Edward Scissorhands has likely been out for the entire life of the detractor on the left; his sign says "I'm Not With Him --->".  I like how resolute his shadow appears. On the other side, obscurred by Jed, was a girl offering "Free Hugs from an Athiest."

The Nightingales, In the Good Old Country Way
The Mekons, Devil's Rats & Piggies: A Special Message from Godzilla
Quietus Mix 008: Chris & Cosey (streaming)
Sonic Youth, Sonic Youth Mixtape Vol. 8 (streaming)

Man, the Nightingales liked a long-ass song. The Fall was always good for that too. If I had to go pee during my set at the radio station, almost any mid-80s Fall song would be a realiably-beated respite for 5-6 minutes. This Sonic Youth mixtape is what the dr. ordered. I'm taking back the other Sam Shepard book I checked out and getting a Joe Brainard one instead. Yep. Bout that time.

"Grace Hartigan"

Grace Hartigan, Frank O'Hara, via here. I read something yesterday mentioning her name and realized I had no general visual sense of "Grace Hartigan", just a place on the modern art timeline. She's got startling range, unlike most of those macho paintslingers under whose historical shadow she resides. This one makes me think of Tom & Jerry. I also like how this is a diptych that isn't.

Wire, The Ideal Copy
Sam Shepherd, Cruising Paradise

I'm almost through or maybe already through with Cruising Paradise. It started out great, one single-coal-ember motel tragedy after another, fizzling out against the cold of the night but somewhere in the middle  it turned into a diary detailing that he doesn't fly and how it makes life difficult for his handlers. I think the diary portion takes place during the filming of Thunderheart in Mexico, though I can't find the German actor he mentions, but anyway, it all but lost me entirely. It's funny how it might have been saved just by a shift to third-person, like that really matters, but it does.

I thought I was listening to The Ideal Copy just for "Drill" but the whole thing is a balm. I know I've said this before, but I remember coming home from my crappy donut job one hot summer evening in 1987 to watch Wire perform "Drill" on the short lived incarnation of The Late Show hosted by Suzanne Somers with my dad. She had Red Hot Chili Peppers on the next evening, starting my lifelong distaste for the band (the unavoidable dalliance with Blood Sugar Sex Magik notwithstanding; I assume that album was all Rick Rubin's doing be cause it sticks out like and erect gym sock in the smelly hamper of their catalog).

One of the hottest British rock groups in the world today. Suzanne is a sport, the pretty girl at the party trying to get the uptight, Sartre-reader-type to loosen up a little.

Grace Hartigan - Sweden, 1959
Grace Hartigan, Sweden, 1959.

Check out Helen Frankenthaler and Ms. Hartigan cutting up at a party (from here), probably making fun of how serious everyone is acting. They are like Lucy and Ethel up in there. "Oh, lighten up, you!" they are pshawing at Fairfield Porter. Or maybe Phillip Guston just told them a dirty joke.

Nerd note: OK, Blogger, get right with YouTube and sort out yr differences. It's killing my buzz to do this all in HTML mode, and you do not want to see me with a killed buzz, do you? DO YOU?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

be poetic


T-Model Ford and GravelRoad, Taledragger
Sam Shepherd, Cruising Paradise
The Decemberists. The King is Dead
Violent Femmes, Why Do Birds Sing?
Carmaig DeForest, El Camino Real
Camper Van Beethoven, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart
Jonathan Richman, Jonathan Richman

The Psychedelic Furs, The Psychedelic Furs
This was in the days when you could stil mail-order wild baby animals from ads in the back of hunting and fishing magazines like Field and Stream. You sent away for them with your check or money order, and a month or so later they'd arrive, snarling and spitting in a wooden crate, down at the train depot.

-Sam Shepard, "Wild to the Wild"
I like that Shepard's 1996 collection of stories is fully titled "Cruising Paradise - Tales by Sam Shepard." Who does "tales" anymore? And then I just realized that the new T-Model Ford record right now snarling at me like its own wild animal loosed from a train depot crate is "Taledragger." I got my eye out for your tale. I don't know how "finished" the tales are in Cruising Paradise, but they are all right at four pages which is the perfect length to make people and make them do something and then back away and let them do it in the white space at the bottom of the last page.

The new Decemberists' record is shining bright upon my barren fields; maybe after all this close Violent Femmes contact lately I'm more inclined to the rascally "jangle" music of my formative years than normal. Gangly mandolin starry-eyed reluctant Americana was the deal in 1986, just a rattle throb of punk rock's passing freight. You felt those guys had just discovered Jack Kerouac too, and you and I and they all had the same baggy paisley shirt and little round sunglasses and the floppiest of bangs you were allowed, your head a mushroom in outline and content, grown in the dark, eating the dead, a little penis sprouting overnight from the forest floor. It made you be poetic and I suppose it still does.

The Decemberists, "Rox in the Box." They are playing that first Sunday at JazzFest, whose lineup has been revealed.

"American Music" is a thesis statement to which, I believe, Gano and Ramblers provided indisputable evidence the other night and really the song on Why Do Birds Sing? and their take on "Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me?" is pained and gorgeous, but I love the shit out of

Violent Femmes, "(Crawl) Out the Window." The shit, I tell you. I'd tell you all about Carmaig DeForest but Blogger is acting like it can't handle all this already, so you can fill in the blanks if you like them filled.

Nerd note: I appreciate that, all of a sudden, the YouTube embed code is uses IFrame tags instead of embed tags; it puts the ball in their court.

Get better, Traci Jean!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

not for nothing

We love Lucinda too much maybe, but I don't know that we appreciate the blunt pleasures of West to the degree that we should. Watch the above and then wrap your brain and then some around this pole dance video for"Unsuffer Me." (probably NSFW at your place of W)

Ricky Scaggs, Sweet Temptation
Lucinda Williams, West
Brute (Vic Chesnutt & Widespread Panic), Nine High on a Pallet

Kelly Hogan and Patterson Hood perform brute's "Mr. Hard On" during the Vic Shows at the 40 Watt in Athens, GA on Friday, February 19, 2010.

And not for nothing, any of y'all remember Five-Eight? They put on a show, yo.

A green mojave

Calico & the Off-Brand Band.

Sam Shepherd, Cruising Paradise
The Black Keys, Brothers
John Fahey, The Legend of Blind Joe Death
Ry Cooder, Chavez Ravine

Media Announcements: Just as you are finally shaking off the last residue of 2010, here is my two-weeks-late Best of 2010 roundup at OutsideLeft. OffBeat reposted my Gordon Gano + Lost Bayou Ramblers video, underscoring what a good idea their collaboration is. The tale of that evening plus that of a house party featuring the charming folk pop duo Calico and the Off-Brand Band (pictured above) and what the haps this week are is all laid out nicely for you in this week's Record Crate for 225.
We spent the rest of the afternoon shooting rusty bean cans with a .22 pistol and looking for snakes. He'd wanted to bring a rattler back with him to show my mother. A green mojave. "Just to prove we were out here,' he'd said. "So she doesn't get other ideas. Starts thinking I'm off tomcatting around or something."
- from "The Real Gabby Hayes" in Sam Shepard's Cruising Paradise

Ry Cooder, "Soy Luz y Sombra"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More fishing

More fishing.

Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean (streaming for free here)
Robert Pollard, Space City Kicks
The Decemberists, The King is Dead
Tennis, Cape Dory

My days as a staunch I&W defender might be less-than-endlessly-numbered because I thought, in order, "Dave Matthews" and "Steve Windwood" and "maybe Pablo Cruise" by the third song of this new record. I'm going to do myself a favor and not even listen to the new Destroyer record, available here should you dare.

Mid last decade, on my last work day in Kansas City, I traded in a pile of CD's to get Iron & Wine's Our Endless Numbered Days and Destroyer's Your Blues and something else long forgotten to listen to on the long drive back to Louisiana and to this day both albums and particularly "It's Gonna Take an Airplane" is  equally tied to person-specific transformation/liberation/harnessing-of-destiny and externally, the whole of post 9/11 America. There is a book proposal somewhere on the backburner that says this in greater detail.

Destroyer, "It's Gonna Take an Airplane"

The new Robert Pollard is a single-serving supernova. You need only to listen to it once and then go do a million things and by the time you come back, he will have done at least ten more records and you can start all over ten times and soon, if the math's right, become Outer Space Itself.

Robert Pollard, "Mr. Fantastic Must Die." On a  less discordant note, "Touch Me In the Right Place at the Right Time" gets the Knack the way Einstein gets relativity.

I like very much the Decemberists. They gaze unflinching off to a higher mountain than do their detractors. They attempt to reverse-engineer R.E.M. from historical evidence in this one, enough so that there might be some lawyers looking into things, but also in a manner so that even the time-stuck yahoos should be happy. Those who want the now and next, this was never really your band anyway.

The Decemberists, "Calamity Song"

And OK, Tennis, I give in to your vapid, unsearchable-for ass. It's like when I saw a bunch of kids at a record store recently paying $10 each for vinyl copies of show tune records that once clogged the racks of the worst Salvation Armies, obscurring the treasures a self-respecting record fiend really wants. This is what you want? Really? You also really wanna play on playgrounds and watch cartoons? Eat Skittles? Stuffed animals, too? OK, me too then. Let's do this thing.

Tennis, "Take Me Somewhere"

the word cosmic


Mountain Man, Reach the Harbor
Guy Clark, The South Coast of Texas
I like that word cosmic; it's just the way that people
Tend to use it that offends my sense of survival
- Guy Clark, "Who Do You Think You Are"

Fleur De Lis.

Stadium seating lights during Tron: Legacy

Maya and her friends were playing "Jackson Pollock" at the sleepover, presumably not peeing in the fireplace during a fancy dinner party

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gordon Gano & Lost Bayou Ramblers at Blue Moon, Lafayette, LA 1/15/2011

Gordon Gano (of Violent Femmes) & Lost Bayou Ramblers, "Blister in the Sun" at Blue Moon, Lafayette, LA 1/15/2011

Commentary about this show is forthcoming Wednesday in my 225 column, but yeah, it was a great show only rivaled by the greatness how it came about and how I ended up there. Thanks to Clarke for hipping me to the show, a whole different Alex for driving, and Rainier for being the catalyst you are. Let it also be stated that Gordon Gano is a really nice guy and no slouch at the fiddle.

"Add It Up" from the back of the bar.

One for "Gone Daddy Gone" is  "processing" but I got antsy. You can probably click here and see it by now.

Friday, January 14, 2011

You know why I don't like miserable people?

The scene on the way to the bank.

There is a new guy working at the bank, a scruffy white guy with a short beard ringing the bottom of his head, like an exagerated. partial outline drawn on when he looks at you straight, and a yellow polo shirt working among five older black tellers. While I was filling out my deposit slip, he was asking the other tellers, "You know why I don't like miserable people?" but no one was biting. He persisted, "You know why I don't like miserable people?" The woman directly to his left did not acknowledge him and instead said, "May I help you?" to me. The guy started to ask again but another teller to her immediate left, the guy that helped me set up my account a couple months back, glaced at me and then sideways at him and cut him off. "Why, man." "Beacuse miserable people are just trying to make other people miserable." and the teller nodded in affirmation. "True. That's true," and without looking, walked past him to the little glassed-in area where he sets up new accounts.

Fred Frith, Nowhere, Sideshow, Thin Air
The Music Tapes, First Imaginary Symphony for Nomad

Streaking gentleman hits unexpected obstacle, via BoingBoing

I just talked to the singing saw guy from Neutral Milk Hotel and the Music Tapes on the phone, which means were I to be plunged in darkness right this second, I might give off a faint glow.

When I interview relatively famous people, or even less than famous people, I keep their contacts on my phone just so when I scroll by looking for the pizza place or Maya's friend's mom I'm like, oh yeah, there's so-and-so, even though it's usually the case that I'll never contact them again. Even if for another interview, I'd go through "their people." A lot of times these things require a couple of calls to get everything scheduled. I wonder if the guy from Men at Work has my name in his phone.

Phone numbers are weird like that. They linger. Plenty of people have the same phone number forever and you know it forever and you still don't call and instead feel anxious about it. I wonder how long until we don't have phone numbers anymore and will those connections remain somehow? Will the resulting anxiety from not using connections remain? I already barely know anyone's number by heart because "they are in my phone". It was not long ago that I'd reccomned someone just look me up on MySpace and then Facebook and then when that implodes, will I join the next thing or just let the connections dangle? Data like that, in database terminology, is called "orphan records" - it is there, forever until it is forcibly removed, holding the key to something but you can no longer get to that thing that has the key; you instead start cutting new keys.

The Music Tapes / The Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour / Static The Television performs "The Television Tells Us" live at SUNY Purchase on 10/16/2008

Playin' ping pong on his honeymoon

Some sketchy characters Maya sketched on my whiteboard last time she was up here.

Mark Richard, The Ice at the Bottom of the World
Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Blank Generation
Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band, Safe as Milk
Pere Ubu, Dub Housing

Never will get tired of Blank Generation. Or Dub Housing. Hey, Joe, was watching Police Women of Cincinnati last night, looking for the Polar Bar and a Hudy Gold sign and wherever that place we ate breakfast when I got off the train that had the guy taking bets behind the counter who remarked out of the blue "Johnny Bench? Playin' ping pong on his honeymoon when he shoulda been upstairs, takin' care of business!" and thinking of you and if you're still reading this, or even if not, happy new year!

Pere Ubu, "Ubu Dance Party"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

tracers and little demons

Portrait of the artist as a Google Image search

Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel (or 2 or "scratch")
Daryl Hall, Sacred Songs
Robert Fripp, Exposure (YouTube playlist, embedded below)

To Peter Gabriel: Once my friends and I spraypainted a logo one of us made for your name on the undeveloped cul-de-sac street behind the neighborhood. We had to make one up because you didn't have one, or even name your albums until So came out. We never thought about it, or I never did, but that was a cool move on your part. The second of those is a lovely, delicate rope bridge strung between the sweaty headiness of the 70s and the cold, plastic charm that would take hold in the 80s.

Peter Gabriel, "Mother of Violence"

Also, somebody on Facebook thinks it is your birthday and I know it to be Feb 15 because we one afternoon made a joke about it being on the "ides of February" which isn't much of a joke, but I don't know how to tell the guy without making the joke worse. So, happy birthday!

According to Wikipedia, This album was originally intended as part of a loose trilogy with Robert Fripp's Exposure and Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs (all three albums were produced by Fripp) and it's been decades since I heard the former and never since the latter so here's a plan for the day.

Daryl Hall, "Babs and Bads". It's very 70s/80s stacatto-strut dated but stick with this one; it goes some weird places come the 3:30 mark, a 'lude interlude, if you will. Daryl's soul-filled blue eye blinks back to life like nothing happened, like a total professional, crooning through the tracers and little demons tugging at his blazer tails.

Robert Fripp, Exposure. YouTube playlists are the new cassette without that impatient 45 minute wait in some friend's bedroom waiting for the album to finish.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

neon patches of wildflowers

When I got to the library, a girl in the coffee shop said, "Nah, I'd marry Bill Cosby over Bill Clinton." The guy working with her asked, a little incredulously, "Over Funkadelic Bill Clinton?" and she said, "Yep, over Funkadelic Bill Clinton." I was going to look up and image for "funkadelic bill clinton" but elsewhere someone put up "zombie cosby" and so the pattern emerges.

View Larger Map
The walk to the library is now one mile exactly.

Mark Richard, The Ice at the Bottom of the World
Adebisi Shank, This Is the Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank

Blind Idiot God, Undertow
Santo & Johnny, Volume Secondo
Praxis, Profanation: Preparation for a Coming Darkness
John Zorn, What Thou Wilt
Erik Friedlander, Maldoror

Media Announcement: Local independent maching band needs your help + Wire + British Sea Power + Eugene Hideaway Bridges in this week's Record Crate at 225 Magazine.
At night, stray dogs come up underneath our house to lick our leaking pipes.
- from "Strays"
Mark Richard's stories are furtile ground for thought but his sentences are neon patches of wildflowers. They go like this except down and cut across and get stuck and then you have to get out in the muddy, stuck parts and you might not make it but you probably will but the person with you won't. But it will be pretty even when it isn't.

Santo & Johnny, "Sleepwalk"

I got an email this morning about a band called Adebisi Shank, particularly about their second album, This Is the Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank but only a few songs were available to me, so I'm instead listening to their first album, titled This Is the Album of a Band called Adebisi Shank. The OZ refernce almost killed it for me, but the artfully aggro, transpunk, jazz-tinged, surfin'-on-no-wave grind of the band, plus the Conceptual Art 101 album titles won me over. Words do matter, I guess. Also, it is the kind of music I would make if I could make that kind of music.
So here we are really feeling bad about what we finally ended up doing to Vic's horse Buster, us drinking about it in the First Flight Lounge after we called Vic's wife at home and she said Un huh and Nunt uh to the sideways questions we asked her about Vic being home yet, trying to feel out how bad was the tragedy, and her hanging up not saying goodbye, and us wondering did she always do that and then us realizing we'd never talked to her on the telephone before.
- from "Happiness of the Garden Variety"

Blind Idiot God, "Wailingwall"

Praxis (Featuring Iggy Pop), "Furies" (MP3 stream)
Our dad is out in the car listening to the radio scores because the power is off to the TV. We know not to bother him.
- from "This Is Us, Excellent"
Edited to add: last night on Man v. Food, host Adam Richman was inspired out of the blue (because he said this one place's chili had the consistency of pudding) to do an extended Bill Cosby impersonation, so that's three unrelated mentions of Bill Cosby in one day. My advice is to avoid pudding for at least 24 hours.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

the vast heliograph of lightning

Illustration for Malcolm Lowry's "Lunar Caustic" by J. F. Ulysse, who, according to the Winter 1963 Paris Review bio, "began drawing at the age of 4, then as now, with his left hand."

I finished "Lunar Caustic" over lunch after a meeting that left one longing for the solace of a drunk's account of a week in Bellevue. It pulled itself together at the end in that deliciously triangular way Malcolm Lowry has with his characters. A trio of malfunctioning humanity supports itself as it tumbles alongside those too plain or base to not malfunction in the world's cruel chaos. One of whom, the manic and charming Mr. Battle manically semaphored through the window to ships on the river, while:
Only the vast heliograph of lightning responded distantly.
The novella is rife with ships; the narrator believe himself to be one as the DT's take hold, while a young murderer Garry desperately tells seafaring stories he doesn't understand to be tragic, eager to be interesting. Icebergs get smashed. Whales are killed. Elephants too. Madness is generally acquiesced to in "Lunar Caustic", opposite to how it was denied in Lowry's masterpiece Under the Volcano. Bottles, lots of bottles, bob around in the choppy seas of dialog. Maybe we are all ships in our own bottles. Ones with little triangular sails hoping to catch a little wind that might pull us out of our bottles and dash up valiantly on the rocks.

Today is weird already.

Sir Douglas Quintet, "She's About a Mover." There was a random something I thought I needed to revisit while on the plane back from England that I've been trying to remember ever since and just now I remembered - Sir Douglas Quintet - thanks to the late Zappa-ite Jimmy Carl Black and Steve Earle both doing this song on today's hectically selected playlist.

Malcolm Lowry, Lunar Caustic
Jimmy Carl Black, I'm Not Living Very Extravagantly, I'll Tell You For Sure...
Peter Case, WIG!

The Soft Pack, The Soft Pack
Steve Earle & the Dukes, Shut Up and Die Like an Aviator

"Jimmy Carl Black's Trip Through the Nine Layers of Hell." I want to say that somehow I ended up seeing Jimmy Carl Black perform, sitting with some other band and a hip somebody hipped me to who he was, or maybe I was at a show where said hipster hipped me to his departing in 2008. Or maybe he was supposed to play or something.

I had a dream last night that we were in a weird downward-slide mall and we were being stalked by this loner type that ran an aquarium store in the mall and eventually I had to beat him up, like in a Sopranos way. There was also a bear in this basement room of the mall that had the same funky red carpet as our kitchen had when I was five or six. Dream or no: who puts carpet in a kitchen? Today is weird already.

Monday, January 10, 2011

in the context of "Mississippi"

The secene in the bathroom, 1 AM Sunday morning, Clarksdale, MS. The whole weekend was like this.

This weekend:
Shakin' Snakes, Snakeskin
Bobby Little featuring the Counts of Rhythm, Bobby Little featuring the Counts of Rhythm
Atlas Sound, Bedroom Databank Vols. 1 & 2
T-Model Ford, The Ladies Man
Super Chikan, Chikadelic
BBC 4's A History of the World in 100 Objects podcast
Mississippi Public Radio
WRBH 88.3 FM, Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped

Hound Dog Taylor, Natural Boogie
The James Gang, Thirds

Free, Heartbeaker
Gregg Allman, Low Country Blues
(streaming at NPR)

I spent my weekend in a rental car, going to record stores and eating my way through the Mississippi Delta on assignment. Much of this story will be forthcoming but let me say that Mississippi Public Broadcasting radio has it figured out in a way that maybe only the BBC otherwise does (albeit on a less imperial scale), the New Orleans radio station for the blind's daily reading of the newspaper is the now transformed into the most human of poetry, I've finally spent the night alone in a haunted mansion, Google Maps does not really work in the context of "Mississippi", drove through an ice storm, and in a span of 24 hours I ate chicken spaghetti, hashbrown cassarole, foie gras with black and white truffles, grouper cheeks, sea urchin air, banana pudding (three kinds) and fried green tomatoes. I like you, Mississippi, and I like what you have on offer, 2011.


Here's also what it was like: just as I finished talking to the French master chef, Josh Razorblade Stewart staggered up in his red jacket and matching red shoes to sing the one song he was allowed with the band. Say "un-haw".

Then he staggered over to me to sell his CD pulled from that very red jacket's inner pocket (which revealed itself the next morning to be a blank CD-R - nice one, bluesman!) just as the retired judge and his funny wife waved me over to their table with their sweet, drunken gambler friends.

Friday, January 7, 2011

lifetime option

Groove with me for a minute on these pristine subscription cards from the Winter 1963 issue of the Paris Review. I'm tempted to tear one out and go for the $60 lifetime option. Notice there's no blank for the zip code.

Billy Bragg & Wilco, Mermaid Avenue
Malcolm Lowry, "Lunar Caustic"
Robbie Fulks, Happy
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint, The River in Reverse

Told you I'd keep you posted about the "Lunar Caustic" situation. It's good so far. He says cheerily at one point:
Disaster seemed smeared over the whole universe.
I'm not sure what's up with this who-I-thought-to-be-an-arch-alt-countryite Robbie Fulks collection of Michael Jackson covers I clicked into. He plays the songs to the hilt with an undetermined level of irony, though I must point out that his nasal vocal delivery on "Mama's Pearls" sounds not disimilar to that of Weird Al Yankovic. Things get all John Zorn weird on "Privacy." Here he is leaning well into to "Billie Jean"'s consumptive gravitas, slaking his thirst from that well of denial.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dark mentions Lunar

"Twelfth Night Merry Making in Farmer Shakeshaft's Barn", from Ainsworth's Mervyn Clitheroe, by Phiz (from here)

The Cars, Shake It Up
Elf Power, Elf Power
Arab Strap, The Week Never Starts Around Here
Zadie Smith, On Beauty

I should go get a king cake, being it is now carnival season on the calendar, and yet I haven't.

I also feel I should do a 2010 wrap-up of music and books but I haven't. I can do a movies one real easy: I only remember seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and True Grit in the theaters and they are tied for second place; good movies that probably get better with repeating (at least Harry Potter did and continues to do) but had their share of unresolutionary patches.

I've had "Since You're Gone" in my head for three days now. Listening to it again has not resolved the issue.

My sole resolution in 2011 seems to not resolve 2010 but let it pass on its way. Things are about to resolve in On Beauty though structurally and thematically this book is so close to White Teeth I almost feel I know how its going to play out; like that quick surprising orchestral buildup in "A Day in the Life" that ends with a thundering piano chord and a half-minute of dog whistle, followed by a slight but undeterring cycle of subsequent confusion.

This guy breaks it all down at 5:40.

I picked up a late Malcolm Lowry book, Dark is the Grave Within My Friend is Laid,  from the library over lunch and like everything else of his besides the magnificent Under the Volcano, it is described as "no Under theVolcano". The preface makes mention of his short novella Lunar Caustic which I read about somewhere, 76 pages about his internment in the loony bin, and the preface of Dark mentions Lunar is in an old Paris Review that the library might have so maybe I'll read that instead or even neither. I'm committed to tackling the audio book for Room by Emma Donaghue this weekend while on an extended
assignment/roadtrip, provided details of which get resolved themselves. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

burrrrrippp BUH buh, ba dip dip burrrrrrrah

Hello, lush, turgid, swampy home!

M.I.A., Vicki Leeks (free mixtape)
Ghostface Killah, Apollo Kids
Dali's Car, The Waking Hour (YouTube playlist below)

RIP Mick Karn, 52, from cancer, of distilled new wavers Japan and more important to me, Dali's Car, the one-off contentious Arabesque collaboration he had with Bauhaus' Peter Murphy. My friend Scott picked up the one Dali's Car album on a family trip to DC the week before I picked up Bauhaus' Burning From the Inside on a similar DC family trip and when we got home, we immediately made tapes of the other. I can distinctly remember careening around the parking lots of the doctor's offices in our neighborhood on my 3-speeder bike in time with Mick Karn's fretless bass going burrrrrippp BUH buh, ba dip dip burrrrrrrah on "His Box" in my little red Walkman, like I just did it on the way to work. It felt like what I imagine ballet feels like. It's track 2.

Dali's Car, The Waking Hour

There's a Patton Oswalt essay goin' 'round about the death of geek culture, that the immediacy and hyper-availablity of information deflates the blimps by which the music/comic book/movie nerds we all once were, it runs a samurai sword through the otaku of geekery. I feel what he's saying; Scott and I had to make seperate cross country trips and then another to Radio Shack for blank C-90's to exchange data about Peter Murphy side-projects. Information was precious to us not unlike the ring was to Gollum.

But, he loses me. The Internet has not bred a mass species of lazy book-and-music-worms and frankly, I'd have killed for the Internet in 1986, to find out somebody else knew what I was not talking about because no one would listen. Someone here in town. The Internet is just a more vast and crappier-laid-out library/used record store - one you don't have to flip through every title to experience, equally filled with the same stockpiles of neglected info waiting for someone to discover it.

So yeah, maybe because I'm more into the content than the artifact, the continuum means more to me than the milestone, it only warms my heart that the me's of now can jump onto YouTube to hear more they ever wanted to from Dali's Car or watch Repo Man right now, seconds after hearing about it.  My daughter is just discovering the whole of the Beatles and it is not a molecule less wondrous and consumptive to her than when I bought all the used Beatles LPs at that one place in New Orleans. You don't need the hunt to truly love something, all you need is love.