Thursday, March 31, 2011

so Empire it's in ruins

"The Tony" at Marcello's deli

Research Turtles, Research Turtles
Joe Adranga, Fall Back
The Mountain Goats, All Eternals Deck

Media: My trip through an eight-course French meal at Madidi's and the complex relationinship between then and now that is Clarksdale, MS appears in the April issue of Country Roads.

I started out pure with Morton Feldman but was led astray into power pop territory and lo, it served me well, for the new Mountain Goats is a thing of beauty. I think I really love their (his) every other record and this is markedly in the Tallahassee/Sunset Tree/Heretic Pride upswing part of the pendulum. Then I was led further stray into pastrami and dijon dressing at my friend Gene's new deli and then good news about a new book project thing came through the wires offering a momentary distraction from the existing one and I've been going on with everyone who will listen about Bret Easton Ellis Empire vs post-Empire thing and my buddy Lance made a good point that Ellis is about as Empire as it gets and the Newsweek in which the story appeared is so Empire it's in ruins.

I thought about that and my Clarksdale article linked above and this new Mountain Goats which infuses Mr. Darnielle's formidable death metal interests, to the point of being produced by a death metal guy I think, yet sounding anything but. The Mountain Goats Sound is a perpetual issue, that jambox informality that established the nascent group as anything but, the fact that the Mountain Goats was just one dude (Darnielle was a pioneer in the fields of the one-guy band) when for at least half a decade, Mountain Goats has been a band that did pretty clean studio records. There is the idea of the thing that attracts us; attraction is after all, an idea itself so it is natural that it gravitates to other ideas - and then there is the messy matter of the reality of that to which the idea leads us, and the best way to address a mess is order. These tidy Mountain Goats albums remind me of going to someone's crappy apartment and yet finding it much better kept than the nicer place you came from, like they have cute curtains and flowers in a vase on the table. As Moe observed when trying to move in on Homer's territory that one time, Hmm... no silverfish.

All I do know is that the sandwich was good and All I Want is a good sandwich place nearby and this album is on its third listen, and All I Want is a good record to listen to and the love of a good woman and good firends and nice weather and a paycheck with some regularity and today I Have It All. Which is how I understand Empire operates.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

soul ignorance

All your needs can be met by Dale Warren & the Wattstax '72 Orchestra's "Salvation Symphony".

Media: Slim Harpo Awards Recap, Dirtdobber Blues, and Who is Harry Nilsson? in this week's entry of the Record Crate blog for 225 Magazine. I should really get a new picture taken.

Ike & Tina Turner, Nutbush City Limits
Various Artists, Wattstax: The Living Word

Damn this Wattstax album is good. You probably already knew that and I am once again exposing my general soul ignorance to the cold air of enlightenment. The chill builds character, they say. I had a similar moment during my interview when I failed to immediately recognize a certain song as an Ike & Tina number and took that as an opportunity to make corrective measures. I understand the secret to flying a plane is getting up the in air and then making the little corrections necessary to keep it there until its time to land.

kill at karaoke

It rained and it rained and it rained last night and the old spongy world just took it.

Samuel Beckett, Molloy
Songs: Ohia, Didn't It Rain
Magnolia Electric Co., Fading Trails
The Orchestra Of The S.E.M. Ensemble, Morton Feldman: Turfan Fragments (Thanks ROOT BLOG!)

My friend and esteemed novelist Chris put me on a Songs: Ohia kick this morning. I interviewed former Governor of Ohia Jason Molia ages back and he was perfectly prickly artiste to deal with, kinda how you want someone like him to be unless they have some Keith Richards-grade stories to relate. I say this because I am in the immediate process of coming up with things I have to ask a certain two-hit-wonder from decades past, like he's only got two songs you know, but you know these songs, the kind that my wife deftly pointed out this morning would kill at karaoke. I wonder how "Captain Badass" would do in that arena?

I suspect you'd have to have the right, hip-enough audience and they'd ruin it, plus it is like ten minutes long. That endless build up of the guitar riff and the drums with you just swaying up there, microphone in hand, just feelin' it, would be pretty funny in a Beckett, not funny way. Now that I think about it, I was supposed to go see Godot with Chris a while back and didn't make it and now, just now, ROOT BLOG, internet oracle above all others, posted a recording of Morton Feldman's For Samuel Beckett which I went looking for the other day and never found. I'm liking Molloy, esp. the bit about the farts I posted yesterday; I can see the influence of these novels on a lot of the novels I like even though nobody is really willing to go there like Beckett and when they do, it's terrible. It's like a bad karaoke moment, you just want it to be over and it never is, the opposite of the Beckett stasis where you want something to happen and it never starts. None of these concurrences mean much and none of this is helping me come up with interview questions, but I'm scretly hoping that he'll say that one massive power ballad, the one to which you made out with someone in a church basement or darkened skating rink, was inspired by the sense of loss (emotional and physical) in Krapp's Last Tape and if he does, I'll let out a little shriek loud enough you'll hear it over the rain. But don't count on it happening.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


So far my birthday has manifested as a mile of Facebook well-wishes, a Lil' Rascals-meets-Dr. Who card slipped into my library book, Tom T. Hall, coffee and bacon cheese toast. Not bad, 42!

Tom T. Hall, The Essential Tom T. Hall: Story Songs
Will & the Bushmen, Gawk
Jay Farrar, Terroir Blues

Pere Ubu, Dub Housing
Samuel Beckett, Molloy
One day I counted them. Three hundred and fifteen farts in nineteen hours, or an average of over sixteen farts an hour. After all it's not excessive. Four farts every fifteen minutes. it's nothing. Not even one fart every four minutes. It's unbelievable. Damn it, I hardly fart at all, I should never have mentioned it. Extraordinary how mathematics help you know yourself.
- from Molloy

I haven't thought of Will Kimbrough for two decades or so before seeing him at Chelsea's last Friday, but it was so nice of him to write this song about me! For my birthday! I won't drown in emotion and die, I promise!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Artificially sweetened

Artificially sweetened, sure, but the azaleas all kinda look like this right now.

Alva Noto, Utp_
William Basinski, Variations for Piano and Tape
Nurit Tilles, David Mahler: Only Music Can Save Me Now
Todd Reynolds, Outerborough
Kurt Elling, The Gate
Cowboy Junkies, Demons
Left the leafy lindens and sluggish Spree, the breakfast of sausages and cheeses and breads that stretched like communist boulevards into late afternoon, the stretch-denim legs of the artist girls pedaling home from their studios on paint-splattered single-speeds, the syrupy strong coffees the Kurdish diaspora made by midnight at my corner café and its resident narcoleptic who'd roll tomorrow's cigarettes for me, ten smokes for two euros.

A great sentence from Joshua Cohen's "Emission" in the Paris Review 196

Sunday, March 27, 2011


NGC 2169, otherwise known as the "37 cluster"

Philip Glass, Akhnaten

Yesterday I was shockingly productive despite my best pouty efforts to not be. 3000 words of bar analysis laid to digital print, side shrub thing weeded, I was on the radio talking about Oxford American and my forthcoming book, went to Groovin' on the Grounds, outdoor concert thing on campus that once upon a time was a cool deal - remember that year when Rev. Horton Heat tore it up at a baseball diamond and wasn't Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on the bill too?

Now we got OneRepublic as the headliners and Steel Magnolia - manifesting as a variety band but I think they don't view themselves as such. Or maybe that's now an irrelevant concern, a holdover from pre-karaoke, Empire times. I got the impression that they'd seen Scissor Sisters on Glee and had a That Is Rock And Roll moment. To each his and her corny own, but it reminded me of when Pet Shop Boys had Liza Minelli as a guest on a track and she remarked to Frank Sinatra something like "Frank, they want me to do rock 'n' roll now" and Frank was all, "Toots, you are rock 'n' roll!" and I feel like I just lost valuable hit points in merely remembering and relating that anecdote. Let this substitute for any neglected breast-tearing about the passing of Elizabeth Taylor on my part. "Steel Magnolia", though? "Fried Green Tomatoes" wasn't available as a band name?

We also squoze in a trip to the observatory where they were checking out the above numerological anomaly nestled somewhere in Orion's pants area. Imagine the sweet stoner astronomer trying to explain what he swears he saw the next morning. "No, asshole, it was a '37', like the numbers!" frantically tracing them in the air for his unbelieving roommates chuckling over their cereal.


Speaking of numbers in the sky, I turn 42 this week and as of last Wednesday am at the brink of under 200 for the first time in at least a decade. I don't know if there is cosmic significance in either, but the numbers don't lie. I ran the obstacle course shown below with Maya and didn't have a heart attack. Not just outside with my phone but inside the bouncy-bounce vinyl arena itself! Twice! Y'heard, Frank Sinatra? I AM ROCK 'N' ROLL!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Any dumbass could die

Ray Davies accepting his Slim Harpo award via video.

Junip, Fields
The Psychedelic Furs, Talk Talk Talk and Book of Days and Forever Now

"Pretty in Pink" is a much deeper song than the 80's retro patina it carries will allow. It has more than a bit of Reed/Springsteen look-through-this-person's-eyes-through-my-eyes narrative depth, and bit of those two artists' hokey populist anthemics happening, genuine clasic hooks sitting like a juicy hamburger in the middle of Talk Talk Talk's banquet of comparatively more difficult cuisine. I loved the first two P-Furs albums back then, but I loved a lot of other things best left to the past.

"No Tears" followed by "Mr. Jones", though, that's the stuff. I can still picture the little pink bootleg tape I bought from that dude with the stand in the French Quarter and the crunch of the gravel in the school parking lot and my friends and

so good so far
slow down ha ha
movie stars and ads
and radio (something something)
don't turn it on
i don't wanna DIE

in our worst snotty fake British accents and so what if the real lyric was "i don't wanna dance". We did actually want to dance - it's what new wave boys did - it's dying that we didn't want to do. Any dumbass could die.

I have things to say about the Slim Harpo awards - the Baton Rouge blues awards ceremony I attended last night, but I will let that set until the 225 blog next week. What I will say it was a lot of fun as was a surprise show by Will Kimbrough at Chelsea's to accompany Cyril E. Vetter
signing for Dirtdobber Blues and that someone from the press said they saw my book on the Spring 2012 list and said "So it's really real!" and, hey, stuff is! I'm into it like a train!

Ed. to add: Maya did this drawing of John Lennon with a spent incense stick, and I know I'm being one of those parents, but, c'mon! Conceptually sound!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

fun city

Somebody just found out about the free Photoshop iPhone app. Prepared to be underwhelmed with my on-the-go photo editing techniques! I really would like to unhinge my blogging habit from the computer but so far, I've seen no easy way to combine Flickr + YouTube + Rhapsody links + basic text editing on a mobile device alone for Blogger (and by extension, whatever blogging platform one uses) and maybe that is an opportunity. 

Brad Lubman & Ensemble Resonanz, Julia Wolfe: Cruel Sister
Brad Lubman & New Millennium Ensemble, Morton Feldman: For Frank O'Hara, etc.

Beacause, truthfully, YouTube swtched how they do embeded videos (iframes rather than embeded controls, which distributes the actual control and puts the traffic more squarely in their world, which makes sense, for as much sense as the continued free existence of YouTube makes)  doesn't act right with the Blogger rich-text editor, which either means nothing to you and you've wandered over somewhere to watch handsome shirtless men play basketball , or if you are tech-leaning and this implies an embarassing primitivity to my blogging methods. So, yeah, I'm thinking. But for now, iPhone-toshopping is fun city.

Like this, I have to go into HTML mode to just make the image posting happen in a satifactory manner. What a world in which I dwell and what problems that world suffers! I like how the filament in the solar yard light resbembles two people considering an embrace. Oh and Goodreads! I almost forgot about Goodreads! It's another pain in the ass!

Scorch AtlasScorch Atlas by Blake Butler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviewed at my blog

Speaking of suffering worlds, I finished Blake Butler's Scorch Atlas last night dimly lit on the couch by the dull glow of iBooklight, which is even necessary in the daytime, for the content (endless wandering through a catastrophized town) and artifact (black text on faux water-stained pages; cover emulating a destroyed library book) of Scorch Atlas' drowned, mud-caked, pustulent endgame world is so unrelenting, it absorbs all light you have for it. It bears the same adolescent Apocalypse fantasies that all sci-fi writers do in fiction and Tea Party adherents do in real life: it creates a world where no one will help you, literal helplessness, where the poor bastards that do not succumb to disaster by drowning and architectural collapse -it takes a degree of separating oneself from the recent catastrophe in Japan, and memories of Katrina to take fiction of this sort in - are worse off to live in a world of literal and metaphoric shit.

The easy comparison is The Road, but Scorch Atlas is not about keeping the flame, nor does it possess that book's grace. It is more like Flan, an absurd escatalogical novel by Stephen Tunney (aka Dogbowl of King Missile fame) except that there is almost no apprent humor in Butler's damnation of mankind. Which, turns out, is good; the humor in Flan kinda isn't funny - it becomes an endurance test, an uncomfortable purgatory of watching Pee Wee's Playhouse on repeat until you can see the cruel, animal fear in Chairy's saucer-like eyes. Scorch Atlas is instead a meditation on suffering, the perceived mutation of just being a young person being projected onto a universe ill-equipped to manifest that kind of self-loathing. Critics will call it pretentious and precious, which it is, but just like that mealy, jittery runaway crouched at the bus stop, it is those predicatble things and yet still unpredictably dangerous. Fun stuff!
View all my reviews

Here is a dude burning his copy as part of some sort of web contest on Bulter's part, and in response to the book itself.

I read a little bit of Beckett's Molloy last night after, just to keep the human degradation party train going and came across this little illuminating passage:
Constipation is a sign of good health in pomeranians.
See? Now, that's funny! And easy to post.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Sun Ra Arkestra performing on East German TV in 1986, as discussed on The 6th Floor of the New York Times. Boing Boing has a story about the Schienenzeppelin, a 1930's German train that flew down the tracks via an airplane propeller mounted on the front of the engine.

Blake Butler, Scorch Atlas
tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l
Morton Feldman, Voices and Instruments
Bill Callahan, "Baby's Breath" from ApocalypseThe Moore Brothers, Aptos
Daniel Goyone, Etranges manèges

Media: In this week's Record Crate blog for 225: R.I.P. Pinetop Perkins, a re-release for Baton Rouge blues legend Henry Gray, and the Slim Harpo Awards this Thursday.

Outside of that, I got nothing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It serves you right to suffer

Pinetop Perkins, On Top
John Lee Hooker, It Serves You Right to Suffer
Bukka White, Sky Songs

I wrote a thing about Pinetop Perkins' passing and the Truth of boogie-woogie but it got funnelled into my 225 blog for tomorrow, so you're gonna have to wait. It serves you right to suffer. What I took out is that boogie-woogie is not my favored quadrant of the blues; I prefer how John Lee Hooker pounds on that nail until it is flush with the coffin wood and how Bukka White will keep playing as long as you got magnetic tape
and then some extended train metaphors that no one needs to hear.

After hearing that Morton Feldman's String Quartet is six hours long, I need to hear it. That's how bad my train metaphors were; someone needs to hear a six hour relatively event-less string quartet, that someon being myself, but no one needs to hear one lousy train metaphor. It's a quality/quantity schism that plagues every writer. I also want to read one of those Beckett novels, the ones that are like locust-words chomping on your synapses but I'm not going to do that yet either.

Acclaimed film director Jim Jarmusch reads Samuel Beckett's ominous libretto to Morton Feldman's Neither and talks about the influence these men had on his work.

Beckett wrote the libretto for Feldman's Neither, one of the pieces being played along with an ecstatic circus of a John Zorn piece by/at City Opera in NYC and if I could, I'd be extra-there. I have a good John Zorn story too, but I'll let that one rest as well. I might go get Feldman's For Samuel Beckett from the library, in case I was leaving you in too much suspense.

Monday, March 21, 2011

let the seperatist cult run with the ball!

Nam June Paik, "The Medium is the Medium"

Big Love series finale
The Fall, Room to Live: Undilteable Sang Truth!
The Durutti Column, Treatise on the Steppenwolf

Frog Eyes, Ego Scriptor
The Weekend*, House of Balloons (free mixtape)

God only knows when Natalie Maines' version of "God Only Knows" from the closing credits of Big Love's bow-out will leave my head. I'm trying to view this endgame through some irony Moebius where the greed and the bourgeoisie hypocrasies of the leads (Barb and Bill) become manifest with teh cute one getting her inevitable freedom and poor old Nicki remaining in the pawn role into which she was born. Bill's "I started this church for you when you got ex-communicated" thing and then Barb's refusal to join and then swoopingin at the end and getting everything she wanted is ice cold wrapped in HBO TV warmth. I just can't quite tell if that was the intention given how ham-fisted the final season has been. If you are going to turn a decent show into a batshit soap opera, let the seperatist cult run with the ball! I mean, Alby neatly couldn't escape from jail or at least make bail? C'mon! Ugh. Albyites everywhere are displeased with these events, and no amount of moral toil will set this right. Stupid TV.

Nam June Paik, from "Global Groove"

I went searching last night for a particular Nam June Paik video where he talks about penetrating the vagina of a whale (I don't think he does it; the text is accompanied by his run-magnets-over-the-screen shtick), and I'm in the awkward position of possibly accepting that I made up such a thing. I could swear I saw it late in my adolescence on Night Flight, circa 1983.

A friend of mine used to live in an artist warehouse place in Cincinnati that was above the loft where Nam June Paik's giant TV robots were built. There were a million busted TV sets everywhere and one druken night, we stopped the scary freight elevator on that floor and peered into a disued room with a dirt floor, with TV's half-buried everywhere, and the flouresecnt light overhead desperately flickered, like it was a distress signal blipped out over those broken dead TV's and it was so powerful. My friend said it was hell but I think it was a creepier living purgatory thing going on. Now I'm wondering if I made that up too.

Anyway, what I was really getting to is the Moebius strip thing with its infinity/ouroboros/predictability/video loop/culture loop/everything loop thing and here is this cheery Robert Whitman video.

Robert Whitman, "Moebius Strip"

And hey, groove on John Whitney's "Catalog" from 1961 with me. I've never heard of him either!

Love me some Robert Whitman. He was also an early pioneer in video art who rose to fame when he projected a film of a girl taking a shower into an actual running shower, which I still think is one of the best ideas ever.

* The band is called the Weeknd, without the third e. I'm already annoyed before even listening to it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

the first Super Bowl in the United States!

I love this town. We went to the State Capitol to see the azaleas and went on our generally annual trip to the observation deck to see the city from on high.

One of the guards up there waved us over, excitedly pointing to the other guard, "Look at this guy! Played in the first Super Bowl in the United States!" and suddenly former Kansas City Chief (and Brown and Raider) Frank Pitts was showing us his Super Bowl I ring. I still wasn't really sure what was going on when he took them off for my wife to hold and get a closer look. I managed a quick video.

But serious, how sweet is the world that a guy who won the first Super Bowl just hands over his rings to look at and has a cake job like guarding the observation deck over that world, and that another old man guard has a buddy like this to heap his excitement on.

Saturday night I went to an excellent reading at this art gallery/warehouse space, the kind of thing that you don't think happens here and turns out the Blake Butler reading was the hyper-productive Blake Butler of HTMLGIANT. He wrote a great creepy piece about (I think) an online chat session. I wrote a piece on that website once and figured he wouldn't remember it but either he did or played it off well that he did. I bought his exquisite eschatology bummer Scorch Atlas; so metal is this take of a blackened, dying, diseased world (perhaps made this way by some sort of super-moon) that the page ends are painted black and the leaves printed with gray water stains. Fun! The Alan Lomax biography continues to be luminous.

Saturday day was the St. Patrick's Day parade and Chicago style dogs and boutique, you-gotta-know-the-lady-to-get-them desserts and green hair spray. Azaleas! Sport peppers! Beads! Excuse me, trying to shoot a video here! Love this town!

Friday, March 18, 2011


The colour of spring, right outside my window

Kimmo Pohjonen, accordion; Samuli Kosminen, percussion, electronics Kronos Quartet, Uniko
Efterklang, Magic Chairs
Talk Talk, The Colour of Spring

Talk Talk, "Living in Another World." Our haircuts plagued us back then, but it was worth it. We persevered and became stronger for it.

Hold my beer while I jump this gator pond!

Undertsatement, like the alligator, runs free at Avery Island

John Szwed, Alan Lomax: the Man Who Recorded the World 
Badfinger, Wish You Were Here
The Posies, Frosting on the Beater
Matthew Sweet, 100% Fun

The New Pornographers, Together

They started in new Iberia, and stayed overnight at Avery Island, home of McIlhenny's Tobasco sauce, as guests of E.A. McIlhenny, the owner, and something of of a folksong collector himself, as he gathered Negro spirituals and claimed to know the songs of the Eskimos. Over the next few weeks they would wander through Delcambre, Erath, Kaplan, Indian Bayou, Morse, Crowley, Jennings, and White Oak recording track-lining songs, string bands, accordion-driven waltzes, and songs of failed courtships and lovers who ran away.
The they being Alan Lomax and his dad John Lomax in the mid 1930's, on page 56 of the Lomax biography. They are just about to meet Leadbelly at Angola and all find their future audiences. It is humbling to see that one of my heroes almost eighty years earlier went to some of the same places for his book that I've gone for mine. Young Alan Lomax, swaeating through the malaria and gonherria, laments that, even as far back as the 30's, Cajun culture was on the wane, being usurped by the rise of western swing's dancehall dominance, something that is still in the fragile process of being rectified.

Anyway, I read the illuminating Leadbelly chapter last night and was all set to get my scratchy field recording on this morning, but the press of spring instead proclaimed in stars writ out in pollen that it is Power Pop Friday, where we don't care where or when anything came from and we just wanna JetSki down the lazy Party Cove of the day! Hold my beer while I jump this gator pond!

The Posies, "Dream All Day". I too wanna throw my porkpie hat at the camera of those that prevent me from always dreaming!

Diego Rivera, Frozen Assets, 1931

This post about NYC on Weimar is stunning. It's why we Internet.

And this. Marie Osmond explaining Dada and reciting a Hugo Ball sound poem. Bravo for unearthing this, Art Fag City!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ability to keep oneself amused


Dickie Landry, Fifteen Saxophones (re-issue forthcoming)
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, John Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony/Guide to Strange Places
John Cale, Black Acetate
Various Artists, Keroac: Kicks, Joy, Darkness
This exerpt in Lapham's Quartery from Philip Connors memoir about working on a fire watch tower that refernces Kerouac's chronicling of that profession in The Dharma Bums, JK's real masterpiece. 
Matthew Dear, Black City
John Szwed, Alan Lomax: the Man Who Recorded the World 
Based on their reminiscences, I’m pretty sure the qualifications to be a lookout remain the same as they ever were:
  • Not blind, deaf, or mute—must be able to see fires, hear the radio, respond when called
  • Capability for extreme patience while waiting for smokes
  • One good arm to cut wood
  • Two good legs for hiking to a remote post
  • Ability to keep oneself amused
  • Tolerance for living in proximity to rodents
  • A touch of pyromania, though only of the nonparticipatory variety
- from Philip Connor's Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout


Forthcoming Deli at Marcello's

My old buddy Gene (standing) is opening an Italian deli at his restaurant/wine shop Marcello's next week sometime (the target is the 24th) and I abused my convivial and media-connected privalege to get a taste.

Muffaletta and Lorina Lemonade Sparkling Soda

Brie, prosciutto, and fig preserves on ciabatta.

Black forest ham, manchego, pressed.

Salami porn. The ones in white are all linked like old school hot dogs, if that's your thing. Which it is. He's got a line on some badass corned beef as well.

You know how Tommy Lee has a Starbuck's in his house? I'd have a deli. Thanks Gene, and thanks @brockjmiller for your sandwich artistry.

bar-napkin book ideas

I'm still knocked out by the sunset yesterday.

Steely Dan, Countdown to Ecstacy and Katy Lied
Paul McCartney, Band on the Run
Matt Berry, Witchhazel
John Szwed, Alan Lomax: the Man Who Recorded the World

Last night I was overcome with a need for the Dan and my bus being late allowed me a full hour of smooth-edged cocaine molestation cynicism. I suppose some similar need is pushing Band on the Run on me this morning. I managed to cut it off before it added Supertramp or Alan Parsons Project to the listening queue of the damned. I used to infamously hate Steely Dan to my core, and used that experience as a means to exmaine things for what they are and change the nature of my criticality. It is one of those many bar-napkin book ideas I've had, even made a little start at when Carl Wilson wrote his book about Celine Dion and trumped it. I haven't read the Wilson book so I need to see if we are beating the same dead horse, but it gave me an appreciation for teh previously unappreciable. Now I love-hate them.

Actually I blame Garth Marenghi aka Matt Berry and his almost-a-joke album Witchhazel, more of a flattened joke reinflated by wonder. It's the undisputed album of the week if there needs to be one. I blame Alan Lomax for making me think I had something to say about music and its implications.

Somehow I've gone my whole life not knowing this terrible song ws a Paul McCartney song.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

wall-eyed moon tattoo

Hey Baton Rouge sunset, you were the hotness last night!

Matt Berry, Witchhazel
tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l
Our First Fight and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit at the Hartley Vey Studio at the Manship Theatre
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
Destroyer, This Night

Media: Laptop Orchestra of Louisiana, Jason Isbell, R.E.M., and Mike Watt all in this week's Record Crate blog for 225.  Actually the MikeWatt part of the blog got trimmed off so here is it and the remaining portion:

What’s happening this week: SXSW is drawing the indie rock world to Austin and many of them back
through Baton Rouge.

Punk rock-of-Gibraltar, veteran of Minutemen, fIREHOSE, the reunited version of the Stooges, and as
one fellow music nerd noted, member of Dos, Mike Watt is playing the Spanish Moon with locals the
Widowers in support on Saturday, Starf*ckers and Casiokids play Monday evening and Kevin Devine on

At Chelsea’s, Grant Terry & Adam Dale play on Thursday, Sequoyah Prep school with He Bleeds
Fireman on Friday, The Supervillains on Saturday.

The Varsity has dubstep artist MiMosa on Thursday, Michael Foster Project on Friday, and soul divas
Marsha Ambrosius & Melanie Fiona on Saturday

Red Star hosts Onward, Soldiers on Thursday.

Teddy’s Juke Joint has Major Bacon on Saturday, Sam Joyner and Big Al & the Heavyweights on Sunday.

Phil Brady’s has Ole Sole on Friday and Slightly Off and John Lisi after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

I went to see Jason Isbell last night with a roomful of other people but really, as this poor-sound-quality video attests, this woman was the only person in the room. He is solid as hell. People are wont to declare him their favorite Trucker but well, he's not one and onto other things now and it doesn't always have to be about who you were defining who you are. That said, he should do a live record and call it "Play 'Outfit!'", quotes and all.

So much a Drive-By Truckerite, she had a Wes Freed-designed wall-eyed moon tattoo on her arm that she was kind enough to let me get a photograph without it getting too bar-creepy. The Hartley Vey Studio is a shiny new space in the Manship Theatre and a little sterile. I suggest a nice swamp mural across the back on it's grey walls and a vinyl Bud Light banner to bar it up a little.

Or get all new media on it and closed-circuit-project a loop of each evening's sunset. Seriously!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

here's where I told this story before

This is a random unedited shot of my street. I'm into what's going on in the wires.

R.E.M., Collapse Into Now
Drive-By Truckers, The Dirty South
Ô Paon, Courses
Bongwater, Too Much Sleep
tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l (out on 4/19)
Matt Berry, Witchhazel

I was at a  party this weekend talking about this one little painting by Myron Stout, and how on my one trip to MoMA or possibly the Whitney, I went through a giant Ilya Kabakov installation, a thing with a bunch of wooden doors and haunting Russian emptiness, reflecting now in my mind all the shots of Chenobyl I've looked at after the Japanese reactor meltdown news, trying to understand what meltdown really means because I don't think I did (it is subjective in its effect, dependent on the amount of precautions) , and anyway I went through this Kabakov thing and I love love love Kabakov in books but the real thing left me cold and when I emerged on the other side, there was the Stout painting in a funky alcove, all "we gotta hang this somewhere",  and boom! It was seawater rushing into my reactor core.

Now I am wondering if all this is really true or if I am getting the museum and/or pieces wrong and how do I find out and if there's merit in finding out? If I was to translate this experience into a larger project, then yes, provided there is merit in the project, and so on. Don't I have enough to do? Was this just good enough for a blog or cocktail party talk? Is that all the same difference? Anyway, people are here for my meeting. Here's the little Stout and here's where I told this story before in a  different way and again, same diff?

Myron Stout, Untitled (Number 3 - 1956), 1956
Oil on canvas, 26 x 18",
Collection The Carnegie Museum of Art
Image from Abstraction Geometry Painting, New York, Abrams, 1989

Mostly, I was trying to remember Myron Stout's name and now I got it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

On Avery Island on Avery Island

Wisteria bridge in the Jungle Gardens at Avery Island. It's the pan-continental garden manifestation of the wild ambitions of Tabasco pepper founder E.A. McIlhenny. The hot sauce is made in a  facory adjacent to the gardens on this little salt dome island down at the end of the road.

The Beatles. The Beatles
The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street
Uncle Tupelo, No Depression
Pine Leaf Boys, Back Home
John Szwed, Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World

The Buddha on the grounds.

The Soft Pack, The Soft Pack
Neutral Milk Hotel, On Avery Island
Robert Pollard, Space City Kicks

R.E.M., Collapse Into Now
The Baseball Project, Vol.2 High and Outside 

Oh, hey, Baton Rouge, The Baseball Project, featuring R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and members of The Dream Syndicate & Minus 5 will be at the Manship Theatre tonight. Do it.


A gator coming up to eat us. They roam around the gardens freely, looking for dumbstruck locals fumbling with their iPhone cameras. Here's another shot. Last time we were at Avery Island, Maya was in a car seat and refused to look over at the gator just outside the window.

What the Buddha sees from his little temple.

Perfunctory. Those are a hundred egrets rooting on piers in the background

Bamboo vs. water oaks.

Female Papilio glaucus, or Eatsern Tiger Swallowtail

Maya posing with giant dinosaur berries

The urge to listen to On Avery Island on Avery Island was resisted. Later that afternoon, I failed to convince my crew to get milkshakes and then go through the car wash. I suspect they recognized that I really just wanted to do that because it would've been a good tweet/Facebook status, but c'mon, tell me you don't want to go do it now that I've said it.

We were hoping for an azalea onslaught but were about a week too early. I will note that I just sneezed from looking at this picture, so maybe that is a blessing.

The Alan Lomax biography arrived yestreday, sliding In Patagonia off the docket for now, though I should be finishing the lingering parts of my own book than reading about a guy who did it all first and better, but if we sweated that we'd never do anything.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I am Pardue, and I am a holy man.

Our next family adventure awaits!

Yesterday afternoon:
Lil Wayne, Tha Carter II
Dear Mr. Toilet: I'm the shit.
-from "Money on my Mind"
Lil Wayne, everybody.

Flying Lotus, 1983
Madlib, Madlib Medicine Show #5: The History of the Loop Digga, 1990-2000

Regarding D&D, we are looking to channel the collective World of Warcrafting into something new and when they deposited me in the D&D section of Books-a-Million to see what we need to get started a flood of muscle memory took over. I was shaken out of my haze with a text "you still looking at d&d stuff?" I was! Just like Tom Hanks in that Mazes and Monsters movie that my mom had me watch when I first got infected. I wanted to intone to her one night "I am Pardue, and I am a holy man." like Tom Hanks did right before doing the terrible things the game made him do, but I suspected she woudln't have found it funny.

So yeah, I was a D&D NERD for a few salient years in Jr. high. The beginning set from way back when, the one that came with "The Keep on the Borderlands" module,  had the same exact cover, like Gary Gygax must've had a trillion boxes printed back then, but it's kind of a different game now. There were cards and game pieces and a big map to lay out and show to the other players, to which I call bullshit! Get out your graph paper and try to remember where those goddamn orcs are and which way West is again and roll a d12 already. Maya immediately took to the dice before even knowing anything about anything. 

One thing that is interesting: Maya wanted to be a chaotic evil female dwarf fighter named Hamburger and my autoresponse was "There are no female dwarves!" before realizing how messed up that is. I distinctly remember something from my old Player's Handbook that female dwarves were rarely seen outside of the mines in which they kept their homes. The Reagan years in action. Maybe it was never an issue because there were no female D&D players around to protest.   
And so... we played the game again... for one last time. It didn't matter that there were no maps... or dice... or monsters. Pardue saw the monsters. We did not. We saw nothing but the death of hope. And the loss of our friend. And so we played the game until the sun began to set... and all the monsters were dead.
-Kate Finch, Mazes and Monsters

Friday, March 11, 2011

pack them down like brown sugar

Lost Bayou Ramblers, Vermillionaire
Hayes Carll, Kmag Yoyo (& Other American Stories)
Chuck Brodsky, Last of the Old Time
Owl & the Pussycat, Owl & the Pussycat
Elliott Smith, Either/Or
Malcolm Holcolmbe, To Drink the Rain

Last night Maya wrote a really good story about World of Warcraft: lots of details, jumped right into the action, led you into the heart of it, balanced the lingo with just the right amount of contextual explanation and even had a cliffhanger transition at the end. She told Jerri, "I like to put in as many details as I can and pack them down like brown sugar." I will be selling registrations for her writing workshop as soon as I can get it set up.

Kmag Yoyo is an acronym for "kinda makes a good yokel-oriented yellin' option." Also it might stand for "Hey, you like the old Steve Earle records? Me too!" if you look at it right.

Speaking of Steve Earle, No Depression reports:
Earle is making a two-track digital download of "Harlan Man" and "The Mountain" from his 1999 album The Mountain recorded with the Del McCoury Band. All profits will benefit The America Votes Labor Unity Fund via
Speaking of ND, former editor-of Grant Alden did a notably lovely review of Malcolm Holcolmbe's new record for Blurt. I caught him at a show at the Red Dragon back in 2006 and though I didn't mention it in the review, the thing I really took away from that performance was how he kept referncing sitting on the couch in the power spot, remote in hand and I get a shimmer of that every time I pick up the remote.

Speaking of the Red Dragon, I'm writing up a thing about Chuck Brodsky who is playing there in May and a song of his, or maybe just the power spot of one, made me think of this long forgotten album by Owl & the Pussycat, a side project of the generally unthought-of and wondrous Moore Brothers and how hearing this song on the radio made me turn around and go to the nearest place where I could buy the album and I'll probably listen to it 5 or 6 times when it comes up on the queue and I'm going to have to mope my way down via Elliott Smith just to get to Malcolm Holcolmbe's record.

Speaking of power spots, I suspect the true eschatologists (not just the ones that put that as their religion on Facebook) are having a field day all these floods and earthquakes and harbors choked with dead fish and Maybe come 2013 when aliens find this post poking out of the post-(Mayan Ragnarok) rubble will tsk-tsk and mutter, "So cynical... and all the signs were right there" but dude, Supermoon is about to f our s up next weekend and I got a lot to do before then, so I'll just go get to it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

in Bohemian splendor

Louise Attaque, "Du Nord Au Sud"

Various Artists, Blues Ramblers - The Essential Masters 
The Tom Fun Orchestra, You Will Land With a Thud
Gordon Gano & the Ryans, Under the Sun
Louise Attaque, "Du Nord Au Sud" from Comme on a Dit
Lost Bayou Ramblers, Vermillionaire

Not to be braggy or lookit-me or whatever, but I just got off the phone with one of my favorite indie rock people ever, Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes, and besides giving a great interview, he laid a bunch of cool French music on me that I would have never otherwise investigated. Tom Fun Orchestra is not unlike a French Tom Waits impersonator fronting a sexualized Arcade Fire channeling the Charlie Daniels Band. Louise Attaque makes me want to dim the lights, smoke Gitanes and invite the cool kids over to lanquish upon ratty couches in Bohemian splendor. I will half-liddedly drone to them, "There is wine on the little table unless the wine is gone, and then we shall have to find ourselves some wine."

Speaking of languishing and Bohemian, I started reading In Patagonia, a 1977 South American travelogue by infamous gadabout Bruce Chatwin. I was inspired to do so by this NYT review of Chatwin's letters that I just realized is called Under the Sun just like Gordon Gano's recent solo record and whoa, and then the only reason I mention it is because In Patagonia is a special, wondrous creature, a dangerously reckless and personal form of travel writing for a guy trying to finish his own travel book to be reading, but also because it opens with:
In my grandmother's dining-room there was a glass-fronted cabinet and in the cabinet a piece of skin. It was a small piece only, but thick and leathery, with strands of coarse, reddish hair. It was stuck to a card with a rusty pin. On the card was some writing in faded black ink, but I was too young then to read.
   'What's that?'
   'A piece of Brontosaurus.'
Which is awesome enough on its own, but there is eerie boxcar concordance with a detail of House of Prayer No. 2 where a kid brings to school for show-and-tell a piece of Nat Turner's skin nailed to a board, which made me also go whoa which led me to read a little more about Nat Turner's execution (WHOA if you don't already know) than I knew and makes me wonder what kind of skin is going to be nailed to what sort of next thing I come across.

Here is a previously-posted Mr. Gano with the Lost Bayou Ramblers back in January doing "Gone Daddy Gone" in Lafayette.

because they happen to also be the wolves

Maya's picture of me being bitten by a crawfish.

Joe Falcon, Cajun Music Pioneer: Live at the Triangle Club in Scott, LA

Louis from Lost Bayou Ramblers recommended this old Arhoolie Joe Falcon recording to me yesterday and I recommend it on to you to get your feral Cajun stomp on. I apologize in advance for the following possibly ill-informed political rant. I'll bracket it because I think political rhetoric needs bracketing, lest you confuse it with life.
Wisconsin, I don't know what to say. I was born in the Midwest and though I don't really claim it as where I'm "from" I still look to y'all from the weird, aggressively-seasoned margin of America to keep a level head about things. I remember in the middle of Reaganmania discovering with shock that my Missouri, church deacon, Masonic member, soybean-farming uncle, the one who wouldn't ride in a Toyota because he fought in WWII, was a staunch Democrat. "The Republicans are no friend to the farmer." It was not long after that I found our my uncle had a still on his property and at one of their kids' wedding, I saw my aunt get plastered on the product of that still around a motel swimming pool outside of St. Louis. It was also not long before most of his land was bought out by mega-ag corporations, at least the parts that he didn't retain to lease out to the Amish that lived around him.

In my teens I had an inkling about the Masons, I asked him on his patio if it was true that if a brother Mason was to ask you to hide him from the law, you'd have to do it, and he chuckled that he supposed so. Then I asked him if he ever hid anyone away in his barn, the same one where he kept an old playboy with Barbie Benton as the centerfold (I didn't mention that I knew about the Playboy but I'm guessing he knew that we all knew about it and maybe that's why it was there), and he got suddenly serious. "I can't tell you that."

It was an epiphany about the true nature of brotherhood. We have to be there for each other because everyone else is not there for us, and we become stronger the more interwoven and far-reaching our "we" is. It is sad to see such a thing go down and to see blue collar America buy into anti-union rhetoric, out of pettiness over not having the securities of a union (er, join one) or the general bullshit tactics: fear of gay marriages or abortion doctors or evolution or whatever imagined threat to your way of life behind which the corporate shills hide. You steadfast folks in the nation's core should know better.
Remember Detroit? Detroit worked when the worst of corporations and the most powerful of unions kept each other in check like binary stars revolving around the good people of Michigan who just wanted to feed their families and build the cars that were the symbols of America.
Or if you can't remember back as far as Detroit's heyday, back before it was receding into weeds, take it from an ex-pat who lives in a state that has sold itself out to corporate interests to a such degree that the residue of that deal is washing up as tar balls on our beaches and that our state is literally falling back into the sea; if someone takes away the barriers that protect that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to which we all aspire, they are not setting you free from a nanny state, they are throwing you to the wolves. They are doing this because they happen to also be the wolves.
See, I told you House of Prayer No. 2 will make you all you and you about everything. Good thing I'm such an expert!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Electric Carnival Jesus

Unique Dancers at the New Roads Mardi Gras parade. Somehow I'd gone this whole season without seeing my favorite independent Baton Rouge dance crew. I was supposed to do a story on them but I could never get in touch with anyone involved; I feared their candle had been snuffed, but fortunately I just had to be in the right place.

Partial Mardi Gras weekend extended soundtrack:
The Yardbirds, The Best of the Yardbirds Vol. 2
Various Artists, Rushmore soundtrack

Rockpile, Seconds of Pleasure
G. Love & Special Sauce, Fixin' To Die
T-Model Ford & GravelRoad, Taledragger

Nick Lowe, Jesus of Cool
Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Punch the Clock
Squeeze, East Side Story
The Records, Paying for the Summer of Love
Shoes, Present Tense/Tongue Twister

It might be heresy to say so, but I'm glad Mardi Gras is over; it was fun but it wore me out and I didn't even chase chickens in Mamou or have Electric Carnival Jesus appear a go-cup in New Orleans. I appreciated the jive-assedness of Southdowns and Spanish Town in Baton Rouge and the truck parades in New Roads, especially in contrast to the major spectacle of the big parades in New Orleans or even in my hometown in Houma. There is something beautifully let's-do-this-anyway about the absense of grandeur. The rain was brutal on MGDay in New Roads and only the they-did-it-just-right-ness of Rockpile's Seconds of Pleasure got us home through the deluge in one-piece. The driver and I agreed that every Nick Lowe album and every Dave Edmunds album has great songs sandwiched in with throwaways (I'm listening to Jesus of Cool right now to test taht theory) but Seconds of Pleasure somehow got them to just do the good parts. Even when it's kinda stupid, it's brilliant.

Rockpile, "A Knife and a Fork"

And wow, I forgot all about The Records and "Starry Eyes". That is how it sounds in my head when I play guitar.

Oh, and I finished House of Prayer No. 2. Mark Richard might be my favorite author now. As a whole, it does not quite have the potency of his collection Charity but in many, many, even most parts, it is up there with the greats and perhaps the only justifiable longform use of 2nd person in existence. You will be all "you" and "you" about everything when you finish, and that kind of firepower needs to be trusted to only the steadiest of hands.

Happy Ash Wednesday to all you papists out there, bless yr dirty little foreheads.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

something between a cockfight and a wizard standoff

I took a million photos and videos over Spanish Town Mardi Gras but this one of a woman walking through the rain next to me encapsulates what it's about.

And this. I love my neighbors.

Some people are undeterred by weather.

And my buddy Dave's second line in the rain.

That night Clarke and Alex P and Guy and I hit the barn dance at the Lakeview RV Park in Eunice, LA for Red Stick Ramblers and Pine Leaf Boys.

Guy won third place in the costume contest. It was something between a cockfight and a wizard standoff.

Last song of the night with the Pine Leaf Boys.

Before all of that, gardening!




Here are the electric flambeau at the Southdowns Parade on Friday night. That's Chewbacca at 0:43. Love alla y'all!