Thursday, April 28, 2011

the scene at the wrong place

Here is the scene at the wrong place mentioned in the Little Big Store article.

Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable
Buzzcocks, A Different Kind of Tension
The Undertones, The Undertones

The Adverts, Cast of Thousands
The Clash, Give 'Em Enough Rope

Media: The May 2001 of Country Roads has hit the stands with my trip through the hidden world of Baton Rouge's Italian delis. OK there are only three of them, but they are still relatively hidden and each in their own way, awesome places to eat.  Also, I get lost in the hills of central Mississippi to find the greatest record store in the world, the Little Big Store in tiny Raymond, MS. It was a little sobering to finish up this piece just as the Compact Disc Store, the last great independent, full-spectrum record store in the city, was closing up shop for good just in time for Record Store Day. Sometimes it's just how we do things here; put out fires with wet blankets.

Time ran out on me to get a Record Crate out for 225 this week. There are festivals everywhere through, so this guide from the April issue should point you toward what to do. Really, just drive in pretty much any direction and you will be confronted with massive festivity.

One thing Treme gets right is the difference between bar life here and elsewhere. The chef-in-exile sits alone in a bar in NYC, the ex-pat jazz-musician gets pulled into a jockeying race for justification with other jazz musicians at some posh uptown locale, meanwhile back in New Orleans it is a congenial, familial ruckus, everywhere you go. It is something that features heavily in my book;  in south Louisiana, our public sphere overlaps that of the private, forming a 3-D Venn diagram that resembles an hourglass or giant butt cheeks, depending on the angle. It can be infuriating for outsiders/newcomers that don't want to be touchy-feely about every mundane transaction, that can't handle the endlessly participatory give-and-take life requires here, but then the heat, mosquitoes and bad schools eventually run those people off anyway.

Last night I dog-eared a page of The Unnameable that I thought deftly illustrated this, but this morning it seems the sheer consumptive density of the text evidently un-bent my page, resisted any extraction of its swampy whole to make a point, perhaps because not only is there no point, but there is now whole from which a point can be made. It's a fun summer read! James Franco should make the movie in his spare time between graduate programs.

Also from the Little Big Store. So psychedelic that modern means can't bring it into focus.

Buzzcocks, "Are Everything." I completely forgot about this song. And how much I love it. And everything! And I've never heard "What Do You Know" with the horns! Love the Buzzcocks!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Note to self: Linda Ronstadt.

Linda Ronstadt, Simple Dreams
Quintron, Sacre Du Sauvage
David Bowie, Low

Junip, Fields
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage
Oneida, Rated O

Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What
Rickie Lee Jones, The Duchess of Coolsville
Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable

Media: Deep inside the wealth of information that is the OffBeat JazzFest Bible issue lies my little profile of Swedish folktronicists Junip, appearing May 12 once the JazzFest dust settles at the Republic. Inside said Bible is editor Alex Rawls' review of the new Quintron, calling it his Low which both sound like good synthetic polymers with which to gird oneself against the spring rain and having to work until 9pm tonight, just as soon as I get Linda Ronstadt out of the way.

Some dream from nights ago led to me singing what little I know of "Chuck E's in Love" on the walk home from the bus; I had it in my head that it was a Linda Ronstadt song instead of the obvious Rickie Lee Jones that it is. Maybe it was Linda Ronstadt singing it in the dream. Or maybe in the dream, I put on that one Linda Ronstadt album, the one with her in the tube socks and the satin jacket and "Chuck E's in Love" was playing.Whatever; it sounds like a stupid dream and I'm glad I can't remember it. I just know yesterday afternoon, repeating the chorus of "Chuck E's in Love" under my breath as I walked passed the Radio Shack and the check cashing place where you cannot wear a hoodie or sunglasses inside I thought Note to self: Linda Ronstadt.

Poor old Poly Styrene. Oh, Cancer! Up Yours!

I finished American Salvage. Swoon with me over at the Goodreads:
Bonnie Jo Campbell is an expert in wounds: how the way we get them is fuzzy and only reveals itself to us over time, in less time than it is revealed to others. How wounds that are not cared for heal wrong. How there is never any money to get wounds looked at anyway, and whose wounds ever heal right? More...
Students for an Excel night class and the cultured words of The Unnameable await, right there with everything else. Hello, everything. Here is what we are going to cover in the next three hours...

Monday, April 25, 2011

hot throbbing

Shaky walkway around the side of the Pat Davis Lounge being further shaken by Keith Frank and his band.

Treme, Season Two
Big Sam's Funky Nation, Take Me Back
The Ex, Dizzy Spells

Terry Edwards, Terryedwards
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage
Geraint Watkins, In a Bad Mood
Jesse Lége & Joel Savoy & Cajun Country Revival, The Right Combination
Paul Simon, So Beautiful, So What

If he could find the phone number, he could shave and put some of that oil on his hair to make it lie flat, and he'd drive to her house.
    "Oh, God," moaned one of the women upstairs. As Jim listened, he let his forearm fall across his leg, and the pain of the burn erupted anew. How had he been so stupid as to move his body that way?
    "Oh, oh, oh oh, oh!" one of the women gasped. And the voice broke free: "Sweet Jesus, yes! Oh, yes! Yes!"
    "Shut up!" Jim screamed into the heating duct. "Stop doing that!" His heart raced, and he stood too quickly, and the bandage pulled, and then he banged the leg against the arm of the couch and collapsed. He sat there feeling his whole existence reduced to hot throbbing.
- from Bonnie Jo Campbell's "The Hurt."  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

calling the meek and the humble

  • Friday: I had one of the nicest New Orleans afternoons in recent memory, perfect weather in this single sliver of the year that the city does not make its own humid gravy, dicking around Domino Sound Shack, the kind of perfectly curated record store that made me thankful I don't have a turntable because one needs everything in the store. I considered how I could acquire an old Jukebox and fill it indiscriminately with $3 Jamaican 45's and with a push of any three random numbers could be instantly happy for all of my days.
  • All those records! I looked into becoming a vintage gospel blues enthusiast with Nuclear Blast. by Reverend Douglas Bell & the Stage Cruisers when in trod a New Orleans Extra: baby in a sling, little hat, no shoes, loudly establishing his New Orleanianity. I thought, In here? It there a casting agent for Treme embedded among the record spinners? Surely you don't have to do that in here. You are among your tribe; lower your spear. But a true warrior never does and he kept up his power-familiarity through the rest of my time in vinyl bliss. Sometimes the grand theatre that is New Orleans is upstaged by some dude's one man show, and sometimes it's just a revue of those shows.
But... Look! I need this!
  • My next destination was a friend and colleague's book signing at a wine shop and I parked 1/2 a mile away just to do it. I felt a little horrible for hating the horrible guy and then for stopping at CC's on Esplanade instead of someplace cooler and then for sitting outside and checking email in their wi-fi and then pulling down Nuclear Blast from Rhapsody (but really, what would I have done with the record but have it?) and etc. and etc. This is a common feeling for the Baton Rougean wandering the City of Clowns, one that must be overcome.
  • Friend and colleague is Ian McNulty whose Louisiana Rambles is out and has nearly the same map as does my book. His book looks great; you should get it! You get a beer koozie if you get it from him. The wine shop was charming as hell and three tastings in of Central California's Bounty, I was eyeing a mouth-water fresh boule and brie setup a couple seemed to be hoarding and mid-reach-for-it realized that this was something they'd ordered and was not free wine-tasting snacks. My gross humiliation abated when they gave me a piece anyway and that's why I love New Orleans.
  • On the walk back, the honeysuckle was like a wet kiss. I motored topdown to the Howlin' Wolf to meet up with my friends with Nuclear Blast blasting away and then ambled with New Orleans' gentle urbanity whizzing by to Cochon Butcher for dinner before the friend's band's show. There was a stop at McKeown's Bookstore, outside which the top photo was taken. "The Gambino" from Butcher sits below.
  • The Help is the band, containing former members of New Orleans' the Cold, mid-80's new wave outfit in which Vance "Ellen's brother/former Daily Show correspondent" Degeneres played, and they were good, rather straight for New Orleans' circus music scene actually but the weirdness was brung by this standup/performance routine that introduced them. I offer it without comment because I don't know what to say, except that in the video it looks a little like she wasn't wearing a shirt but she was.

  • Riding home in the familiar dark with the Upsetters' Blackboard Jungle Dub, the perfect musical embodiment of bodies moving through them empty vastnesses of space. William Gibson liked to cast as interstellar cargo pilots Rastafarians acloud in dub and weed smoke. They were the only ones who could handle the long drive to Alpha Centauri to drop off mining supplies. I saw a single for this song at Domino (I think it was this one) and wished I'd bought it anyway as a talisman. Something through whose round hole I could peer to see the universe.

Lee "Scratch" Perry & the Upsetters, "Blackboard Jungle Dub (Version 1)"
  • It came on just as Good Friday ended and it was one and calling the meek and the humble is what that guy on that hill did and you don't have to believe in anything to believe in doing that.

  • Saturday: Roller derby Easter Egg party! Face painting while the Fall plays on an iPod in the bckgrnd! Hula hoops! Tattoos! I got a back massage! and a hamburger! In my neighborhood! All anyone ever wants!
  • The second wind caught my sails and Clarke and I headed off to catch High Performance at La Poussiere. The humble Breaux Bridge dancehall was about the third of these places I covered in this second career of covering these places and it's humbleness and sweetness was intact. High Performance recreates with shocking clarity the dissolving of traditional Cajun music in the 50's into crack country dance bands where the accordion swims alongside pedal steel and it is the most beautiful thing in the world. It is culture's mutation trapped in amber, thawed out (or whatever you do with amber; Jurassic Park was on when I left so I should know) and presented in a place that itself is trapped in amber.

Keith Frank at the Pat Davis Lounge in Cecilia, LA; the monogram lights on his amps.
  • Then we ventured deeper into the offroads to the Pat Davis Lounge back in the rice pastures and pecan farms of Cecilia to catch the mighty Keith Frank. This might turn into a covering of one of these places but here is a phone-tapped glimpse gleaned in the extra-dimensional din of zydeco in a barn in the middle of nowhere: One song w highly syncopated woodblock centric started w an almost metallic ground to like they might lean into Kashmir but veered off to funkadelic's swing down sweet chariot let me ride then into a James gang style breakdown "it's alright" . Think Lizzy? What is that? Whats next, Bohemian Rhapsody? you felt like anything could be incorporated into it. Then a surf riff / rocksteady reggae party jam "soul survivor"
  • Sunday: Easter

  • So yes, call out to the meek and the humble and gather them up to you along with the strong and the boastful and the wise. Bring the clowns and the roller derby girls for security and eye candy - not sure which is better suited for which and who cares. Set the controls on the crockpot to the heart of the sun and herald the Spring and to everyone and everything, I meekly and humbly offer my thanks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

assuming yes

L is for "like"

Randy Newman, Born Again
Don Drummond, Jazz Ska Attack
tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l
Panda Bear, Tomboy
Beach Boys, Pet Sounds

Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage

I'm not sure I can tell the good Randy Newman albums from the bad; his performing persona annoys me just enough that I can't get in close enough to let the lyrics seep in. I know the big songs and love them when other people do them. That's how I am with Randy Newman. I was listening to Born Again based on the suggestions Rhapsody had after Glass Houses and through little wisps and splinters I caught, thought hmmm... not bad. Maybe I've misjudged him. Then I looked at AllMusic to see what they say and that Born Again, outside of his soundtracks, is the worst in his catalog. I suppose I could go up the ladder and find the real acerbic treasures and I'm glad to know they are there, but eh, I could just listen to some music that I actually like*. It was one of the  points I wanted to raise in the great Steely Dan debate: OK everything is perfect and the players are top-notch and the production is peerless as every major Dan dude will tell you ad nauseum, but do you like it? I'm assuming yes, but why, outside of the quality of its components? It's the synergy of those pieces that I am missing.

Not missing synergy: this poem "BIPEDAL" by my friend Dave "Gorjus" McCarty on the Pretty Fakes group blog.

*except for Tomboy, I think I don't really like it but I keep listening**
** ditto on a grander scale for Pet Sounds.

easily encapsulated into the domain of rock 'n' roll by the narrator

Fried green tomato platter at Chelsea's; notable because it is the first good thing I've ever eaten from there.

Gorillaz, The Fall
Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies
Tom Tom Club, Tom Tom Club

Billy Joel, Glass Houses

As a personal and now, possibly an external challenge, I'm gonna get through all three of Beckett's novels in "the trilogy." When finished, I will get to sew a little merit badge depicting an old man in the dark onto my uniform. My Goodreads review of Malone Dies, in brief:
MALONE DIES is funnier than MOLLOY in the same sense that being mercilessly beaten with a sock-full of boogers is funnier than being beaten with a sock-full of shit. More...

Tom Tom Club, "Pleasure of Love"/"On the Line Again" from Close to the Bone

I had this tape because 1) in 1987 Talking Heads were as cool as anything was and 2) it was on sale on the Record Bar at the mall and 3) the neon animated video for "Pleasure of Love" was on Night Flight all the time and 4) anything Night Flight endorsed, I endorsed and 5) I brought this tape with me to some after-school student council thing (I was desperate to get a scholarship so I joined everything my last two years of high school) and a cheerleader sneered at me over "On the Line Again", a true "what is this shit?" sneer and I said it was punk, 6) because I misheard the recitation at the end. I thought they said "punk is our salvation" when in fact 7) it is "funk is our salvation" which makes more sense, and anyway 8) there is a salient line from a Billy Joel song about the pointlessness of casting something as funk and/or punk when any song can be easily encapsulated into the domain of rock 'n' roll by the narrator, (notice how not far off he was from being Elvis Costello and, vice versa) I think Mr. Joel brings up some valid points.

Billy Joel, "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me." My friend Mike got to pick three albums from his dad's Columbia House 15-for-a-penny subscription and he picked AC/DC's Back in Black, Queen's The Game and Billy Joel's Glass Houses. In the early 80's, those three albums encompassed pretty much then entire universe.

Yesterday in the course of an online discussion on the subject elsewhere I came across my all-time favorite Night Flight clip:

Heroic Struggles performing on New Wave Theatre. If only I'd had this tape for student council bulletin board decorating sessions. I started this post out emulating Beckett's paragraphed numbered lists to see how that felt on after seeing him do it to wanting to write a book about Night Flight to listening to Billy Joel without a shred of ironic distance (thanks Lance). Oh, where this day is gonna take me!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

5 things about yesterday

Great kite weather we're having.

Wayne Shorter, The Soothsayer
Joe Henderson, Page One
Chet Baker, The Italian Sessions

Art Blakey, Roots & Herbs
Charles Mingus, Blues & Roots
Eddie "Jockjaw" Davis, Trane Whistle
  1. Media: in this week's 225 blog, another mention about Jeanne Leiby's passing, the new Gorillaz album, and the roots rock offerings in town next week.
  2. Yesterday was pretty "linky" for me between the Steely Dan thing and Jeanne. A number of fond memories about Jeanne are coming in on the comments. It all leaves me a little off balance. I don't really have that fierce a dog in the Steely Dan hunt, but it is fun to kick the ideas around and in the kicking, bigger things are occasionally unearthed. Jeanne and I weren't close on a personal level, yet my interactions with her on a writerly/professional level had the kind of kineticism that you can lose when things are too personal. She was really good at that quick inspiration and I like to think I'm good at that too and so we had a mutual admiration society with that as its charter.
  3. Death has a way of making everything else around it seem flimsy and stupid, but I suppose it's those flimsy, stupid things like talking about bands and all that give life its poignancy and the blow of death comes from that sudden vacuum. The lightness is for a moment sucked out of the situation and heaviness naturally assumes its momentary place. Unemotional, nonspiritual Law of Thermodynamics business at play.
  4. For instance: it was heartwarming to see people post well wishes on her Facebook wall as if she was still alive - and in a grand virtual sense, is still alive. Words have their own way of living and I suppose that's why we are compelled to say something in the face of events.
  5. But then there was a thud to see a posting from Jeanne yesterday about the Michigan governor. Facebook has no break between this plane and the next, nor is there protocol for throwing things across the breach as there is in real life (and death), and I like that lack of protocol. They say the Internet fractures us, distances us from our social selves, and maybe it does, but it also bolsters us against the natural hesitancies we have around the Void, allowing emptiness to sit naturally next to the visceral, like they are old friends, like that "it's all 1's and 0's" cliche about digital things I hate but am now employing, just because I have to say something.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

R.I.P. Jeanne Leiby

Detail of the cover for the Autumn 2010 issue of the Southern Review

It is saddening and shocking to report the sudden unexpected death of a friend, writer, editor, and idea woman, Jeanne Leiby. Jeanne appeared on the scene only recently to steer the Southern Review, LSU's revered literary journal, through the choppy waters of contemporary writing and under her watch, it became suddenly a better, more vibrant thing. She and I became friends after a reading in their former offices, and over a series of quick lunches hatched ideas. Let's do a reading series! Write me an essay on that! Review this book for me! These are things that Jeanne asked me to do for her, for the Review, and for myself.

I came to realize that Jeanne was quick to do that with everyone, to throw a match at every potential fuse with hopes that something would spark up. None of the things she asked of me came to fruition, for myriad reasons, but none of that mattered, for the idea of them existed indelibly in the world, and that, if nothing else, is what a writer, what a reader, what an editor, what an idea woman does. Those ideas still hang in the air, reverberating with her nervous zeal; she was a transplanted Michiganite and her step-to-it Midwesternness offered a much needed counterpoint to the narcissistic Southern malaise.

Jeanne would call people to tell them a piece was accepted. I thought that was classy as hell.

I haven't read Jeanne's book Downriver, but I will. I haven't written that book review she wanted, but I will, even if she's no longer around to want it or to forget that she ever asked for it and ask for something else in the process. Jeanne was a civic-minded person, so as details get sorted out, I suspect there will be some sort of donation, and I'll do that too. But, I suppose the best way to honor an idea woman like Jeanne is to write something, read something, submit something, talk about something, do something and OK, Jeanne, I will.

If you need me, I'll be in the bomb shelter

Steely Dan, Aja
Don Breithaupt. Aja
Donald Fagen, The Nightfly
Dave Brubeck Quartet, Countdown: Time in Outer Space

I think the Steely Dan Smackdown broadcast went well; I haven't listened to it yet; so far two people in the comments think I'm an idiot so I must've gotten my points across. Thanks to the folks at WNYC's Soundcheck and to the total pro to my con Eric Deggans for doing it.

I prepped with about two days of solid Aja-ing, even read the dizzying, comprehensive 33 1/3 book on the album and still came away unconvinced of its unparalleled greatness. Which is to say, it's not a bad record, but I just don't see it as the best thing since plastic-wrapped, lite jazz ennui. I had spare bon mots at the ready: Sure "Peg" is catchy, but so is hantavirus. etc.

As happens with any continued exposure to a well-heeled virus, I can't stop listening to them now.  I started to put on some earth scorching Scandinavian metal or Aja's co-inductee the National Recording Registry, Capt. Beefheart & the Magic Band's Trout Mask Replica to flush  it out of my system, but my infection instead had me put on The Nightfly and would follow it with that post-Aja album they did  Woody Herman and Chick Corea if it could be readily sourced. Feed a fever...

"Kid Charlemagne" from Chick, Donald, Walter & Woodrow

I did always like the video for "New Frontier" even when I hated the song. If you need me, I'll be in the bomb shelter with my Brubeck records and my Picasso poster.

Ed. to add, here is the broadcast if you missed it:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Feeding the Monkey in My Soul

Media: Tomorrow I will be on WNYC's Soundcheck Smackdown, talking about Steely Dan's Aja and why it is a lousy choice for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry with another critic who feels the exact opposite about it. The producers of the show came across the posts on my old blog about listening to the Steely Dan catalog to find what apparently everybody sees in the band I once callously described as "an embodiment of saccharine plasticity and an acceptance that The Dream is dead." Apparently no one else would fess us to not loving the hell out of Steely Dan. Should be fun!

Come hear me joust the cocaine-powered windmills of the 70's on WYNC 93.3 FM/ AM 820 in the New York City area or online, Tuesday, April 19, 2010, around 2pm EST/1pm CST

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The World

Bring on the light spring reading! Between the Beckett dubious-existence-athon and Campbell's meth vignettes, I suck in the fragrance of the Earth's bounty as long as my sinuses will allow. I'm using to bookmark Malone Dies a creepy insert card for some oldie-olderson heart medication that fell out of a copy of Smithsonian. He knows what darkness in your heart lies. Somehow it gets to Beckett's point(lessness) quicker and bears a more pronounced sense of existential dread than does the text.

The White Stripes, Icky Thump
Dickie Landry, Fifteen Saxophones
Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage 
Alex V. Cook, Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky Tonks, and Dance Halls

I had the first boiled crawfish of the season out by my buddy John's pool from Ronnie's Boudin and Cracklins on Florida; spiced just right without being egregiously so. John is trying out recipes today for the Internationals next month in Memphis. He and I both will readily tell you about the time he got fifth in the World on chicken wings. The World.

I put my own book up there because I'll be synopsizing and reading it as A Thing Itself rather than a sum of its parts this afternoon so I can reassemble the parts and make it into A Better Thing. Plus, I wanted to see how it looks as a book link and to make sure the largely empty website I've reserved for it is still running.  All the while I've been on a White Stripes kick, though this song won the day when it came up on John's poolside BBQ Mastermix.

Weird as Icky Thump is, Jack and Meg could've done a cover of "Undercover Angel" with them acting out all the parts from Charlie's Angels and it would've fit right in. Jack White is all Farrah, but Meg would make a fetching Sabrina, who always was my favorite anyway.

Friday, April 15, 2011

absterge the podex

Samuel Beckett, Molloy
The Spencer Davis Group, Time Seller
David Bowie, Live Santa Monica '72
White Stripes, White Blood Cells

  1. Hey, I finished Molloy and reviewed it (3 out of 5 stars) over at the Goodreads:

    Molloy is funny in the flattest possible way. Bike tire flat. Like, "the idea of a joke is itself a joke" sort of funny with which you can curl up for a long night of starring at the darkened wall of your empty soul. A little like a pratfall except you get to watch the damage of the fall slowly spread until the faller is eventually permanently incapacitated. Hilarious! Read more!
  2. This David Bowie live album from '72 is the nazz. The nazz, y'all.
  3. I started to talk about a bunch of things I haven't written and then erased that and reformatted this post as a numbered list, and then added this back. Exactly why, while agreeing that Tao Lin's online mask is cloying and a little aggravating, I think Tao Lin is onto something.
  4. One of the best parts of Molloy was this numbered list toward the end, partially repeated below:
    1. What value is to be attached to the theory that Eve sprang, not from Adam's rib, but from a tumour in the fat of his leg (arse?)?
    2. Did the serpent crawl or, as Comestor affirms, walk upright?
    3. Did Mary conceive through the ear, as Augustine and Adobard assert?
    4. How much longer are we to hang about waiting for the antechrist?
    5. Does it really matter which hand is employed to absterge the podex?
  5. I mean, antechrist? Absterge the podex? Sweet Mary's ear? This book's the gift that keeps on giving!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

fat ass tomato

Hello, fat ass tomato! So nice of you to make an appearance in my garden. You should invite some of your blooming produce friends to join you.

Matmos, Supreme Balloon
Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia
Beck, Guerolito
DJ Spooky, Dubtometry

They should made a variety of tomato called "Fat Ass Tomato". It'd look adorable at the plant store.
Her plums were ripe and her garden full of roses.
In Patagonia bursts with jewels like that sentence, in this case describing an old woman making tarts at a little table, virtually paralized after being stranded in water up to her neck at that very table during a flood.

Here is what an edited manuscript looks like. It looks eerily like an undeited one except someone has made little marks in pencil all over it, kinda like hobo signs revealing a hidden navigation by strangers of an otherwise familiar neighborhood. It's also better than an unedited one because it means at least one other person is physically able to get through it.

It was Samuel Beckett's birthday and on that ocassion I heard that he had been the neighbor to a young Andre the Giant, a child so huge that Beckett's truck was often enlisted to ferry the boy to school. Good company!
I offered my face to the black mass of fragrant vegetation that was mine and with which I could do as I pleased and never be gainsaid.
-from Molloy

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

around which was formed the pearl


Bill Callahan, Apocalypse (twice, streaming at 3Voor12)
Dean & Britta, 13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol's Screen Tests
David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights, Left By Soft (streaming at Paste)
TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Light

Media: Country Roads teased my forthcoming story on the hidden world of local delis, thus teasing the rest of the story out of me, and in the 225 blog: Crystal Stils, Bass Drum of Death, Beass Bed/Feufollet, and Earth Day activities this weekend. Wet Willie is playin', y'all!

Speaking of media, the first of the expert reader comments for my book are in and they don't hate it! They serve to make it stronger! It's a delicate balance, this culture writing thing, especially when the subject has a stake in the depiction. I personally hope to get it as well as Gimme a Break did  in their Mardi Gras episode. (embedding verboten, ff to the 10:00 mark)

What gorgeous things are Dean & Britta's soundtracks for the Warhol screen tests. They are some of those things that are nothing and in that, are everything.

"Ann Buchanan Theme"

"Herringbone Tweed" (Dennis Hopper)

And Jeez Louise, David Kilgour is forever, similarly, ephemerally good. His late-70's New Zealand punk band the Clean was the grain of sand around which was formed the pearl of Galaxie 500 and Luna and Yo La Tengo and the cough syrup rock in general by all those bands that were supposedly influenced by the Velvet Underground but were secretly influenced by the Clean.

Speaking of cough syrup...and National Poetry Month...

Three loofah poems
by Shiki, 1902. Loofah was a sap ingested to aleviate coughs. These were the last poems that Shiki would write. From Japanese Death Poems.

The loofah blooms and
I, full of phlegn
Become the Buddha

A barrelful of phlegm -
Even loofah water
Will not avail me now

Loofah water
From two days ago
Left untouched

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Gaze into me, says the lily iris.

Moon Duo, Escape
Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia
Delicious, hopelessly unwieldly falafel sandwich at Atcha
Bass Drum of Death, GB City
The Black Angels, Phosphene Dream
Crystal Stilts, In Love With Oblivion
Deerhunter, Halcyon Digest (I'm white like @BretEastonEllis!)
Samuli Kosminen, Kimmo Pohjonen, and Kronos Quartet, Uniko

I'ma use you up, says the bee.

the Xanadu orgy of their nothingness

Manhatta (1921) by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand. Via Weimar. Many YouTube commenters are worked up about the non-original soundtrack. I happen to think Eno's Thursday Afternoon is an apt if bland choice and prefer letting Moon Duo (via aworks) do the sonic lifting.

The Killing
Samuel Beckett, Molloy
Rene Hell, Porcelain Opera (via Pretty Goes With Pretty)
Moon Duo, Mazes

I finished the first half of Molloy, where old Molloy frets around in one hundred-page paragraph around on his crutches in his apartment, sucking on little stones and contemplating his butthole. It's pretty good. The second half is the interior monologue of a detective looking for Molloy, though Lord knows why. Beckett has this way of being compelling by being completely not-compelling. It's not unlike dating crazy girls; nothing's happening but you are right there completely in the middle of all that nothing, you alone in the Xanadu orgy of their nothingness.

Speaking of orgies of nothingness, I read through the first story in a collection I think I want to do next. The title story that gives the collection its conceptual conceit and everything's good about it but the writing. I think its because I'm "trying something out" rather than just telling it. Or it might just be a bad story or I might just be bad at telling it. Anyway, it's something to suck on, like a little stone.

By the way, Moon Duo is my all-time favorite band ever of this moment. I have loved them forever since right now and will listen to no one else until it's over.

Moon Duo, "When You Cut"

Monday, April 11, 2011

the matter of "mattering"


Rockpile, Seconds of Pleasure
Fugazi, In On the Kill Taker

Joe Bonomo asked on his Facebook for the most exciting 45 seconds of rock 'n' roll and among the nominations I put up (the opening to the Stooges' "Search and Destroy", almost all of "Pay to Cum" by Bad Brains) I feel strongest about the beginning of Fugazi's "Facet Squared". It is a teenage nuclear submarine locking target and firing all torpedoes. I'm supposed to do a guest lecture in a class about 10 albums that matter and through that, the matter of "mattering" and I was going to put it all together over the weekend but I kept getting in the water and no matter how cold it was, it felt better than thinking about records.  So here I am, torpedoes on lock ready to fire away. Pride no longer has definition/Everybody wears it, it always fits/A state invoked for the lack of position. Hm. I don't know about all that. I like the sound of music more than the words. That opening,though. I should make that my alarm, and then set an alarm. Then get to it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Meatball poboy

Coffee. Target for new bike helmet. Long bike ride. "Italian Lover" sandwich. Meatball poboy (my new rapper name). Botanical gardens, with irises going full blast. Coffee. Park to help friend release turtle into the lake. Free kayaking at the lake! Free paddle-surfboarding at the lake! Wipeout of the paddle-surfboarder at the lake! Free t-shirts from the free kayaking and paddle-surfboard providers. Different park. Kids disappointed at missing the wipeout. Dads next to me discussing Cuba and the Middle East. Maybe the first non-conservative collection of white playground dads in East Baton Rouge Parish history, but I'm not really listening that close. Kids discussing the Beatles and Jack Black and the Beatles again. Keep hoping the coffee truck shows up. Their kids are pussies, complaining of sweating and being dirty. Mine are actually sweaty and dirty and occupied in their inner worlds. Scratch that- they just walked up complaining of being sweaty, but want to go home to make mudpies, so that's something at least.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Me Impertube

In response, Walt Whitman's "Me Impertube" from Leaves of Grass

Me imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature,
Master of all or mistress of all, aplomb in the midst of irrational things,
Imbued as they, passive, receptive, silent as they,
Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles, crimes, less important than I thought,
Me toward the Mexican sea, or in the Mannahatta or the Tennessee, or far north or inland,
A river man, or a man of the woods or of any farm-life of these States or of the coast, or the lakes or Kanada,
Me wherever my life is lived,
O to be self-balanced for contingencies,
To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.

"boo fries"

My madeleine is an actual madeleine.

Jacks, tracks from Vacant World on YouTube
dos, Justamente Tres
Jonathan Richman, Jonathan, Te Vas A Emocionar! 
Samuli Kosminen, Kimmo Pohjonen, and Kronos Quartet, UnikoChiara String Quartet & Matmos, Jefferson Friedman: Quartets
  1. I got an Lazzaroni Amaretti di Saronnno cookie at Pocorello's today and it made me think how my father would always have a tin of those around and I'd sneak one and it was like eating the best sugar cone-without-the-ice cream ever, a luxury somehow more luxuriant than eating the same cone with ice cream.
  2. I have the windows open and dos (bass duo of Mike Watt and Kira who's-it from Black Flag) playing and a bird whistling along with their low warble and it is more gorgeous than it should be.
  3. I really like the new beta version of Rhapsody. It's got a Pandora-ish ease of use and the linking is pretty easy as well.
  4. I never think look at the key word searches that bring someone to this blog. The number two search after my own name for the last month is "boo fries."
  5. I just mapped out another book on scrap paper on my desk. I do this a lot, but I usually do this in a  blank Word document: like, make a pretend title page with the title in a suitably title-ish font and size. Eras Bold ITC, 36-point is good for the title, with the subtitle in 26 point. It looks like the title page of a 60's novel, one of those you should've read by now but haven't. Just big enough to be A Book. Then I leave it open on my desktop for a couple of days to see if it still looks good when I forget about it and click it back to life. But I never do it on scrap paper, and I really like the scrap paper form of it. Maybe if I leave them both on my desk, the book will write itself. Maybe whatever the book is about, I should call it Boo Fries. That + my name will bring in the readers in droves. The title I have on my fake title pages is not so far off from Boo Fries; maybe I should be open to this shift.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

simple matter

Following my daughter around on our mutual new bikes with T. Rex blaring from my phone like a transistor radio feels like the 1970's childhood I had in my alternate universe childhood.

T. Rex, The Slider (three times I think)
Boston Composers String Quartet, Complete String Quartets of Leon Kirchner
Sandro Perri, Plays Polmo Polmo
Kurt Elling, The Gate

The manuscript got submitted to the above soundtrack; now it's the simple matter of myself and a bunch of other people turning it into a real book by next Spring.


Black Francis, The Golem
T. Rex, The Slider
Hound Dog Taylor, Natural Boogie

  1. Backyard Spring grill dinner!
  2. I got a free bike for the asking on Facebook!
  3. I am in the home stretch with the book, like I will be finished with the writing and my end of the editing tonight!
  4. You know that recent Black Francis album The Golem that you didn't listen to? Me either, but I did last night! It's great!
  5. I am manning a table at Maya's school today for this scholastic Olympics thing and she told her teacher that I am "trembling with excitement to do it!" I am! In general! Trembling!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

quantum aberration

Here is my daughter doing figure 8's on her new bike to illustrate "my" "point."

Cheap Trick, Dream Police
Junip, Fields
Dickie Landry, Fifteen SaxophonesPanda Bear, Tomboy
Walter "Wolfman" Washington, On the Prowl

I had a dream last night that "Dream Police" was stuck in my head, a thing so meta that I fear it might cause some sort of quantum aberration, a time-travel incident that forever changes everything from that point on. I am on the lookout to see if everything is "different" in "the world" "now." That's what happens when you have quantum aberration dreams, you have to start putting things in quotes. Like, what do I mean when I say "now"; is it a "now," this-moment-in-time now or a "different" now based on this new course of events and the former universe in which we all once lived is orphaned off in the ether? Or does it keep going? Or does it even "exist" or are we "it?" See, it's like being trapped in a conversation with "that guy" at a  cocktail party and I "am" that guy. And the other guy. And the party. And there are no cocktails.

Monday, April 4, 2011

run to the hills

Trippy... the digital went crazy during Rango. There should be a moratorium on declaring digital things to be "a bunch of 1's and 0's" as if that is some sort of meaningful reduction implying a oneness/managability accessible through this astute observation. It is like saying any words on any page are just paper and ink and therefore anyone should be able to understand and create them. Music is just vibrations in the air. Cathedrals are but another arrangement of bricks.

Small Faces, Small Faces
Cheap Trick, In Color
The whole last LCD Soundsystem show at Madison Square Graden on YouTube
Iron Maiden, Iron Maiden

I'm convinced this playlist will make perfect sense and possibly even create a new thing in the negative space after the fact. I can already see its precsence taking shape as logic/taste recedes from the locus. The parting of stage curtains creates a universe and their closing ceases its tenure. Or something. I'm tired and not ready for the tangibles before me this week. Cheap Trick understands. Eddie understands. I'ma get to it before I run to the hills.

Maya had her first crack at band practice this weekend. I already like it more than the new Panda Bear record.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

in Just-/spring

Hopefully everyone knows the e.e. cummings poem "in Just-/spring" (scroll down a ways) and I don't mean that in a you should know this one way, but that I hope life has brought it your way at some point. It's just that not too long ago I mentioned the goat-footed balloonman to someone I was sure would get it and they never had, so here. Happy Sacre du printemps.

Ed to add: and Happy National Poetry Month. I read poems last year and it didn't kill me, in fact it may have made me stronger, so I'll do it again this year. And so should you!

The grass has been mowed by the wee Beatlemaniac/Warcrafter under the most ineffective of pre-teen surly protests twice now and it feels like a bridge has been mutually crossed, old Goat-foot leading the charge, and when all seems like our compass points to "lost", she leave me this next to the drum kit.

She came back all "Well? Did you do your quest?" and I was like "What quest?" and she was all "OH! I forgot to write that part on the back!" and off she went in search of a pen.

The following songs are my weekend:

I had more, but it was just announced "You must do the quest or the end of time will reach!" So, OK, sheesh! I'm off the computer!

Friday, April 1, 2011

the stink eye from a mama dove

Gettin' the stink eye from a mama dove in our camellia tree.

Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band, Ready or Not
Oblivians, ...Play 9 Songs with Mr. Quintron
Reigning Sound, Time Bomb High School
The Psychedelic Furs, Talk Talk Talk

The Chameleons UK, What Does Anything Mean, Basically?

Shameless self-promotion: "Blister in le Soleil: The Lost Bayou Ramblers and Gordon Gano" in the April 2011 issue of Offbeat. Also, in the April issue of 225 Magazine, "Festival Time!" - a 10,000 ft view of the festival season and quick picks for French Quarter Fest, Jazz fest, FestForAll, Festival International and the Baton Rouge Blues Festival. I am gator-on-a-stick-ready.

It's been busy around here. The "good kind of busy" as they say, though I find myself a little furtive like the mama dove up there, wondering what you are up to over by my nest like that, knowing there isn't a whole lot I can do about it should you go for the eggs. It's really not as desperate or fearful as that sounds, though you wonder if a bird really fears things, or do they just know how things go down with eggs a lot of the time.

This song made it all better.

There was a German exchange student named Rick who put this song on a tape "Rick's Mix" which he gave me (or I "borrowed") and about which I wrote a rather embittered story and now I'm wondering why because he really was nothing but cool to me generally and I was transferring, because that's what you do as a teenager, or at least is what I did. But the story is luminously bitter. Maybe I was trying "harsh" on for size when I wrote it, and I'm all sweetness and light now. Anyway, Chameleons UK FTW TGIF XOXO.