Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Warren Storm ending his set at the 2010 Swamp Pop Festival in Gonzales, LA

Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
GIVERS, In Light (Lafayette's own, streaming at NPR)
Four Tet, Pause
Matmos, Quasi-Objects
Autechre, Untitled

  1. Hey, check out my buddy's John's "Help Desk" program in the paper! This is BBQ Champ John for those of you following along.
  2. Hey, I turned in my final submission draft! Totally vomiting from happiness!
  3. Hey, I'm teaching this video game design class next week and shot this totally creepy video while testing out the lab.

    Pretty much what my whole class is like! Only 5 seats left!
  4. Hey, I'm gonna go swimming!
  5. Hey!

Monday, May 30, 2011

let me ride

Swing down, spaceship-shaped poached egg atop udon in a mildly sweet seafood broth, and let me ride.

Fela, Authority Stealing (Parts 1 & 2)
The Budos Band, The Budos Band II
Face of Man, Face of Man
George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars, T.A.P.O.A F.O.M.
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad
OutKast, Aquemini

"The awesome power of a fully operational mothership", that is. Thank the mighty Ned Sublette for that deacronymization and recommendation. You know the mothership is in the Smithsonian now, right?

I'm just into Goon Squad, thinking it's good and all, but Pulitzer good? and what is Pulitzer good? Is that like Oscar good? And then whoom, it all of a sudden got good good. Like, with some magical realism time twister business, like the prediction vignettes in Perfume or the final of the finale of Six Feet Under but better, more human and a little devastating but not anihilative. Yet anyway. Get on with your funky self, Jennifer Egan!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hello, breakfast!

  1. Hello, breakfast! I liked when Sylvester would address Tweetie Bird that way, tucking his (his?) squirming body between two slices of bread.
  2. Finished What is the What. Five outta five stars, exactly the story it needed to be. I have a larger review started that I might send out through a louder channel.
  3. Biked to the free fan fest in the parking lot of Tiger Stadium before Bayou Country Superfest. It's not that far in real bike rider terms, but was an epic feat in sedentary fatass terms. I need a daiquiri sized cup holder mounted on my handlebars and a milkcrate fitted with iPod speaker mounts in order to Pee Wee Herman that shit up right More about the show in the Record Crate on Wednesday
  4. Tzatziki: Greek yogurt, cucumbers, dill, garlic, lemon, salt. Great on sandwiches and in a Scrabble board.
  5. The book is really almost finished but I'd rather start writing two new books than finish it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Everybody, what's the word?

King Tubby, Freedom Sounds in Dub
James Gang, Rides Again
The O'Jay's, Family Reunion
Clifton Chenier, Sings the Blues

  1. On my last lap with the book. This playlist was an attempt to get across in print a sparsely attended Keith Frank show at a backwoods zydeco club. So imagine all that on shuffle with a tremendous amount of natural echo from a stage with a barn motif inside a barn renovated and converted to look as little as possible like a barn inside, but looks like a dilapidated one from outside. If you haven't already, go see Keith Frank perform before he makes good on his threat of retiring.
  2. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure I saw Gil Scott-Heron on the street in the French Quarter back in 2008. Maya and I were making our way through the tourist crowds to get to the Lush store when I saw a guy I swore was Kanye, who was in town for the Essence festival that weekend. Then I realized it was pretty whitey of me to see a fashion attenuated black man and think "That's Kanye!" Then a block later, there was Gil Scott-Heron, tall, skinny in the shades, a hat and a yellow aloha shirt, and I thought, no, really? Gil Scott-Heron was a revelation to me in my college years after I dug past "Televised."

    "B-Movie" was potent protest, a old 70's holdout calling out the then current President for being a fraud, a turncoat, a monster. It was now, then, and continues in its relevance. It was egalitarian, elegant, elephantine. Everybody, what's the word? Have you heard about Johannesburg? Yeah! well, sorta. I mean, I know U2 won't play Sun City but I'm not sure what exactly that solved. And haven't they payed there since? All that ran through my mind when I saw GS-H becuse it's how his mind runs and in turn runs his mouth and I was all, OK, whitey up on the earth, the one older black guy with a Stagger Lee swagger, done up like Panama Jack is not Gil Scott-Heron. Then I read when I got home that he'd played a side stage at the Essence festival that night.
  3. Somebody is playing a subdudes album at the pool. I'm not sure how that happened. Did we run out of Jimmy Buffet songs? Did the rapture actually happen and all the Clear Channel classic rock radio programmers were called yonder? Whatever brought this on, I'm not complaining.
  4. I just saw my friend Sanjay do the gnarliest belly flop off the diving board. Then he did another. What a trooper!
  5. There are countless ways that writing can be paralleled with woodworking, but the truest way is that you aren't really making something pretty until there is a pile of sawdust on the floor and your arm is sore form holding the sander in just the right way.

Friday, May 27, 2011

highball wasted version

Torlief Thedeén, Benjamin Britten: The Complete Suites for Solo Cello
The Soft Pink Truth, So
Now Ensemble, Awake
The Twilight Singers, Dynamite Steps

Right now, as all this contrapuntal, masterly modern music is being doled out, I want right now to hear the most slobbery drunk version of "Tropical Heat Wave." Like falling down, holding on to the mic stand for dear life, WERR HABBIN A HEAT WAIF, TORPICAL HEAT WAIF, letting one's cigarette fall into one's highball wasted version. Just saying, this is what I want from a new Twilight Singers album, but I'll take what I can get.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Ezekiel's wheel over the pool

The B-52's, Wild Planet
The Beatles, Abbey Road
Smash Mouth, All Star Smash Hits
The Reignng Sound, Time Bomb High School
Luke Haines, Das Capital: The Songwriting Genius of Luke Haines and the Auteurs
Badly Drawn Boy, The Hour of the Bewilderbeast
Treme, Season 2
Black Francis, Bluefinger

Someone at the record store loves the B-52's. Somebody in my house loves Abbey Road. That same somebody got an Amazon gift card for her birthday and wants to get a record player with it, because she is a natural born hipster. Somebody can't wait to train his daughter in the fine art of record shopping, for its one of the few specialist skills he has to offer. Somebody at the pool liked Smash Mouth so much they played a whole Smash Mouth album from their laptop. Somebody has a whole Smash Mouth album on their laptop. Think about that. I mean, maybe if you owned a t-shirt shop at the beach... Somebody on twitter bought Time Bomb High School because I won't stop the hard sell until their version of "Stormy Weather" is recognized as the official version, much in the way Bobby Darin's is for "Mack the Knife". Somebody is trying to remember if he likes the Autuers. Somebody does. Somebody probably regrets having picked "Badly Drawn Boy" as his nickname. Somebody doesn't about "Black Francis"; it sounds better with each passing day.

Media: Somebody has stuff in the new issue of OffBeat: a review of the Help's Keep the Beat, a review of Dickie Landry's Fifteen Saxophones, and a little gush of praise for Guitar Wolf who play at Siberia in New Orleans on June 8.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Art punk fixes everything.

There is a flickering light in the stairwell that synced right up with the one in my head.

Art Brut, Brilliant! Tragic!
The Mekons, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen
Talking Heads, The Name of This Band is Talking Heads

Everything seemed to be going astray today - lights were flickering, people were dropping anchor, icebergs moving faster than they are supposed to, one thing slips from the steady hand while another lands in an iron grasp, and I'm apparently going to hell on top of it - then this song came on and it all got better.

The Mekons, "After Six." Art punk fixes everything.

The other momentary cessation of madness - this one with the long legs turns ten today. I'm really just that guy with the vest on the tarmac, waving those little cones at the soaring jet of a daughter Maya is. I'm proudest to simply still be employed at her airline after all these years.

Back to flickering - is it wrong of me to find humor in the fact that we will one day all be driven mad by the flickering shadows of wind turbines? Is that really how we are going to go out?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


There is somewhere in the Polaroid library of time a similar shot of my friend's TRS-80 right after we looked at our grades on the school board computer from his living room.

My Morning Jacket, Circuital streaming from NPR
Bob Dylan (& the Band), The Basement Tapes
Boris, Attention Please
Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming
Earth, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1

Whenever I think about Bob Dylan's Christian years, I think about this story told about my paternal grandfather. His only daughter was a church type - her daughter, my cousin, ended up being part of some runaway's traveling gospel mission that got a segment on 60 Minutes done about them for sitting on kids that acted up. My aunt married the town drunk. In an act of Christian charity, she transformed him, they built a church and then a school and were together pillars of the community. Somebody asked my grandfather if he was proud of what she'd done, saved a wretch like he, made a good and honest man out of him. My grandfather looked at the guy and snorted, "Humph. I liked him better as a drunk."

Monday, May 23, 2011

cooling apparati

I wish my paintings then had the nuance my whiteboard erasures have now.

Benni Hemm Hemm, Kajak
Simon Joyner, The Lousy Dance
Jay Bolotin, The Hidden Boy, a song cycle - 1985 and Shadow of a Beast and Jay Bolotin
Various Artists, Kurt Weill: The Three-Penny Opera (Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording)

A day of sad sacks and horns forlorn, not simply because it is Monday or that I have been "left behind" with all the same people that were here before (None of you? Not a one...?) or there are deadlines or the receding of the will or anything bigger than the schism between a man alone and orchestra, surrounding him like eyes peering from a darkened wood as the fire gives way to smoke. Sinatra understood that. Peter Gabriel understood that. It's hard to know if the guy from Benni Hemm Hemm understands because he sings in Icelandic but it is said that he has 300+ musicians in his band. This is via the self-explantory Icelandic Bands that Are Not Sigur Rós, though, truthfully, most bands I've picked up on via have their similarities beyond singing in faerie language.

Speaking of Iceland, I was talking to a friend about a Vanity Fair article that painted a touching portrait of that pesky banking crisis foisted upon them by the English. It's been rolled up into a book about the recession. Sounds fun! Read it at the pool! My favorite part is that Iceland is powered by large geothermal vents and instead of hot water heaters, there are a series of cooling apparati the water goes through and every once in a while, during maintenance of the system, some poor Icelandic bastard gets scalded to death in his shower.

We have this shower curtain that is a world map, and eye level is Iceland and Mitteleuropa except in reverse, like from inside, as if I'm in the vents. I've noticed that Norway has a thin strip of land essentially locking Sweeden and Finland from the North Atlantic, reaching finger all the way around the icy wastes to touch tentacles with Mother Russia.

View Larger Map

I'm sure it's a holdover from the blubber cartels and is now the oil cartels and will be whatever they can find next.

Simon Joyner, "I Will Find You" from The Lousy Dance.

My old friend Joe turned me on to the rough-hewn schizoid Apocalypticana of Jay Bolotin, whose songcraft will tickle your Dylan and Waits fancies and then claw through your thin skin, past your flimsy ribs and stick a dirty finger in your heart holes. Good stuff.

Jay Bolotin, "It's All In That"

I'm still reading What is the What, reading this by Édouard Levé who wrote and then committed Suicide, and something else entirely I read yesterday made me want to listen to Three-Penny Opera so here I go. What white teeth you have, Monday!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

You know what

Today I received a letter from a reader, forwarded to me from a magazine. Not trying to be too precious about it, but (to me, anyway) this just doesn't happen, or hasn't until now. I don't even know how much stamps are anymore.

The Beatles, Abbey Road
David Eggers, What is the What

And you know what is a good book? What is the What is what. The epic scope and carefully played dialect of the Sudanese "lost boy" narrator is predictably a punch to the gut, but the structural aspects, the frames within frames within frames, framing the undepicatible horrors in such piercing detail is stunning. I'd been less than completely convinced of Mr. Eggers' staggering genius up until this point but now I believe. You could say I am one that believes. What's the word I'm looking for? Whatever it is, I can't wait to read Zeitoun now.

I'm reading What via Overdrive from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, the circuitous means by which one checks out eBooks. The reader app is not the Swiss clock that is Kindle, it doesn't even play around with leaf-flippy page transitions but then it's not a book. It's something else that contains what a book also contains.

Plus, it expands what I like about libraries, not that they necessarily work well, or how you think they should work, but simply that they do work. They got a system. I've been thinking a lot about digital means - the justification for getting this here device on which I'm laboriously pecking out the HTML since Blogger's rich text editor is Flash which doesn't work on the iPad. It's a snake failing to get a good bite on its own tail, looking for a different means for self-digestion. I've been thinking I should write a book about that, which is the kind of thing one does when one has a real, right there book to finish.

You know what is a good album? Abbey Road is what. It has everything, even a song I kinda hate. ("I Want You") I like when an album I love has a song I hate. It's a bit of grit around which forms a pearl.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"It's all ragtime!"

Editing milestone reached just inside this sun-dappled portal.

Philip Glass, The Orpheé Suite for Piano
Various Artists, History of Electronic / Electroacoustic Music (1937-2001)

Philip Glass as ragtime and back makes so much sense, like you could make one of those useless offhand generalizations about Minimalism that people who make such things make - "It's all ragtime!" and wipe your hand clean of the matter. By the way, the iPad + DocumentsToGo + GoogleDocs is an excellent writing/editing tool, even better at it than I expected.

+ coffee + copyedited manuscript + stupid bag + stupid book + glad to be finished with this part + excited to finish the next part + + +

It's like it's daring me to.

at last

Wounded birds are pretty much always omens, right?

Alvin Lucier, Music on a Long Thin Wire
Rolf Hind, Meditations: Piano Music of Olivier Messiaen

I woke up this morning with "At Last" in my head this morning because of, one assumes, the following reasons:

  1. The Rapture. At last! People will stop playing Devil's advocate because for those of us left, he will have won the case.
  2. My buddy Dave is getting married to a swell girl this weekend and I cannot imagine that this song will not somehow be played at the reception. It just played at the coffee shop, like just now.
  3. I cannot get the Reigning Sound's version of "Stormy Weather" out of my head. It is so perfect a cover of the tiredest of staples that it has shifted the bias I have against covers in to a favorable category. Really, the song is like if the Archies broke up over Jughead's hamburger and milkshake addiction having grown so out of control, and ol' Jug hit rock bottom for a while, grew a beard, maybe even did a bunch of moody folk albums about how he can't have hamburgers any mo' and then remembered that rock 'n' roll is juicier than any hamburger and thicker than any milkshake because it is about the one you love, one way, targeted, missile heat sensor style and he loaded up with whatever was at hand and fired and hit! What I'm saying is: I can't quite picture "At Last" in the Sound's Greg Cartwright's fragile warble because it might be too much to bear. It'd be like looking back at Sodom as you flee. Pillar of salt.
  4. There is a very specific book milestone that will be reached today, hell or high water, and we are in possession of both of those here along the sinful duodenum of the Mississippi.
  5. Another even more specific milestone, one that will harrow this manuscript from the hell of my anxious grasp, will take place in a week's time.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


The river, the drums, the bad Chinese food and the view from the Union.

The power's out at the office. The phrase implies so much: 1) power is an entity that has a presence, 2) there is just one power, 3) our dependence on power is greater than we think, 4) the second power is gone, we might as well be gone, 5) regret is a default impulse that fills in a negative space much in the way nature abhors a vacuum and how the laws of thermodynamics are all about how the second there is a place for things (power) to go, it goes there. It is its intrinsic nature to go rushing in there, 6) more specifically, when the power's out, you are suddenly flooded with regret about what you could've been doing - I could be finishing that thing I was supposed to do if the power was on. The absence of power is the most convenient excuse in the world. 7) the duplicity of the apostrophe: is it the obvious that the power is out or a more insidious implication that power's presence is a thing it wields, uses, withholds, utilizes to ultimately create more power?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

bohemian love pad

Some people are all about iPad FaceMelter

David Johansen, David Johansen
Beres Hammond, Beres Hammond
Various Artists, I Roy - Singers and Dubs
David Johansen, Here Comes the Night
David Eggers, What Is the What
Kid Congo Powers, Dracula Boots

I am as in love with this device in the precise amount that I suspected I would but maybe not in the ways. The iPad is a consumer product first and foremost, the issue about which most software developer types grouse and much as I might want to distance myself from that sometimes, I'm one of them, and thus one is pushed into Using a Thing As It Is Designed, a sensible request any object would ask of its utilizer. I look to my devices to be Star Trek tricorders, Batman utility belts, Swiss Army knives - little all-purposes that support the multiple-purposed engagement with the multiverse and this thing is that and it isn't. It is really more the bohemian love pad about which Mr Johansen croons.

You know the cockroach traffic in here
It's got me drinkin' too much beer
But it ain't any worse than any major town

OK, it's not like that at all; I really wanted an excuse to put the words "cockroach traffic" out there, and really, the David Johansen in my mind's sleazy, druggy eye would pronounce it as "cockaroach" - it would be terrible and wonderful; I'd be all, you aren't really like that, a you? Do you really say "cockaroach"? Probably, for a while, as it suits his purposes. David Johansen is the rock 'n' roll embodiment of adaption - becoming a woman, a blues singer, a Springsteen-esque streetcar, a monstrously popular novelty act - whatever for which the situation calls. He supersedes arch-chameleon David Bowie in that David Bowie stole the idea from David Johansen, or maybe that make Bowie even better for it.

Anyway, this device is making me reassess how I do things, how I use things. Flipboard turns the dull shopping list party-line of Facebook and Twitter and RSS into a shimmering magazine, on the fly. It's genius in its design, turning cockaroach traffic into a bohemian love pad where you want to invite everyone to bask in that which you bask.

I checked out an eBook from our eLibrary (Eggers' What is the What - I think I have assimilation problems... I never watched a compatriot get eaten by a lion while escaping genocidal armies) using Overdrive which makes perfect sense except it doesn't. Why are there limited copies, a waiting list, old world library ideas at play here? Money, I'm sure, which like religion (which is itself a kind of money) ruins everything. It reveals my bohemian love pad to have papr walls, the glitter covering up the particle board. I love libraries because they roll with mind-bending bureaucracy and still manage to be leaf-end useful.

I just had a tête-á-tête (weirdly, the iWorld has reintroduced the diacritical back into the accessible from the realm of obselesene into which it was largely cast by the Internet) with the IT folks (great irony in the fact that I am one) about getting a new desk phone which I do not even want. My clunky old one with the bell somehow lets the dial tone run when you answer. I like to think it is some sort of quantum aberration happening every time the little electric bell rings, which is sweet and quaint in a Brazil way but sucks in a phone way. It has now resulted in a olde skule CF of multi-platform communiqués and people stopping by the office to tell me what their system-generated email said about my not getting a phone and I wanna go - yeah, yeah, sorry I asked. (I always am, which is why I never ask) Look, you ever listen to David Johansen? But that would spiral off another Universe of Talk before I can get anything done in this one. Cockaroach traffic.

Love you baby and
Drivin' you crazy
Is all I want to do
You act so bad
You drive me mad
You make-a me bad
In my Bohemian love pad

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

sherbet orange

One assumes this is how the iPad sees us.

Kraftwerk, The Man-Machine

Atrociously obvious choice for the first thing to listen to on my little white and sherbet orange window on the infinite rainbow of Potential, I know, but there it is. I wrote a little on it, played a lot on it, pulled it out of youth's eager grip and kept going oh dude, look at this... to no one listening, like I just discovered the Internet hiding among the couch cushions.

I wish all the mobile sites would include embed controls but maybe that's the only thing keeping me from going full Neuromancer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

remaining glow

Check out the fallen Cthulhu tree at a dead end in the neighborhood.

Chemrocket, Gr(u)Ve Assas(Sin)
Guitar Wolf, UFO Romantics
H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"

The Help, Keep the Beat
Desmond Dekkar, Black and Dekkar
Marcia Griffiths, Dreamland

The address of Inspector John Legrasse, one of the subjects interviewed in "The Call of Cthulhu" about sightings of He Who Waits, is 121 Bienville St. New Orleans, LA, right down there:

View Larger Map

right at those river levees so prominent in the news this weekend and curiously near the aquarium. Make you wonder what really lurks at the bottom of that giant sting ray tank. Or the bottom of anything.

The weekend was jubilant (the pool opened!) tainted with guilty dread (the Morganza spillway opened!) in that a whole region is being flooded and likely irrevocably altered. The river bars in Henderson get a lot of play in my book; some of the people I spoke to are likely packing all they can onto borrowed trucks so that the levees in my city and others downriver can be protected. I know life is ebb and flow and cause and effect and pressure and resistance and pushing against and giving way but man, metaphors seem pretty weak when the reality possesses such a grand and devastating scale. Here's hoping drunk women can soon again dance on the bar on Sunday afternoons at Angelle's Whiskey River Landing while airboats rest on trailers in the parking lot as party barges full of sunburned weekenders dock up to continue their denial that the work week is coming.

The porch at Angelle's circa fall 2008, when this story was written. My friend Terry, the anniversary of whose passing was feted in proper style over the weekend, came along on this one. It was right before he started to get sick, maybe one of the last adventures we went on. Terry took some better photos than I did, but who knows where they are now.

So yeah, the weekend was light with heaviness, warm shadows cast from the departed's remaining glow (I missed my friend Jeanne's wake) or maybe the world just wet all around and we just have to give way to the waters when they come. See? Weak.

Marcia Griffiths, "Tell Me Now"


Friday, May 13, 2011

Finding Hitler's Horse (unabridged)

(x-posted on Facebook)

To honor my dear friend Terry Kennedy who left us a year ago today, here is the unabridged version of the "Finding Hitler's Horse" story that he and I wrote for the Oct. 2008 issue of Country Roads Magazine. The magazine had to cut it for size and reign it for focus, so I dug up our original that goes in all directions as Terry was wont to do.

Finding Hitler’s Horse
Ghost stories, Champion horses and the nature of mystery on Louisiana’s German Coast
by Alex V. Cook and Terry Kennedy.

I believe the truth is fundamentally elusive. It is a slippery thing that sits unnoticed right in front of you, begging to be lassoed, all while your rope gets caught on the facts. The difference between the facts and the truth is a metaphysical question. Fortunately, Louisiana is a deeply metaphysical place and I have found metaphysical people like Terry Kennedy with which to explore it. A couple months ago during one of our many conversations about the greater weirdness of Louisiana, he mentioned, “You know, one of these days, we should go out and visit the grave of Hitler’s horse and see what comes of it.”

The wine had been flowing during that conversation and I wasn’t sure what Terry was talking about, but a quick web search revealed that Nordlicht, a racehorse that once belonged to Adolph Hitler was indeed buried in St. Rose, LA, at La Branche, a plantation just down River Road from Destrahan. The Pedigree Online Throuroughbred Database shows that Nordlight won both the Osterreicheisches (Austrian) and Deutches (German) Derbies in 1944.[i] It does not require a stretch of the imagination to why thoroughbred horses were of particular interest to the Nazis, whose name is synonymous with the horrific potential of genetic engineering, so this prize winning horse belonging to Hitler at the peak of the Nazi regime was a symbol of great significance. RoadsideAmerica.com further offers this about Nordlicht:
Undefeated, he was named horse of the year in 1944 and had his image placed on a German postage stamp. [ii]
At the end of World War II, Nordlicht (“northern light”) was claimed as a prize of war by the US Army, and purchased for stud by C. Walter Mattingly, a surgeon and horse breeder. Mattingly brought Nordlicht to La Branche Plantation in 1948, where he spent the next two decades siring horses right there on what is known as Louisiana’s German Coast. Further research in the Pedigree Online database revealed that Visionaire, running 24-to-1 odds in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, was a direct descendant of Nordlicht, so we decided Derby Day was the day to go.

Searching for metaphysical truth involves lining up one’s connections, however tenuous, in hopes that the greater picture reveals itself. So we set up as many connections in our favor as possible. We took off in Terry’s 1980 Mercedes 450 SLC with a copy of Richard Strauss’ opera Salome to listen to. The significance of Salome is that its 1906 premier in Graz – the salacious subject matter was too racy for Vienna – saw an audience of eager idealists. According to Alex Ross in The New Yorker:
Strauss took particular note of the crowd’s demographics; he mentioned, in a letter to his wife, Pauline, the “young people from Vienna, with only the vocal score as hand luggage.” Strange to say, one of them was an Austrian teenager named Adolf Hitler, who had just seen Mahler conduct Tristan und Isolde in Vienna.[iii]
Terry: I love Strauss, he really is one of the best.
Alex: He cuts through the middle of all that music that came before him. Like coming after the Romantics, and the classicists – he was left to figure out what to do with all this.
Terry: And he’ll take a Schoenberg atonal note in the middle of some perfect tonality, and make it beautiful
Alex: He’s a real climatic composer, like it’s all in dense layers of atmosphere forming into clouds
Terry: And all those currents run into each other, starting and stopping all the time, but it makes sense. It’s beautiful music.
Terry: (after listening for a while) You think drugs are behind this music? I’m guessing cocaine.
Alex: Maybe. There is a touch of syphilitic madness to this music. It’s paranoid music, always looking over its shoulder.

Strauss had good reason to be worried. He was appointed president of the Reichsmusikkammer, the State Music Bureau, by Joseph Goebbels without his consent in 1933. Strauss composed the Olympische Hymne for the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. The significance of the 1936 games is that it was a showcase for Hitler to demonstrate the superiority of the Aryan race, a notion undermined by the four gold medals won by black American athlete Jesse Owens. The other popular image of Jesse Owens is his publicity stunts later in life, defeating racehorses in a sprint. When on the metaphysical trail, coming full circle is the first clue that you are onto something.

Much like dominoes, our coincidences started to tumble in on each other and collapse in a heap. Terry’s Mercedes started to sputter at the Sorrento exit on I-10, leading to the Auto Zone and some shade tree maintenance. “I have a lot of theories on what’s wrong with this car. I’ll keep pulling them out as I need them.” Terry said. While replacing the distributor cap, and subsequently eliminating that from the solution column, we decided that maybe we were trying too hard to make the connections line up. We limped back to his house on Airline, just in time to catch the 6 pm run of the Kentucky Derby on the radio. Visionaire got a cursory mention in the opening lineup, but was lost in the blur of horses. Even the Derby itself succumbed to defeat that day with second place horse Eight Belles breaking both front ankles and needing to be euthanized while sprinting down after the wire.

The following weekend, we set out in my Honda, spreading our metaphysical reliance across the Axis. We were contemplating the meaning of “La Branche,” whether it referred to genealogy, lineage and through that, the genetic purity that is central to both the Nazis and racehorses as we pulled onto the gravel road of the former dependency house or garconiere, a separate building used to house the male children of the plantation. Terry found the marker for Nordlicht’s grave in short order, under a crepe myrtle, marked with a stone and brass plaque

NORDLICHT 1941-1968

The visitors’ office was closed and the doors to last significant original building on the grounds, the garconiere was were padlocked. Parked outside it was a gorgeous carriage. “I wonder if Nordlicht ever pulled this beauty around, “ Terry remarked as he snapped some photos. We were about to walk back and head home, when up drove Sal Lentini, former police chief, plantation enthusiast and veteran of the invasion at Normandy.

Sal explains that previous owners were named Zweig, meaning “branch” in German and they gave the place the French name, La Branche. “I got this place because of my daughter.

“It’s funny. One day I took her up here because I’d been trying to get the place from Dr. Mattingly. I come up to talk to him, I knew him and his wife good, she was a doctor too. I told them, ‘One day, you are gonna sell me this place.’ I took my daughter up here several years after that, and we walked up to the gate. A horse walked up to the gate with an eyeball hanging out. My daughter went berserk, she cried and everything else. She was so upset she didn’t say a damn word to me, my own daughter. She’s got more nerve than Carters’ got liver pills.

“You know she called Dr. Mattingly, and went to see him and fussed him up and down about that horse. Dr. D. Mattingly called me and said, “Sal, I’m not going to sell you the place. I know who I’m going to sell it to – your daughter.”

Sal pointed to the plantation’s original carriage lane of oaks, long feral, on the edge of his property “See those oak trees over there? Right here under those trees, I remember people out there at night, digging for gold, looking for where Jean Lafite hid some of his treasure.”

“See that big pecan tree back there? It is 24-feet in circumference. A county agent came here to measure it, and they found a little box down in the roots of that tree. It’s gotta be a casket. Somebody that used to live on the plantation used to come by here , and had a little sister that died, and back then they buried them on the grounds."

On our way to the garconiere, Sal pointed out a ring of oak trees. “There was a Houmas Indian chief that was buried out here. You ever heard of tree huggers? The tree huggers would come out, and have come out many times. “ Later, I could find no reference to tree-hugging or tree ceremonies particular to the Houmas tribe. It seems our entire metaphysical mission, chasing a horse to its grave, was trumped by real history.

“That’s why I like plantations, they have so much history to them. “ Sal found the leys to the garconiere and took us into the lovingly decorated building. Period antiques he had collected over the years glowed against the robin’s egg blue walls. In the last room he took us through, we were met by a magnificent burled walnut bed whose origins Sal coyly guarded.

Sal: I’m not going to tell you who this bed used to belong to.
Terry: it looks like one of Huey Long’s beds
Sal: You are close. It’s a real coincidence on how it got here. You wouldn’t believe it.
Alex: OK, so how’d it get here?
Sal: (laughing) Oh, people would get the wrong impression. I won’t say. If that bed could talk… lots of people would take a picture with it, I know that.
Alex: Come on, whose bed is this?
Sal: (laughs again) Sorry, I’ve never told and I can’t say now.
Terry: That’s alright, I like a mystery better than knowing. It’s a beautiful bed.

[i] Pedigree Online Thoroughbred Database, http://www.pedigreequery.com/index.php?h=nordlicht
[ii] Roadside America, http://www.roadsideamerica.com/pet/nordlicht.html
[iii] Ross, Alex, “The Last Emperor: Richard Strauss”, New Yorker, Dec. 20, 1999

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hail Rainbow Cthulhu!

Hail Rainbow Cthulhu!

H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu" (PDF from Feedbooks)
Various Artists, The East Village Other's Electronic Newspaper (via ROOT BLOG)
Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet
Mayer Hawthorne, Impressions (free covers EP, full breakdown at Blurt)

It was not a tough sell to get my daughter into Cthulhu (what's not too love? Her rendering rendered even more psychedelic by the iPhone Photoshop app) and even after reading the ponderous 1920's patter of part I of the story, she's still anxious to get to the madness-inducing apocalyptic wrath of He Who Waits. That's my girl!

The East Village Other produced, among other things, this "electronic newspaper" from 1966, collaged and assembled by ESP-Disk analyzing the media spectacle that was Luci Johnson's wedding. It's been on my hunt list for years and there it pops up to the surface of my feeder like noxious gas bubbles exhaled from the Ancient Ones. Thanks to ROOT BLOG for putting this forth.

What I want to know is, where is mashup culture in the arena of social protest? Twenty years ago, hip-hop applied the collage strategies of the 60's to DJ barrages (think how Terminator X was often as potent a voice on Fear of a Black Planet as was Chuck and Flav) With the broadside, wheatpaste nature of social media, you'd think the modern dub reorganizers would be all over it, or maybe they are and I am too hopelessly square to be aware. If that's the case, hip me to it. As this blog can attest, I'll listen to anything once.

Speaking of collages and noxious gas bubbles, would you listen to this blog if it were condensed weekly into a radio show and/or podcast? We've been approached.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chanting, even!

The flag burning on the campus parade grounds today got people moderately riled up. Chanting, even!

George Adams, Hand to Hand
Chick Corea, Three Quartets
Anthony Braxton, The Complete Anthony Braxton 1971, Vol. 1
Anthony Braxton, Six Compositions (GTM) 2001
Roberto Bolaño, The Return

Media: Blues Fest recap, Vintage Vinyl, Leaving, and the Diane Lanes in this week's Record Crate blog for 225.

I knew that everything was all right, and I could go. That everything was wrong, and I could go. That everything was sorrow, and I could go.
Robert Bolaño, "Joanna Silvestri"

I like how it works here and how it doesn't quite work

  1. I like this picture of my daughter vs. the Mississippi at near flood stage, downtown Baton Rouge. The big paper clip thing is a riverboat landing dock and all the boarding ramps that riverboat travelers would normally use are now twenty feet under the muddy water.
Don Cherry, Old and New Dreams
Muhal Richard Abrams, Sound Dance

  1. I like how Steve Wilkerson's river essay-as-Facebook-note is making the rounds. Journalism-wise, something there too is cresting. I know Steve, but I forget how, which is the nature of social media or mediated society or whatever. I like how that works.
  2. I like how this page explains the deal with the Mississippi/Red/Atchafalaya/Old River confluences utilizing (basically) bar napkin sketches. (hat tip to Lucius Fontenot). I like hubris and how Captain Shreve was all, well, let's solve this traffic problem by digging a new river.  I like how we tip hats. I like how, despite all the intellectual property fears, the Internet is a credit-where-credit-is-due kind of marketplace of ideas, and how in the real world, who-did-what is of little consequence now. I like how we never really learn the lessons of credit.

  3. I drove across the Morganza Spillway/Old River Control Facility late at night a while back. It is eerie, alien country out there, at least at 1 AM it is.

    View Larger Map
    I like how the river control complex feels like one of those vast abandoned Russian sites you see on the Internet or the X-Files, something built in close but forgotten antiquity to dangerously harvest nuclear power with nothing but vastness to protect the rest of the world from what's going on there.  I like how the relationship civilization has with nature is tense in ways that we can't even comprehend because it is mediated through trappings/milestones/yokes of civilization, and yet those civilized means are the only means by which we can come to grips with the vastness of it. I like how we always give up the chase before we completely come to grips with it (anything), because we have to. Our hands are only so big and can only grip so much. I like how Google Maps lets you get the embedded map just right before you post it.
  4. I like how the whiff of impending, wet disaster leads one to the high-n-dry sanctity of lofty thinking, sweeping that nasty water away with sweeping judgments. I like the tectonic interplay of the HTML ordered list with breaks. I like how it works here and how it doesn't quite work right when the post gets cast out through an RSS feed. I like to think there is some kind of poetry in that. I like thinking everything is poetry. Or is at least fuel for poetry's fire. I like how flawed that thinking is and how we really never learn anything.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

core sample

Spied at Kerry Beary's The Atomic Pop Shop & Vintage Vinyl - adorable new record store on Gov't Street here in Mid-City Baton Rouge. The above pictured core sample of their collection might perfectly sustain me.

Roberto Bolaño, The Return
TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Lights
Damien Youth, The Citizen (hat tip to Badger Minor)
Angels of Light, How I Loved You
Current 93, Honeysuckle Aeons
Leaving, Ghost House
Ultimate Spinach, Behold & See

The Byrds, Preflyte
Yusef Islam, Roadsinger

TV on the Radio, "Second Song"

Angels of Light, "Untitled Love Song"

Ultimate Spinach, "Jazz Thing"

Monday, May 9, 2011

he has the quantities

  1. This guy's boots were the best act at Blues Fest.
Patti Smith, Radio Ethiopia
Marianne Faithfull, Broken English
Elton John, Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy
Glyn Styler, Live at the Mermaid Lounge

Richard Swift, The Atlantic Ocean
Destroyer, We'll Build Them a Golden Bridge
Chain and the Gang, Music's Not for Everyone
The Homemade Jamz' Blues Band, I Got Blues For You

  1. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever listened to "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" on purpose - like where it wasn't just playing somewhere - and wow, it's a long song. Elton John may not always have the qualities to move me, but he has the quantities. I think that's the problem I have with David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon: they got the quantities, too; it's just that by the time they start budging me, I'm ready to move on my own
  2. Someone sent me a message via Facebook asking if I was hip to Glyn Styler. I was not! It might be the first time Facebook has proven to be unexpectedly useful. Timely, in that I was considering writing off the whole platform as a time suck. The first sign of a system having gone sentient is that it maneuvers to save itself.
  3. The Destroyer guy was so more fun when he didn't really have his shit together. There is probably a Law of Thermodynamics that governs this phenomenon. The bell tower through my open window in the background mixes so perfectly with "Whistlin' Dixie (She Shoots)" it's a little heartbreaking.
  4. "Rumors" by the Homemade Jamz' Blues Band was worth all the songs that led up to it. Like maybe ever.

Liza Minelli on "Heroin"

Lamb riblets

Bass Drum of Death, GB City
Reigning Sound, Time Bomb High School 
Jason Isbell, Here We Rest
Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run
Lou Reed, Rock 'n' Roll Animal
New York Dolls, Seven Day Weekend

The river is high and only getting higher and 2006's Time Bomb High School is my favorite album of 2011 (that version of "Stormy Weather" has everything) and I don't know why I don't go Born to Run when I go Bruce because it is howling jingle-bell grace against everything and jeez, why didn't they give Lou Reed a Vegas show in 1974, just let him go all Liza Minelli on "Heroin" (in 2 parts) for an hour at the Sands and out on a sharp bend in St. James parish, Our Lady of Prompt Succor's parking lot was bursting at the seams proclaiming "It's Mothers Day" on its press-letter sign and David Johansen was going "Trash! Pick it up!" in my ears when I got to the Wal-Mart to get extra keys made and the gal there was sweeping up with the little gate to the key-making area trying to close, actually picking up the trash, and I'd've felt bad except a week ago the same gal reptile stared me down as she handed over the tire pressure gauge they'd just broken off my tire so yeah, no hard feelings, just give me my keys.

Goat shanks. My buddy John knows what to do with the cheap cuts

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'ma lick that spoon

The Baton Rouge Gallery patio at night.

The Cars, Move Like This (streaming from Rolling Stone)
Rene Hell, The Terminal Symphony (like 5 times already; it puts the rainbows in my curved air)
John Brandon, Citrus County
Steve Reich & Musicians, Music for 18 Musicians
Terry Riley, Descending Moonshine Dervishes
André Foisy/High aura'd, untitled Stunned Records tape
Now Ensemble, Awake

The Soft Pink Truth, So
Vincent Gallo, When
Sigur Ros, Agaetis Byrjun
Explosions in the Sky, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Cotton Jones, Paranoid Cocoon
Rene Hell, The Terminal Symphony (6th time)

Media: in this week's Records Crate for 225, I come off perhaps a touch more crotchety than I intended about Avett Bros and Mumford & Sons at JazzFest but yeah, they don't do it for me, recognizing I am not the for for which their doings are targeted. But whatever, go to the Baton Rouge Blues Fest this weekend. C'mon, I dare you!


Alex, I am happy to report that our Press Committee approved your project this morning by a unanimous vote. Congrats! Now we just need the final version of the manuscript...

This is a rolling two day soundtrack because the days keep rolling. Rene Hell and the Soft Pink Truth are ruling the heat-monitors that regulate my soul. It makes me want to be in that room depicted in Smog's "Prince Alone in the Studio", the lights dim and dimmer and dimmer still until one gets cleansed solely in the glow of the little meters and gauges and that even in the daytime, I feel like the world can be tempered by a bank of sliders, a plastic box with an array of knobs. I had a notion last night walking home from the bus: what if people had that little YouTube "press play" triangle superimposed over them and that only when you clicked did they do something, say something funny, do something outrageous, take off their clothes, sing a song, the kinds of things people do in embedded Internet videos. They have to be activated or they just stand frozen in their "thumbnail state."  I wondered how many people view life this way all the time and find IRL frustrating because there is no pause and no replay. Or that you can't re-upload your own projection to get it just right.

Or just click onto something else when it's too boring. All this is Technosociology Bullshit 1001 stuff, I know. But it's there, and as I just said at the Goodreads
I'm nearly done with John Brandon's Citrus Country but I feel safe in singing its praises, especially its horrific premise so artfully muted to a background murmur that you forget you are thoughtlessly, even happily galumphing alongside a total sociopath. Brandon stirs a pot of savory moral relativism simmering atop the low, sky-blue flame of the gas range of contemporary disaffection (the preferred kitchen setup of most McSweeney's books) and I'ma lick that spoon when he's done.

I dig Brian Kelly's dense screenprints up at the Baton Rouge Gallery now. About half of them have a repeated, reversed "BOLIVAR" meshed into the meshings and I finally asked him what that was about and the answer was, as always, simpler and better than what any amount of postulating will proffer.

You could fit another entire album in the space given to fading in/out on an Explosions in the Sky record.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

daydream nation

Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation

My friend Frank had a thoughtful post and great photo of the National Cemetery here in town, and his photo made me think of a candle, and then the Gerhard Richter painting Kerze that graces the cover of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation and then how in this allergin-cloud of sun-dappled spring and coming around to the notion that I might actually need to dispel the dream of immortality and finally give in to bifocals, it's all impressions and memorializing and context and daydream. Happy Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you...) and blessed day of Saint Florian of Lorch, patron of chimney sweeps and firefighters (he saved a town from a fire with single bucket of water (and prayer)) and on the walk to school, I misheard Maya say, "You know how some wizards have stinky feet?" and I was all "What are you talking about?!" while thinking, they probably do, revealing myself once again as a semi-permanent resident of daydream nation and she said "Ugh! You know how some lizards have sticky feet?!" rolling her eyes and then suddenly going "Whoa! I just caught a dragonfly!" because, whoa, she suddenly did!

Sonic Youth, "Total Trash"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

America is all wet

America is all wet. And a little chilly today.

Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws, Steppin' On
Brice Nice's Better Things to Do mixtape 
(South Louisiana 60's blues/R&B)
Stevie Wonder, Music of my Mind
Don Cherry, Brown Rice

Groove organically and universally on some Don Cherry with me. Let the brown rice absorb all that water.

Monday, May 2, 2011

There is an airplane poking out of a carport in my neighborhood.


Klaus Schultze & Rainer Boss, Drive Inn
Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express (twice)
Donovan, A Gift from a Flower to a Garden
Bee Gees, Horizontal
Steve Reich, Double Sextet 2x5

Arbouretum, The Gathering

I'm on a renewed Donovan kick thanks to Paul posting this video on his Facebook

Eartha Kitt, "Wear Your Love Like Heaven"

What can one say after that? "There is an airplane poking out of a carport in my neighborhood."? It seems a little paltry in comparison.

"Here's my weekend!"

Poblano pepper stuffed with queso, chorizo and cilantro. It looks like the Sacred Heart and fittingly, represents my own love for all of humanity. And how I like to eat that love.

It seems a touch irrelevant or maybe even irreverent to do a "Here's my weekend!" post given the big news but I don't know I have all that much to say on the big news. Thanks to everyone that works in ways that I don't even really understand to protect our freedom. Even when I don't agree with some of the methods in my limited-scope perspective, I like my freedom being protected. I like that being a goal of the Great Enterprise. It's a privilege to have the relative sanctity of one's freedom be an organizational goal.

I never want to be in the position of cheering on death, nor do I really believe in a boogeyman controlling a whole movement. "Freedom" is complicated business, one largely unaffected by any amount of heads on pikes.

Really, I just hope it comes to light that AQ high command was operating via stolen wifi from that same Abbottabad coffee shop from which the inadvertent blogger was posting.

Media: I got to talk to John Waite for 225. I am midst putting together some semblance of a Louisiana Festival Coverage post, but it's fair to say the Times-Picayune's Alison Fensterstock has pwned us all with her blow-by-blow of Tom Jones at JazzFest.
6:14 p.m. Panties are flying toward the band. The undergarments that don't make it to the stage land on the VIP ticket holders down front.
So, here's my weekend! What I heard:

Buzzcocks, A Different Kind of Tension
Mumford & Sons, Dumpstaphunk, Avett Bros., some badass Haitian drummers, Robert Plant, Wyclef Jean, Lil' Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers at Jazzfest (Friday)
Charles Mingus, Blues and Roots
The Mountain Goats, All Eternals Deck
Rev. Douglas Bell & The Stage Cruisers, Nuclear Blast
Glen David Andrews, Walking Through Heaven's Gate
Donovan, Sunshine Superman
Polly Pry at FestForAll

What I ate:


1) Chicken fricassee, sautéed spinach and fried plantains from the Bennachin booth at JazzFest. Hat tip to Blackened Out for that suggestion; 2) The requisite JazzFest mango freeze to lower one's core temperature; 3) City Park right off where I parked. I ate up this scene in the metaphoric sense; 4) Morningstar Farm Chik-N sammich elevated by farmer's market fare; 5) Peach and cream snoball at FestForAll; 6) Amazing caramelized bacon at my friend John's place. With this I turned the corner on the whole make-dessert-out-of-bacon thing; 7) More meat and bacon and sacred hearts like the one at the top; 7) Bacon in the pre-carmelization phase with John's BBQ team banner in the background. Suspicious Rinds are going to be competing at Memphis in May next week, provided the Mississippi doesn't supercrest and destroy us all.