Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Private Zoo of President Hank of Tijuana

From @Astro_Ron International Space StationCaught this marsh fire near New Orleans #FromSpace on 8/27/11 @ 7:31pm GMT NOFD allowed it to burn out (inaccessible); via Sandsteps

Four words for you: DRIVE, BY, TRUCKERS, Y’ALL + Patti Smith + Stephen Malkmus in the Record Crate for 225 Magazine

XTC, Oranges and Lemons
The Velvet Underground, Loaded
Television, Marquee Moon
The Only Ones, Special View
Small Faces, 78 in the Shade

Traffic, Welcome to the Canteen
Todd Rundgren, A Wizard, A True Star
Drive-By Truckers, Gangstabilly

  • Last night the air was thick and smoky like my neighborhood was on fire. I was walking up the street to walk Maya home from a friend's house, thinking, their house is the house on fire, I'm gonna have to walk through fire, I'll get everybody out and then one of them will go, 'the cat!' and I'll be all 'first goddamn time that cat didn't run out the door when I showed up! OK, cough, cough, wade through fire, here, kitty kitty...', then I checked Twitter and was all, whew, just a massive marsh fire! That is pretty much what parenthood is like all the time.

  • The kids informed me they are all doing the Spotify and I do all I do for the kids. I thought I didn't like their search thing, but I was all wrong about it. It's fine, plus I like that I can get my local stuff through the player. The links changes with the times. I can't testify to the mobile Spotification experience since you have to pay for that, and I already pay for Rhapsody. I can live with the ads. The play queue is a little counter-intuitive.

  • My protests against Loaded as a quality listening experience are as foolish as my ones against Spotify as a means to listen to it. When Maya was extolling her new love for XTC yesterday, she said, "That nerd at the record store was right, the one talking about Velvet Underground or whatever; he said, 'You are gonna like bands other than the Beatles and he was right.'" Mark this day, nerd; a female person said you were right about music.

  • Offbeat editor and birthday boy Alex Rawls has a great review of the new 33 1/3 books about Marquee Moon and Some Girls. Oxford American editor Marc Smirnoff has an insightful head-to-head with a former intern on the subject of internships. Any other of my editors - current, past, and prospective - out there with new articles needing a kind breeze blown up their sundress? Where y'at, Hails and Horns?

  • After that Drug Kingpin Hippos show, I'm into the idea of plutocrats and their private zoos, and particularly how the animals invariably get loose when the plutocrat falls. Do they go around and open the cages on their last Humvee ride around the compound? I might. Prince Rainier used a tour of his zoo to woo Grace Kelly. Gaddafi's son had one, and now there is nothing but peacocks roaming the grounds. Incidentally, seems to be the go to source about private zoo exposés. What do they have?

    From Wikipedia's "List of Zoos", I found out that their a shit-ton of zoos in the Philippines and that Jorge Hank Rhon, president of the municipality of Tijuana from 2004-7, had a private zoo and was

    also known as an animal lover and trader. However, his purported love for animals has been fouled by reports that many of his animals are the result of smuggling. Jorge Hank says his favorite animal is women. In 1991, he was directly linked to a failed illicit deal for an endangered gorilla, but was never formally charged.


    Hank was first arrested in 1995 at the Mexico City airport when he was caught carrying a suitcase full of articles made of ivory tusks, pearl vests and coats made from the skins of endangered ocelots, but Hank claimed that no law had been broken and the merchandise was legal. He was released on bail and was later acquitted.[21][22]

    as always with Wiki, I cannot vouch for the veracity of this story nor can I really condone their  editorializing (bold: mine) without offering a quote or something in support. I'm just saying, roll the phrase "The Private Zoo of President Hank of Tijuana" around on your tongue and see how it tastes. Like a marsh fire but better and worse at once.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My post

This was awesome!

Ed. To add, in retrospect, was not so awesome.

Ed. to add:
  • OK, today was pretty awesome. this post was originally a demonstration for #digitalbrands on the strike tag, and how to augment/correct a published post, so I will.

  • I was invited to be on WNYC's Smackdown to take on the notion that Steve Jobs was the most important person in music in the last 25 years, and while I will contend he nets the crown for finalizing, monetizing, stylizing, de-brick-and-mortaring the contemporary digital music industry, I offered Prince as my choice. I'm not the world's biggest Prince fan, but His Purple Mountain Majesty was the first to really subvert was it meant to be a big star since Elvis, how to conduct business in a digital age in his own tms, even crack the notion of a indelible branding by becoming his own anti-brand.

    Prince has managed to remain indelibly relevant, revolutionary even despite not releasing an album really worth a second listen in 23 of those 25 years. My argument can be tempered by this thought: were I to for some reason buy one of those dozen or so albums released after Graffiti Bridge, the first place I'd go is iTunes. Advantage, Jobs.

  • I also did a lecture on Baton Rouge blues for a friend's class. My ego was on the verge of imploding.

  • I didn't listen to one note of music today and I had a crappy, hastily maw-crammed lunch from Wendy's. Without music and food, I'm left with nothing to blog but my own vanity.

  • Maya took a liking to XTC's Oranges and Lemons when I payed it for her the other day and today said XTC might be her new favorite band. She said she likes how their name means "happiness". Somewhere in the time-tunnel quanta of influence, my teenage XYC-obsessed self swells with strange, distant pride.

Celebrate that

Feufollet at Lakeview Beach & Park, Eunice, LA. August 2010

Tarwater, Silur
Earth, Hibernaculum
Ogurusu Norihide, Humor
John Zorn, Femina
Olivia Tremor Control, Black Foliage: Animation Music Vol. 1
The Residents, Meet the Residents

  • I dunno, should I switch to Spotify for this? I really like the way Rhapsody does its thing but I suppose there is a public alienation that comes with the sign-in wall when/if you click on one of those links.  That's what was so nice about our fallen companion It lent itself to linkage at its core. This question really hinges on: why post these links anyway. Does anybody follow them? Am I throwing linkage at a content problem? (taps) Is this thing on?

  • I'm getting an unexpectedly nice reaction off a story about Bayou Goula's Stray Record studio featured in the latest Country Roads. I mean, it's a good piece; it's just its getting more notice than a lot of stories like it. It happens that way. Also, I have a review of Au Ras Au Ras' eponymous debut and a profile on Wye Oak in this month's OffBeat, two acts deserving every micron of attention they can muster.

  • First rule about blogging is don't talk about blogging. Second rule about blogging is don't reference Fight Club. Third, is be funny.  This #digitalbrands class has put these three rules to the test, proving their ultimate flimsiness, which is a good thing. If you can't teach yourself out of having a rule, why do it? Otherwise, you could just lay out the rules and walk away.

  • David "Honeyboy" Edwards has passed after 95 blues-heavy years. Chicago Tribune obit. I never did get to see Honeyboy play, but his records are the bomb and I understand he was a motherfucker live up through his last ramble.

    David "Honeyboy" Edwards, "Gamblin' Man" from the 2004 film Lightning in a Bottle

  • Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations in Cajun Country: It was a beautiful episode and it made me happy to see him hanging out in my favorite location covered in my book, Lakeview Park and Beach in Eunice. Here's the story that I did about it for Country Roads about a year ago. It really is one of those place that, when you visit, you feel like you made some weird, fortunate turn in your life to get you there.

    The other key is something Lolis Eric Elie said in that episode while tromping around Treme, paraphrased: I know they ate something in Ohio before McDonald's showed up. Celebrate that. Right there is the point of culture writing; not to revel in sepia of history but in the vibrant prism refraction of the present. That's the message...

    ...and the going there is the medium.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

up that parabola

The Napa burger from Fat Cow. I'd offer a shot of the Dearman's burger for comparison, but I ate it before I thought to take a photo.

Friday night:
Foster the People, Torches
Fitz & the Tantrums, Pickin' Up the Pieces
Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein

Tarwater, Rabbit Moon Revisited (twice)

XTC, Skylarking and Oranges and Lemons

  • I'm only 24 out of 636 electropages into Moonwalking with Einstein and I'm already annoyed with it. I'd throw it across the room if it wasn't in my iPad. No fault of Foer's; he's funny enough and is engaged in the standard non-fiction trope of lemme see if I can do this, that this being competitive memorizing, with the unexpected result that he becomes world champ at it. My rage is projection: my memory is a sieve and it irks me. I would be a better writer if I had a wide-swipe, annotated understanding of history or politics or anything. Even the micro subjects of which I am supposed to have some expertise, I'm shockingly ignorant about. I read somewhere that you write not to pass on what you know but to transmit what you can find out, which is either a great credo or a great cop-out, or both. I'd rather write lines through the dots I have and see what picture emerges. I am of the sort when asked Is Google Making Us Stupid?, responds: do libraries make us stupid? Do grocery lists make us stupid? and then in converse: Is it bad that clothes make us warmer? That cars make us faster and extend our physical circles? That medicine keeps us from dying the ignominious deaths of our forebearers?

    I don't believe the important part is the medium; it's the message. We need to understand the medium, to be proficient at it so that it becomes transparent. It is our job as talking monkeys to bend the technology of understanding to our will, to use it as a means to facilitate the goofy purpose of our humanity; to understand things. So if Google can put a lifetime of remembering at my fingertips, great! Thanks! I understand they have an ulterior motive in doing so. Everything has an ulterior motive. I have one. Everyone does. So, to those in Foer's book, memorizing the order of shuffled decks of cards, have fun with that. And when, through your memorizing skills, fulfill world domination plans hatched out of bitterness stemming form countless afternoons spent at shuffled deck memorization contests, have fun with that too.

  • Irony: I Googled the word prolix after seeing it in someone's FaceBook post. Dig deep enough at the X on your map and you will strike a cache of mirrors, cracked by your shovel.

  • I Googled ulterior (I always think it is "alterior", master of mediums that I am) for fun and though it is usually used in conjunction with "motive" to mean "duplicitous" or "sneaky" but really it is "further; future" (which seems like the kind of motives we should have) twisted in context to the negative - how dare there be a motive that I don't immediately understand?

  • Enough with the rabbit-hole of understanding, plus, I am unnecessarily throwing Joshua Foer under the bus. I read every post of the Atlas Obscrua site he founded, in fact squealed "I've been there!" at the recent entry on the Blythe Intaglios, thrilled that I was finally worldly enough to register on his particular map of reality.

    Joshua Foer: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and Study Yourself Failing

    This 99% talk explains what he was getting at. You push past the wall to achieve greatness or you land on the OK plateau and engage autopilot. I am a wuss like everyone; I want to emerge on the scene great and since that never happens, reach my "upper bounds of innate ability" and stay there and that is loser-talk. Experts circumvent these boundaries, climb through the balcony hanging over a locked door. They parkour the road to the palace of wisdom while the rest of us marvel at the paving stones, going "Lookit all that purty excess!" Something like that.

  • So, I don't know if this ties into it all, but I hit up Fat Cow Burgers to try a tricked out burger with arugula, pears, goat cheese with a side of duck fat fries. The place is cool; it looks like a Food Network set. You feel smart and hip for having come here, at least until the hour-wait for your hamburger takes its psychic toll and then you get it and the toppings are weird, smart, a little ingenious, but the burger itself is only OK. Then, today, I went to tried and true Dearman's, a decades old drugstore lunch counter that has outlived its drugstore, and have the same genius burger I always get there. Foer says experts collect data about what they are doing which is maybe what I do here on this blog. I don't know if I'm an expert on my data, on the media and food I take in, on what my kid is doing, but that honing is what communication is about. Its graph is an arc reaching to heaven, the limit as y approaches understanding, over an x-axis of experience, and your expertise at communication manifests as how far you can pull someone up that parabola with you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Seriously, Tarwater

Through the tint of John Devner's glasses, the soft, gentle parts of your spirit can be seen.

Foster the People, Torches
Barbara Morgenstern, BM
Tarwater, Spider Smile
Juana Molia, Un Dia
Rene Hell, The Terminal Symphony

  • Tarwater! No one ever told me they were my favorite band! Did anyone even know? They make the sound the pipe between the heart and the brain makes when you put your mouth to it and go woooooooo...

    Tarwater, "A Marriage in Belmont"

  • Great class yesterday, #digitalbrands people. Today is my teaching cohort Dr. Porter's birthday, so be sure to give him shit about being old when you see him. To be fair, he holds up well for a man of his vintage.

  • The above (John Denver's Spirit) and below (Gil Scott-Heron's Reflections) were among the covers perused at Vintage Vinyl on the way home from class. I do like having a record store right there. If they  installed a cappuccino machine and had free wi-fi, I'd be in trouble.

  • Newby maritime state hurricaners: do all your laundry beforehand because you will sweat through everything, fill up the tank of your car, get some water and charcoal for the grill and alcohol (it will be useful when trading with the teenage marauder bands) and be prepared to get the f outta dodge should the power go out for a week. There is little dignity in riding out a storm.

  • Seriously, Tarwater, y'all.

    Tarwater, "When Love Was the Law in Los Angeles"

While in the mirror of Gil Scot-Heron's shades, your fire-hardened crust is on full display.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's the two plates of greens talking.

Greens 1: spinach, speckled white beans, and andouille over rice

Richard Youngs, Lotus Edition
Marion Brown/Anthonly Braxton/Chick Corea/Andrew Cyrille/Jeanne Lee/Bennie Maupin, Afternoon of  Georgia Faun
Ornette Coleman, The Complete Science Fiction Sessions

  • Today, two different co-workers have brought in plates of homemade greens for me to try. Do I come off as vitamin-deficient? Could the cappuccino fairy be queued up behind them? Am I actually dead and this is how its playing out in the circle of virtuous pagans? Regardless: sweet!
  • I'm not one for cluttering the Internet with inspirational musings the are not my own but this is a good one:

    Jason Isbell
    I am living vicariously through myself. 
  • This seems as good a way as any to put it. I've been thinking a lot of "what we are doing when we blog" kind of thoughts in relation to the #DigitalBrands class (We should see if we can get it listed in the catalog that way!) and that is part of it: that we are creating a self out of our self, exalting what we had for lunch with a couple quick Photoshop touch-ups, detailing the mundane to lend it importance, all with the hopes that this new self can do something that our previous self couldn't.
  • I like the virtuous pagans angle in relation to one's digital life. On the Internet, you can reach an off-channel enlightenment. Or cut your own channel. Skip church to be a preacher, and because the pulpit is still being built, the rules of salvation have not been fully laid out, you can save yourself without the sanction of the divine. Your church is right next to theirs on the highway.
  • I dunno, this is getting away from me. It's the two plates of greens talking. Can you have a vitamin overdose? Can the world be too good for you and you should limit your intake of it? Is heaven knowing your limit while limbo is taking what's there? Is hell rooted in excess? If I keel over from greens O.D. and there is blogging in whichever Hereafter, I'll let you know.

Greens 2: Mustard greens with salt pork over rice

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

digital pink

Big Audio Dynamite, This is Big Audio Dynamite and No. 10 Upping Street
The Soup Dragons, Hang-Ten!
Meat Beat Manifest, Storm the Studio
  • The first day of class yesterday was awesome. Follow the #digitalbrands hashtag if you wanna see what we are up to in the specific or the #lsudmi one for the general, world-domination activities of LSU's Digital Media Initiative, in which I am tickled digital pink to be involved. There is more than a little irony in the fact that we don't have a centralized digital presence for the Initiative. I'd like to give the Visionary reason:  centralization is so old media, but really, it's the engineer reason: we are working on it.

  • Then I get back to the day gig to find out I'm moving offices. Like right now. Nothing is less new media than moving boxes of paper around.

  • My take on Watch the Throne, summarized:

    To me, Kanye West is like watching a Swarovski-encrusted Hindenberg slowly circle the mooring tower; Jay-Z is like listening to an accountant explain why rich people get tax breaks.

    can be found in this week's Record Crate for 225 as well as a groovy boogaloo take on a Tom Waits song by zydecio scion C.J. Chenier.

  • Maya and I were playing around with the clip-on LED bike lights we attach to the dog when we walk her at night.

    We clip them onto our bikes too, and wear them on little lanyards around our necks while night biking, but really, they are so cool I want to put them on everything.
  • Mid-80's rave rock turned out to be a perfect soundtrack to the greebo kinda day I'm havin'. I'm not sure any of the three are technically greebo, though any of them could interface with greebo practice. And if we'd had clip-on LED bike lights to weave into our greasy dreads or have our girlfriend's mom sew onto out baggy shorts, we'd've don it. It'd been greebo as shit.

    It may not sound like much now, but "C'mon Every Beatbox" was a virus in our ears in 1985. All our suburban misunderstandings of rap, punk, techno, England, the Bronx coalesced in Big Audio Dynamite. It was a brand new musical biscuit!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who I Am

  • You are what you eat, and this is the sandwich I had for lunch.
  • It's made from leftovers: stuffed peppers from Calandro's; fresh ingredients: tomatoes from the farmer's market, and processed ingredients: white bread from Wal-Mart.
  • The key to a good sandwich is not any one ingredient or the provenance/qualities of teh ingredients, but of how those ingredients play off each other in a synergistic way.
  • I like to think that in the practical, active sense of living, I make good sandwiches. I re-use what's there, subvert contexts, make hot things cold, etc. I can stretch a metaphor past its bounds, making it a sail that catches the prevailing wind. See? The sandwich metaphor is just as tired, but you get it. I make things and use them to say what I want to say.
  • Also, I'm loose with criteria, and that above photo was taken outside the bounds of the assignment, so here is another. Look how hard all of you are working! Look how old and gross I am and how young and alive you all are! Here's hoping you come up with something far better than anything I could think of!

quartet of stars

I wonder if Charla was trying to turn then into KISS. It would have been so awesome if she had.

The Clash, Sandinista!
Blake Butler, There is No Year

  • I was on the radio this morning and will be again this evening, (4:44 PM CST WRKF 89.3) talking about Louisiana blues artist Guitar Gable, particularly about this record:

    Guitar Gable & His Musical Kings, A: "Life Problem" / B: "Congo Mombo"

    Here's the story with the commentary on the WRKF website.

  • Maya was impressed and particularly excited that "They have a new font on the website! Remember how it used to go across the whole page?" She also offered, "Next time you can use one of my records instead of this old grandpa fart music."

  • The interior of the copy of Sgt. Peppers she got this weekend  is pleasingly defiled by its previous owner, a Ms. Charla White. We know this because her name in scrawled right above William S. Burroughs' head in the famed cover montage. There is a subject no one has broached in the perpetual bemoaning of the digital dawn: how are the youth of today going to mar up an mp3 file with their name? Scribble it on a bunch of ones and zeroes?! I swan at the implications of this new age! How can one make it "my copy" of Sgt. Peppers without a physical form? Is anything "yours" anymore?

  • Books: I finished War & War and over at the Goodreads gave it a cautious and rambling quartet of stars, a high score for a book that I'm not sure I understood at all. I dubbed its massive sentence/chapters as "zip lines to the vanishing point" and said, "you read books like War and War to confront the void and boom, there it is!"

    I started Blake Butler's There Is No Year, I guess because I never learn my lesson about difficult books. I keed, Butler has some very cool, singular things going on in his prose and the means by which he delivers his prose. This grim family account reads like an Asbergers A.M. Homes caught in the House of Leaves, spread out on grayed pages in poetic layout and really, it works, but the tiny text on gray paper is physically hard to read and maybe that's his point. Scorch Atlas was like that, set up like a waterlogged artifact from the endtimes; this is walking a different withered treeline.

    Anyway, Butler's boy finds a box or something and

    it contained the missing seventh and eighth sides of the Clash's Sandinista!, written by a presence never mentioned in the band, which when played at a specific volume at a certain vector would invoke an unremembered form of light - and a song deleted from that missing album - lyrics deleted from that song - code words deleted from that language - time -

    which to me is funny; if Sandinista! was a song longer it would have to be its own radio station.

  • I teach my first Digital Branding class, starting but an hour from now! Here's hoping the students understand digital living better than I do!

Monday, August 22, 2011

writing drunken wildfire

The jambablaya plate from Zeeland Street Market. It begs to be photographed like the grand, terraced landscape it is.

The National, Alligator
Hugo Largo, Drum
Fleet Foxes, Hopelessness Blues

Jody Redhage, of minutiae and memory
Ambache Chamber Orchestra & Ensemble, Talma: The Ambient Air / Soundshots / Full Circle
Tobe Hooper and Wayne Bell, original soundtrack to The Texas Chainsaw Masssacre

The National, "Mr. November"

The fight song. I didn't just stand up at my desk while this was playing and pretend to be fronting the National, gesticulating wildly in a manner that would rile the crowd.

Hugo Largo, "Scream Tall" Live

The face-your-inner-demons ballad. Or is it an "In your face, demons!" ballad. I used to have a cassette that just said "Brian Eno wants you to listen to something" embossed on each side, both sides containing same  thirty-minute spiel of him trying to sell me or some college radio program manager on the band Hugo Largo, particularly their album "Mettle" which he released on his Opal label. I was already way sold on Hugo Largo, in fact, had the EP version of Drum that came out before the album version Michael Stipe produced and added vocals too, and vociferously preferred it. We were vociferous about those kinds of things for fun, and yet, I thought the Brian Eno sales pitch was the flattest of tires. My friend who was also an Eno nut like me passed it on to me and I was like 'NO WAY' and then was 'oh' and passed it on further. It actually turned me off from Mettle, an album I would have otherwise probably lauded on high. Drum, though, is 4ever my jam.

Jody Redhage & Fire in July, "Sometimes There's God So Quickly"

The latest thing across my desk. Jody Redhage and the rest of her cohorts documented by New Amsterdam records make me wish I was 22 living in New York seeing these pieces performed in little hipster bars, boundlessly enthused for a microcosm, being "in the scene", writing drunken wildfire liner notes for them, being their Lester for their being my Lou, being rathole roommates maybe, and decades later recounting for whatever websites will be in twenty years a bohème about which no one was aware at the time.

Serina Chang plays "The Clocks" on April 28, 2007.

Opening titles to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The part of the day where I let Jesus take the wheel: I find that I cannot go wrong following the lead of Alex Ross or anybody from Coil.

the above gleaming pyramid

At St. Louis Cemetery

Kanye West/Jay-Z, Watch the Throne
Curren$y, Pilot Talk II
, Jive Records Presents: UGK Chopped & Screwed
Lee "Scratch" Perry, Kung Fu Meets the Dragon

Sane Our Cemeteries St. Louis Cemetery Tour, New Orleans, LA
Reuben at Stein's Deli, New Orleans, LA
The Myrtles and the Graveyard Lovers at Chelsea's, Baton Rouge, LA

Hot sausage breakfast platter at Franks's
David Bowie,The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak
Bruce Springsteen, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America
Bob Dylan, The Basement Tapes
  • A whole album of chopped & screwed remixes is a long slog just to hear UGK's "Fuck My Car" given the codeine reggae treatment but it's kinda worth it. Sometimes it takes degradation to reveal what's inside a thing.

  • Though, there are so many things in the world to enjoy, like the St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans which I've never visited before this hot weekend, things bigger than the myth of Marie Laveau the Voodoo Queen


    whose tomb is generally rendered a low-rent Twombly with XXX's scrawled by dumbasses looking to participate in easy goth hokum. Um, don't desecrate graves?

    Maya akimbo, surveying a crumbling city of the dead...

    ..right next to where Homer Plessy is laid to rest.


    Nicolas Cage bought himself a plot right around the corner in the same storied cemetery and had built upon it the above gleaming pyramid, something between a pile of cocaine and a manifestation of pure ego. No one dares desecrate Nic's grave, for he might actually have a secret entrance to it so he can wait inside in a state of ecstatic readiness, poised to go Face Off 2: Electric Boogaloo on any who but uncap a Sharpie in the radius of his divine sensitivity.

  • The more I listen to Ziggy Stardust, the more I think it might be the greatest rock 'n' roll album ever made, fully understanding that it is meta-rock of the highest order. I also understand I might like meta-rock more than the thing itself.

    But really, what doesn't "Starman" have within its bounds? We will be singing the chorus as a lullaby to post-Earth children tethered to their cribs in the space colonies.

  • It was a weekend of swimming pools and lawnmowers and great breakfasts and friends and after the last swimming party I found myself in the position of bringing all the girls home, or at least four of them including my own (which seems a weird thing to say because, own? In what sense is that true even if it's the right word for it?) scattered around the city and it took a full hour of driving, listening to the conversations shift and bob with each drop-off and I'm thankful for a lot of things in my life, but maybe most of all is I love all these kids with which mine is enmeshed. They go to a parfait of schools and the circle remains unbroken largely because the parents all like each other. We are all just off enough to fit with each other and not really fit elsewhere, which is a particularly sweet spot in which to live.

  • Speaking of all that, I watched every clip available for Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, a documentary on Anselm Kiefer who, like Bowie, engages in a sort of meta-art, creating art that trumps the art it meta's. This clip gives me chills.

    All other art making is like watching paint dry.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

another star in the negative space

Cabaret Voltaire, Red Mecca and The Original Sound of Sheffield, '78/'82, Best Of
Chrome, Blood on the Moon
Gong, Magic Brother
Hawkwind, Zones
C. J. Chenier, Can't Sit Down

  • Continuing the Anglo-mosquito, depresso-mutato rock block that got me through yesterday. I find a Geiger counter, data poetry charm in this music. It is a dream catcher for those too poorly wired to sleep. It is the juice fresh squeezed from a Timex quartz crystal.

    Cabaret Voltair, "Silent Command"

  • I read this thing about the Tea Party in Ohio this morning and ugh, I hate reading diatribes from the opposition to neo-conservatism as much as I hate hearing the original sentiment, which I do in fact personally oppose. In forwarding reports like these, I feel I am loading cannons for both ships so I can go row my sad little boat around between them afterwards. That said, Timothy Snyder's "As Ohio Goes:  A Letter from Tea-Party Country"  in the New York Review of Books exposes lumpen pawnism with such beautiful, cocksure prose:

    It is hard not to smile, I’ll admit, at farmers who plant genetically-engineered seeds six days a week and (like Michele Bachmann) deny evolution on the seventh. One church in Clinton County features a giant pink plastic replica of a horseshoe crab in its garden. Every so often Evel Knievel’s former bodyguard jumps it with a motorcycle. The arthropod is a refugee from the Creation Museum in Kentucky, where it took up space that was needed for a parking lot. The crab is supposed to prove that evolution never happened, since its basic form has remained unchanged.

  • Smart. There are two indelible symbols of the childhood America I witnessed celebrating itself in 1976. The first is the then ubiquitous bicentennial logo (above), implying America's own dubious greatness with another star in the negative space formed by closed circuits of open associations. The designer, Bruce N. Blackburn, also did the NASA logo, the other icon that encapsulates my frittering nostalgia for when America was awesome.

    Chrome, "Blood on the Moon"

  • The second symbol is Evel Knievel. The original poster for this video of Evel Knievel jumping the Snake River Canyon  (embedding disabled) said:

    For you's that may not know anything about your community or forgot, did anyone else remember Evil [sic] when he came to your community in the middle 70's? I did!

    Another commented.

    @ChuckieInMT My dad painted the Skycycle. I used to sit in it while he was working on it. I still have pictures of the progress of it.

  • Imagine! I never met Evel Knievel but I did see Elvis' car, and I think I saw the Harlem Globetrotters play a hapless high school team in an exhibition match in Keokuk, IA, circa 1977 or so, but I'm not sure. I may just be wanting to have seen it. I got the cousin who I would have likely gone with working on a fact-check.

    While looking for data myself, I came across this in Joel Zoss and John Bowman's Diamonds in the Rouge: the Untold Story of Baseball, about Bud Fowler, the first African-American to play professional baseball. He signed for Keokuk's team, The Keokuks, for the single year they played in the Western League in 1885, and bounced around a number of other teams for the remainder of the century. Then he formed...

    ...a crack squad that combined Harlem Globetrottter-like showmanship with demonstrations of athletic mastery. He had previously engaged in walking and running exhibitions; his baseball survival skills reached their zenith in 1899 when he organized the All-American Black Tourists, whom he made available for play attired in full-dress suits with silk umbrellas. (link)

    The Keokuks 1885 lineup.
    Identifications: Back row: Schomberg, O'Brien, Bud Fowler, Corcoran, Decker. Middle row: Harrington. Front row: Kennedy, Van Dyke, Dugdale, Hudson, Harter.

  • Edited to add: this blackest of all black planets just discovered deserves its own bullet point among the stars in negative space.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the lineage of innovation

  • Wednesdays are fried chicken day at the State Police Cafeteria. If you know me at all, you will know that a civil servant lunch, the kind toward which old men with pensions look forward every day, prepared by prison trustees who have a sweet repartee with the cops and involves fried chicken and green beans with new potatoes and rice and gravy is right where I'm at, spiritually speaking. It at least deserves its own top-level bullet point.
Last night:
Ringo Starr, Very Best Of
T. Rex, Electric Warrior
Eleanor Friedberger, Last Summer

Heaven 17, Penthouse and Pavement
Bush Tetras, Boom in the Night
Fad Gadget, Fad Gadget by Frank Tovey

  • I had something really potent to say about Heaven 17, something I sweated out while walking the dog back from dropping Maya off at school, but it's gone now. Just as well. I was playing Electric Warrior for Maya last night trying to sell her on it and she wasn't buying, and then suddenly, I wasn't either. That Malcolm Gladwell book has a great chapter about Ron Popeil and the lineage of innovation and sales inherited from his father Samuel. There is a great vignette of the producers at QVC letting out a cheer when Ron Popeil finishes his record-breaking set. We have an offshoot of the Pocket Fisherman - literally, it shoots the hook out in a capsule-like projectile that becomes the bobber - tangled up in its own line in a corner of the trunk of our car. It was the only thing Maya wanted for Christmas a while back.

    Heaven 17, "Let's All Make a Bomb"

  • I continue my smittenness with Eleanor Friedberger in this week's Record Crate for 225. After being sufficiently bored shitless with T. Rex, Maya asked if we could listen to that "Inn of the Seventh Ray-ray-ray-ray-ray" woman. Yes. Forever.

    Eleanor Friedberger, "Inn of the Seventh Ray"

  • Hey! The administrative emails are circulating: I'm gonna be co-teaching LSU's MC 4971 - Special Topics in Mass Communication  with my friend Lance this fall. It is gonna be so special, dude. And topical! Can't wait to read my stellar Hot Professor rating! Jerri had to escort some incoming foreign students around campus yesterday and one of them asked what you call the professors: Dr.? Mr.? Sir?I'm going to have to come up with something!

  • On top of that, I think I actually have now written all the writing my book needs! And just in time, for this incredible  account of Wells Tower traveling in Iceland and Greenland with his dad is making the rounds and holy crap, he's good. He describes a bar named Bar at the opening, and I don't need that kind of competition in the bar description business.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Randolph Mantooth as Fireman John Gage"

The art of fiction. See bullet no. 5.

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Mirror Traffic (streaming at NPR)
Stephin Merritt, Obscurities (streaming at Paste)
Beirut, The Rip Tide (steaming at NPR)
Chicago Underground Duo, Sion
John Zorn, Masada: Live in Jerusalem
John Coltrane, Living Space
  • I heard the first line of Mirror Traffic as I caught you streaming at NPR, which: brilliant!, but really it's I caught you streaking in your Birkenstocks, which: oh. Same difference, in a way. Also, I was at a bar this weekend and turned to my friend and said, "Wait, is this the Rockford Files theme?" and he was all, "er... this is Stevie Wonder."

  • And while we are going down 70's TV show theme rabbit hole, "Randolph Mantooth as Fireman John Gage" is the manliest sentence ever committed to title credits. "Julie London as Dixie McCall, R.N." has its own archetypal hotness.

  • Emergency! was the *best* show when I was eight and once a tree caught fire in our yard - my father was a teacher at the high school and our house got rolled - and they had to call the fire department right in the middle of the homecoming game. The big, townwide alert sirens went off and a stream of cars zoomed past our house on the way to the fire station, then the fire trucks all came. My father had tried to put out the fire with a hose that wouldn't reach, making the leaves on hill where the tree slippery. It was pure organic slapstick with firemen in full gear trying to get up there to put out a puny tree fire, right outside my window. Greatest moment of my childhood.

  • You ever listen to John Coltrane's Living Space? Me either. There are so many. On the title track, he overdubs himself on soprano, playing just off phase to make a living space, dig? It's more than a little magical.

  • I wrote a bit of fiction last night; I mean it was actual fiction and not just a conglomerate of dicey,  dubious facts under the auspice of hopefully being non-fiction. Really, it was fact-slightly-turned-to-become-fiction, a hijacking of lives to which I am privy. I've talked to a few people lately and that's how they do it so I thought I'd give it a shot and it came out OK, though I have trouble putting believable words in someone else's mouth. That's the trick, right? It's like that sandwich up there. I bought the chicken and the mayo and the celery and almonds, I made the chicken salad, I put the chicken salad on the sandwich, I took a picture of the sandwich, and then ate the sandwich. The art of fiction is to starting exposing the story somewhere around the eating.

Monday, August 15, 2011

spellcaster version

Gettin' judicious at Vintage Vinyl.

Andrej Blatnik, You Do Understand
Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw
Patti Smith, Twelve
Lou Reed, Animal Serenade
Blitzen Trapper, Wild Mountain Nation

László Kasznnahorkai, War and War
Ringo Starr, Ringo

  • On You Do Understand: This was a great blur of a book, devoured in the time it took my daughter to find her books at the library. It is 60-odd stories on 80-odd pages, white space taking up both a big chunk of Blatnik's prose and the book itself. A quantifiably high majority of the microstories cover this arc: you play the movie of your life, whether it's one you wrote/directed/starred in or simply rented and watched; you press pause and ponder the rictus of the characters caught in mid speech, sigh at the eternal suspended animation of a sleeping one night stand as you slip on your shoes in the dark; then you press play again and the movie is totally different, or maybe you weren't following the plot is closely as you thought. (****, x-posted at Goodreads)

  • Also, I would add: I like a short book.

  • Twelve is mostly great, Patti Smith as the old gal at Karaoke Nite catching your ear suddenly opening up that PBS tote bag slung on her bony shoulder to release the locusts and yr all dead, husks serrated with bug bites and she's still doing the chorus like how karaoke makes you do - see her spellcaster version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", esp. around the 3:30 mark

  • But even Patti Smith can't save "Everybody Wants to the Rule the World" from itself. The only time I've every heard somebody transcend the syrup in which the tune's admirable sentiments are suspended was when Debbie Landry did it at the long gone Alligator Bayou Bar because it was laden with tragedy; no one here was going to rule anything. The story originally appeared in Country Roads.

  • Dude, everybody plays on Ringo. A guy at the record shop gave Maya the thumbs up for her choice because all four Beatles appear on it, but Marc Bolan, James Booker, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson too. I almost have her sold on Bowie and the Clash, if I can get her into T. Rex, my work will be complete. Also, we got word the band to which she's been assigned at the music studio/rock band lessons situation is named Black Diamond. Whooooo!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

from which the baloney comes

The fresh country baloney at Cochon. It's like a map of the moon. A baloney moon.

Patti Smith, Easter
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
Fucked Up, David Comes to Life
Drive-By Truckers, Go-Go Boots

The plate from which the baloney comes.

Patti Smith, "Ghost Dance"

I am newly smitten with Patti Smith's problematic Easter, particularly the cult assimilation jam "Ghost Dance". Ive listened to it 6 times in 2 days. If she asked me to hand out flowers at the airport right now I might do it.

The manager of the Rock N Bowl is so good at hula hoop he replicates the still nucleus of a hydrogen atom encircled by a single, crucial electron, completing his nature.

Cold soba noodles at Whole Foods. Perhaps in their cold, unsalted WFM blandness can grounding be found. I might even have a green tea later to see my baloney consumer Zen process into the cloudland of enlightenment. Or I might go to the pool. Or just fall asleep right here on the couch with the rest of my family. We shall live again. xo,zz,namaste

Friday, August 12, 2011

You need a trip on the Davis ship!

This has to be the most precious office desk tableau on the Internet. Oh... I used to like to work to vinyl but now I prefer working to shellac. Do you see my book in the background? See what I did there?

The Tony Williams Lifetime, Ego
tUnE-yArDs, W H O K I L L
Vivian Girls, Everything Goes Wrong
Kurt Vile, Childish Prodigy
Curb Your Enthusiasm

Matthew Barney, Cremaster 2 on YouTube

Giant Sand, Black Out
Jimmie Davis 78's
Dickie Landry, Solo
Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, Messiaen: Meditations
Wye Oak, Civilian

In between:
Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw

James Gleick, The Information
Eleanor Friedberger, Last Summer
Peter Bruntnell, Black Mountain U.F.O.
More 78's
Blitzen Trapper, Destroyer of the Void
Lou Reed & John Cale, Songs For Drella: A Fiction

Patti Smith, Peace and Noise and Easter
László Kasznnahorkai, War and War
  • Thursday was supposed to be a writing/errand day but it pleasantly diverted into a 78rpm appreciation of the weirdness of the Singing Governor Jimmie Davis. What you need is a trip, a trip on the Davis ship!

    Jimmie Davis, "I Got News For You"

  • I don't know what the Cremaster film cycle is about, nor am I sure that they are about anything, and I have not been able to watch one all the way through, and yet, I still think they are great. The bit in C2 where they part a curtain of bees and boom! there is a vagina (1:15) being penetrated by a penis that has a beehive at the tip (4:45) is something. And the bit with the drummer from Slayer sorta being Johnny Cash is cool.

    Matthew Barney, Cremaster 2 Part (2/9)

  • I did get a lot of work done on the day I took off from work so I could work on my other work. I don't know if that is the American Dream or the rude awakening from it. Made me think of this:

    Lou Reed & John Cale, "Work"

  • I love smart TV sitcoms. They are like finding a Godiva truffle at the bottom of a bag of store brand iced cookies.

  • I brought Maya's record player up to the office to record a thing broadcasting soon on Public Radio and now I'm gonna crackle out this Friday out with a bunch of old 78's from my grandma's house that likely haven't been played since this very day in 1877 when Thomas Edison completed his first phonograph. More than once already I've been too distracted to flip the record over,and the crackly hiss of the needle bouncing off the center label is the best white noise generator there is.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

trace intersections with chaos

This is at the Bullring in Brimingham during Monday night's riots

Portugal. The Man, In the Mountain In the Cloud
László Kasznnahorkai, War and War
Margaret and the Nuclear So-and-So's, Buzzard
Malcolm Middleton,
Long Dark Night
Richard Youngs, Amplifying Host
Boris, Japanese Heavy Rock Hits V.3 - "16:47:52..."
The Soft Pink Truth, So

Joe Farrell, Outback
  • The riots in Birmingham UK went down right outside of my sister-in-law's apartment, where we stayed last Christmas. She is OK, but the Tesco on the opposite corner where we bought milk and hi-octane cold medicine was looted. We passed by the Bullring shopping center every time we walked to the train station. Maya and I braved the Boxing Day crowds there, right before the big VAT increase.

    alexchristmas 032
    Here is Maya fixin' to bite it on the ice outside Selfridges at the Bullring.

    Christmas10 030
    Here's hoping the Dragon Inn made it through the night. I could go for a black and white and a sausage buddy right about now.

  • It's a dissociative thing to see places you recognize on the news. "Turn on the News" came around from Zen Arcade yesterday and I remember seeing a particular street corner outside the convention center in New Orleans filled with evacuees during Katrina, or when Zeitoun rowed his boat to a drugstore I've been to a number of times. You are connected and not at all.

    Hüsker Dü, "Turn on the News"

  • It's also a mark of a rather pampered life that I have the luxury of just dissociation spooling out from these trace intersections with chaos. Imagine how someone in a war-torn place feels every day. I can't. That's what made the composer story in Andrew Ervin's Extraordinary Renditions so good, you felt he did get it, or at least got at someone who did. The Liberia episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations was on last night, not the best food episode, but one where the series turned into something bigger. I wonder how people see progress in what looks like rubble when I consider the stacks of paper on my desk a somewhat hopeless situation.

  • It got me thinking about the difference between perspective and focus: how much you can see vs. what you look at. War and War is a dizzying proponent of the latter, each numbered section a page-long sentence of subjects trapezing across grammatical continuity rules, each portraying one facet of an incident down to the molecule. Thing is, its actually as easy read once you submit to it, unlike Beckett's novels - probably the easiest comparison - which are Sisyphean trudges. War and War is like a repeated suspension of the air-time in a bunch of bike jumps, except with the ramps set pathetically low.

    But anyway, the focus of W&W's narrators are that of jewelers, free from distractions unless they should impeded on the purview of the loupe and then they become catastrophic, which again, is a perspective issue. Can we only focus when we limit perspective? Can we only gain perspective when we let go of focus? I expect my photographer friends can answer this with a well, duh, and thus this diatribe will only serve to further explain why my photos are so terrible.

  • Part of my eye problems is that they don't really work in unison; they sort of flicker back and forth and thus I don't actually have real perspective, only an estimated one, so explained a doctor once. That might explain some things. Maybe I have no business even discussing perspective and should just stick to focus.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fire ants consume a gnome

Fire ants consume a gnome.

Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Paul McCartney, Ram
Pink Floyd, Meddle
Eleanor Friedberger, Last Summer
Love, False Start

Hüsker Dü, Zen Arcade
Chapstik, Barnburner

Brandon White, Everything Is a Weapon
  • I finally joined LinkedIn. Welcome, fellow architects of destiny, to a partnership in progress! The first thing I offer is this picture of fire ants consuming a gnome. Are you an ant or are you a gnome? Let's get a coffee and strategize! Your treat!

  • I'm not a Paul fan, really more of a George guy as things pass, but have always liked "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey".  It's where he lets his slobbering dogs off the leash to terrorize the nice people who picnic in the verdant landscaping of his usual songcraft. But I appreciate how much Robert Christgau hates it:

    "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" is a major annoyance. I tolerated McCartney's crotchets with the Beatles because his mates balanced them out; I enjoyed them mildly on McCartney because their scale was so modest; I enjoy them actively on "Monkberry Moon Delight" because it rocks and on "Smile Away" because it's vulgar and funny. But though nothing else here approaches the willful rhythm shifts and above-it-all silliness of the single, most of the songs are so lightweight they float away even as Paulie layers them down with caprices. If you're going to be eccentric, for goodness sake don't be pretentious about it. (Grade - C+)
    - © R. Christgau/Village Voice

    Y'all have seen The Ultimate Negative Christgau Review, right? I particularlu like "Expert on tenderoni".

  • Is the first half of "Uncle Albert" a Pink Floyd parody? Probably not, given the timeline, but it sounds like one. I couldn't tell you the last time I listened to a Pink Floyd album, even part-way through. Not out of any particular bias against them. I went through my Floyd phase right after my Beatles one, and didn't as much burn myself on them as move onto Eno and then the rest of my life.

  • To all who recoil at the Alan Parsonry of Bon Iver's "Beth/Rest" - shoo... it's a lone tapestry of sound on an album otherwise stitched together from carpet samples. I'm not offering that as a token of redemption for the record, Bon Iver is a windchime in a doldrum. Maybe he just blew his artistic wad on that Emma chick. I'm just saying that in complaining that "Beth/Rest" is too too, you are addressing the wrong problems with this record.

  • I feel compelled to explain that there was a coffee break between Love and Hüsker Dü, just in case you new LinkedIn readers are concerned over continuity issues that do crop up here from time to time. If I had a crest it would have I feel compelled to explain writ in gold leaf across the bottom and you would defreind me or whatever the term is in LinkedIn. You'd link out. So good thing I don't have one! Welcome aboard!

    Hüsker Dü, "Never Talking To You Again"

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The meat I've eaten

Chicken with a rub of powdered, dried chorizo concocted and executed by my buddy John. I took a bite and was subsequently mad at my entire life up to that moment which was not spent eating this.

"Mr. Wipe Me Down"

The balloon festival was largely a bust due to thunderstorms, but the brave souls of the Raisin' Canes crew fired up with their badass burners.

Some people rock their band auditions.

This was some kind of crosscut pork rib situation of John's. The meat I've eaten off this very tray... Unpictured: laser tag, beer, swimming, couples coming apart at the seams, mishearing about couples coming apart at the seams, bookstore browsing, Hex Bug village building, groceries, withering under the sun's cruelty.

David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
John's George Jones-heavy country mix
The Clash, London Calling
László Kasznnahorkai, War and War

All in all, the weekend was a splendid mélange of the classic and the ridiculous with considerable overlap. It's how I imagine Mr. Wipe Me Down conducts his leisure, or how I would were I he.

Friday, August 5, 2011

a glow coming from my heart area

Is it a kolache or an accurate picture of my heart area?

Booker T. Jones, The Road from Memphis
Harlem Underground Band, Harlem Underground Band

Raphael Saddiq, Stone Rollin'
Fitz & the Tantrums, Pickin' Up the Pieces
Talib Kweli, Gutter Rainbows
Dave Eggers, Zeitoun

Mia Doi Todd, Cosmic Ocean Ship
Lynn Drury, Sugar on the Floor
Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stone Flower
Tristeza, Fate Unfolds
Bon Iver, Bon Iver

  • I'm sure I said this back when I was a twenty-year-old pretentious thrift-store record enthusiast, but even now at times I wonder why I listen to anything but Booker T. records. His corniest records are still infused with thick honey spun off the nipples of muses. Maya latched right onto the drumming in his remake of "Crazy" when it came on the radio coming home from the pool.

    Booker T. Jones, "Crazy"

  • Get that cheeba, get through this heat wave. Not like it will make it any better, but it will make it less worser. That is Geroge "Give Me The Night" Benson on guitar up in there. "Smokin' Cheeba Cheeba" has a groove so tight, an echo so cavernous, I accidentally had it playing simultaneously from two different sources, out of sync, while putting this post together and I didn't really notice. Or mind when I did.

    Harlem Underground Band, "Smokin' Cheeba Cheeba"

  • I like his style though find Raphael Saddiq's neo-soul comes off a little thin and dry, but, man, I wish I looked half as good in a suit as he does. I'd settle for looking as good as one of the minor Tantrums.

    Fitz & the Tantrums, "Money Grabber" = my good times fun jam of the summer.

  • I talked the other day about feeling a phantom ringtone in my leg; today, I've been running around with my phone in my shirt pocket glowing like E.T.'s love and now it is sitting over on the desk, I detect a glow coming from my heart area, only in the corner of my eye, not when I look right at it. Perhaps I should eschew all electronics for the weekend and just stare at the moon, reset my gyroscope with the clock of the tides. Something. There's the balloon festival this weekend; I can look at that.

    Tristeza, "Manitas"

  • I finished Zeitoun in the wee hours of today and walked away from it with this: I blow up at work or cast darts through my social circle or do whatever crappy thing I do in the course of my daily humanity and then bounce it up against Zeitoun's dedication and suffering and persistent great attitude and I feel like a worm, so thanks for that Mr. Eggers! Once I'm over that feeling, though, I'm inspired by this story to be a kinder and more patient person.

    Bon Iver, "Wash."