Sunday, December 30, 2012

end of the line


The Doors (directed by Oliver Stone)
The Doors, L.A. Woman (40th Anniversary Edition)

I'm not wholly convinced of the popular consensus that the Doors are a categorically terrible group. When did the tables turn on the Doors? They were such a great rite of passage band. Easy danger. Is there no longer a need for rock 'n' roll to be transgressive? Like at all? I've been trying to put together a top 10 list and reading others' lists for inspiration and it all seems fine, just fine music, but without a lick of danger in any of it. I was on the radio last year talking smack about late career R.E.M. saying they sanded down the edges of the '90s and I feel the same thing is happening now with kumbaya nature of indie rock. Maybe I'll get my list together. The only record on it I feel strongly about is Free Reign by Clinic so I'll put that at #1.

I will concede with confidence that The Doors the movie was and is terrible. The worst part is it reminded me of every lizard-king heavy conversation I ever had about them, ones in which I was a believer and ones in which I was an eye roller.

It is also, in its "trippy" parts, a cinematically desperate and lukewarm Kenneth Anger ripoff. Jimmy Page got himself a curse thrown on him for crossing Kenneth Anger.

Here's the music that got Jimmy cursed.

Here's Kenneth Anger's ritualistic 1973 film Lucifer Rising with a soundtrack by Bobby Beausoleil before he got in with Charlie Manson. It's not my favorite of his, but it has its merits, among which are a pert Marianne Faithful trotting around some stone stairs and then looking high.  Be forewarned in this careful age; there is some nudity. And witchcraft; weren't we as a nation a little scared of witchcraft early on in 2012? Oliver Stone should make a movie about the Page/Anger/Beuasoleil thing. Let Clinic do the music. Give Kenneth Anger $10 million for special effects. It would be like Fitzcarraldo except with devil magic.

I did on Saturday groove with clear conscience on this number. Let me tell you about Texas radio and the big beat!

Sunday (courtesy Matt's and Gregor's best of 2012 lists at Captain's Dead)
Allah-Las, Allah-Las
Sun Kil Moon, Among the Leaves
Divine Fits, A ThIng Called Divine Fits
Woods, Bend Beyond
Water Liars, Phantom Limb
The District Attorneys, Slowburner
Clinic, Free Reign

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The trip down to the end of the line in Cocodrie to eat at Sportsman's Paradise and to pick up the dog from my parents' house was a success and a excess.

I intended to make some resolutions here at the end of the line for 2012 but instead I wrote two articles for my book and met one of my deadlines early for next week and paid January's bills already. Intention be damned. 2013 will be an action year! Yeah! Feel the heat! See you in hell, 2012!

Actually, 2012 was a pretty active year for yours truly. I published a book that seems to be actually selling reasonably well. I actually had a hard time finding a copy right before the holidays. I got to go to some festivals and be an expert. I became a college professor. I wrote some songs and sang and played some songs in public. I read a lot, did a lot, ate a lot, listened to a lot. I figured out some key things in this writing gig. I figured out a few things in general. It's not a bad haul. This could be a perfect time to put a link to "The End" but I'll refrain. Restraint is another thing I learned. Break on through, y'all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

forgive forgive forgive

William Kentridge, Stereoscope

Drawing vs. erasing. Connecting vs. splitting apart. Gathered vs. alone. Classic vs. modern. This little drawn masterpiece of world-spilit-in-two by William Kentridge is the perfect counterpoint to our third day at Disney World. Each day we hit the parks (so far: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom + Downtown Disney; tomorrow: Epcot) at gate opening, a strategy of master Disney strategist Jerri, my wife.

Everybody else is in hotel mode where they all pile on each other in a hotel room and then have the disappointing hotel breakfast and then the showers and then and then and then go to the park when everyone else does and it becomes the Disney World everyone hates. We do our thing, annotated lists in hand, hit it and quit it before the masses even queue up for the buses. Everyone else is sweating the complicated FastPass system while we have ridden everything before you need them. We have our system down. Jerri could write a book about making Disney World work.

We had a Time Rover to ourself at the Dinosaur ride.

Tower of Terror remains the best ride at Disney World though the new (to us) Expedition Everest - it goes backwards at some point  - is pretty boss. They all deal in the same story: we have a vast system here and everything is under control except now something has gone wrong and you are experiencing that wrong thing.

Bounce that idea against Old Walt's classics like Peter Pan's Flight (my favorite)  and Haunted Mansion - complete visions larger than you can actually see, plunged in darkness to reveal what glows in life. They are funny and thrilling and scary without pushing it. They are momentary perfect worlds.

We were trying to figure out how many times we've done Magic Kingdom/Disneyland which says a lot about how many times we have. Maya was even kinda bored at Disney World today which, as we expected, signifies an End. We are taking a quick run through Epcot to get it off our list and so I can see the geodesic sphere for myself and then home.


But, Kentridge.... We walked by the mid-construction new Snow White Thing, peeked through a sanctioned chink in the fence at the shocking tangle of girders and insulation panels. It is jarring to see something in flux amid a place so complete and contoured as Magic Kingdom. We all thought it looked cool the way it is now. I think they should make it some Hall of Presidents thing about architecture but then I've been making Hall of Presidents jokes this whole time, saying it's the only ride I want to go on, to the point that I have it on the brain. I'm picturing an Avengers-type movie superhero-team adaptation about Hall of Presidents to piggy back the current Lincoln craze. They could battle Robot Stalin or something. Fun fact:

Each one of the first 43 presidents were sculpted by Disney artist Blaine Gibson. Gibson, who is 90 years old, handed over the reins to his protégé Valerie Edwards, who created President Obama’s figure under his supervision. (vis

The whole Snow White thing looked erased and redrawn in the construction dust and this afternoon, park weary, dinking around the vast UBUWeb video treasure trove came across William Kentridge again and aha! That's what it triggered. Kentridge animates by drawing and then erasing, leaving traces of the erasure as some sort of cosmic dust of creation. There is the little blue line shakily drawn between the ideal and the reality. That's what lies around every meticulously detailed curve.


Our hotel is the Art in Animation Resort - themed around drawing the magic on which this whole dream is based. My daughter couldn't wait to leave Disney World to draw anime characters with the new pens Santa brought her.

Weirdly, a few things did break down for us while we were here. The giant boulder didn't roll out during the Indiana Jones Stunt show and we had to stop to remember if it was part of the something-went-wrong shtick or did something go wrong? Our monorail ride was continually delayed by another train on the track. Er... isn't there just the one track? Speakers were too loud. Christmas music filled us past the saturation point. In the pool yesterday we heard "Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" pm the PA, "Jingle Bell Rock" from the poolside DJ trying to get little soaked kids to twist and limbo, and "Santa Baby" on the speakers you can only hear underwater.  It was not quite what the Fall would have it, Disney's dream debased - I thought this song might be about when someone died on the monorail but it came out way before that. Could be anything. - but it seemed to miss the mark of that perfect flight over Peter Pan's London.

Christmas night I did a load of clothes in the hotel's poolside laundromat. A grandma told a kid they were not going to Magic Kingdom tomorrow because the kid asked too many questions. A dad (not me) was drinking alone at the Nemo-themed bar next to the laundromat. The Drop Off. As the cacophony of Christmas music converged in the night air. As children shivered from the pool, fully spent on a day of magic. As the sun set over the fake Lion King mountains to the West. As the last bell jingled on Christmas.

A cynic has no place in the kingdom of magic and despite my being a smartass and a critic and a corner-cutter and an occasional Gloomy Gus and a get-by-on-charmer and whatever else I am, I am no cynic. This might seem like a cynical Disney post, what with constriction debris and dour existentialist cartoons and the Fall, but it isn't. We might be done with Disney World for now and even a little relieved to be but I still love it. The bit at the end of the Kentridge's terrifying little reduction of human conflict, where it says give and then forgive over and over is the key. Forgive it all. Forgive forgive forgive. Do that and everything is magical. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

bring you some banana pudding

Gumbo at the Skyhook Cafe

Clinic, Bubblegum
Kurt Vile, Childish Prodigy
Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One

Guided By Voices, The Bears for Lunch  and Class Clown Spots a UFO
Cold Specks, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion
Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains, Plaine inondable
Baxter Dury, Happy Soup
Django Django, Django Django
Tame Impala, Lonerism

Otis Taylor, Otis Taylor's Contraband
Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Weasels Ripped My Flesh

Elvis Costello & the Imposters, The Delivery Man
Andreya Triana, Lost Where I Belong


Dr. John, Locked Down
Bill Fay, Life is People
Goatsnake, Flower of Disease
Ash Borer, Cold of Ages

Frank Zappa, Over-Nite Sensation
Gentle Giant, Live in Rome 1974 and Free Hand
Premiata Forneria Marconi, Storia Di Un Minuto
Rush, 2112

Mem Shannon, A Cab Driver's Blues
Royal Southern Brotherhood, Royal Southern Brotherhood
Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Grand Isle

This week of music and a gumbo/banana pudding lunch at the Skyhook Cafe was as good away as any to close out this year. There is a top ten books and music list in the works but it might not be finalized before we bug out of town for the holidays.

So, if I don't get it done, just like all the things I didn't get done this year and if I don't see you until it's next year, have a good one.

Here's hoping the holidays will treat you like the Skyhook does and will bring you some banana pudding on the house if you are last person in the door.


Friday, December 14, 2012

colored pencils and safety scissors

Baton Rouge Adult Music Club, "Lonely Man".

We played at the Beauregard Town Art Walk. I wrote this song in the car when I went to Nashville a couple of weeks back and it's very weird to see it come to fruition on that kind of timeframe.

William Dalrymple, In Xanadu
Mogwai, A Wretched Virile Love and Earth Division
Everything by Dirty Three on Spotify
Madleine Peroux, Bare Bones
Nico, Desertshore

This was actually Friday.

But I've been thinking about it all week. This is kinda what I do at my job and Hans Rosling says it with more dynanism than I can muster. Watch this if you haven't already, and watch it again if you have. It holds up.

Brother Jack McDuff, Down Home Style
The Meters, Struttin', The Meters and Look-Ka-Py-Py

Wednesday & Thursday, who knows? I was in meetings.

Metallica, Ride the Lightning
Motörhead, Rock 'n' Roll

Marie Menken, "Go! Go! Go!"

I'm completely transfixed with this little movie, this little idea exploded into genius. I might write an article about Marie Menken. I'm at least going to go get the book I read years ago that tells her story.


This is from the stage at my college's graduation which is a lot of pomp and ceremony except it's a real thing too and it is something to be responsible in some way for another person doing things down the line.

I was thinking during our after-ceremony faculty lunch about sitting with these kids on one room one moment and an auditorium the next and how life's pace is sped up and how that trajectory is a rope ladder woven from hope and intention and then word got out that another group of students were sitting in a room in Connecticut with colored pencils and safety scissors one moment and then were gone and oh and shit and Jesus Christ and now what can anyone think?

Friday, December 7, 2012

the chain I am swinging

Ravi Shankhar, A Morning Raga/An Evening Raga
MV & EE with the Bummer Road, Play Elias McDaniel's Who Do You Love
James Blackshaw, Love Is the Plan, The Plan is Death and All Is Falling
Scott Walker, Bish BoschDavid Sylvian, Dead Bees on a Cake

Public Image Ltd., "Public Image" on YouTube, three times in a row
Don Cabellero, Singles Breaking Up and Don Caballero 2
Marc Almond, Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters and Vermin in Ermine

My friend Fred Weaver once wrote a great Don Caballero tour diary for Chunklet. You don't even have to know Fred or Don to appreciate it, but it probably helps.

I'm about to administer my first final exam. I'm sick with power. I'm like that demon on the cover of Dio's Holy Diver, except the chain I am swinging is my students' academic futures.

Speaking of howling demons doing things,  I cannot get into Scott Walker. I don't get why not. It should be right in my curious wheelhouse: brooding, cathartic, angst-ridden, egregiously arty, touched with madness - it is basically the sonic equivalent of my boutique cupcake order, but I don't like his records at all.

I said of Walker's previous effort The Drift:

The songs generally have the lugubrious pace of a coal barge on the River Styx that has broken its moorings, but somehow they pull you in, until they seemingly shit you back out. 

but now I can't even look at some of my old writing long enough to decide if I agree with what it says.

This exam I'm about to give is a Media Writing exam - leads, inverted pyramid, AP-style, etc. - and it has sharpened the lens through which I view my work. I still don't think The Journalism Formula is the One True Way, but a little of it almost always gets the job done. I hope I got that across to the gaggle of students sitting across from me poring over my exam study sheets. Well, not poring. They have them out. See? The power I weild! The chains!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

sang at a party


I sang at a party this weekend. Like, I was at a party and somebody said "Let's here some music" and I was asked to be involved rather than politely but ineffectively dissuaded from it. Weird. This photo is not from the party but from my participation in a science project. My singing is more of a social studies  project. I belted out a couple of songs, including one I wrote, with the gusto of a Mentos-soda reaction and gauged my results by the raucous applause. Someone had a camera so if the results turn up I'll post it.


Edited to add: Jayme St. Romain came up with a picture of me trying to remember how to plan an F on a ukulele while she sang Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams".

Dino Buzzati, Poem Strip
Oliver Sachs, Hallucinations
Ramones, End of the Century
Japandroids, Celebration Rock

James Chance & the Contortions, Lost Chance
Pylon, Gyrate
Ken Stringfellow, Danzig in the Moonlight

Solange, True
Prince, Lovesexy
Eddie Hazel, Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs
The Beginning of the End, Funky Nassau
Fela Kuti, Opposite People and Original Sufferhead

Frank Zappa, The Grand Wazoo and Zoot Allures

KPCP 88.3 FM New Roads, LA

Trio, Da Da Da

Doug Sahm & His Band, Doug Sahm & His Band
Doug Kershaw, Devil's Elbow

I really like singing. I'm being precious, I know. Bear with me. Or not; it is the Internet. Singing is something I was pretty well convinced was out of my skill set, and am not wholly convinced it is a thing I should do, but there were a couple of singers there at the party who commended my efforts and it didn't seem like pity.

That is my standard for accolades: didn't seem like pity.

One of those musicians was Mr. Ben Bell who I profiled in the December issue of Country Roads.  He's an affable galoot with a honey-rich country croon. I wish I'd thought of that for the article.

I had my first round of last-classes-of-the-semeter this week which was a little more touching than I expected. I mean, they are all understandably sick of my shit at this point and trying to get projects in and figure out what they need to make on the final - as if they can precisely ratchet down their effort to that which is absolutely necessary - and so on, but at least with my morning section, we seemed to have a moment there.

Busy, busy. My habit here on the blog has become a weekly one but weirdly, my stats don't seem to suffer for it; in fact they've improved. I'd like to think its that I'm crafting a deeper message by waiting, but likely not. It's probably just how the numbers work and that the robots reading all this content comprising "hit counts" don't really care if it is new material they are consuming. To the robots, everything we say and do is the same. Happy December!