Wednesday, June 21, 2006

33 1/3: a conversation with Nicholas Rombes

Though still a young man, Nicholas Rombes has served on the English faculty at University of Detroit Mercy since 1995. He is the editor of New Punk Cinema (Edinburgh University Press, 2005) and the author of Ramones (Continuum, 2005)
We spoke by phone on September 7, 2005.

Tell me about your own musical background.

Oh my gosh. My musical background’s embarrassingly simple - marching band.

What instrument?


How long ago is that? Sixth grade? Eighth grade?

Oh yeah, we’re talking sixth grade up through high school. We had this band director who was an ex-military guy, and he ran the band just like this unit, this tight, you know, almost like a military unit. Absolute obedience, absolute loyalty and this very tight sound. This very tight, kind of clean sound that was pretty amazing. And I would say that and a seventh grade teacher, Mrs. Womack, played us - this would’ve been like in the late seventies - a synthesizer album, this album of synthesizer noises. It was called In Sound From Way Out, or something like that. On the back of this album it had these guys in white like scientist jackets, like these 50 year old men in these white lab coats experimenting with this like Moog synthesizers.

These would be the fathers of Devo.

Yeah, exactly. And it was these bizarre sounds. Some of them had melody, some of them didn’t. She played us this thing in like a music class or something. For two years – this was before the Internet or anything – tracking this album down was like my Holy Grail. And I finally got it.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Waterville, Ohio, near Toledo, which is a very classic rock town. Our radio station was WIOT. In the mid to late seventies, punk only trickled in kind of from the margins. This was basically a Led Zeppelin, kind of classic rock station, so being near Cleveland of course we heard about some of the punk bands, but we really had no radio station that played it so it was always kind of like a, you know, kind of mystery.

A rumor.

Yeah, a rumor. That’s very well put.

You knew that there was something going on out there, but it hadn’t hit your town yet.

Exactly. We had heard about it, people had mentioned it, but it was something that certainly wasn’t played very often. And of course in the seventies no one had money so we really couldn’t buy albums. I mean, we bought the occasional album but it was a rare treat, so it was kind of a myth almost – punk – for my friends and I.

Synthesizers, sound effects and tight trumpet playing do not explain writing a book on The Ramones’ first record. When do you have your musical epiphany?

Yeah, I would say it was after the fact, for sure. I mean, I discovered punk kind of late. I think the first time I even heard the Ramones in such a way that I kind of knew who they were and what they were about was probably Pleasant Dreams. I think it might be ’80 or ’81. And by that time they had kind of passed through their pure phase into something a little bit more pop-oriented, so I think I worked my way back probably in ’81.

How old were you?

This would’ve been like sophomore, freshman or sophomore in high school. And I worked my way back slowly because I didn’t want to discover it all at once. I felt that I always wanted something else to be greater down the road so I worked my way back slowly through their albums. I didn’t want to eat it all so quickly, so it kind of came a little bit later, and where I was from it was still considered fairly radical, you know, punk in ’81, and looking at it now kind of historically I see that it was almost burned out by then, in its pure form, but not in the town I was from. It was still considered new and dangerous in ’81.

But punk did the trick for you? I mean, you hear it and you think, This is mine.

Absolutely. The great melody. Kind of funny but also kind of scary. You’re not sure if they’re serious or not. And it was just was totally different than the classic rock stuff that I kind of was weened on, you know.

So does this carry you through the rest of high school and college, or do you go in another direction and have to come back?

Yeah, I’d say it probably does until maybe like R.E.M. and stuff like that. The indie music scene kind of is another track that gets going right alongside of that. And then, you know, your friends who are into the more hardcore punk of the Black Flag and the stuff that, for me, loses its humor and its absurdity and gets serious and becomes something else. For me, the punk movement was definitely those few years, ’74 through ’78 or 9, where it retains its – it’s bizarre to say it, I know – but its innocence almost. It’s funny. It’s self-deprecating. They haven’t mastered it.

And now you’re an English professor, and the English professor informs the book as much as the music fan does, so how does music fan turn into English professor?

I would say it was a book, a book by a British scholar who came over – I think he lives in LA now – his name if Dick Hebdige. And the name of the book is Subculture: The Meaning of Style. He’s out of England and it’s really the first kind of academic book on punk. There may be others but I think that’s the first kind of known one. And he’s writing it right at the end of the seventies. And he writes it with this kind of style that is very academic and scholarly, but it’s also very aphoristic. It’s very quotable. And it’s got these flashes. To me that book was, well, like here is a book about punk, and it displays some of the tendencies and the sharp edges of punk, and those two bridges were joined at that moment where I thought, Here’s somebody writing about it in such a way that doesn’t totally kill off the spirit of punk. It keeps it alive in some mysterious way.

How did you come across the book?

Jeez, I don’t know. I think somebody gave it to me. I think somebody handed it to me or something. I never would’ve found it, I don’t think, on my own. I think probably after that I read Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces, which had flashes of that as well, although it was a much bigger book, and much more honorific than this other little one. This book by Hebdige is really skinny and little and it’s light on its feet. I think I saw some kind of match in my brain at that moment.

So how does the 33 1/3 assignment come about?

That was, you know, like punk itself. It was a pure accident. Somebody had given me, I think, one of those early books. Maybe it was even the first one, the one on Neil Young, I think, and I read it and I picked up maybe the one on the Velvet Underground or The Kinks. I’m not sure. And I just e-mailed David Barker out of the blue. I found the Continuum website and wrote to him and said, You know, there’s really a gap here. I think I suggested either The Ramones or The Clash. He said, Well, give me six months to see if the series is doing okay. If it is doing okay you can send me a more formal proposal. One thing about David is that guy is true to his word. Six months later, almost to the day, he said, Yeah, we’ve got the go ahead for some more titles. Tell me what you want to do with The Ramones. And I told him, Well, it’s going to be kind of academic, but hopefully it’ll also be useful. And he said, Go for it. So it was a cold call on that.

Give me the time frame of when you e-mailed him the first time.

I probably originally e-mailed him in the beginning of 2004. And then probably I heard from him and got the go ahead in the summer of 2004.

The three best things about being an English professor are June, July and August.

There you go.

Do you already have your summer spoken for, or are you able to jump up and down and show your wife the contract and immediately dive in?

Exactly. You’ve nailed it. I mean, I had a class I was teaching, a cinema class, but it was not a huge burden, so it was the summer basically of full scale research and writing. I had it in my head pretty much mapped out, but the words, you know, maybe over that four or five month period, that summer and into the fall, was when I just cranked that baby out.

Is Ramones your favorite album?

Wow. Oh man. Uh, no. It’s a bizarre thing, you know, the more you listen to it, maybe like a lover or something, the more you really look closely at it, the more you fall in love with it but the more you also kind of say, Wait a second. I’m not so sure. I would say, No, it’s not.

So why did you pick this record? Had you picked up enough of the books in the series to notice a gap and this is your chance to get your foot in the door? Because it’s hard to hold one of these books without thinking, I’d like to write one, too.


So is it something that strategic? Or is this more of a scholarly, academic pursuit? Obviously you like the album a lot. I wasn’t trying to point fingers for not writing about your favorite album. But what’s the approach in choosing Ramones?

You know, it's very personal in a way. 1975 was a year in my life that was tragic. I lost my sister when I was a kid. She was two years younger than me, when I was about
ten, to a brain tumor. That was in 1975, and in this regard the seventies for me were a decade of deep sorrow, even as her death brought my family closer together. And economically, it was a decade of high interest rates, the recession, Jimmy Carter's downbeat presidency. And then on a personal level this tragedy, and I felt like it was almost a blank generation, you know, in my head. Discovering this music that was so alive and fast and funny and, I think, strangely optimistic in its absurdity almost seemed to me mythical in some way. And so I think I wanted to find out more about the roots of this music. Where did it come from? And what inspired it? And was it inspired by the same depression that was the seventies? So I think that's the most honest answer, that it was an attempt to delve deeper into the sources of this music.

This is your first book and your first book contract, right?

Yeah. Absolutely.

So while you’re excited about the possibilities, all of a sudden the summer is more mapped out than you thought it would be. Given the particular personal memories of the time period, and the fact that you’re now walking into uncharted territory, is there a point in the research or actual writing where you feel some trepidation? Like, What the hell have I gotten myself into?

Uh, yeah, I think so. I mean, the thing that was on my mind a lot was there are people who are Ramones fans who know everything there is to know about The Ramones, who worship every word of any of The Ramones past or present, and who almost view The Ramones as gods in a way. And the only trepidation I had was maybe that audience, because I didn’t view myself as that type of fan. Even though I loved them and their music meant a lot to me personally, I wasn’t that type of fan. So I kind of determined early on to write a book that wasn’t too personal and too confessional and too narcissistic. I determined not to do a book that was about me growing up and coming across them and what it meant to me, but to do a book that almost took the opposite approach. I almost defiantly tried to keep myself out of the book. Although there are some first person phrases in the book, they’re fairly minimal compared to some of the other 33 1/3. So I think my reaction to that was to go in the opposite direction and to kind of repress my own personal reactions as much as possible, sort of as an experiment, in the way that I think punk was sort of depersonalized in many ways with the whole kind of anonymity of The Ramones, the interchangeability, the kind of distance that they had from their fans in some ways.

But it’s not the first person as much as it is the second person that brings in the personal.

You’re right. Yeah, you’re right.

I mean, the sun has crept across your bedroom floor in roughly the fifteen minutes that it took to play the first side. That’s as personal as you get in there, I think.

Yeah, you’re right.

You mentioned having maybe read Harvest, maybe read the Velvet Underground, maybe read the Kinks, and it’s not like this is Moby Dick – because you’d damn sure remember whether or not you’d read Moby Dick – but it sounds like these were all at least in your hands and there might have even been more. How many of these had you read before trying to write one yourself?

I don’t think any more than four. I mean, I think there were the three that I mentioned that I think I had seen. I don’t even remember but it might’ve been the Jimi Hendrix. I’m not sure. I knew of the Joe Pernice. I think that was out, which was, kind of, I think, the most legendary of them. So I knew of that one and I read snippets of it here and there, but I deliberately didn’t seek them all out because I was afraid of almost having an anxiety of having to follow in the footsteps of the ones I loved the best.

Since 33 1/3 is a series, this is a little different process. There’s not necessarily a set structure, but there’s a format. There’s a word count. And the goal of the books is roughly the same. Are you at all tempted to find one to use as a model? Or are you literally using the anti-model? Like, These are personal and so I’m going to do the opposite.

I think that’s true. I think I was kind of going on the anti-model, the one that I would want. It answered the questions that I wanted answered. Maybe every writer does, you know. I wanted to do the one that I wanted to read if I was interested in The Ramones. I wanted to know about New York City, and I wanted to know about the artistic context that they arose from. And I wanted to know these things so I didn’t think it needed a personal voice in order to answer those questions. And I think I was reacting in some way against what the writing that Lester Bangs began – and I think he did it beautifully – of the personal, involving yourself in the story. On a personal level I think his writing is magnificent, but it became almost a stereotype and almost, I don’t know, it’s almost like, it became overdone in a way, so I wanted to kind of back off from that a little bit.

You mentioned wanting to know about New York. Obviously you did a lot of research with Punk magazine and the Village Voice. How much time did you spend on research before you started to write? Are you doing research as you’re writing? Is it anything as simple as I researched for three weeks and then I wrote for five?

Well, I had a good feeling when I contacted David, the fact that he didn’t say, No, right away. I figured he’d gotten lots of solicitations and maybe had said, No, right away, so I took his response that, Well, I’ll let you know, as a pretty good sign. He didn’t say, Somebody else has proposed Ramones, or There’s three people competing with you, so I assumed kind of, which is something rare for me, that I might get it. So I began collecting, talking to collectors, and going back through some of my own stuff almost right away, in part because I said, Even if I don’t get it, I remember some of these magazines from growing up. I owned some of them, but some things like the New York Rocker I knew about just from reading other people. I wasn’t familiar with it, so I began tracking them down. So I collected, researched and began that six months before he let me know. By the time he let me know I had my contacts established. I had read. I had been immersed in it for a long time. I figured, If he says No, I love this stuff anyway and I want to keep it and read it. It was just fascinating to me to see all the stuff that was in there that wasn’t about punk - about the movie theaters and about gas prices and how people were looking for certain albums to trade. It just fascinated me anyway, so a lot of back research before I began writing. And by the time I began writing I had most of that stuff, although some of it came in while I was writing, but I had amassed, you know, boxes of stuff.

So when do you start writing? I mean, surely not before David says, Yeah, go ahead.

No, I did not. That was too jinxy. I would feel like, Oh man, that’s pushing it. But I had it mapped out and I started pretty much right away and did a lot of revising and wrote the parts that I felt most comfortable writing, you know, that I thought were my strengths right away, and then kind of filled in around that. So the writing was, you know, it didn’t take as long as the research for sure.

You can almost fold the book in half - The Ramones and their time vs. the album itself. Had you decided on the structure before David gave you the go ahead? Or did that come during the research part?

Yeah, I knew I would do it that way. I knew I wasn’t going to do the whole book track by track, because I don’t think the tracks merit it almost. They’re fast, they’re short. So I knew that. I just didn’t know what percentage it would be - half and half or whatever - but I basically knew it would be divided into the context and stuff, and then the album itself and talking to Craig Leon. And that was another really big thing, you know, when I contacted Craig Leon that produced it. He was so kind. I’m sure he had talked about the album many, many times, but that was the big. I was very grateful for his input on the thing, into what happened, and I knew that that would fit very nicely into that second section of the actual nitty gritty of the album itself.

How do you go about contacting the producer of a record that’s almost thirty years old?

I know, you know. Here’s the thing with Craig Leon. I think I Googled him. He has, or he had a web page, and he’s produced these classical albums now. We actually own some. They’re like not Cecilia Bartoli, but some very classical music he’s been producing. I did not know this about him. And he had a little e-mail to click on there and I just got it right off of his page. I didn’t go through any other kind of agency or anything. I was shocked. Within five or six hours he said, Sure. Ask me what you want to ask. And I corresponded with him several times and he was great about it.

That’s got to be a hell of a lot less intimidating than finding a phone number and having to make the call and feeling like you’ve got thirty seconds to explain that you’re not a telemarketer.

Exactly. Yeah, it was, and I was grateful for that. He seemed willing to talk about it. What I found interesting, and some of the stuff that’s not in the book, is he had no axe to grind either way. I don’t know. I always associate people from that period as having their own story that they want to get out, you know. Like, This was the true Ramones. And he was very, he was very almost noncommittal, you know. It was very workmanlike. I did the work on this album. I was very proud of it technically. But he didn’t have some story that he wanted to tell to “set the record straight.” He approached it very technically, and I was grateful for that.

Was there anyone else that you wanted to talk to but didn’t?

No, the only person I think I contacted and had limited contact with was Arturo Vega who designed the Ramones’ logo and who was very close to the band in terms of the publicity and marketing. They lived in his loft for a while. I made some initial contacts with Arturo and he was very nice and very much like, I’m very busy right now, but I’ll get back to you in a few weeks, and then Johnny died and I didn’t contact him again. It was right as the book was getting ready to be turned in, and I think I had him on the hook but I didn’t. He was very close to him, I think, so I kind of let it go. That was the only other person from that scene, because he was so instrumental in the image of The Ramones, that I would’ve liked to have talked to. Although there are several other books that give his side of the story so I felt like it wasn’t crucial, but that was the other person. Those were the only two that I really thought I might like to talk to.

You didn’t have any desire to talk to any of the band members?

No, I didn’t and it’s probably an overreaction against being almost too much of a fan. In part, they’ve talked a lot about it, and it’s not that I didn’t care what they thought of it, but I thought that the producer could give me more insight into the kind of questions that I had than they could.

You talked about having the structure already there when David makes the call, that it would be two major sections. “The Ramones is either the last great modern record or the first great post-modern one” is the first sentence in the book. And the tone is so assured that I would guess that you had that line about four months before you had the book contract.

I definitely had that. That was my hook.

That line might’ve even been in the e-mail that you sent David as the pitch.

It might very well have been. I mean, I really did see it as an album that was on the cusp of the kind of sincere sixties rock, the modern rock of the virtuosity and showmanship. You see what you’re getting, you know what you’re getting, and there’s very little question of irony. It is a performance by macho guys on the stage doing their long, blues-oriented solos to show you how great they are versus everything that comes after Ramones in some way is tinged with this post-modern sense of, well, of course it’s a performance, of course we don’t believe in rock stars anymore so let’s reinvent the rock star to be a kind of a self-deprecating character from Mad magazine. Let’s turn it on it’s head. So I knew that was the dividing line that was so important for me with Ramones. And that would kind of the spirit of the book, that question.

Well, The Ramones definitely wanted to sell their records and they wanted to be popular and they wanted to make some money. And they obviously took some time choosing the band name and their clothing. But are they self-conscious enough about what they’re doing to think of it terms of reinventing? Or is it more like, It would be really cool if . . . ?

That is a great mystery. I honestly don’t know. My gut tells me it’s not self-conscious, that basically they want to go back to the stuff that they liked. They want to go back to the stuff that is fun and fast and is kind of the original pulse of rock and roll. Yet then I listen to some of the songs on those first three albums and they seem, especially the slower ones - “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” on the first one - seems almost ironic in its use. I mean, can you possibly go back to the fifties with all the drugs you’re doing and the kind of hedonistic life and the kind of bizarre view of male-female relations? You’re going to sell me this do-wop song, in all seriousness, and ask me to believe this is like a sincere song out of the fifties? So I don’t know. I still don’t know. I think that’s the enduring allure of that album. I don’t know the extent to which it’s artifice and self-conscious and the extent to which it is a true, pure, authentic attempt to resurrect a sound that had been killed off by progressive rock.

You use the terms “modern” and “post-modern,” which anyone wandering through a university English department is going to be familiar with. Does modern and post-modern within pop music have the same frame of reference as, say, American literature?

No, and one of the things I really wanted to do in the book is to create, is to lead in some way – and not that it works – but to lead readers down a path where they thought they were going one way but then there are these diversions somewhere else. And I wanted to, by using those terms, right up front - which you’re right; those are fairly academic terms – I wanted to use the book as an opportunity to open some doors that might not be opened in a typical rock book. So that was deliberate. I knew when I was using that term there were other words I could’ve used for post-modern – contemporary or, you know, there are other things I could’ve said – but I deliberately stuck with it because I admire books that, when I’m reading them, I say, I didn’t expect to take this path in this book and I might not follow it, but I have the opportunity to follow it now. I deliberately did, you’re right, stick with those academic terms right up front. It was almost a challenge in a way.

So while Ramones may not be your favorite album, there’s a definite love, a definite fondness. It would rank in your personal top ten.

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

So you’re more than familiar with the record when you pitch to David. You can probably play this record in your head and not miss any notes. What do you learn? Whether it’s in the research or the writing or something that strikes you when you hit the Send button and turn in the manuscript? What do you know now that you didn’t know when you sent David that initial e-mail?

How accidental it all was, I think, is what I learned, and how it was such one kind of an accident and piece of good luck after another that led to the scene – CBGB’s emerging kind of when it did with Hilly Kristal not really knowing kind of what to do with the place, The Ramones meeting as they did and having the space at CBGB’s to play, the fact that Lisa Robinson happened to be writing for these magazines and was looking for kind of a new angle to take in her own writing, kind of to make her own mark, and the way that it was all kind of accidental in a sense and not pre-ordained or the next logical progression of music. The research led me to the conclusion that there’s really no reason that punk should’ve emerged. I mean, there’s all sorts of roots and antecedents and other bands that kind of paved the way, pre-punk bands like Iggy Pop, but there’s nothing in them that says, for me, Ah ha. This is announcing something new.

Which is a very strong argument for the non-self-conscious side.

Yeah, I think so. Very much. I know people have made arguments that, well, the true first punk band is Iggy Pop, or any other band that you might name, but I don’t tend to see it. It didn’t need to happen and I’m still not sure why it did. I think it was a series of accidents, happy accidents that led to it.

Is it enough to suggest that these guys wanted to be different and they knew they wanted to be different without saying that they knew what they wanted to be?

I think so. I mean, they were definitely experimenting right up through the recording of the album, in terms of their sound, and there’s not much sense that there was a blueprint there of something. And you know the very term “punk” itself came into fashion afterwards. I mean, they were really underground, so the whole scene kind of attached itself to these bands, and in a sense they almost became - and maybe that was both the beauty of the purity and the sadness of The Ramones, is that once that label attached itself to them they worked within its confines very, very rigorously for three or four albums, and then didn’t, I don’t think, really know what to do after that. So there’s a greatness to it but also a real sadness that it coalesced and it became known as punk and here are its six attributes and any band that doesn’t have them isn’t and if you’re a true punk band you must.

And I think you address that rather firmly in the book. Punk has a built-in dead end. The Clash can only yell and scream so much. At some point they become the rock stars they’re railing against.
Did you listen to music while you were physically writing this book? And if so, were you listening to

I listened to that album, obviously, a lot, and I listened to their next two, Leave Home and Rocket to Russia fairly heavily because I was intrigued by what several of the band members had said early on, that they basically had the first three albums written by 1975, and that they picked songs that were not the best but were kind of representative to go on those three. So I wanted to test that out so I listened to those three in heavy rotation, and then I listened to a few bands that I had heard but was not very familiar with, especially the New York Dolls from 1975.

But is listening to Ramones and listening to the Dolls and The Dictators and bands like that, is that part of research? Or is this literally what you have on the stereo while you were at the computer writing?

Well, I would say for certain bands, definitely for The Dictators, it’s research that turns out to be fun research. I mean, I was learning about The Dictators as I was researching, so that would have not been something that would’ve been on when I was doing another kind of writing. The Ramones might’ve been. They would’ve been on, probably at some point, no matter what. But some of them – I would say certainly The Dictators – were something that I was coming to for the first time while I was writing. For me, the one link back from The Ramones is The Dictators without a doubt.

How much have you listened to this album since you turned in the manuscript?

A lot, to kind of reassess what I said in the manuscript about Side Two being a little weaker, or starting off weaker. And I probably like it more now than maybe I did when I was writing it. Perhaps it was the pressure of writing and feeling like I needed to get everything just right the first time. I didn’t get sick of it, and I think that’s a testament to the music. I probably admire the album more now than when I proposed it to David. It’s still fairly frequent. It’s not something I got sick of. Those first three albums, I think, hold up really beautifully, despite multiple plays.

That’s really fortunate, that you can crawl all the way inside something and still not detest it when you decide to come out.

Yeah, after reading something like Please Kill Me, which is full of these godawful anecdotes about the crappy behavior of not only The Ramones but so many in the punk scene. That is one book that I almost had to forget after I read it. Or forget it when I listen to the music at least.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

we're leaving town for a few days

please don't break into our apartment.

to tide everyone over I'll be posting a lengthy, never-before-published interview with Nicholas Rombes, author of the 33 1/3 book on Ramones prior to vacating the premises.

as a sidebar, or in case you're wondering just what in hell Al Roker's picture is doing up top (I love the fact that someone, Quang I guess, scanned their autographed Al Roker photo and posted it on the Internet), I saw him yesterday on 49th Street.

now this really isn't any great shakes as the Today Show studio is about a throw-in from centerfield from where I generally camp out during smoke breaks so "celebrity" sightings really aren't at all uncommon. in fact, Ann Curry seemingly holds a pedestrian parking space (for some reason she's always holding a dry cleaning bag) underneath the Rainbow Room sign every afternoon (but no one ever approaches her).

but yesterday Al Roker is walking down 49th Street, trying to hail a cab when two tourists, likely a mother and son, start running to catch up with him. Roker has the cab in his sights, but catches the pair with some significant celebrity peripherals, leans his head back enough to get into the photo with aforementioned son while adopting a modified stretch with his briefcase still aimed in the direction he really wants to be going.
I mean, the guy's in the street, standing behind the cab, trying to bang on the trunk to get the driver's attention, while attempting to fulfill the scrapbook hopes and dreams of this pair of out-of-towners.
the patience of a saint, I tell you.
a much greater length than I would've gone and the only time I'm ever stopped on the street is for a spare cigarette or directions (more often than not to Rockefeller Center).

good night everybody!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

and these are the headlines . . .

if it's Sunday, it must be New Jersey (admittedly last Sunday was Alabama but it's true not only today but for the next two Sundays).

"Sir" Paul McCartney turns 64.

Bonnaroo comes to a close.

a Cleveland Scene preview of Ben Kweller's upcoming show published.

it's Father's Day. try to have a happy one.

last DVD Watched: Do You Remember? 15 Years of the Bouncing Souls

CD I'm listening to right this very second: The Raconteurs' Broken Boy Soldiers

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

rep. patrick kennedy pled guilty (and all I got was this crappy t-shirt)

yeah, I've been remiss.

but in the past week and a half I've interviewed singer David Ford, Bouncing Souls drummer Michael McDermott, Bouncing Souls manager Kate Hiltz, singer Katharine Whalen, Walkmen drummer Matt Barrick, guitarist Matthew Swinnerton of The Rakes and Rob Zombie (with Marshall Chapman, Tommy Keene and Big Sandy upcoming), been interviewed myself by sports radio hosts in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Lawrence, KS and Des Moines, IA, published two pieces in Cleveland Scene (a Camera Obscura review and a Carl Palmer advance), one in Riverfront Times, one in Village Voice (my first there), flew to and from Alabama for a book signing (cheerfully hosted by the fine folks at Alabama Booksmith), attended a rehearsal dinner and a wedding (where a fairly serious religious discussion broke out, though thankfully no one was seriously injured) and did not once lay out by the pool (it was muy hot in Alamabama).

so cut me just a little slack, Gumby.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

sunday notes

got up way, way, way too early this morning.
which is what'll happen when you go to bed before eleven, I guess (courtesy of some not so great General Tso's Chicken (though likely as not it was the not so great eggroll which preceded it)).

watched Heathers in its entirety for the first time last night.
O-VER-RA-TED (clap clap clapclapclap)!!!

it's rained (torrentially) in NYC each of the past three afternoons.
and the air is still wet, the clouds still dark.

songs of the past three days:
David Ford's "I Don't Care What You Call Me" from I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I've Caused (I interviewed David on Friday morning)
The Bouncing Souls' "Lean On Sheena" from their upcoming (this Tuesday) The Gold Record (I interviewed drummer Mike McDermott on Friday afternoon)
Head Like A Kite's "A Dime and a Cigarette" from Random Portraits of the Home Movie (I saw Head Like A Kite play Friday night)

(Friday was a busy day)

my review of the upcoming (also out on Tuesday) Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint album, The River In Reverse (a great Sunday morning listen), ran this week in Phoenix New Times

but what I'm listening to right this very second: I Feel Like Singing Today
(Ralph Stanley's always great (my God, that voice), but I particularly love his collaborations with Jim Lauderdale)