Thursday, March 29, 2007

the Vs have it

occasionally (like recently) when I don't have a specific music writing assignment (like now), despite the wide, wide, wide variety of choices offered by my iPod, I'll get stuck on an album, a band, a letter, if only because that's where the selector starts.

this week the letter V, represented by such as Van Morrison (Moondance), Vic Chesnutt (West of Rome), the Violent Femmes (Hallowed Ground) and the Volebeats (Country Favorites), has nearly magnetized my musical free will.

recent horribly disconcerting feeling: thinking, for about ten minutes, that there was a very good chance I'd left my iPod at the drugstore.

song in my head when I woke up this morning: "16 Military Wives" from the Decemberists' Picaresque album (maybe it was the drugstore purchase).

further signs that the world is seriously (seriously) askew: seventy-three year old Cormac McCarthy, author of what is likely the bloodiest novel since Homer's The Odyssey (see: Blood Meridian), agrees to his first television interview on (wait for it, wait for it) Oprah.
and a presale is ongoing for the upcoming Jethro Tull show at Hammerstein Ballroom here in New York (the password: ISLE). (wait for it, wait for it) the concert is December 2nd
(despite the obvious brilliance of Thick as a Brick, it's beyond me (way, way beyond me) why anyone (anyone) would need Jethro Tull tickets eight months in advance (though maybe that explains the Decemberists reference (nah, it was probably the drugs))).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

i am loathe

(so very, very loathe) to replace the Calvert DeForest remembrance at the top of the blog.

and yet.

I guess we're getting close to baseball season (yes, I know we're getting close to baseball season. less than a week. I do own a calendar) as that's the only reason I can think of which would cause all three of my titles in the Baseball Behind The Seams series - The Catcher, The Starting Pitcher and The Shortstop - to reside in the top 130,000 of Amazon's current sales ranking. hell, The Catcher's in the top 30,000. go figure.

but while we're on the topic of The Catcher, sadly it's come to my attention that Ed Bailey, one of the book's more resonant voices, passed away from throat cancer last Friday.
Bailey, a lifelong resident of Tennessee, played parts of 14 major league seasons, was a five-time National League All-Star selection and caught the only no-hitter ever thrown by Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal (against Houston on June 6, 1963), something we discussed at some length when I was working on the book.
though we only talked over the phone, Ed Bailey, to my experience, was a gracious and generous man and I remain greatly appreciative of the time he gave me.
r.i.p. Mr. Bailey.

in other news:
about a week ago the newest forthcoming batch in the 33 1/3 series was announced and I was fortunate enough to be selected to scribble on Fleetwood Mac's Tusk.
the excitement lasted about forty-five seconds. then the worried machinations of my mind took over and I don't expect the excitement back anytime soon. but I am sure it'll be an interesting, worthwhile experience.

a short interview with The Silos' Walter Salas-Humara popped at Riverfront Times last week. it'll be a while before any other periodical writing appears, so read slowly.

last movie viewed: Krzysztof Kieslowski's Blue
the one before that: Krzysztof Kieslowski's White
the one before that: Krzysztof Kieslowski's Red

currently reading: The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright

Monday, March 19, 2007

excerpts from Empty Phantoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac

(a.k.a. the last book I ever read. the one before that? Daphne A. Brooks' treatise on Jeff Buckley's Grace from the 33 1/3 series. also worth noting, though not exactly read, the five book grouping by photographer Henry Wessel: California and the West, Odd Photos, Las Vegas, Real Estate Photographs, Night Walk. good, good stuff)

from Dan Wakefield's "Kerouac at the Village Vanguard," originally published in 1958 in The Nation - "Richard Wilbur was born in 1921 and is thereby entitled to inclusion as a member of the Beat Generation. He wears, however, a Brooks Brothers suit, has never recited from his work in the Village Vanguard, quotes heavily from Greek and medieval philosophers, and is currently teaching a Shakespeare course at Wesleyan University. Richard Wilbur is thirty-six years old and Jack Kerouac is thirty-five. The painful difference is that Wilbur is a man and Kerouac is a kid.
To go from university lecture hall to the Village Vanguard the Friday night before Christmas was to realize that there is no such thing as a 'generation'; that there are born each year a certain number of men and a certain number of boys; that out of each era in our national history there come a few poets and few poor boys who wander with words, and that no grand generalization can tie them together. Jack Kerouac sweats beneath the spotlights of a nightclub to bring his novel back the the best-seller list. He is now 'On The Town.' Lo and behold-it is Richard Wilbur who is one the road; who has been, all along."

from "Interview with Jack Kerouac: Lowell Author Gives His Version of the Beat Generation" by Mike Wallace which first appeared in the New York Post, also in 1958 - "'You must meet my friend, Philip Lamantia,' said Kerouac casually on departing. 'He was knocked off a bench by an angel last week.'"

from "He Scorns Beatniks," a UPI piece which also ran in 1958, this time in the Detroit News - "Kerouac's recent best-seller, On the Road, is a powerfully written novel describing the deeds and misdeeds of a group of twenty-year-olds during a frenetic trek back and forth across the United States in stolen and borrowed automobiles . . .
"Kerouac feels no sense of leadership toward those groups of young Bohemians in New York and San Francisco who have been identified with his Beat Generation term.
'The so-called 'beatniks' of San Francisco wouldn't even talk to me when I was wailing there in the late forties,' he says. 'Why, those guys who picketed the Giants coming to San Francisco in the name of the Beat Generation don't realize that I used to be a center fielder for the Boston Braves in my dreams.'
'When I was in high school, I used to be like DiMaggio after deep or short flyballs. I was a wrist hitter, fourteen home runs in ten games. I even had a tryout with the Woonsocket Sputniks, or somebody.'"

two interesting articles by Newsday's Stan Isaacs regarding Kerouac's self-derived fantasy baseball game. the second, titled "Playing Baseball with Jack Kerouac," begins: "The snow was a few feet deep outside, but the cry of the hot dog vendor and the crack of the warm-up ball against the catcher's mitt sounded inside writer Jack Kerouac's house in Northport recently as the Pittsburgh Browns prepared to take the field against the visiting Chicago Blues in a battle for fifth place."

and some weirdness from "Beat Is Rhythm, Not An Act" by Robert E. Boles for the Yarmouth Port Register: "He had married twice before. But this was different. Stella, older than Jack, a virgin, came from managing a cleaning plant in Lowell to be the wife of a man, famous, who had lived well and more lives than most, and found that his life was an entanglement of relationships, friends, ideas, and words.
She guarded the doors.
She cooked and laundered.
She found his manly needs repulsive."

from Larry Vickers' "Jack Kerouac-End of the Road": "Well maybe he did come to Florida to die. He came to Florida and talked about his mother and his/her cats in the house in St. Pete, and among the deeds he probably set free a couple of people otherwise lined up for newspaper sports-writing careers; set them free maybe to go back to school, or to tend bar, or to go crashing through the cool Florida night-sweet countryside guzzling Moselle and hollering at one another, with the driver taking part as well as the revelers, with nobody ever staying sober to get the rest home and often not getting there anyway."

from Jack McClintock's piece for Esquire, "This Is How the Ride Ends," published in 1970: "He was wearing unpressed brown trousers, a yellow-and-brown-striped sport shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbow. The shirt was unbuttoned, and beneath it the T-shirt was inside out. His belly was large and round, oddly too large for the stocky body. He pointed to it.
'I got a goddamn hernia, you know that? My goddamn belly button is popping out. That's why I'm dressed like this . . . Well, I got no place to go anyway. You want a beer? Hah?'
He picked up a pack of Camels in a green plastic case. 'Some whiskey? I'm glad to see you 'cause I'm so lonesome here.'
We sat there and drank and talked for the rest of the evening. It was the first of perhaps a dozen such visits, and there was never a time until the last one or two visits when he didn't mention his loneliness. When I left that night about midnight, he said, 'Are you coming back to see me?'
I said yes, and would phone before dropping in if he would give me the number.
'I don't have a phone,' he said. 'I don't have anybody to call. Nobody ever calls me. Just come. I'm always here.'"

and Carl Adkins' "Jack Kerouac: Off the Road for Good": "Jack Kerouac is off the road for good now: he died Tuesday, October 21, 1969, in a St. Petersburg, Florida hospital. He was forty-seven.
To some of us who knew him, the wonder is not that he died so young but that he lasted as long as he did."

Friday, March 16, 2007

I don't watch scrubs

and I don't drink after work at week's end.

well, I still don't watch Scrubs (he said with a Jack and Coke very near his left elbow).

but Scrubs was on when it came time to change channels to the tournament and Colin Hay was following the Garden State guy around the hospital playing an acoustic version of "Overkill."
like, he wouldn't leave him alone.

and it sounded pretty good.

hey, I was alive, of age in the eighties.
I'm not immune to Men At Work.
or at least "Overkill," which I'm compelled to admit is a pretty damn good song (and disturbingly fitting for these past few work weeks).

so I found the acoustic version on eMusic, downloaded, and I've only listened to it about a thousand times in the last hour and a half.
impossible, I grant you (he said with a Jack and Coke very near his left elbow), but for some reason (he said with a Jack and Coke very near his left elbow) reality's a bit different at the end of this particular week (with a mid-March snowstorm taking place outside his window).

I wrote the Village Voice column "Singles Going Steady" this week (titled "Revenge of the Day-Job-Havin' Lifers"), with commentary on recent releases by Rickie Lee Jones, The Silos and Tommy Womack. go have a look.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

rock and roll hall of fame induction night

we'll save the commentary for whether there should even be a rock and roll hall of fame for another night. just not up for the rant right now.

I've been waiting for about an hour to get a call from my friend and editor Mr. Harvilla who is currently in penguin clothes at the Waldorf-Astoria to meet him in the city as somehow I was (I assume mistakenly) invited to an after-party for Ronnie Spector (she and the other Ronettes were inducted tonight along with Grandmaster Flash, Van Halen, R.E.M. and Patti Smith). and though the after-party had a midnight start time, the call has not come.

and now, after searching for the live Internet feed (found the feed but am missing ActiveX or Windows Media Player 24.73 or something and dammit I have enough downloads on my computer), I know why.

R.E.M., the last of the night's inductees (I think), didn't walk onstage to accept until 12:02 according to AOL's live blog. I'm sure the whole show is running long (way long) as awards shows (don't get me started) are want to do, but it looks like Eddie Vedder's introduction of the men from Athens timed out at fifteen minutes. which is probably longer than the four will take to accept their honor. and considering we've got the "all-star" jam left to go my suspicion and inclination is that I'll pass the rest of the evening without crossing the threshold of my apartment.

good thing I got some ironing done earlier.

listening to right now (despite the induction of Patti Smith and R.E.M. on the same night): The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo (though I did listen to Document and Radio Ethiopia (see above) earlier)

weirdest thing that happened to me today: I'm walking to Lenny's to grab lunch and I see this guy leaning against a lamppost who looks a lot like Tom Chiarella. Tom's the fairly recently appointed literary or fiction editor at Esquire (I forget which and when I went to find out (or remind myself) I discovered that Esquire has the slowest website of all time; I also learned that Esquire now has a Music Awards issue (currently up), which is interesting since not too many years back when I was trying my best to show some well-deserved love to Dexter Romweber (the exceedingly rare truly unique musician), Esquire "didn't do music." but now it seems they do. damn, wish I knew something about music writing so I could contribute. oh yeah).
despite the fact that Mr. Chiarella is on the masthead of the multiple aforementioned periodical, he don't live here (Tom lives in Greencastle, IN, soon-to-be former home of a Delta Zeta sorority chapter). but lots of men who look like Mr. Chiarella do live in New York. yet nevertheless I caught myself staring. so I looked away, because you don't want to get caught staring at a guy who looks like Tom Chiarella (leather jacket, shades, not small, kindly brooding, et al).
so I walked on by, but did a doubletake after the pass, and despite wearing the earbuds (I believe Arcade Fire was playing) I could tell that the guy was yelling after me and therefore it had to be Tom.
which it was.
world's worst phone call returner, by the way. if Tom Chiarella ever calls you, don't call him back. it's the only way you'll ever get ahead in the "you owe me a phone call" game with him.

(just got my "just before 1 a.m." booty call from Mr. Harvilla, btw. we have decided to bypass the Ronnie Spector festivities)

weirdest thing that happened to me last week: on one of NYC's drier, windier, colder days (it's a bit warmer now, thank you) I returned to my desk after venturing outside for a smoke. the phone was ringing. I answered it. and when my goatee touched the receiver, the thing zotzed, shorted out, died. right after some white sparks flew. a bit disconcerting as I am neither the unflappable nor the unsinkable Molly Brown.

all right. Esquire's website seems to functioning now and Tom's official title is "Fiction Editor and Writer at Large."
we here at are happy to set the record straight.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

selection sunday

confession: after watching UNC-NC State, I napped through part of Texas-Kansas. but anyone who doesn’t believe that Kevin Durant (today: 37 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks) is the best player in college basketball must have slept through all of it.

I wrote a couple small Langerado previews for New Times Broward-Palm Beach that are now up, but for whatever reason writers aren't/weren't attributed.
go figure.

last concert I ever saw: Friday's Clinic show at the Gramercy Theatre

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

the shorthand news

Dick Cheney has a blood clot and Tyler Hansbrough has a broken nose, but Thomas Eagleton is dead.

an interview with Liverpool's Clinic is up at Philadelphia Weekly and more pics from last Wednesday night's Sparklehorse/Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter show at Webster Hall are up at Last Concert I Ever Saw.