Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New York New Year's (my best of)

the days (at least) are sleepy (at least this week) in the city that never sleeps.
every music office in town (practically) is closed for the holidays.
(who would've guessed that folks in the music business had families?)

the nights are a bit different.
Patti Smith's currently finishing up night two of three at the Bowery Ballroom, and Amanda Palmer is playing after her tomorrow evening (read: New Year's morning). I believe doors for the AP show open at 2.
and there's an opener.
will I be awake? most probably.
will I be there? uh, no.
(and I liked Amanda Palmer's latest album a great deal)

Akron/Family finishes off a minimum five-band night (including Deerhoof and Deertick, two of the 23 indie bands with either Deer or Crystal in their name (where oh where is Crystal Deer? or better yet, Deer Crystal?) my next band, I promise (with fingers crossed)) on the Knitting Factory's final night of Leonard Street existence.
and in recognition the Voice posted our summertime Possibly 4th Street visit with Seth and Dana and Miles, nice boys all.

this year I wrote about Magnetic Fields, Kaki King, Robert Forster, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Liz Phair, the Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers, not quite two dozen former Mets and Yankees, Jimmy Cobb, the last remaining member from Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool sessions (now almost 50 years old itself), the 25th anniversary of R.E.M.'s Murmur and writing a song with Marnie Stern for print, Possibly 4th Street episodes with the Deadstring Brothers, Nicole Atkins, Say Hi, Kaki King (a two-for-one there), the Shout Out Louds, Peter Case, Menomena, Falcon, the Alabama 3, Amy Ray, IAMX, Basia Bulat, Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin, the Annuals, Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning, Howlin' Rain, Bonerama and, of course, the just-posted Akron/Family, and long-form interviews with El Perro del Mar, Frank Black (a/k/a Black Francis, a/k/a Charles Thompson III), Aimee Mann, Jick percussionist Janet Weiss, Victoria Legrand of Beach House, Beth Murphy of Times New Viking, the Annuals' Anna Spence, Steinski (twice), Randy Newman, Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier, Exene Cervenka of X, Michael Lachowski and Randy Bewley of Pylon, Hank Jones, Chris Keating of Yeasayer and Lindsey Buckingham.
(I'm fairly certain that I may have skipped a feature or two, pretty certain that I missed at least a couple of Possibly 4th Streets and damn near positive that I left out a handful of interviews (ed. update: like Laurie Anderson, Robyn Hitchcock, Emmanuel Jal, Blondie's Chris Stein). sorry.)
no wonder I feel a bit peaked, eh?

and while getting to query folks like Robert Plant, Randy Newman and Liz Phair for the first time is a major fringe benefit of writing about music, I'm going to try to be a little more objective when it comes to singling out the best, you know, pieces of the year (I may feel differently tomorrow, and differently again the day after) in case your New Year's Eve is as slow as the music business.

my favorite self-penned feature from 2008: Robert Forster's Long Goodbye

my favorite Possibly 4th Street of the year: #18, the "better shut us down" episode with IAMX

and my favorite self-penned long-form interview: Pylon

and if I don't read any more books in the next 22 and a half hours (likely), see any more movies (questionable) or listen to any more music (not a chance in hell), then

the last book I ever read (in 2008): Elizabeth McCracken's An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

the last movie I ever saw (in 2008): Kung Fu Panda

the last album I ever heard (in 2008): Bob Dylan's Tell-Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8

have a safe, healthy and happy New Year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

it's over

the holidays (the all-important rounds one and two, at least), the birthdays, the overeating.
snow still covers the grounds of New Jersey, though it's uglier, patchier than three days ago. like it can't decide whether to stay or go.
but at least the ice is gone.
time to head back home. again. even though we didn't get nearly as far away as originally planned.

just before Christmas (and I mean right before, like Christmas Eve) our holiday (2007) Possibly 4th Street session with New Orleans' Bonerama (one of my buddy Michael's favorite bands) posted online, as well as a feature on my songwriting session with Marnie Stern in print (though it hasn't reached nearly as many eyes, I'm guessing, as Harvilla's spot-on column regarding the Neil Young concert we attended; pretty damn funny, the number of vehement NeilHeads writing in to accuse Rob of any number of untoward things (first and foremost, I believe, a condescending arrogance). if I didn't know better, I'd say that the similarity of phrasings suggests not only that the commenters aren't reading the piece they're responding to, but they've become participants in the Rove-esque tactic of unleashing the hordes to drive home a singular talking point, true or not. how very ironic).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dock Ellis and the New World Order


I hadn't planned any blog entries for the next little bit. Holidays, traveling, etc.
But former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis died yesterday from a long-term liver ailment. He was 63.

Somewhere around 18 years ago, on an assignment for Esquire magazine, I spent a little more than a week with Dock, first in Los Angeles where he was living with his mother, then in Fort Lauderdale during the delayed opening of the Yankees' spring training.

Esquire changed editors soon after I returned. I was paid a kill fee and then many, many years later Chin Music published this piece for the first time. Then it later appeared as a chapter in the Starting Pitcher book.

I'm very sad to see Dock go. He was a good man and, to my mind, controversial only because of his enduring desire to be understood.

Rest in peace, Dock Ellis. You will be missed.


* * *


In Los Angeles, Dock Ellis and I stop at a Fatburger. Dock is a baseball original, a former Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher best known for throwing a no-hitter on acid. This Fatburger, though, is not the original, Dock tells me. Dock is just back on red meat after his mother replaced turkey with ground round in his tacos.
“After you've been off the stuff for a while, you can smell it," Dock says. He offers the expression of a child who's just tasted liver for the first time. After one bite of the cheeseburger before him, Dock loudly hails the attention of the Asian cook behind the counter.
"Hey man, this is not a Fatburger."
"Yes," the cook replies. "This is a Fatburger."
"Bullshit," says Dock. "You may have that Fatburger sign up there but I've eaten Fatburgers and this is not a Fatburger burger."
"We use fresh meat patties," the cook protests.
"I'm not saying anything about your fresh meat patties. All I'm saying is that this is not a Fatburger burger."
The cook and Dock turn to face other business. "See, I understand what he's saying but he don't understand what I'm saying," Dock tells me.
This Asian grillman in a franchised Fatburger has no idea how much he and the institution of baseball have in common.



I deleted the rest of this piece on Thursday, August 23, 2012.
Thanks for dropping by.


Friday, December 19, 2008

tying up loose ends

and not all that effectively I might add.

but my discussion with Elisabeth Sussman, Curator of Photography of the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, on the current William Eggleston exhibition, Democratic Camera, has posted (and if you have any interest at all in photography or the South you should see this show. it runs through January 25th).

my songwriting with Marnie Stern piece has been submitted, edited, and will hit print on Christmas Eve. a Possibly 4th Street with Bonerama will pop before then (maybe even tomorrow) with an Akron/Family P4St before New Year's.
throw in a Pylon show on Monday and a not quite four and a half hour performance by Everest, Wilco and Neil Young on Tuesday, and it's been a fairly busy week.

so last night I thought that, for the first time in seven or so days, I might see the bed while on the soft side of 4 a.m. but it was not to be.
somehow I stumbled across Amazon's mp3 download section (by the way, for reasons unbeknownst to me, the Wrens' The Meadowlands is currently available for a mere $1.99. fear not hyperbole when I say that the chances that you will ever find a better album for less than two dollars are slim indeed. I mean, this is almost unbelievably good. I have even requested the included "This Boy Is Exhausted" to be played at my funeral. and no, I'm not kidding) and discovered that Love Tractor has released a Christmas album (on sale for $6.99). but I have eMusic credits that must be used before we leave town in less than 50 hours now.

and somehow in some ill-advised and patently twisted search I found many, many offerings to and fro, here and there (three cheers, however, for my new favorite website, feelin' kinda froggy) of songs that used to be in my record collection back in the day.

in fact, I even found my own voice on the web: the Even Greenland "Another Place to Hide" single backed by "The Four."
you see why I didn't make it to bed until after 4.
the blogger offering the aforementioned single (find it yourself) wrote that I (as vocalist) could be "a dead ringer for the lead singer of the Moody Blues," which amuses me to no end.

currently, thanks to some wonderful guidance by a good friend (you know who you are), my thirst is partially quenched. but this late night misstep (for now) has opened a proverbial new world, at least temporarily, and I find myself near aching for tracks I haven't heard in probably more than 15 years.

most wanted: "Tear My Soul" by The Neats.

if you can point me in the right direction, please, please, please do so.


last book I ever read: The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope

last movie I ever saw: Charlie Wilson's War

last brush with greatness I almost had: Bill Murray

last item delivered following a knock on my door: t-shirts

the item before that: pears

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

so earlier this evening

(much) we went down to the Knitting Factory (probably our last trip as the club's closing on New Year's Eve) to celebrate WNYU's 35th anniversary (they gave away free t-shirts; thank you) and, of course, to see Pylon headline.
and we weren't disappointed by a single thing (other than standing on the downtown track when the uptown N pulled through).
thanks to Randy and Michael and Vanessa and Curtis for a great show.

listening now to Fall Out Boy's Folie a Deux which releases today (available, today only, for $3.99 on Amazon) after an aborted "impromptu" performance in Washington Square.
tonight they play a sold-out show at Nokia, followed by an 11:30 in-store signing at the Virgin in Times Square (right across the street), but I will likely be attending a much more expensive performance (Neil Young and Wilco) at the Garden.

Friday, December 12, 2008

how expensive is New York?


three packs of Marlboro and three 2-liters of Mountain Dew: $25.03
(yes, I do have a big weekend planned. thanks for asking).
and both items were on "sale."
(and it's cold and windy here, too)

but my long-form interview with Michael Lachowski and Randy Bewley of Pylon is available for weekend reading at the Voice.
and for one week only, there's a free accompanying download of "Cool," the band's first single.
Pylon (who provided the above photo) plays the Knitting Factory this coming Monday night (and it wouldn't hurt my feelings at all if you wanted to give me tickets as an early Christmas present).

quick listens #1

(with a nod towards Robert Christgau (who is currently some place dry, I'm betting))

feelings of dread and foreboding abound.
Bettie Page died, Bank of America will lay off something like 35,000 workers once they swallow Merrill Lynch, KB Toys has filed for bankruptcy, again (this time they won't be coming back) and the Nikkei dropped nearly 6% overnight on the news that the Big Three bailout won't pass the Senate (and that item, of course, will have a much greater effect domestically).
happy Friday.

it is precisely nights like these that I wish that I worked in a more honest field (not that writing is dishonest by any means), that I worked with my hands, something like farming where there's a more direct relationship between the cause (the work) and the effect.

I received my Pazz & Jop ballot at the end of last week, and while I'm happy to be included my immediate thought upon receipt was, 'Well, that's one more thing to deal with.'
to combat and/or deal I created a playlist of everything in my iTunes released in 2008. but it didn't take long to discover that I'm missing a good bit.
not that I don't have the music at all (though there's some of that, obviously), but that for whatever reason a lot of 2008 music I do own isn't marked as such.
haven't come up with a great plan for gathering the strays yet.

but in the midst of errands - trips to the post office, the grocery store, the infrequent trip to the laundry room - I'm trying to work it through.
much, obviously, I'm already familiar with, but many discs have received little if any attention.
so, I try to work through a few songs from every album, giving each the slightest chance to catch my ear before they're deleted from the 2008 list and therefore removed from the opportunity of making the final cut of 10 albums and 10 singles.

Age of Rockets' Hannah
I can only assume that this is a concept album where I missed the concept as the phrase "you whisper" popped up in at least two songs in the 10 or 15 minutes I gave this. definitely a Death Cab chip on this band's shoulder, whether ending lines with harmonic falsettos or beginning them with a rather tepid, non-threatening (recently graduated emo fans welcome) whisper (both sung in and about in "Elephant & Castle" and "H. Soft Escape")

Chairlift's Does You Inspire You
the song in the iPod commercial, "Bruises," sounds like Camera Obscura meets the Thompson Twins. and that ain't a bad thing. but the rest of the album, at least what I made it through, is hardly reminiscent of that vibe at all. in fact, the lyrics of the first two tracks, "Garbage" and particularly "Planet Health," are so didactic and dumb I'm rather surprised I made it all the way to track four (the aforementioned "Bruises," which actually stands a chance to make my top ten singles).

Alejandro Escovedo's Real Animal
I've always been a touch suspicious of the No Depression/non-comm radio worship here, and suspect that most is a continuing and cumulative lifetime achievement award (not that there's anything wrong with that). I like "Always a Friend," but "Golden Bear" calls unnecessary attention to itself (and to producer Tony Visconti's previous work with David Bowie) with a too on the nose, bastard love child intro combo of "Ashes to Ashes" and Chris Isaac's "Stupid Game."

Alina Simone's Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware
yet another Brooklyn resident, though the only one (to my knowledge) covering an entire album's worth of material by a deceased "Russian punk-folk legend" I've never heard of. sung entirely in Russian, of course. as I do not have time to learn a foreign language before turning in my ballot, this one gets deleted.
as does . . .

Shugo Tokumaru's Exit
(though for some reason I've got that marked as a 2007 release).
and . . .

Sigur Rós' Med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust
though one of the singles may make the cut as four minutes of patience is much easier to find and store than, say, fifty-five minutes of the stuff.

Crystal Castles' Crystal Castles
some people like feeling stuck in a video game version of a bad, early '80s club scene. I am not one of those people.

(and today's Amazon mp3 Deal of the Day is Jimi Hendrix' Electric Ladyland (not a 2008 release) for $1.99)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

sunday morning, and I'm falling

the anniversary of Pearl Harbor (also a Sunday, if my memory of hearing other people's memories serves). Sunny von Bulow's gone, as are Alabama's hopes for a national championship.

this is likely the only time you will see me write that I'm listening to Maroon 5 (it's the album following Marnie Stern's this is it and I am it and you are it and so is that and he is it and she is it and it is it and that is that and Marnie's album played through while I was changing the battery in the recharger; I'm meeting with Marnie this afternoon for a Voice feature).

yesterday I made a big pot of red beans and rice, watched the Alabama-Florida game (but no other sports; I think "overshadow" would be a fair description, but I did notice that Duke went down to Michigan while the SEC championship was decided), a couple of 30 Rock episodes via Netflix and wished my uncle Steve a happy birthday.

Friday I conducted my first video iChat interview (see above) with Michael Lachowski and Randy Bewley of Pylon. they're playing the Knitting Factory (part of the WNYU 35th anniversary show) on Monday, December 15th, and I believe it's just their 6th show of the year. obviously a rare opportunity to see them (highly recommended) if you're anywhere near the neighborhood.
also, my interview with Yeasayer's Chris Keating popped. the band played their final two shows of the year (and likely their final two shows until, say, around Easter) in Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday (which I forgot to mention; also forgot to mention that Rite-Aid was selling Phillips earbuds for $4.99 with a $4.99 rebate through, well, yesterday. sorry about that)), so I'll try to recompense (is that a word? am I using it correctly?) but making their All Hour Cymbals the Album of the Week.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

although yesterday


was World Aids Awareness Day, as well as Woody Allen's 73rd birthday (I had no idea he was quite that old), the majority of the news came closer to presaging the end of the world as we know it: Venice flooded, the Dow dropped almost eight percent, the mayor of my hometown was indicted on a mere 101 counts and, more troubling, a New York City bus driver was stabbed to death in Brooklyn for refusing to hand over a free transfer to a fare beater (according to MTA statistics, the bus route in question, the B46, already suffers approximately 4,000 theft of services each week, which is just astounding).

we'll consider the victory by Saxby Chambliss (you know, the man who six years ago ran a campaign against Vietnam veteran Max Cleland so unconscionable it alone will qualify him for a lengthy stay in hell) a hangover from Monday.

but the waters around (and temporarily above) one of the world's most unique cities receded (some), the Dow crawled back by about a third of yesterday's loss, the NYPD is interrogating a "person of interest" in the bus driver murder, my review of the 25th anniversary re-issue of R.E.M.'s Murmur (to continue the end of the world as we know it/devil went down and ran for office in Georgia theme) popped at the Voice and Britney Spears is back with a new album on her 27th birthday (news of such import that iTunes (though not yet enabling affiliate banners to assist in the celebration) has declared the first quarter of the last month of the year "Britney Spears Week").

hallelujah (I feel like a real blogger now that I've mentioned Britney Spears).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

50 for $5

it's the dreary end (it's raining here, and likely all day long, which is nothing compared to Auburn's performance yesterday) to a long weekend (which is nothing compared to Auburn's painfully long season) full of television and transcribing and turkey (a trio of Ts, as it were).

but enough of the dismal.

Amazon's running a mp3 special(for a limited time, whatever that means) that's affordable for damn near everyone.

new albums by Coldplay, Metallica, Beck, Vampire Weekend (who begin a series of four sold-out New York shows on Wednesday - here's an older interview with VW bassist Chris Baio), R.E.M., TV on the Radio, Fleet Foxes, Ra Ra Riot, Jamie Lidell (those last four will make a number of Best of 2008 lists), Al Green, Jason Mraz, Katy Perry, Stereolab (and here's an older interview with co-leader Laetitia Sadier) and Death Cab for Cutie are all on sale for $5 each.

Monday, November 24, 2008

one day only

after a very long night of Tusk writing (the sun is not up at 5 a.m. on the East Coast in case you were wondering), my photo research is done for the day, interviews are done for the day and little remains but hours and hours and hours of transcribing, more than likely several serious (and unsuccessful) attempts at nap avoidance and a little basketball (St. Joe's and Texas from Maui starts soon; what is it, like 9 in the morning in Hawaii?).

but the first day of the shortened Thanksgiving week also stands out because of an unusual record release schedule (discs almost always drop on Tuesdays) (as well as a standout afternoon for ampersands), including Ludacris' Theater of the Mind, Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak and The Killers' Day & Age.
and the greatest of these, at least deal-wise is the new Killers release which Amazon is offering (today only) as a $3.99 mp3 download.

hurry, hurry.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

the week in review

I spent a lot of time (a lot of time) on the review of the 25th anniversary re-issue of R.E.M.'s Murmur.
a lot of time.
but I got it done (finally), and it'll run in the Voice (print edition) either next week (the official release date is Tuesday) or the week after.

I've now seen LeBron James play live and in-person (as they say).
I'm keeping the ticket stub.

it's been a long while since I've been to an NBA game and not that I had high expectations for the Izod Center (formerly Continental Airlines Arena, formerly Brendan Byrne) but I was still disappointed by the ads posted at every available sightline, the music (loud) played during game action (as in, constantly), the cheesy dancers and assorted Nets-sponsored time-out entertainment.
except, the T-shirt drop.
I didn't come close to grabbing a shirt (we sat about as far as possible from the court), though they appeared have at least one launcher that could've reached, but it was the first time I'd ever seen free T-shirts dropped from the overhanging catwalk (with individual parachutes).
yes, I am often easily amused.

televised college basketball I missed: UNC 77, Kentucky 58
televised college basketball I did not miss: UNC 84, UC-Santa Barbara 67
(I caught a good portion of some other games, too)

I went grocery shopping (more than once), to the post office (more than once), made a big pot of soup (enough to last all weekend, at least), recorded a Possibly 4th Street with fellow Alabamian A. A. Bondy (see above) and interviewed Walter Egan for the Tusk book (Walter's first two albums, Fundamental Roll and Not Shy (both with Lindsey Buckingham handling some production and guitar work), packaged together for the price of one, will serve as the album of the coming week - see right).

besides Walter's work, and A. A.'s American Hearts, and Tusk and the Murmur re-issue (of course), McCoy Tyner's Echoes of a Friend and Sahara (though eMusic (see above right) is really the way to go for buying jazz mp3s), the Army Navy debut, the self-titled Conor Oberst, Yeasayer's All Hour Cymbals, Robyn Hitchcock's I Often Dream of Trains, A. C. Newman's The Small Wonder, Bound Stems' The Family Afloat, Marnie Stern's In Advance of the Broken Arm, Metallica's Death Magnetic, Oasis' Dig Out Your Soul, Blitzen Trapper's Furr, Los Campesino's We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, Ra Ra Riot's The Rhumb Line and the Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready To Die all got earbud play.

listening to a bunch of music ain't genius, baby.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

no news is neither good nor bad but simply no news

I shouldn't be up this late if I'm not writing something other than a blog entry.
or watching college basketball (I'm muchly impressed by ESPN's almost round the clock coverage today).
or transcribing.

but the review's written, turned in.
and I've made good progress on interviews over the past couple of days.

I've had some good ideas that will likely fall by the wayside because I can't find the right home for them, and really don't have the time to bring them to fruition (which is when good ideas arrive).

but I saw the Eggleston exhibit, including his film Stranded in Canton, on Friday.
and God willing and the creek don't rise, I will see LeBron play tomorrow night (which is the primary reason I'm writing now).

be thankful for what you've got.
because busy ain't genius, baby.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

we're back from Alabama

and unfortunately shoemaker elves didn't appear to take care of the work I left behind (a review of the 25th anniversary re-issue of R.E.M.'s Murmur, a book due in just six weeks). of course, I'm not making shoes.

and Preacher Roe died.
and Herb Score died.

but I don't think that had much to do with us being gone.

my interview with jazz great Hank Jones popped at the Voice (and I've changed the album of the week (to your right) to reflect that).
and I'm pretty sure that my mom had a good birthday.
and that's the most important thing.

but it's now past time for me to crawl into an industrious hole.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm listening to opera

(The Mother of Us All - text by Gertrude Stein),
so you don't have to.

some more free and not free but relatively affordable downloads:
IAMX (the full PA Possibly 4th Street that got (understandably) shut down by New York City's Finest) releases their new single, "Think of England," today.

and Amazon's been offering $1.99 daily downloads (today is Talking Heads' Remain in Light), but given their, you know, dailiness, it's kind of hard to keep up.
but the site also selects five albums every Friday for a weekly $5 sale.
last week, in some kind of almost attempt at connecting to Halloween, Vampire Weekend, My Bloody Valentine and David Bowie's Scary Monsters were among the sale items.

this week's highlight, however (so you still have most of seven days), is Calexico's latest, Carried To Dust (as well as The Best of Pantera if you're that rare metalhead who does not yet possess the Pantera catalog).

finally, we resume our free Live Metallica download (for lack of a better word) promotion.

Metallica played in Omaha, Nebraska last night. and while I do not currently possess a free code to give away that particular performance (with the standard two separate tracks for Kurt solos), I do have the key to their first of two shows in Newark on January 31st: MTP0901312D04452697

(directions for first-timers:
click on this Live Metallica link, register, and then enter the code.

if you're the first blog reader to copy and paste that day's code, then Metallica will send you a free download of that concert.)

have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day downloads


the Drive-By Truckers, among others, are offering a free election day download (today only, I believe), and Bloodshot Records is offering a free election day stream featuring a dozen of their artists.

and while it's not free (I would if I could, but I just write here), I also recommend (for timeliness if nothing else (and there's plenty else)) Will Kimbrough's "Americanitis" (hey, it's only 99 cents; pull the string), which I co-wrote.
in fact, I wrote the lyrics exactly three years and 361 days ago. that is, on my way to work (the subway ride) the day after the 2004 election. the original title was "Kerry in the Park," as it was an imagining of John Kerry taking stock - past, present and future - while wandering through Central Park following his defeat.
and Will did a tremendous, fabulous, wonderful job not only with the music but with the recording. and I am more than proud to have played a small part.
but - and this is the important part - I do not want to have to feel that way again.

go vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

dear pennsylvania, ohio, missouri, indiana, florida, north carolina, virginia, nevada, colorado and new hampshire


I am voting for Barack Obama.

sadly, I have never seen this country as divided as it's been over the past eight years.
and for this I blame Bush/Rove/Cheney and the ramrod Republicans who have treated our government as if it were some winner-take-all ballgame without regard for the consequences.

while Bill Clinton's military service was no more impressive than that of Bush 43, Clinton, unlike Bush and the 527s, did not attempt to cover his own tracks by denigrating the service records of Bush 41 or Bob Dole.
the "swift boating" of John Kerry was, to my mind, unconscionable.
and the whisper campaign against John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 (that he had become unstable while imprisoned in Vietnam, among other lies) was equally unconscionable.

and yet the lesson that John McCain seems to have learned from his fellow Republicans, from the same group that so unmercifully attacked him eight years prior, is do unto others before they do unto you.

rather than spending the last few days of this long campaign presenting the case for his own presidency, McCain operatives have decided to continue their series of unsuccessful political stunts in hopes that something, anything will finally stick.

today alone, in the campaign's final hours (when you would think some kind of summation would be in order), I heard that Barack Obama is "a socialist," that he "pals around with domestic terrorists," that he intends to tax 401k contributions as well as the income of anyone who makes more than $42,000 in a year, and that over 50% of all small businesses will face higher taxes in an Obama administration.
I have heard talk of a real America and a phony America (centered, according to John McCain in his interview with Brian Williams, in New York and Washington, interestingly enough the only two American cities to suffer a foreign attack in the past half-century) and I have seen television ads that feature Jeremiah Wright's fiery rhetoric, and heard the cheer "John McCain! No Hussein!"

the worst part is, John McCain knows better.
John McCain knows that after an unnecessary and mismanaged war, the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, the doubling of our national debt and the abandonment of a great American city in its hour of need, our country's problems do not center around a Chicago minister or who served with who on a non-profit founded by one of Ronald Reagan's closest friends.
I know that John McCain knows better.

we will never solve our country's very serious problems with such fear-mongering, calculated alienation and disregard for the truth (wasn't it a Republican who once said something like a house divided against itself cannot stand?).
after eight long years, isn't it time to turn away from mean-spirited divisiveness and cynicism and at least take a chance on unity and optimism?

I believe so.
and that is why I am voting for Barack Obama.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

happy halloween eve gift and this week's reading (with proper attribution)


a feature for the Voice with Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers and the Hold Steady's Craig Finn can be found here.

Part One of Possibly 4th Street #23 with Howlin' Rain (the performance part) is a here.

Part Two (the interview part) is here.

and my long-form interview with Vic Chesnutt concerning the release of his Dark Developments album with Elf Power and the Amorphous Strums (complete with MP3 downloads) is here.

note: language used in almost every interview, and particularly these last two, is not particularly suitable for work, pre-teens or people old enough to vote for John McCain.

(dexter romweber) impressionism (22)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

j (michaelange) ro

Jimmy Rollins went 3 for 5 on Sunday night with three runs scored on Sunday night as the Phils took a three games to one lead over the team I'm pulling for.

I interviewed J-Ro (nice guy) back in 2005 in the clubhouse of the then-new Citizens Bank Park. we talked about music, music and baseball, etc. pretty much exactly like the interviews I was doing around that time with players like Desi Relaford, Jeff Bagwell, Sidney Ponson, Tim Laker, Ben Broussard, Sean Estes, Vance Wilson, Bronson Arroyo . . .

so I figured I'd repost it now that the Phils are in the World Series (and J-Ro's in the news), but I don't know that it really holds up that well.
not the timeliness exactly. I just don't think the writing's that good.
my brother-in-law's photos that day, however, are (see above).

(and in other photo news, the most previous post features Dexter and Sara Romweber, Dexter and Sara with Bloodshot bigwig (and another nice baseball guy) Rob Miller, Walter Salas-Humara playing with I'm Not Jim, my buddy Will Kimbrough, Rodney Crowell (playing in the stairwell at Town Hall before his set) and Rodney with Roseanne Cash)

Part One of Possibly 4th Street session #23 (Howlin' Rain, opening tonight for the Black Crowes at Hammerstein) posted this morning, with Part Two due tomorrow.

also tomorrow my piece with the Hold Steady's Craig Finn and Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers (here in New York at Terminal 5 on November 6 and 7) will appear in the Voice (ed. note: it's up).

and sometime this week a long-form Q and A with Vic Chesnutt, whose new album Dark Developments with Elf Power, releases today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

yes, I'm really slow

but it wasn't until Monday morning when the last-minute weekly scheduling began in earnest that I realized that, for at least a few days, CMJ and the World Series run concurrently.
my suspicion is that I never really believed that Tampa would get through, because I would've cared markedly less about a Red Sox-Phillies series.

go (Devil) Rays!

but the last-minute scheduling did cause a very real sense of frustration (since alleviated, somewhat), causing Lambchop's most excellent "Your F@cking Sunny Day" to be played almost repeatedly.
(today was, in fact, sunny here, if a bit on the brisk side)

in honor of Mission of Burma's upcoming show this Thursday at the MHOW, we've got a new album of the week (look to your right).

and some free reading, too. episode 22 of Possibly 4th Street, this with Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning on the beach at Coney Island, posted this morning.

busy ain't genius, baby.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

you could make a case


that the late Governor George Wallace did more to change the face of American politics than any other candidate.
I'm not saying this is a good thing.

but the last three Democratic Presidents - Johnson, Carter and Clinton - were all from the South, a significant base acquired by Nixon in 1972, Reagan in 1980 and most recently Bush 43 in 2000 and 2004 (as a general rule, Southerners voted Democrat (as in "yellow dog") in local and state elections until the Reagan "revolution" successfully adopted a Southern strategy, still in place, that overturned the political landscape like so much top soil).
voters that George Wallace drew from in each of his FOUR terms as the governor of Alabama. voters that George Wallace drew from when he garnered five Southern states in the 1968 presidential election, becoming the last non-Democrat, non-Republican to win electoral votes.
and if somehow you missed ALL OF THAT, you might remember that he was leading the race for the Democratic nomination for President when he was shot in 1972, or that once upon a time HE STOOD IN A SCHOOLHOUSE DOOR at the University of . . .
oh, never mind.

and yet, in this evening post-debate wrap-up by the New York Times, Alessandra Stanley writes:

It was Mr. McCain’s last chance to cast doubt on his opponent’s character and credentials, and he threw the kitchen sink at him — along with the plumber. Mr. McCain invoked class war, culture war and the Iraq war. He cast himself as a victim of a Democratic attack machine, calling Representative John Lewis’s reference to former Gov. George Wallace of Georgia in criticizing the McCain-Palin campaign for stirring up the crowds “so hurtful.”

I know the economy's bad (believe me, I know), but did the Times fire ALL of its fact checkers?

somebody let me know if this error actually makes it to print or whether it'll be a soon forgotten web-only mistake, please.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

todd snider's peace queer


now that football season's over (you know what I'm talking about), we can get back to concentrating on music again.

saw Kurt Wagner's show at Joe's Pub on Wednesday and MGMT and Beck at the United Palace on Thursday.

and yesterday (October 11th) was Todd Snider's umpteenth birthday.
and to celebrate he's giving away a free download of his upcoming 8-song EP Peace Queer through Hallomaween.
grab it, why don'tcha?

Todd will be in town (like the rest of the world) the last weekend of the month (CMJ), including a free show at the Borders at Columbus Circle on Friday evening October 24th around 7 p.m.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

the belated Lambchop playlist


how many songs make a suggested playlist?
a good question, and one I don't have an answer to.
where do you stop for a band with more albums, let alone songs, than you have fingers.
I don't know.

"Steve McQueen," "Your F@cking Sunny Day," "The Decline of Country and Western Civilization," "Low Ambition," "I Would Have Waited Here All Day," "Nothing Adventurous Please" and "Prepared (2)" are all great songs (and I'm purposely leaving off everything on the new OH (Ohio) which can be downloaded from Amazon for $6.99).

but let's start here: Nixon's "Up with People," a/k/a five minutes and fifty-nine seconds of indie bliss for only 99 cents.
because if you don't like this, you're not going to like Lambchop.
and you may not like music at all.

in other news: France's Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won this year's Nobel Prize in Literature (busy ain't genius, baby. busy ain't genius.), which is great news for the University of Nebraska Press.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

magnetic fields in Dallas (and Madison, Wisconsin)

know anyone in central Texas (or Wisconsin) with great taste in music?

I have two front row tickets for the Magnetic Fields' concert at Dallas' Majestic Theatre this coming Monday night.
and I will put them in the mail for free to someone who will actually appreciate the show.
just send the mailing address to me via e-mail (but do it quickly).

(tickets in Madison for this Saturday night (you better hurry) aren't front row, but they're damn close. same deal. shoot me an e-mail)

"Doctor, always try to do the right thing."
- Da Mayor to Mookie

I ate White Castle for dinner and my apartment knows it

definitely not the day to wish that the walls could talk because they'd be making some uglyass remarks.

I don't believe I've mentioned the economy in the last several posts. placing my faith in denial, I guess. but it's a quarter to three (shout out to Gary U. S. Bonds) in the morning on the East Coast and Japan's Nikkei index is currently down over 9% ON THE DAY.
which, yes, is even uglier than Auburn's loss to Vandy (though that hurt was pretty close to physical as well).

and you wonder why I never leave the apartment.

Ed Brinkman died.

boy, this is a fun post, ain't it?

so head this way: I've got a feature in this week's Voice print edition on Jimmy Cobb, drummer, Harlem resident and last surviving member of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue sessions (that's Mr. Cobb pictured above).
Sony Legacy has issued a very nice, very expensive 50th Anniversary edition even though the golden anniversary of the release of jazz's most popular album isn't until next August (and the likewise anniversary of the first recording session isn't until next March).

also, the previously promised long-form Q and A with Lambchop's Kurt Wagner (and it comes with a free download of "Slipped Loosed and Dissolved; my own Lambchop playlist suggestions (un-free, unfortunately) will be posted later today in honor of Kurt's gig at Joe's Pub this evening). the new album, OH (Ohio), dropped yesterday. as did the Annuals' Such Fun (Possibly 4th Street session with those guys popping soon). and new records from Catfish Heaven, Deerhoof, Department of Eagles, Jolie Holland (though I seem to have slipped off the Anti/Epitaph list; somebody call and complain), Oasis, Jay Reatard, Rise Against, Rosebuds, Marnie Stern and Women.
yep, it's a big, big, big, big week in IndieLand.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Martin Landau was in my dreams

and that's rarely a good thing.

he was playing the role of a former Nazi and university professor during a campus evacuation.

he could tell that I had attended a closing night celebration for the local musical (impressive since I never would've guessed I would've been there) with his niece, with whom he was attempting to reunite, by applying the flame of a cigarette lighter to the pads of my fingers (they turned blue, supposedly signifying I had played an organ that evening (again, that would also be news to me)).

while I cowered in a modified fetal position (complete with finger sucking from the burns) on the hallway floor of university building, Landau forced a black and white family photograph in front of me. a group shot with several austere faces, but in front, and smiling, his sister, and his niece as a little girl.
the family dog perched in front appeared to be a pekingese, but with a face favoring Lucille Ball.

I don't write 'em, sports fans. I just dream 'em.

busy ain't genius, baby. busy ain't genius.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

it's download day!!!





as always, first come, first served.

for a free download of Metallica's upcoming concert (currently listed as the final North American show of the current tour) in Newark, NJ on February 1st:

click on this Live Metallica link, register, and then enter MTP090201416D96F303.

for a free download (via iTunes) of Kings of Leon's new Only by the Night album:

go to the iTunes store (there's a link just to your right), hit Redeem and enter AYAM9FK7PWKK

for a free download of the new Oasis album, Dig Out Your Soul, as well as a limited edition Oasis t-shirt (you even get to pick the size):

click on this special link to the Warner Brothers store, pick your shirt size, then enter NH5ILL654C5LTN.

good luck, and enjoy!

the live metallica pre-game

I suggested a mistake yesterday.

since Alabama-Kentucky airs at 3:30 EST and Auburn-Vanderbilt kicks off at 6, there's not much chance there will be time in between to expect a posting.
so I'm calling an audible.

the Live Metallica download code, the new Kings of Leon album code, the new Oasis album code (complete with a limited edition Oasis t-shirt) will be posted at halftime of the Alabama game.
or around 5 p.m. EST this afternoon.

see you then.

Friday, October 3, 2008

yesterday's news

Michael Pigott, the police officer who ordered the Tasering of Iman Morales, a mentally ill man in the throes of an rooftop episode (menacingly swinging a long florescent light bulb) in Bed-Stuy, committed suicide. on his 46th birthday. and hours before Morales' funeral (Morales died from his fall from the roof after being Tasered). very, very sad all the way around.

and Mr. Clean, House Peters Jr, died too.

Richard Hell turned 59.

also Sting, Lani O'Grady (Mary on "Eight is Enough"), Lorraine Bracco, Donna Karan, Third Man author Graham Greene, and the late former WWE (though it was the WWF at the time) champion, Yokozuna, also had birthdays.

but, as they say in the Bible, the greatest of these is Groucho Marx who would've been 98.

I watched part of A Night at the Opera.

and all of the vice-presidential debate.

while I enjoyed Night at the Opera more (hard to beat Groucho), I was immensely pleased with Joe Biden's performance. forceful and direct throughout.
I hope Barry-O takes a cue and puts it to good use on Tuesday.

I also watched part of the Tampa Bay game.
I'm not suggesting they're actually going to win the whole thing, but I'm pulling for the Rays (despite being a National Leaguer at heart).

and the 20th episode of Possibly 4th Street, this one featuring Missouri band Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin just south of Strawberry Fields in Central Park, posted at the Voice.

and yesterday's interview subject, Lindsey Buckingham, turned 59 today (according to most websites, though at least one suggests that he's now 61). so yes, Richard Hell is older.

are you here for the Live Metallica download code?
well, tomorrow (Saturday), most likely between the end of the Alabama game and the start of the Auburn game, I'll post codes that'll not only get you free live Metallica, but the new Kings of Leon album, the new Oasis album, as well as a limited edition Oasis t-shirt.
stay tuned.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

for those who are hoping to rock

hold on to your little pantaloons. help is coming (though maybe not quite as soon as you'd like).

but first:

another post today. a short feature on Lambchop leader Kurt Wagner for his hometown alt-weekly, the Nashville Scene. I believe it's available in print later this afternoon (Thursday) and the Voice online should have something else of mine tomorrow or the next day, and next week the long-form interview version of my discussion with Kurt will post and then probably another Possibly 4th Street episode after that.

while normal's not really the word, the schedule of at least the past couple days has been, say, a little less insane (horrible, stupid, overused word often signifying overwriting, so let's call this usage a tribute to the still touring Lindsey Buckingham (who will play NYC the night that Springsteen and Billy Joel have decided to raise money for Barack Obama - ouch)).

but Monday was kind of nuts. early morning finishing touches on the aforementioned Lambchop piece. early afternoon finishing touches on the interview with Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier.

yesterday, though, some much-missed, much-appreciated time with my spouse and a yes/no/maybe (final verdict: no) follow-up with the aforementioned Mr. Buckingham.

and today a trip to J. J. Byrne Park in Brooklyn (not exactly my old or new stomping grounds (read: a long damn subway ride in which to work through a few more pages of Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn (I miss reading)) to film a Possibly 4th Street with Damien Jurado (and Jenna Conrad and Eric Fisher). nice, talented folk.

which makes the recent iPod playlist consist of three primary albums: Damien's Caught in the Trees, Beck's Modern Guilt and the upcoming collaboration between Vic Chesnutt and Elf Power entitled Dark Developments (out either October 14th or 28th, depending on who you believe).

I'm going to take a night off from the Live Metallica download code because, honestly, not only is it late but the codes are on the computer in the other room which currently contains a sleeping spouse.
and it's more important to me (much more important actually) for her to be happy with me than you.
sorry.

but come back tomorrow and I promise something super man-bear-pig special, and maybe even worth your time.

busy ain't genius, baby.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

just because the headline's different, doesn't mean I'll let you down


we've got the Live Metallica code coming (don't you dare skip ahead), but there will lots of free reading this week.
first up is one of those long-form interviews online at the Voice, this time with Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier. and this one comes with a free mp3.
Stereolab is headlining the venue formerly known as Irving Plaza this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (though hopefully they won't start until about an hour after the Auburn-Vandy game ends).

and now, without further ado, tonight's code good for one free download of Metallica's December 20th show in Oakland, California (home of the recently certified insane Raiders owner Al Davis):

MTP081220518F8CEB15

Monday, September 29, 2008

free live metallica download codes (day four)


yes, it's time for day four of our mucho exciting free live Metallica download code promotion (is this a promotion? what are we promoting? stay tuned for an exciting pyramid scheme offer (just kidding)). and we've finally discovered the only entity uglier than Auburn's victories over Mississippi State and Tennessee (farewell, Phil Fulmer. we knew you much longer than we would've preferred): the stock market.

ouch,
ouch,
ouch,
ouch,
ouch.

directions for first-timers:
click on this Live Metallica link, register, and then enter the code.

if you're the first blog reader to copy and paste that day's code, then Metallica will send you a free download of the concert in question.

so here, without further ado, is today's code, good for one free download of Metallica's upcoming February 1st show (currently pegged as the end of the tour) at Newark's Prudential Center:

MTP090201173B277869

good luck.