Thursday, August 28, 2008

yes, you're right

I shouldn't be blogging at 3:40 in the morning.
especially with the workload I have in my lap, and a continuing case of convulsive coughing (seemingly triggered every time I lay down for more than 30 minutes at a time which, along with the workload, may explain why I'm awake at 3:40 in the morning).

I lied, by the way. but unknowingly.
it seems I do have non-blog material up this week as the Nashville Scene saw fit to run an excerpt of my long-form interview with Aimee Mann.
but here's some fresher, newer stuff that I didn't write:
a wonderful piece (right in his wheelhouse) by Tom Chiarella (that's Tom above, in a Michael Edwards photo fittingly titled "Tom as Butcher") courtesy of (it's their meat issue or something),
and a profile of Jessica Simpson by the uber-talented Will Blythe (not an assignment I would've made, but then again I wouldn't run a cover story on page 530 either - shows what I don't know about publishing, I guess).
and if you're looking for something really stupid by a national writer with a full-time gig (nope, I'm not jealous at all), senior writer Dennis Dodd manages to go out of his way to write about shit he knows nothing about in an article ostensibly discussing upsets in college football.
the quote: "Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: He's a still-cool iconic rocker. She's a new-age violinist who is trying to gravy train a still-cool iconic rocker."
anyone who believes that Alison Krauss, a 21-time Grammy winner, is a "new-age violinist" has no business writing about Alison Krauss (not to mention the fact that I believe it was Plant who first suggested the collaboration).

forthcoming pubs that may very well show that I'm writing about shit I know nothing about: two Possibly 4th Streets, one with IAMX and one with Amy Ray, plus a long-form interview with Giant Sand's Howe Gelb should pop on just after Labor Day.

and that ain't even half of what I've got in front of me.
there's a real possibility that I may be conducting as many as four fairly major interviews (not counting baseball) next week. but I still plan on sneaking away to the U.S. Open one day.

by the way, I've got tickets to all the day sessions next week, Tuesday through Friday, and there's no way I can attend more than one. so if you need ducats at face or less, give me a holler.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

a better day, for baseball and everything else

except for the fact that a series of coughing fits (not my first night with those this week) is keeping me awake, today was a better day: no horrible women at the beach (or at least none that I could hear), continued excellent weather, finished reading Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (definitely worth this current $4.99 bargain price, though it took me a while to realize that I was wearing a Washington Nationals hat while reading a novel set in D.C. (I'm not all that quick today)) while listening to Thelonious Monk's Complete Riverside Recordings (discs 11-15 mainly), another Met-Yankee interview (Don Schulze), a long (if slightly depressing) walk through the Seaside Heights boardwalk area, some good eating, some cleaning, some packing. out of here in just a number of hours.

my long-form interview with Robyn Hitchcock posted this morning (his latest box set, Luminous Groove, dropped this past Tuesday).

my long-form interview with Marcus Miller (he performs with Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten tomorrow night in New York) posted yesterday.

(don't worry. other than a space blog entry here or there, you'll have nothing at all of mine to read next week.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

not a good day for baseball

so even though I'm still technically on vacation (from what? you ask; good question), there's still work to be done as it appears I'm back in (on?) the game of baseball. specifically working on a piece about the imminent closings of Shea and Yankee Stadiums.
and yesterday (Wednesday) was a good day as I got to speak with Wally Whitehurst and Shane Spencer, two of the less than 100 major league players in history to don both the Mets and Yankees uniforms.
but today was a terse e-mail here, an abrupt phone call there.
two steps forward, one step back (maybe three steps back).
and yet we persevere.

switched books today at the beach (and the weather has been lovely). now reading a novel (yep, a novel), . . .
but once I got settled in the chair, a horrible, horrible woman (further description is being put on hold for fear I would delve into horrible, horrible stereotypes) began berating her children. loudly. in a voice for all (esp. those close by (see: me)) to hear.
and though I had earbuds in (most of the first three discs of Coltrane's Classic Quartet: The Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings), her voice carried through.
did I mention the weather has been lovely?

two steps forward, one step back.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

birthday music

garbage trucks make their rounds early. at least on Mondays. at least in Seaside Park, New Jersey. which allowed me to experience my birthday to the max.

in the early morning, wee wee, sleepy (for most) hours yesterday I groggily contemplated taking a picture of everything (and I mean, everything) I ran across. you know, once a year overdocumentation.
but thankfully for those nearest and dearest I purposely left "the good camera" back in New York (you can only carry so much through a rainy city when trying to catch a Friday evening train out of Penn Station and, trust me, the oversized suitcase was more than enough to wrestle with). plus I very much believed this would be a week of more literary leanings.

but I did listen to a goodly amount of music on the 18th. more or less in order:

"A Day in the Life" - The Beatles
"In My Life" - The Beatles
"I've Just Seen A Face" - The Beatles
"Two of Us" - The Beatles
"Dig A Pony" - The Beatles
most of Randy Newman's Harps and Angels (while walking to and from the local bakery)
most of Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction (explanation later)
most of Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion I (explanation later)
"Give Me Back My Man" - The B-52's
"Private Idaho" - The B-52's
"Clean Up For Christmas" - Aimee Mann
"You Could Make A Killing" - Aimee Mann
"Let's Stay Together" - Al Green
"Tired of Being Alone" - Al Green
"You Can Have It All" - Yo La Tengo
"Stockholm Syndrome" - Yo La Tengo
"The Boy is Exhausted" - The Wrens
"Everyone Chooses Sides" - The Wrens
"Hash Pipe" - Weezer
"Say It Ain't So" - Weezer
"Louisiana" - The Walkmen
"The Rat" - The Walkmen
"I Hear The Rain" - Violent Femmes
"It's Gonna Rain" - Violent Femmes
"And The Healing Has Begun" - Van Morrison
"'Til I Gain Control Again" - Van Morrison
"Venus" - Television
"Marquee Moon" - Television
"Were You There?" - Tarbox Ramblers
"Last Month of the Year" - Tarbox Ramblers
"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" - They Might Be Giants
"Birdhouse in Your Soul" - They Might Be Giants
"Teenage Riot" - Sonic Youth
"Beauty Lies in the Eye" - Sonic Youth
"1979" - Smashing Pumpkins
"Tonight, Tonight" - Smashing Pumpkins
"Kissing the Lipless" - The Shins
"So Says I" - The Shins
"Come Pick Me Up" - Ryan Adams
"New York, New York" - Ryan Adams
"Rocks Off" - Rolling Stones
"Happy" - Rolling Stones
"Falling Up" - Rickie Lee Jones
"Pirates (So Long, Lonely Avenue)" - Rickie Lee Jones
"Busted" - Ray Charles
"Crying Time" - Ray Charles
"Can't Hardly Wait" - The Replacements
"Cruella Deville" - The Replacements
"Feast on My Heart" - Pylon
"Volume" - Pylon
"Rise" - Public Image Ltd.
"Seattle" - Public Image Ltd.
"U-Mass" - Pixies
"Ed Is Dead" - Pixies
"Brainy" - The National
"Start A War" - The National
"Wild Sage" - The Mountain Goats
"San Bernadino" - The Mountain Goats
"Every Word Means No" - Let's Active
"Make Up With Me" - Let's Active
"On Call" - Kings of Leon
"My Party" - Kings of Leon
"Stomping All Over The World" - Kimberley Rew
"Hey, War Pig!" - Kimberley Rew
"I Can't Stand Up (For Falling Down)" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
"Secondary Modern" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
"Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" - Elton John
"(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket" - Elton John
"72 (This Highway's Mean)" - Drive-By Truckers
"Zip City" - Drive-By Truckers

last movie I ever saw: Dog Day Afternoon

last book I ever read: Eric Weisbard's 33 1/3 treatise on GNR's Use Your Illusion (see? I told you there would be an explanation)

and today Part Two of my interview with Steinski posted on, complete with the world premiere (and FREE) download of the very recent track "What Was Raymond Doing With His Hands? (A Soundtrack for a Real Swinger of a Nightmare). so grab it grab it grab it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I have four tickets for Springsteen in Nashville this Thursday - below cost

and in other news, I am currently all of about 200 yards from the Atlantic Ocean and there's plenty of barbecue in the refrigerator. one drawback is that Atlantic Ocean doesn't seem to have Wi-Fi, so in order to gain a connection I must walk into the middle of the street (10th Avenue for those of you interested in New Jersey history), lift one leg (more like a flamingo than a Labrador, thankfully), twist and shout (more like the Beatles than Chubby Checker) while positioning my left index finger towards my left earlobe, elbow out.

only a couple of those are exaggerations. Wi-Fi appears to be an outdoor only convenience.

and it is the anniversary of my birth. a prime number, in fact. though I certainly wouldn't read too much into the word "prime."

part one of my interview with the great Steinski is now up at part two, complete with the world premiere download "What Was Raymond Doing With His Hands?" will post tomorrow, and by week's end conversations with Robyn Hitchcock and Marcus Miller will post.

but seriously, e-mail me if you or someone you love can use those Springsteen tickets.

Monday, August 11, 2008

by now you know

that Isaac Hayes has died.

I interviewed Mr. Hayes in early June, and not until just a couple of hours before he called did I learn, for certain, that he had suffered a stroke in January of 2006.

A timeline:
On November 16, 2005, episode 912 of “South Park,” the thinly veiled ambush of Scientology entitled “Trapped in the Closet,” airs (good luck catching a re-rerun; supposedly Tom Cruise has pressured Comedy Central’s parent company into taking it out of rotation).
Months later, Hayes, a Scientologist, quits his role as Chef, presumably over this very episode. Except in an interview with The Onion’s A.V. Club published January 4, 2006, the R & B legend doesn’t appear to be particularly troubled by the skewering of his religion.
“Well, I talked to (“South Park” creators) Matt (Stone) and Trey (Parker) about that,” Hayes is quoted as saying. “They didn't let me know until it was done. I said, ‘Guys, you have it all wrong. We're not like that. I know that's your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that shit, you know?’ But I understand what they're doing. I told them to take a couple of Scientology courses, and understand what we do (laughs).”
(Note: a Wikipedia entry on Hayes also quotes from the same interview: “One thing about Matt and Trey, they lampoon everybody, and if you take that serious, I'll sell you the Brooklyn bridge for two dollars. That’s what they do." But we couldn’t find that particular quote in that particular piece)
Then on March 13th of 2006 a statement, purportedly authorized by Hayes, asked for his release from his contract with the show because of Parker and Stone’s apparent intolerance of religion. Scientology was not specifically cited.

However, two months before that request for a release was made, Isaac Hayes suffered a stroke.
On January 17th, Memphis television station WMC reported that the singer had suffered a stroke and quoted unnamed sources who claimed the episode “was triggered from exhaustion” (which would certainly be the first time I’ve ever heard of exhaustion causing a stroke).
Two months after Hayes’ reported stroke and just one week after his statement asking to be released from his role as Chef, Fox News’ Roger Friedman wrote an article entitled “Chef’s Quitting Controversy.”
The article begins: “Isaac Hayes did not quit ‘South Park.’ My sources say that someone quit it for him.
“I can tell you,” Friedman continues, “that Hayes is in no position to have quit anything. Contrary to news reports, the great writer, singer and musician suffered a stroke on Jan. 17.”
What follows is yet another Scientology conspiracy theory (and hey, we’re believers). Most pointedly, Friedman asks why, in light of Hayes’ relatively recent, pre-stroke defense of the show to the A.V. Club, if the singer was so offended, would he wait four months after “Trapped in the Closet” aired before quitting.
Which is a damn good question.

But wait. There’s more.

One week after Friedman’s piece, and two weeks’ after Hayes purported release request, Hayes’ spokesperson Amy Harnell (still employed by Hayes when I interviewed him incidentally) told MTV News that the Fox report was “definitely not true" and that Hayes' decision to quit “South Park” was "his and his alone."
Harnell also stated that Hayes had not been hospitalized with a stroke as was previously reported, but rather “spent a few days in a hospital because of a high blood-pressure condition with medical complications" (which is a lot closer to the definition of stroke than that exhaustion excuse).

Finally, in October of 2006, just before his first public concert since his hospital stay, Hayes confirmed the stroke his publicist previously denied. After his representatives had warned a San Antonio Express-News reporter not to ask about Hayes’ health or his “South Park” departure, Hayes brought the subject up himself.
“In January I had a stroke,” Hayes is quoted. “I'm through it now, and I'm almost well."
"The stroke hasn't hurt my singing," he continues. "I've been working on it.”
Just this April Hayes once again introduced the subject in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And this time he went into further detail, explaining that he was struck following a concert.
"I started babbling,” said Hayes. “I was living in the hospital for about two weeks. I was out, man."
Of course, strokes – often fatal – impose a variety of effects. Not uncommon is memory loss and difficulty with speech. And that seems to be the case with Isaac Hayes.
"I was blank,” he told the Vegas paper. “Couldn't remember nothing. But I just kept going, and eventually my memory came back.
"I'm doing better. The stroke is gone now. I'm coming back."

But that same month – that is, just about sixty days ago – Hayes participated in a live morning radio interview with “The Adam Carolla Show.” And the result was what one might charitably call a trainwreck.
Carolla and his staff also seemed unaware of Hayes’ health condition (does this make me feel better? Maybe just a little bit).
After several awkward pauses and a recognized tendency of Hayes to repeat certain answers, Carolla asked the singer if perhaps he might be guilty of a little “wake and bake.”
At which point Isaac Hayes began discussing a cookbook he had authored three years before.

It was an honor and a privilege to speak with the man, even considering the circumstances. And if you don't yet own a copy of Hot Buttered Soul, Mr. Hayes' personal recommendation, please take care of that now.

My interview with Isaac Hayes, published for the first time in a special Sunday night edition of the Voice's Sound of the City, can be found here.

RIP, Isaac Hayes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

all by myself . . . don't want to live

horrible, horrible song (see: Ethan Frome). but unfortunately in my head as my beloved is spending a few days in the Midwest.

so I made two trips into Manhattan in order to secure an interview with 90-year-old pianist Hank Jones (who played with Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins . . . ). next up in line to the backstage area between his Birdland sets: Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea (kind of interesting to cross paths with Stanley Clarke since I just interviewed one of his S.M.V. partners, Marcus Miller, on Wednesday).

a quick stop by the Rum House to say hi on the way home since I was in the neighborhood (continually missing dinner) and should be in bed but the United States is beating Venezuela in volleyball (much subtext here after yesterday's murder of the coach's father-in-law). and that's a little more interesting than the badminton (men's and women's) I watched earlier today.

Friday, August 8, 2008

more reading The Road

"They walked into the little clearing, the boy clutching his hand. They'd taken everything with them except whatever black thing was skewered over the coals. He was standing there checking the perimeter when the boy turned and buried his face against him. He looked quickly to see what had happened. What is it? he said. What is it? The boy shook his head. Oh Papa, he said. He turned and looked again. What the boy had seen was a charred human infant headless and gutted and blackening on the spit. He bent and picked the boy up and started for the road with him, holding him close. I'm sorry, he whispered. I'm sorry."

- Cormac McCarthy

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

alabama 3 and such

nothing in today's mail, but I did receive e-files of Minus the Bear's Planet of Ice (that's on Suicide Squeeze and I'm asking for a Suicide Squeeze t-shirt for my birthday) and Stereophonic's upcoming Pull the Pin (lots of re-issues on the way from them, too).

nothing much on the television today (though there's a Ronald Reagan movie on now in which his character's wife says, "Of course, you'll have to tell me what to do. I'm only a woman." and that was pretty funny), which I guess is a good thing, because it gave me a chance to knock out some Robyn Hitchcock transcribing. his Egyptians-era box set, Luminous Groove, comes out on August 19 (so the piece will run that week).

out today: Randy Newman's Harps and Angels and Amy Ray's Didn't It Feel Kinder (we recorded a P4St with her yesterday at the north end of Central Park) and Conor Oberst's self-titled (which I do not have)

also new today, our Possibly 4th Street session with the Alabama 3, writers, performers and overall cool Brits behind the Sopranos' theme "Woke Up This Morning" (which they played for us in Union Square - worth seeing)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

the post in which I'm not allowed to "blog-bitch" Tom Chiarella

yes, I am shamed and humbled, if not completely close-mouthed. I have recently communicated (the way that really counts: back and forth) with Mr. Chiarella (it's possible that I may be testing a Google Alert here).
if you have not partaken of the Tom Sawyer-esque brilliance (complete with footnotes) of his piece on Halle Berry (who smiled at me once backstage at Conan (I swear)), please do so.

the musical half-week in review:
what I'm listening to this very second (at 3:40 a.m.): S.M.V.'s (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten) Thunder (out on August 12)

the two Possibly 4th Street episodes we recorded on Wednesday: Tilly and the Wall (in Peter Cooper Village where the local authorities summarily dismissed us, thankfully at the tail end of their second song) and Bowerbirds (in and around the Mollusk Surf Shop on Brooklyn's River Street, mere blocks from where we recorded with Phosphorescent last year)

who we saw on Wednesday night: Aimee Mann (see fairly creepy (double click for the full effect of Aimee's right eye), fairly bad photo above) at the muchly crowded Highline Ballroom (the staff there is very nice, considerate, professional, et al, but there is no photo pit; thanks to the kindness of a stranger similarly disconcerted by the sardine-like main floor I was allowed to step in front to take a few pics from the balcony which, as you might imagine, renders but faint hope capturing anything even serviceable given the distance, the dark, the movement (translation: I came home with bupkis, less than bupkis (is that how you spell bupkis?)). but we enjoyed the show)

phrase of the evening: "Snow White, who's a fucking idiot apparently" - Aimee Mann discussing her research when attempting to write a song for Shrek 3

(but the back and forth, back and forth, and a recent change to the Metro Card menu (which reminded me of the time I filled my father's pickup truck with diesel (it did not run on diesel) because the local gas station had reordered the pumps since my last visit) caused me to purchase a two-week Metro Card. I did not need, nor did I want, a two-week Metro Card, especially since I have two monthlys, left over from days of regular employment, still in their cellophane resting upon my cluttered desk)

this evening: a very enjoyable interview with Dan Boeckner and Hadji Bakara of Wolf Parade backstage before their second Terminal 5 show (Harvilla reviewed night one in his NSFW-titled blog). they're both huge Tusk fans and I, of course, am charged with delivering a treatise on said classic album for Continuum's 33 1/3 series at year end.

pubs: my interview with Aimee Mann (as previously mentioned) posted on Monday and Wednesday saw the Possibly 4th Street episode (at least still photos and prose) with Falcon. audio/video are upcoming.

also, Tilly and the Wall are currently offering a free MP3 of "Pot Kettle Black" (right click when you get there), which has to be the most infectious legally free download you'll find all summer, so take advantage.