Thursday, February 26, 2009


in an effort to stir the economy, I left the apartment to purchase four boxes of Nature Valley Fruit & Nut granola bars, a 45 ounce bag of Peanut M&M's, three two-liter bottles of Mountain Dew and a 1.5 quart container ("the new half-gallon") of Breyer's Vanilla/Chocolate/Strawberry ice cream.

and episode 27 of Possibly 4th Street (with ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead) popped today at the Village Voice.

look out, Mama, there's a white boat comin' up the river.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Randy Bewley

On Monday, Randy Bewley, innovative and influential guitarist for Pylon, suffered a heart attack while driving in his adopted hometown of Athens, Georgia. He passed away this afternoon, shortly after being taken off of life support.
Our thoughts are with Randy's family and friends on this very sad day.
He will be missed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the frequency, tone and volume

of Jeff Bezos' laughter creeps me out more than a little bit.
especially the frequency and volume given Jon Stewart's dubious stance (perhaps he was stealing Letterman's anti-Oprah light).

so over the top is Bezos' laugh that I think he could do a nice twist on an updated Riddler (or at least a henchman) if the latest Batman franchise decides to bring back the Frank Gorshin role.

does it make me want to send the guy money, for a Kindle 2 or other?
not so much.
but at least he wasn't defensive (in the least) during what could be perceived as an attack on his newly-released product.

Monday, February 23, 2009

so the oscars are over

I'm probably not entitled to any opinions on the selections themselves since I can't remember the last time I actually saw a recently released movie in a theater ("recently released" because I will, on occasion, go see a film at the MoMA, though maybe there should be some kind of monetary qualifier as well since I did view at least one entry during last year's Tribeca Film Festival).
my best guess would be The Simpsons Movie. pretty sure that came after William Eggleston in the Real World.

but I do take advantage of my Netflix membership (a good place here to curse Time-Warner Cable for the erratic at best Internet connection that tends to stall out at the most inopportune moments, necessitating either a reconnect or excruciating replay of buffering process), and so I have seen Richard Jenkins in The Visitor (he had about as much chance at winning Best Actor as he did the lottery, which is not to say he didn't give a fine performance in a worthy film), Best Documentary winner Man on Wire (also available for instant viewing on Netflix) and, of course, Dark Knight (Heath Ledger's Supporting Actor win) which has been out on DVD forever.
oh, and I saw Wall-E but didn't see what the fuss was about.

which means I haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire or Frost/Nixon or Milk or Doubt or The Reader or Benjamin Button or Frozen River (though that'll be taken care of shortly) or even The Wrestler.

but I appreciated the twist of bringing back five previous category winners to present the respective acting awards (even though Sophia Loren scared me a bit). Shirley Maclaine actually appeared more human than anyone else on stage with her (a surprise) and even though I'm not a fan of Anne Hathaway I felt good for her that she was able to receive such a tribute from someone who obviously meant a lot to her (either that or she's a better actor than I thought).
very surprised that Forest Whitaker wasn't one of the five Actor presenters, though it was mucho cool to see Deniro out there feting Sean Penn.
but if they do this again, damn they've either got to insist that the presenters memorize their tributes or find a way to put the teleprompter at least somewhere near the nominees. a couple folks (I'm looking at you Adrien Brody) about broke their necks having to swivel from the teleprompter to the nominee they were supposedly addressing. and to hide such, the Awards show director kept the cameras on the nominees' faces entirely too long. I mean, poor "Seymour Phillip" Hoffman trying his best to hide his WTF? reaction to Alan Arkin's butchering of his name during an excessively long take (payback for keeping his hat on, some will say; not me).

also, quit jerking the camera around during the In Memoriam segment. made me dizzy.

it's also time to ignore the instinct to show Angelina Jolie's reaction every time Jennifer Aniston speaks. absolutely unfair that the woman's up there playing straight man to Jack Black (which can't be easy) on some fairly difficult, not inherently interesting categories, and then get undercut like that.

enough already with Beyonce (absolutely the worst part of the show; the musical is back? really? I would've guessed the complete dearth of nominations for such, as well as the need to mine the entire Oscar history in order to provide music for the segment might've been a hint that this idea should've been a non-starter).

and finally, how stupid must Mickey Rourke's management feel right now? I mean, even hinting that the guy would partake of the squared circle at Wrestlemania (actually attempting to start at feud on the SAG Awards red carpet) before the Oscar votes were submitted and tallied was idiocy. because you know those Academy voters didn't take kindly to Rourke preparing to cash in (with the WWE, no less) on his Oscar before receiving it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

weekend in review

Friday night we stayed home to watch Gene Hackman in Night Moves (a Will Oldham recommendation which, shockingly, comes up before the Bob Seger album if you conduct an All Departments Amazon search; Amazon, by the way, is offering, today only, a download of Gillian Welch's Revival (truly a great work) for just $1.99) and Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice (which was wonderful save for the excruciatingly over-the-top final five minutes (because I don't always tend to read poetry aloud at the foot of the bed where the woman who claimed my virginity lies in a double suicide (no throes), untouched by the myriad police crowding the room who don't appear to have made any move at all towards determining death) while Jemina Pearl listened to Tusk on vinyl.

Saturday we journeyed towards the New York-Connecticut border for a non-Valentine's celebration with a house full of pleasant adults and wandering children (crying "Mommy!" in such a setting generates just slightly less attention than yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater).

Sunday, following a beautiful, somewhat surprising Dook loss, the Tar Heels crawled on the back of an ailing Tywan Lawson for a four-point road win over Miami (I think we'll see Jack McClinton in the pros).
but we left the television with Carolina up almost double digits with approximately 15 minutes remaining in order to catch the final show of Los Campesinos! winter tour at the Bowery Ballroom.
the band played a fine, well-received set (they'll be playing larger venues soon, I'm sure), complete with stage-diving, tales of lost passports and broken equipment, and fulsome feedback on the final song.
we stood next to Harriet's mother and father (a cellist). it's their first trip to New York and parental pride appeared to win out over jet lag. at least last night.

and in case you missed it, Zach Baron caught a mini-Simon & Garfunkel reunion upon the Beacon's re-opening (enough of a reason to make "The Only Living Boy in New York" today's song of the day), and the husband of the New York Times Magazine's deputy editor wrote about Neko Case for the New York Times Magazine.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Van Morrison tickets went onsale about 10 minutes ago

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two shows at the WaMu and two shows and the old and improved Beacon.
but obviously no one has told Mr. Morrison that there's a recession (and that word truly doesn't capture what we're going through right now) going on.
tickets start at $350, and you can sit in the back row for $90 as Van plays the entirety of Astral Weeks, a redo of a similar series of recorded shows in Los Angeles which will be released on the 24th.

looking back, I'm almost certain that Van Morrison is the first show I ever paid north of $100 to see (it happened again with Neil Young at the Garden in December, but that was a different kind of accident), but it was more of an accompanied gift (friend, co-worker, boss who dearly loves Mr. Morrison) than any self-directed desire. though I must admit that his rendition of "And The Healing Has Begun" that evening immediately made it my favorite of all of Van's material.

the Chelsea (AL) High School girls' basketball team saw their season come to an end last night with a loss on the road at Selma in the round of 24. but the Birmingham News ran a short interview piece with the team's leading scorer and her coach.

also last night we watched part of the 10 o'clock news on WPIX, which is something we haven't done in a long time. top stories out of Newark included a woman being crushed by a windblown tree branch while driving on Route 22, and another woman, walking near where neighbors said that she fed pigeons and squirrels every day, crushed by a windblown tree branch (and rather surprisingly they showed video, without warning, of the body crushed underneath).
another report presented the nearly five hour delays out of Liberty International Airport because of the wind (unbelievably strong yesterday, though the reporter's toupee didn't move a scintilla), which makes one question, Why just delays? If it's too windy to fly, why aren't there more cancellations?
then, just a few minutes later, a commuter turboprop affiliated with Continental Airlines crashed into a beautifully quaint home (see above) in Clarence Center, New York just five minutes before it was due to land in Buffalo.
all 49 onboard, including Beverly Eckert, a 9/11 widow flying to Buffalo to award a scholarship at her late husband's high school alma mater, and one person on the ground were killed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Music Tuesday

another rather lackluster day for new releases. most noteworthy are the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach's first solo album, Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You (available all day today for download at Amazon for just $3.99) and Ruins of Berlin by the Dex Romweber Duo (seen above at Bloodshot's CMJ party last October).

we recorded a Possibly 4th Street with Dexter and Sara both backstage at the Apollo and out the back door (126th Street) last Saturday night.

and my interview with Gareth of Los Campesinos! (who released two great albums in 2008) popped at the Voice this morning.

oh. and the financial markets have fallen out of bed. again.
(now (just after 1 p.m. EST) down over 300 points following Geithner's outline, which is pretty much equivalent to a 500 point loss in the Dow a year ago)

(update: at 3:19 p.m. EST the Dow crossed over negative 400 points for the day. or just about 4.8%. good thing that "love is all you need.")

Monday, February 9, 2009

the four questions with multiple grammy winner Robert Plant

believe it or not, before his Raising Sand collaboration with Alison Krauss, Robert Plant had won exactly one Grammy (which says more about the Grammys than it does Robert Plant). he's now won six.
Alison Krauss, still shy of 40, now owns 26 Grammy Awards, the third-most in history.

I spoke by telephone with Robert Plant on April 22nd as he traveled from Louisville to Knoxville for just the third night of their 2008 domestic tour.
the full feature ran about a month later in the Village Voice.

Can you tell me something that you’ve never ever done before in your life?

(laughs) I never came through the Cumberland Gap before, and that’s exactly what I just did. I mean, when I was a kid, there was a hit record in England by Lonnie Donegan who was a kind of a skiffle player, which I guess is a sort of a kind of combination of bluegrass and folk. And there was an old song (he sings here), "Cumberland Gap/Cumberland Gap/18 miles to the Cumberland Gap," or whatever it was, so when I flew through from south Kentucky last night I went, 'Ah, so there we are.' I’m nearly 60 and I finally put a name . . .

Fifty years later and you know what he’s talking about.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s beautiful out here, so that’s a first.

Tell me something you’ve done once and one time only.

Visited Cairo Airport.

That’s Cairo, Egypt or Cairo, Kentucky?

Oh, Cairo, Egypt. I wouldn’t go near an airport in Cairo, Kentucky.

Tell me the name of a book you’ve read at least twice.

Let me just think about this. Okay, I would say that the book that actually I’ve read three times is called Yemen: The Unknown Arabia by Tim Mackintosh-Smith.

So I guess you could recommend it if you’ve read it three times.

Well yeah, I mean, there are so many Arabians, there are so many Americans, it’s just that this guy has just such a kind of great fluidity and, you know, he studies one of the most unique environments on the planet, the most amazing people and a fantastic world. Sometimes you know you can go from one area to the next and there’s this two thousand year difference in just 24 hours driving.

Great. And tell me the name of a movie you’ve seen at least three times.

Wow, that’s a good one. What have I seen three times? I guess The Vikings with Tony Curtis and Kurt Douglas (laughs).

Good. I’ve never heard that answer before.

I was a kid in the beginning, you know, but I got all romantic about some hag steering ships across an ocean using a lodestone. It gave me an idea for a song a bit later on down the line.

What song?

“Immigrant Song.”


Thursday, February 5, 2009

reading the music blogs more than I should

because there wasn't a lot of interest in the Times this morning and, truthfully, I'm dragging my feet a bit on transcribing my interview with Gareth of Los Campesinos! (even though it was a good one).

in a double stroke of luck, two recent assignments, Bonnie "Prince" Billy for Anthem and yesterday's interview with The Fray for, have come complete with transcription services.
of course, the accuracy leaves something to be desired (no one's going to be able to catch the nuances, inflections, et al, that the interviewer can after spending a lifetime with one voice, an hour or so with the other, you know, the advantage of just "being there"), but double-checking passages is a lot less strenuous than doing the full transcription.
call me spoiled.

but back to the blogs. the Cramps' Lux Interior is dead, though Springsteen sang live at the Super Bowl, the E Street Band's tracks were pre-recorded, Pitchfork pretty much skewered Ben Kweller's new album (the word "half-assed" appears twice in the final sentence) and has a rather insipid interview with the "laid-back and gregarious" (?) Kings of Leon backstage in Chicago. and for some reason the interview states that the group is a "Memphis foursome" (three are from in and around Nashville, one from Oklahoma and now all four Followills live in the Music City. guess Spin's fact-checkers have been laid off like everyone else).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


not a lot of significant releases this week, but the Fray (who I will interview tomorrow) have a new self-titled sophomore album, Ben Kweller goes country on Changing Horses, Phosphorescent pays their respects with To Willie and Mr. Nelson himself has a new album with Asleep at the Wheel.

less than 36 hours ago we topped 50 degrees here in New York. now it's snowing, and not insignificantly.

Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard opens today at the Met, which will cause me to miss most, if not all, of North Carolina's home game against Maryland.

and Possibly 4th Street #26 with the Explorers Club popped this morning. the band plays the Mercury Lounge on Thursday, Maxwell's in Hoboken on Friday and Philly on Saturday.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

last concert I ever (almost) saw: notes

three songs by the Whigs, fifty minutes in the bowels of MSG, then three songs by Kings of Leon, because promoters and publicists treat photographers as if we all take our cues from John Malkovich in The Killing Fields.

"I am not an animal! I am a human being! I … am … a man!"

(further comparisons, such as the narrow photographer's pit being analogous to a cage, will not be presented (unless more cinematic references can be placed))

Harvilla blogged for the Voice (and got a few comments), and three photos appeared there as accompaniment.