Thursday, December 29, 2005

Duke of Earl

So like pretty much every other white piano-playing kid with rock and roll aspirations growing up in suburban New Jersey in the 1980s, I once idolized Billy Joel. Once I had digested everything the Beatles had ever recorded, there was a period (roughly the end of high school through the beginning of my first attempt at college) when I thought he was the shit. I even went to a few of his concerts, thanks mostly to my friend Jeff. For a while Mr. Joel was my number one role model, even though I never saw myself as a singer-songwriter per se.

Tempus fugit, and all that. Saw Mr. Joel on Conan O'Brien a few weeks back. How depressing! Sure, he was older, fatter, balder. But that stuff wasn't an issue for me... pretty much inevitable, you know. However: sad, sad, sad was a story he told about how bored he gets playing all of his hits--playing them to death, to the point where he literally zones out during a performance. (Incidentally, I distinctly remember him relating the similar story to Rolling Stone back in the late 80s--which makes the whole thing even more depressing.)

Cut to commercial. Cut back, and Mr. Joel launches into two relatively obscure gems from his catalogue: "Vienna" and "Everybody Loves You Now." Nice to pull those out and remind us of how consummate his songwriting skills once were. But the performances... good god, pretty much verbatim from the original recordings. Same arrangements, same solos, very little leeway, aside from a few vocal modifications. You would think, being Billy Joel and all, that he could get away with taking a few liberties. Risk losing a few miserable fans who couldn't handle anything new or unusual. But no. Let's continue to live in the past.

No wonder the man is an alcoholic.

One of my favorite lines from a Billy Joel song: "Thought I was the Duke of Earl / When I made it with a red-head girl / in a Cheverolet" (from "Keepin' the Faith"). I recently discovered the "real" Duke of Earl--Gene Chandler, who recorded the tune Joel references in 1962. What a perfect piece of music. The beauty of a Sam Cooke melody, but with a hell of a lot less innocence. Out-swaggers most modern rap tunes, and even features a small two-horn sax "section" (very rare for Doo-Wop).

As I walk through this world
Nothing can stop the Duke of Earl
And you are my girl
And no one can hurt you, oh, no

And when I hold you you'll be my duchess
Duchess of Earl
We'll walk through my dukedom
And a paradise we will share

"Duke of Earl" is sort of naive, lustful, and full of dumb male bravado all at once. Just the sort of thing to prompt artistic risk-taking. I wish Mr. Joel would go back and listen to it again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A new year, a new label

So you might as well know now... we're not going to release Go-Go with Innova (our label for Angles and Chamber). Instead, we're going with our good friend Phillip Greenlief's label, Evander Music.

Someday I'll explain why. In the meantime, here's a preview of the upcoming release.

Never look back, baby.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A much better W than the one we've got

I'm not ashamed to admit that I like the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus." Sometimes I think it's the only carol I care about... though a bitchen arrangement can make all the difference with even some of the cheesier ditties.

The thing about "Wenceslaus," aside from the archetypal "old world" melody, is the lyrical content, which describes a model of compassion and altruism that most kings / queens / politicians / leaders lack. It's simultaneously hopeful (a model for us to live up to) and poignant / depressing (real world evidence suggests that it is extremely rare for people in positions of power to emulate the good king).

The Roches do a surprisingly good version of this tune on their Christmas record from a while back.

That's all I'm going to say about Christmas this year.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Seen at the CMC







Random shots of the group in action last Saturday evening. All courtesy of Rebecca Dulatre-Corbin. (Thanks!)

So we had a good time, I think, and the group may have even been in better form than it was in San Diego. But there was a catch. The audience was a lot smaller; we had maybe 20-25 people, while Dizzy's was, I'm told, a SRO show (possibly because no one was brave enough to sit in the front row.) To me the audience is the whole point of playing live, and so I couldn't help but feel like the small turnout at CMC was a bit of an anticlimax. Especially after a 5-6 hour drive (or an even longer plane ride, in Jill's case).

On the other hand, we got a pretty nice recording, which I'll be making available on the Internet Archive soon. As I said, everyone was in fine form (though I am beginning to get more and more ideas for how to nitpick us into even better shape). BTW, I've got to say it: Dan Schnelle gets the award for being probably the best drummer we've ever had. Holy shit, he seems to be memorizing the music. And Tiner gets the purple heart; he bit his lip pretty badly earlier that same day (bad news for a horn player), but held things together for the performance rather well.

Rosenboom, Walsh, and Richardson all drove back to LA the same night. That's night quite as crazy as Jill's cross-country trek, but it's close. I continue to be astounded at / humbled by the lengths to which people will go to play in this group.

Anyway, after the performance, I got a little bit of a sense of why the show was so poorly-attended (aside from there being precious little parking, and aside from the dearth of media coverage, which is another story). As we were loading our gear into the van, a fight broke out on the next block. T'weren't no scuffle, neither--it was a veritable rumble involving maybe six or seven guys, vehicles smashing into each other, and eventually a set of cop cars blocking off the street. Kinda reminded me of being shot at in Rochester this past June.

Driving home on Sunday, pretty much all of the van denizens fell asleep except me. I love those fleeting "alone" moments on tour--whether driving the van or heading out to Walgreens at 2:30 in the morning because I realized I had forgotten my toothbrush. They give me a chance to get my head on straight, and get whatever perspective I might need for the next task (and believe me, with a group this large there is always a next task).

Anyway I hope to use January to get "Go-Go" out (finally), and then we're not playing again until February 24-5 (we'll be up in Truckee and Carson City). Stay tuned.

Oh yeah, and how could I forget?! RIP Richard Pryor.

Pre-show goofery






Pre-show, CMC, December 10, 2005.

Top pic, L-R: Oliver Newell (bass), Dan Boissy (alto), Phil Rodriguez (trumpet), Brian Walsh (obscured).
Next pic, L-R: Dan Rosenboom (trumpet), Brian Walsh (tenor), Evan Francis (alto).
Next pic, L-R: Damon Zick (soprano), Mike Richardson (obscured), Kris Tiner (obscured), Dan Schnelle (drums).
Bottom pic, L-R: Robert Jacobson (guitar), Oliver Newell (bass), Jilll Knapp (vocals).

I'll have more to say about this show (and more pix to share) after a bit of sleep, but for the time being, I should relate what is perhaps the most amazing coincidence of my life:

Driving home on Sunday, halfway between San Francisco and LA, we stopped into one of the many rest areas on the 5 to get some gas, coffee, grub, whatever. As I'm heading for the john, who do I run into but Rob Waller, of the LA-based alt country supergroup I See Hawks in LA. Rob is also an old friend from our days teaching WRIT-140 in USC's Freshman Comp program. We actually once did a quirky double bill (I See Hawks and IJG) at the Knitting Factory. Anyway, the Hawks were up north this weekend for the same reason we were...

Paul Laques, one of the members of I See Hawks, is also in Double Naught Spy Car, another great unsung LA group (sort of a surf / guitar exotica outift) that also boasts Joe Berardi on drums. Joe plays on the forthcoming IJG release, Industrial Jazz-a-Go-Go.

Small fucking world, ain't it?

Friday, December 09, 2005

If you're going to San Francisco...

...be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. Oh, yeah, and come see the IJG.

Forwarded from Evander Music announcement list, run by our good friend Phillip Greenlief:

Dear Friends,

This weekend I am super excited to present the Industrial Jazz Group – an outstanding entourage of top-drawer players all assembled to realize the compositions of the mad composer Andrew Durkin. Durkin has forged a strong compositional voice that has quite naturally digested the most diverse forms of the popular song, the early 20th century modernist side of the avant-garde, supremely swinging be bop, soulful do-wop, and an hodge-podge array of post-jazz structures that allow his stable of young lions plenty of room to knock about and rough his delightful melodies into a frenzied, lyrical submission.

If you come to one Evander Music concert this year (and you don’t have long to get out and do that if you haven’t already done so!), come down and catch this wildly entertaining large ensemble that pays homage to groups like Sun Ra’s Intergalactic Arkestra, Charles Mingus’ early Atlantic gems, Raymond Scott’s cartoon bands, junior high concert bands, Ellington’s 1960’s masterworks, and the darker, more carnival sides of the legendary American Bandstand. Check out their top-notch compositions, great musicianship and scores of playful energy – what more could you ask for?

Check out the critically acclaimed Industrial Jazz Group, now preparing to release their 4th recording on Innova Records.

See you there!
Phillip Greenlief

Evander Music Presents
The Industrial Jazz Group at CMC

8 PM, Saturday, December 10
@The Community Music Center
544 Capp Street (between 20th & 21st Streets)
San Francisco, CA
Info: (510) 652-7914
Tickets: $15, $10 w/Student ID
http://www.sfcmc.org/site/

* * * * *

One correction: though we do have a new album popping out any day now, it will not be released on Innova. More on that later.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The moron on C-SPAN right now...

...is Rep. Jack Kingston, a pro-war Republican from Georgia. Did I mention he is a moron?

I'm too tired to elaborate. Google "moron," and you'll find out more about him.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me



Well, I managed to keep everyone misinformed of the fact of my natal day until pretty much late in the game on Saturday evening. If it weren't for the fact that Mike Richardson, one of the new trombonists, was also born December 3, I would have gotten away with it. (Sorry all, I seem to be habitually shy and self-effacing when it comes to birthday celebrations. This is not intended as rudeness, it's just kind of the way I am, for better or worse.)

Anyway... the gig was super-hot. White-hot even. We got what I think was our first official encore--by which I mean that once we were done with the second set, the audience wouldn't let us leave, so we had to pull out "The Truth and the Abstract Blues"--as-of-yet unrehearsed with this large version of the group.

We had a damned fine crowd of people. And most of the group finally took the plunge and wore a costume of some sort. And the guys who didn't seemed not like party poopers, but rather "straight men"--so it worked. The picture above (kindly taken by our new friend Jim Romeo) gives you some sense of the cut of our jib, though this was taken after the show, so a few of us (including me) had already dressed down. (From left to right: Jill Knapp, David Moyer, Dan Boissy, Ryan Perez-Daple, me, Oliver Newell, Hayan Charlston, Cory Wright, Mike Richardson, Phil Rodriguez, Dan Schnelle, Robert Jacobson, Kris Tiner, Ron Christian, Kelly Corbin, Dan Rosenboom.)

Musically, it was surprisingly tight. I think it's possible that that was because of the wacky garb--but maybe too we've reached some sort of magic number or critical mass in terms of personnel. There were a few awkward moments, particularly in set two--for my own part, the challenge was not only focusing on the moment in each tune, but also trying to anticipate how we were going to get from tune to tune. Still, I don't think the audience noticed or cared about these little inconsistencies.

BTW, Thursday evening's discussion with Vince Outlaw was a hoot. If you missed it he will be putting up mp3s soon (if he hasn't already).

All in all, a splendid weekend. Jill, who flew 3000 miles to do the show (and who sounded great), took a number of fantastic shots that I will be posting soon. I'm a very lucky motherfucker.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

IJG on TNJT

Just a reminder: I'll be chatting a bit with Vince Outlaw over at The New Jazz Thing on KSDS, this Thursday evening from 8;20-8:40 PM (just minutes before a 9 PM rehearsal for our December 3 show at Dizzy's). It should be fun. Vince, always one of our staunchest (and bravest) supporters, has been graciously spinning a few cuts from the upcoming album, so if you want to get a preview be sure to tune in. Or something like that...

BTW, I just discovered the Captain Beefheart tune "Kandy Korn," thanks to Liam at 8 Days in April. Now there's an overlooked Halloween classic if ever there was one...

But I guess we're past Halloween now, aren't we? That's right, it was just Thanksgiving, wasn't it? I guess Daphne, Thandie, and I hardly noticed, having moved into our new place two days before. Poor Simon (one of our cats) was so freaked by the move that the first thing he did when he got here was to hide in the fireplace. For a day and a half. He used to be gray and white. Now he's just gray. Maybe I'll post a picture soon...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Maybe he should stick to malfeasance

Below is a stunningly bad (and disturbing) paragraph from Scooter Libby's 1996 novel, The Apprentice. (Yes, it's that Scooter Libby.) The narrative context is the training of a Japanese prostitute:

"The young samurai’s mother had the child sold to a brothel, where she swept the floors and oiled the men and watched the secret ways. At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest. Groups of men paid to watch. Like other girls who have been trained this way, she learned to handle many men in a single night and her skin turned a milky-white."

Get the fascinating, abominable story over at Tom Paine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

About last night...

A few shots from our Club Tropical show, courtesy of Gary Davis. Featuring Matt Otto (tenor), Kelly Corbin (tenor), David Moyer (bari), Ryan Perez-Daple (soprano), Cory Wright (alto and soprano), Dan Boissy (alto), Ron Christian (bone), Kris Tiner (trumpet), Dan Rosenboom (trumpet and PLOTZ!), Phil Rodriguez (trumpet), Oliver Newell (bass), Robert Jacobson (guitar), Dan Schnelle (drums), and yours truly (the guy with his back to the camera).





Sunday, November 13, 2005

We're in the archive

The Internet Archive, that is. I just entered Industrialjazzwerke, vol. 1 into the IA database. (IJWerke was the album of outtakes, live recordings, and other miscellaneous stuff that I put together for fans of the group a year or two ago, as part of a fundraising effort. It's not an "official" IJG album, but it could have been if I had had a bit more money at the time.) I also entered a live recording of our 2005 show in Bound Brook, NJ (we appeared there during our June east coast tour). Somehow this live show (not our best, technically, but lots of fun because of the rambunctious crowd--a few of whom climbed onto the stage at one point). recorded by our good friends in the Cosmic Brotherhood of Ra, was input as part of IJWerke by mistake.

So I need to do some disentangling of files. In any case, lots of new IJG audio online.

Speaking of... to get a bit of a preview of the new album, check out the great Vince Outlaw's show, The New Jazz Thing Live, over at KSDS-FM in San Diego (the show airs Thursday evenings). Vince has been a big supporter of the IJG (and new jazz in general) over the past few years, and he's been gracious enough to start hyping our upcoming Dec 3 San Diego show (even though it's still November). To wit: he's already started playing some cuts from the new album (which actually isn't entirely done yet, but is very close).

In addition to being a great DJ, Vince is also a rare cat because of his interest in techhnology and its role in the continuation of jazz as an art form. Off the top of my head I can't think of many--or any--jazz DJs who share his enthusiasm for digital technology and the web. He's really pushing at the boundaries of this new medium, and he's one of the only people out there considering its implications for jazz. I for one say "bravo!"

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A First

Wow--as far as I know this is the first time another independent artist (or indeed anyone) has actually cited the IJG as an influence. Very flattering--many thanks, Hoppin' John.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Old airplanes never die...



...they just go here.

The Ivory Tower



Though my "day job" requires that I spend a lot of time cavorting with academics, in general I prefer the company of musicians, since I think of myself fundamentally as a member of the latter group. I get depressed when the two areas merge, as they seem to do with a vengeance in this guy.

He seems to have interesting enough ideas, where one can make sense of them. But unless this is meant as an elaborate joke (entirely possible; this is the web, after all), he seems utterly detached from any possible audience. Try these paragraphs on for size:

"The underlying theory of polyradial or dislocutionary moves and countermoves could, in the opinion of several experimental physicists, form the point of departure for a unified field theory. The basis for this hypothesis are the so-called mytrons, a coaxial matrix of atomic particles whose assumed oscillitory invergence of minus 17 has been confirmed in a number of laboratory experiments. [...] Jerry Zachary Adamki has transposed this matrix onto the magnetic field line systogram of the earth developed by Myra Hodginson and Julius Sundbrunnen, whereby seven 'geosonar bijectives' were determined, i.e. points of interface between earth-immanent micro- and earth-constitutive macrostructure. At these geographical points Adamski will produce specific 'sound markings' on location."

"Dislocutionary"? "Systogram"? "Bijectives"?

Okay, so the presentation is a wee bit jargony. But then we get this:

"[...] with the help of the newest submarine recovery technology, Adamski will raise stones to the surface from an estimated ocean depth of 400 meters and bring them into sonic resonance. This costly endeavor is to be supported by funds from the Jennifer Manilow Foundation for the Promotion of New Music. The expenses incurred by a specially modified deep-sea crane and its crew are expected to amount to around 7,000 dollars per day."

Great. Abstruse and extravagant. Does that make it good art?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Patenting stupidity

So you've probably already heard by now about the guy who wants to patent a storyline. You're also probably well aware of how utterly problematic that is. I know you are all smart people, after all.

But did you actually see the plot? Here it is, direct from the press release:

"The fictitious story, which Knight dubs “The Zombie Stare,” tells of an ambitious high school senior, consumed by anticipation of college admission, who prays one night to remain unconscious until receiving his MIT admissions letter. He consciously awakes 30 years later when he finally receives the letter, lost in the mail for so many years, and discovers that, to all external observers, he has lived an apparently normal life. He desperately seeks to regain 30 years’ worth of memories lost as an unconscious philosophical zombie."

Oooo! Sounds like a good one, huh?! Can't wait to see the movie.

Ahem. What I meant to say was: he's about as good a plot-deviser as he is a legal thinker. (Put another way, if that's the best he can come up with, then maybe we should just let him have it.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Things to do tomorrow

1. Go to one of these. No president was ever more worth our contempt and scorn.

2. Listen to the mighty Perez Prado over at 8 Days in April. (Now there's a blog.) Click the link, scroll down and dig it. Mondo Mambo may be the first album I've enjoyed listening to repeatedly in, I don't know, a month or so.

3. Consider this flash demo of a new interface for the web. Pretty fucking cool.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Been gone too long?



So I've been in Chicago for a few days with my lovely family, not for holiday (I can't seem to stop working), but nevertheless without access to a robust internet connection. At first I was anxious about not checking my email twenty times a day, but then I discovered that it was kind of nice to "unplug" from the net for a while.

Anyway, the above photo (taken by yours truly) features Thandie standing in the middle of Millenium Park. It was one of the most astounding places I've been in a while.

In other news, I recently noticed this preview of the upcoming IJG show in San Diego.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Another question

What value has Kirsten Dunst really added to the sum total of human accomplishment?

I'm just asking.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Signage we love, no. 3

Saw this one today. (I'll paraphrase it because, once again, I don't have a cameraphone.)

The scene: an overhead digital sign on Vermont, just south of the intersection with Adams.

The sign: "Stop at the red, or else you'll be dead."

Something like that.

(So what, now, do they have traffic cops poised at the intersection, ready to pick off anyone who runs the red light?)

Come on... you know this is creepy



So. You're an indigenous soldier fighting for the freedom of your country, and you're walking down a dirt path one day, and you see some nitwit in one of these. Do you

a.) run like hell?

b.) laugh uncontrollably (hopefully without getting shot)?

c.) go with the flow, and, Bugs Bunny-like, provide directions to the local barbershop, then go on your merry way?

America is burning redux

My colleague at the IML, Steve Anderson, was kind enough to post the actual image of the LA Times front page; you know, the one I alluded to a few posts ago. You've got to see it to get the full effect.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Pyramids



I'll admit it. I've become something of a sucker for surf music. Possibly because so much of it is available for free online.

That's not the only reason, of course. I was always a fan of the film Endless Summer; the idea of going on that sort of massive road trip, without much more than your wits and the clothes on your back, has always been appealing to me (thus my willingness to make the jump to California in the first place). At its best, surfing is the ultimate Hemingwayesque challenge: a puny human trying his or her mettle against the forces of nature.

Anyway, in the rotation right now: the Pyramids. Here's a little bit about them, courtesy of Reverend Frost's blog (where you can also get some of their music):

"The Long Beach, California group achieved some notoriety after [their manager] convinced them to shave their heads just as the British Invasion and became 'America's answer to the Beatles.' During their concerts they'd wear Beatle wigs which they would throw to the audience halfway through the show revealing their bald heads. Hired girls would then storm the stage. Other gimmicks were arriving at a job on elephants or in a helicopter. The gimmicks worked and they were soon appearing on Bandstand and Hullabaloo and in the beach movie Bikini Beach."

America is burning

If you have a chance to look at the front page of yesterday's LA Times, do so.

The banner headline: "Roberts Confirmed as Chief Justice."

The banner image directly under that headline: a wide angle aerial shot of the California fires. Lots of red and orange, and huge plumes of smoke.

The size and juxtaposition conveys the (ostensibly unintentional) message that now that Roberts is in, we should all prepare for a long run of hellfire and damnation. It's quite poetic, in a sick way...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Zombie Jazz



Thanks to Robert Jacobson for passing along this photo of the fifteen piece version of the IJG (which debuted last Sunday). Don't know who actually took the shot--it wasn't Robert, as he's in it--but because of the weird blurring and the bizarre "eye effect" (not redeye exactly, but something similar) it looks to me like we've just returned from the dead. In fact, we had just finished a rather exhausting--though exhilirating--show.

To my ears, the experiment was a success, so fifteen pieces will now be the default size for the group.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pee Wee rides again

One of the great unsung heroes of American culture now has his own day.

The seedy underbelly of Hollywood (you know, the stuff that is actually interesting)

Fellow bloggers and Hollywood insiders at Query Letters I Love have taken it upon themselves to post the wackiest "query letters" they have received ("query letter" is industry-speak for a missive pitching a film or tv series idea). Funny thing is, most of this stuff is more interesting (albeit strange) than anything Hollywood actually wants to produce. My favorite one so far is Fat Journalist: the Manitoba Years. (Come on, doesn't that sound more fun than yet another episode of The Apprentice?)

The comments are a blast too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Upcoming IJG (from the list)

Q: How many jazz musicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: We thought it was ten, but maybe it's actually fifteen.

* * * * *

That's right, the Industrial Jazz Group will be debuting its fifteen piece incarnation this Sunday (details below). Earplugs recommended (but not necessary).

I don't know what the short and snappy label for such a grouping would be (fifteen-tet?), but I do know which of our esteemed colleagues will be participating. They are, in no particular order:

Ben Wendel (soprano sax); Cory Wright (soprano and alto sax); Dan Boissy (alto sax); Brian Walsh (tenor sax, clarinet); Matt Otto (tenor sax); Damon Zick (baritone sax); Phil Rodriguez (trumpet); Kris Tiner (trumpet); Dan Rosenboom (trumpet); Shaunte Palmer
(trombone); Robyn Javier (trombone); Robert Jacobson (guitar); Aaron Kohen (bass); Dan Schnelle (drums); Andrew Durkin (piano, conducting, compositions, unrealistic expectations).

Stellar players all. (Much too good for this group, in fact.)

We’ll be performing a set of mostly-new material, which has been conceived as a sort of post-apocalyptic ballet in search of some dancers.

Also on the bill that evening are, first, a new as-of-yet unnamed quartet featuring tunes by Ornette Coleman, Brad Shepik, Robert Jacobson, Oliver Newell, and others (with Oliver Newell: bass, Matt Mayhall: drums, Robert Jacobson: guitar, Ryan Perez Daple: woodwinds). And second, the infamous Pablo Calogero Trio.

Hope you can make it!

* * * * *

DETAILS:

Sunday, September 25, at Club Tropical.

Music starts at 6 pm, IJG goes on at 9 pm and will be playing ONE SET ONLY.

Club Tropical is located at 8641 W.Washington Blvd., in Culver City. (FYI, they make the best Salvadoran food you will ever eat.)

Cover: $10 ($5 for students and former "Jazz on a Monday Vibe" patrons).

All ages admitted.

*A portion of the proceeds from this show will go toward Hurricane Relief.*

Now here's something you don't do every day

This morning I cut my thumb on a piece of cheese. It hurt like a motherfucker.

(Explanation: I was cleaning the side of a saucepan onto which some cheese had melted, hardened, and then hardened some more.

Either that, or the cheese stabbed me with a little machete.)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

False teeth advertising

A sign seen today:

In really large letters, the words "Free Teeth."
In smaller letters, right underneath: "Whitening!"

I really need to get a camera phone to capture these moments.

Friday, September 16, 2005

More of the mashed stuff, please

I recently discovered Mashuptown, which is sort of an aggregator of various mashups around the web, mostly with a bias toward the strictly dance-oriented stuff. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing I've heard here tops the scope, humor, sophistication, and general magnificence of "A Night at the Hip-Hopera."

Still, there is some good shit, so to speak. My favorite track of what I've heard so far is "Smells Like Booty" (posted last May), which wins points as much for its title as for its musical content: a combination of two particularly monstrous (in more ways than one) hits by Destiny's Child and Nirvana. (By the way, April Winchell recently had a hilarious post that catalogued many of the too many covers of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"-- one of which finds the tune decked out in a gregorian chant style (April's commentary: "smells like nap time").)

Also worth checking out: "Jim, Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street?" (The Doors plus the Macarena plus the Muppets.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hitler Youth

Ah! An old post that I never finished. Let me have at it again.

So a few weeks ago I stumbled into the living room at 6 AM, in a half-hungover, half-arthritic daze, and turned on (what else?) C-SPAN. What to my wondering eyes should appear but an absurdist convention, only slightly disguised as the 27th Annual National Conservative Student Conference. What a way to start the day. Dada isn't dead, it has just become a tool of the right.

Technically, the college kids who assembled for this upside-down hoe-down aren't really in a cult. But it's hard to tell for sure. Why do they all look the same? Why do they all talk the same? Why all the toothy fucking grins?

Truth be told, as someone who spends a good deal (probably way too much, actually) of his time moonlighting in the day-to-day workings of one university in particular, I can tell you that even if there is a liberal bias among humanities professors (which may or may not be true, and may or may not be a bad thing if true), the rest of this environment--the administration, the fraternities / sororities, the trustees, the sports teams, the student body in general--is fairly biased toward the corporate money / power / status nexus. They may not all be pro-Bush, but they tend to love the social status quo--either because they benefit from it already or because they expect to benefit from it soon. So to see this same contingent complaining about "discriminatory treatment"... well, it's just utterly unconvincing to me.

It's also fairly hypocritical.

Turn your Mac inside out

Like this: CTRL-ALT/OPTION-[Apple-key]-8. Same combination to turn it back.


Groovy! Thanks to Cheese Bikini.

'Cause disasters don't rest...

(Even though the president does.)

What we've got here is a FEMA-produced "kidz rap" (kindly ripped and posted by the good folks at Music for Maniacs) about... what else? Disasters.

One line jumped out at me:

"Disaster prep is your responsibility
And mitigation is important to our agency."

So there you have it. FEMA doesn't take responsibility for "disaster prep." That's up to everyone else.

Good gawd, this stuff isn't even funny anymore.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Beatle-mania

The Beatles were sort of technologically innovative in their heyday. Why is it that their corporate remnants are such Luddites?

A related question: how much more money do they really need to squeeze out of that back catalog? Why not do something bold and inspiring for the first time in, I don't know, thirty years: just make it all available for free?

Now there's a sentence you don't hear every day

Just heard on CNN:

"Tonight, on Larry King Live: the Dalai Lama takes your calls!"

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Friday, September 09, 2005

He's so rich, so German

In honor of that vacuous putz Wolf Blitzer, Daphne and I have been adding "so black" to the end of our sentences at every opportunity.

Fr'instance: "What's for dinner? I'm so hungry, so black." Or: "I think I'll turn in. I'm so tired, so black."

Try it, it's fun.

Lookit



I credit political cartoons with getting me interested in the subject of politics. I can remember sitting in Mr. Tamburo's high school history class (was it called social studies then?), bored out of my mind, drawing caricatures of both Reagan and Mondale (this was during the presidential campaign between the two of 'em). And I used to love to look through the "year's best political cartoon" anthologies--these were among the few volumes I was actually glad our library carried.

Anyway, I just saw the drawing above, liked it, and decided to pass it along. (Why, I wonder, does the president seem to be leading with his crotch?)

Thanks to Molly Douthett.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Not a second career (but we should still kick him out of his current one)



Discovered this great site, and was astounded by the above picture and accompanying analysis. What an ugly, resonant image. My caption: "One of the motherlode cities of American music is being destroyed, but the president can't hear it over the sound of his own wretched, egomaniacal twanging."

There's some amazing stuff at the bagnews site: highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Jesus Fucking Christ

She may as well have said that things are going swimmingly.

And again...

Nota bene.

I've been hearing some talk in the media and elsewhere about how "now is not the time for anger." I couldn't disagree more. This is the time for anger--not the kind of anger that prevents us from finding the remaining survivors, or getting quickly into the rebuilding process... but the kind of (dare I say it) righteous anger that motivates those things. We need to nurture the kind of anger that will survive weeks, months, years (if need be)... however long it takes until whoever is responsible for this systemic, catastrophic failure of government is held to account.

When our country is gone, anger is all we have left. And without anger there can be no reasonable hope.

Never forget how you feel about New Orleans at this moment.

Still more...

(Still more stuff that has been forwarded, and that I forward, re: New Orleans.)

Donated money? Please donate a little time. Join the Katrina PeopleFinder Project.

It's easy. All you need is an internet connection and the ability to copy data into a form.

After Katrina many friends and family members have been separated and left with no clear way to find each other. Hundreds of internet websites are gathering hundreds, and probably thousands, of entries about missing persons or persons who want to let others know they're okay.

The problem is: the data on these sites has no particular form or structure. So it's almost impossible for people to search or match things up. Plus there are dozens of sites - making it hard for a person seeking lost loved ones to search them all.

The Katrina PeopleFinder Project NEEDS YOUR HELP to enter data about missing and found people from various online sources. We're requesting as little as an hour of your time. All you need to do is help read unstructured posts about missing or found persons, and then add the relevant data to a database through a simple online form.

To get started please click here.

Questions? Email katrina-people (at) activist-tech.org

Thanks!!!
The Katrina PeopleFinder Team

Sunday, September 04, 2005

More on New Orleans

(I used to be a big Allen Toussaint fan. I still think Fats Domino is the shit. Thankfully they're okay. But what about all of the others?)

Music industry in disarray after the storm

By Bill Werde Sat Sep 3,11:32 AM ET

NEW YORK (Billboard) - As flood waters rose in the days after Hurricane Katrina's August 29 rampage through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, so too did concern for the myriad musicians, business associates, friends and family in the region.

The scope of the loss and tragedy Katrina caused is clear: It will be years before a locale renowned for its entertainment industry is back to business as usual -- if it ever is again.

For the music industry, the top priority became tracking down the missing. Reports began to surface that Antoine "Fats" Domino, songwriter Allen Toussaint (who penned Patti LaBelle's hit "Lady Marmalade") and others had not been heard from since Katrina touched down. On Friday (September 2), Domino, the 76-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, and his family were reported safe, having been rescued by boat from floodwaters near their New Orleans home.

The Neville Brothers, long associated with New Orleans, were fine, but Charles Neville could not locate his three daughters.

But it was not just well-known musicians who were missing or displaced. The Gulf Coast, and in particular the New Orleans region, is also home to a thriving community of local musicians who make a living playing jazz, zydeco and Cajun music, especially for tourists.

"I just can't get ahold of anyone," said Jonno Frishberg, a 45-year-old fiddler who earns his livelihood playing Cajun music gigs. "You're talking about a whole community of musicians like me, with no unemployment insurance and no way to make a living." Frishberg and his wife and two children are all safe. "If I didn't have kids, I'd be looking to head far away from here," he says. "I'll still have to go on the road to make a living. I'm just looking for a way to feed my family."

GRIM PROSPECTS

On Wednesday evening (August 31) retail music chains were still scrambling to learn of their employees' well-being, while wholesalers said they had not been able to get through to check on their independent accounts.

"We are in contact with our management team there, but we are still trying to track down our employees," Tower Records senior VP of operations Bill Duffy said. "We have heard from about half of them."

Phone calls to independent stores in New Orleans; Biloxi, Miss.; and Mobile, Ala., either went unanswered or offered only a busy signal.

"We have been unable to get through to any stores in New Orleans," Super D indie sales manager Mark Grindle reported. "We don't know how they are."

As for the retail locations themselves, executives contacted by Billboard were assuming the worst: that the stores were flooded, with massive damage to merchandise.

The shape of live entertainment in the region will be affected for months, if not permanently.

Among the large venues in the region hit by Katrina are the Superdome, New Orleans Arena and Keifer UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans; the Cajundome in Lafayette, La.; the RiverCenter in Baton Rouge, La.; the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi; the Mitchell Center and Mobile Civic Center in Mobile, Ala.; the Pensacola (Fla.) Civic Center; and the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast casino market.

Home to dozens of thriving music venues, New Orleans is also home to promoters Beaver Productions and Superfly Presents, as well as the site of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the flagship House of Blues club. "We believe everyone is safe," HOB's Kevin Morrow said; as of Wednesday, his club was still dry. "We are looking to relocate some people until we can figure out how long it will be till we can start operations again," Morrow said.

"It's going to be a long road," said Don Fox, president of Beaver Productions. "There won't be any concerts in New Orleans for a while, at least three to six months."

Katrina made a substantial impact on the radio business in and around the Gulf Coast as well. Entercom closed two of its four stations in the area and received assistance from competitor Clear Channel, which used a helicopter to help evacuate Entercom employees from downtown New Orleans.

Broadcasters Clear Channel, Entercom, Citadel, Apex, and the Louisiana State Network have partnered to form the United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans. Clear Channel VP of news/talk programming Gabe Hobbs and Entercom VP news/talk Ken Beck combined their staff to produce news that will be broadcast over nine surviving radio stations in the stricken
city.

GOODWILL ABOUNDS

Many in the music industry not directly affected by the hurricane set about to assist the victims. Some of the higher-profile efforts included a September 12 Dave Matthews benefit concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver; a September 10 special on MTV, VH1 and CMT; and "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," an hour-long TV special scheduled that aired Friday (September 2) on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC, featuring Tim McGraw, Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis and others. "Our city will come back, but it will take the entire country," Marsalis said. "When you take New Orleans from America, our soul equation goes down."

Marsalis and special guests will highlight the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Concert, to take place September 17 at Rose Theater in New York. The event will be recorded by Jazz at Lincoln Center. A CD from the event will be released by Blue Note Records with all profits going to relief funds.

Putumayo World Music is also donating proceeds from the sale of two records, "New Orleans," and "Mississippi Blues," to relief efforts, through year's end.

In the digital realm, Napster began selling a "Download to Donate" compilation September 1, with profits going to the American Red Cross. CD Baby, where thousands of independent artists sell their music online, set up a special page to sell CDs from those who wanted their profits to go to the Red Cross.

And on radio, Clear Channel stations are airing PSAs directing listeners to stormaid.com, where they can make donations to the American Red Cross. In addition, Clear Channel Entertainment is organizing benefit concerts and collection drives.

In New York, the rapper Juvenile broke down at a Thursday (September 1) press conference announcing a September 9 telethon on BET. Juvenile lost his house in New Orleans and had yet to locate certain family members. The clothes he wore had to be purchased by his publicist, and his label, Atlantic, had been wiring money to his family, who lost everything in the floods. "Like the effort we put toward war and the tsunami," a red-eyed Juvenile said, "We need to put forth the same effort to saving our own country."

Master P, rapper and head of the label No Limit, was also at the press conference, and also lost a home. Master P launched the organization Team Rescue (teamrescueone.com) to get supplies to those left in New Orleans.

And while the various factions of the robust New Orleans hip-hop scenes had been competitive in the past, Master P said he plans to do an album and tour with members of the Cash Money label and Juvenile. "It ain't about No Limit or Cash Money," Master P said. "It's about New Orleans. We'll do whatever we have to do for our people."

Reuters/Billboard

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Mashups will save music, one hit at a time

Jeff, if you're reading this, go here and check out "Tricky Wipeout." When I heard it I had a major flashback back to high school. (Not that that's a good reason for listening, but anyway... check it out, check it out.)

Actually, everybody, go, go. Put down what you're doing. Go hear the above-linked album. The RIAA might not be quite as brilliant as the Kleptones, but they're damned good.

Don't forget the musicians... or any of the rest of this week

It's kind of difficult to comment on the events of this week without sounding a bit like Anderson Cooper (whose sympathy is probably genuine, but who always seems contrived to me... actually, everything on CNN seems contrived to me).

The administration is always talking about how important it is "never to forget." So I'm going to suggest a few things about this week that they should remember.

1. Don't forget that a lot of people died on a bridge in Iraq. I mean a lot of people. Civilians.

2. Don't forget that Bush could have done something about the general ill-preparedness that characterized the response to Katrina.

3. Don't forget the role of race and class in all this. Kudos to Kanye West (whoever he is) for pointing that fact out on national (or almost national) television.

4. Don't forget the musicians in New Orleans.

To that last point, I want to pass along information about two great organizations to donate to if you've got the bread (the following is copied and pasted from a recent email that was forwarded to me--a bit of a clunky read, but some solid information):

1. New Orleans Musicians Clinic (NOMC)

This is a fantastic hands-on organization who has the names and addresses of many great musicians who have been coming to their FREE health clinic all these years--and now, they are the ones who are tracking down the local musicians and finding them shelter.

They can be contacted at musiciank@swlahec.com.

Or contact Kathy Richard directly at 337 989-0001.

Send donations to:
NOMC Emergency Fund

funds will be distributed by:
SW LA Area Health Education Center Foundation, Inc.
103 Independence Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506
desk: 337-989-0001
fax: 337-989-1401
email: finance@swlahec.com

(AND)

2. Jazz Foundation of America

We will be addressing the longer term needs of those jazz and blues artists who have just lost everything.

We will be raising funds and distributing money for the musicians to get a new apartment or room for rent: by giving a first month's rent, possibly more, for them to start over, a place to live. (This is what we normally do on a daily basis for musicians across the country who become sick and can't pay their rent, we also keep food on the table and get employment to hundreds of elderly musicians through our Jazz in the Schools program. Our operations normally assist 35 musicians a week.)

As well, we will be attempting to help New Orleans musicians by replacing the thing that matters most and the only way they can ever work again: their instruments. To those who lost their instruments, like drummers and bassists who could not carry their heavy equipment, and guitarist with their amps, we will be making an effort to work with manufacturers and music stores to replace those instruments for as many as we possibly can.

Remember, New Orleans was only "New Orleans" because of the musicians...

Send donations to:

Jazz Foundation of America
322 West 48th Street 6th floor
NYC 10036

Director: Wendy Oxenhorn
Phone: 212-245-3999 Ext. 21

email contact: Joyce@jazzfoundation.org

To make an online CREDIT CARD DONATION OR PLEDGE
(click on the link, then click in the bottom right corner of page where it says "instant pledge")

Thank you, from our hearts.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

As if a full-sized Kiss tribute is not already surreal enough



They're small. They imitate Kiss. They tour and make money and appear on TV.

What am I doing playing jazz again?

Old Nick

I have only gotten partway through this presentation / lecture / performance by Slonimsky, but it's fantastic.

A highlight of the first half hour is S.'s description of how he taught his baby daughter to love atonal music by getting her to associate it with the pleasures of the (baby) bottle. Very Pavlovian, that, and not exactly my own approach (I merely try to play a wide variety of music for Thandie, and let her make up her own mind about what she does or doesn't like)--but I love the way it points up the false assumptions that plague the way most adults think about music and kids.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Speaking of Retro

This article also caught my eye this week. Due to a preponderance of pop-up ads on the CD Freaks site, I reproduce it here:

Vinyl records are heading back in fashion with sales up 87%
Posted by Seán Byrne on 12 July 2005 - 19:15

Just while most thought the Vinyl record has been obsolete, apparently Vinyl is actually making a come-back with sales rising a whopping 87.3% between April and June, compared with the same three month period last year. In fact, 7" Vinyl has now had the best 12 month sales period since 1998. In just the twelve months up to March 31st 2005, 7" vinyl sales have reached 1.38 million.

Apparently while DJ's are the main vinyl users due to the ability to perform scratching, music fans are actually making the most of vinyl, especially those into British indie and rock acts. Some teenagers prefer vinyl due to the warmer tone such as from guitars and percussive musical instruments.

While CD single sales have fallen by 23% this year, overall sales including music downloads and vinyl have risen by 52.4% from ~7.25 million (April to June 2004) to 11.04 million sales (April to June 2005).

Vinyl was once seen as a dying format in the music industry, but according to sales figures it is now very much in fashion.

Sales of the seven inch have shot up by a massive 87.3 per cent compared to the same three-month period last year.

The British Phonographic Industry says annual sales of vinyl singles are now approaching 1.4 million. In the twelve months up to March 31 this year, sales of the seven inch hit the 1,380,000 mark.

This already represented a year-on-year improvement of 64 per cent, and the best 12 months for vinyl since 1998.

The figures released show that in the three months from April to June 2005, vinyl flew off the shelves even more rapidly.

They rose by 87.3 per cent from 154,216 sales during April to June 2004 to 288,780 for the same period this year.

I would wonder if the Vinyl sales increase has anything to do with what the music industry is doing with CD singles such as forcing a high price for just a few tracks. Then again, it is nice to see Vinyl making a come back, especially with teenagers who generally prefer to stick with the latest in technology. It will be interesting to see how well turntables are selling, especially since most Hi-Fi systems have not been equipped with a turntable since the late 1990's.

Vinyl did have one major advantage over CDs in that there was no way for the music industry to start messing about with the structure of the recording or medium itself to prevent copying. For example, the only way for a vinyl record not to play on a given turntable is if there is a fault with the turntable, arm or needle or if the record has been damaged in some way. In fact, if the CD (or any other digital version for music) was never invented, chances are that the music industry would still be putting up a major fuss about consumers taping from vinyl and not being able to do much about it.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Speaking of Nigerian Scammers

This story found its way into my inbox this week. Since it appeared on Yahoo news, I feel compelled to replicate it here (no telling how long it will be online):

Missing Music Producer Found, Hospitalized

08/27/2005 12:12 AM, AP
Tim Molloy

The nearly weeklong search for a Grammy-nominated producer ended Friday after a resident spotted the man sitting naked in a backyard creek, washing his jeans.

The Topanga Canyon resident found a distraught Christian Julian Irwin saying he feared he was being pursued by Nigerians who had contacted him in an Internet scam, sheriff's Capt. Ray Peavy said.

Peavy said there was no evidence anyone was actually pursuing the 48-year-old producer, who has worked with Carly Simon and David Bowie, among others.

Irwin was taken into custody because he was deemed mentally incompetent and possibly dangerous to himself, Peavy said. He was found at about 4:30 p.m. and agreed to go with police about two hours later after negotiations in which authorities, at Irwin's request, located his sister to help calm him.

Irwin was questioned by medical and mental health workers and taken to a hospital to make sure he was in good physical health. He was to be transferred to another hospital for observation.

Authorities began looking for Irwin on Sunday after he made a panicked phone call to a friend, saying he was being pursued by people with dogs. He told his friend he was running through water and had lost his glasses and shoes in a creek.

Topanga Canyon, a rustic area long a favorite with artists and musicians, is about 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Mainstream / avant garde

For whatever reason, I've been delving into a lot of "exotica" (or "easy listening") music lately. I stumbled across a network (you can get to it by checking out this site and its many links) that seems to have taken up the task of digitizing numerous out-of-print LPs (unavailable on CD), and making those recordings available via the web.

It's amazing, when you think about it, the sort of aesthetic transformations these albums go through. When they were created, they were as commercial and square as all get-out. Balding middle-aged arrangers trying to capitalize on the hipster scene. Now they are hip in their own right (at least with a certain crowd).

Taste is such an interesting, contingent phenomenon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Scamming the scammers



For anyone who has ever been bugged by that annoying Nigerian email scam (who am I kidding--that's everyone in the world, right?!), Dean Cameron's site is a must-read. (And I suspect the show is a must-see.) I have often thought of responding to one of those letters myself, but who the fuck has the time?! Well, apparently, Cameron did. (I wonder if he knew after his first short email that this would evolve into a full-blown dadaist epistolary novel?)

There are numerous gems in the correspondence, but here is one of my favorite passages (written by Cameron to one of the scammers, after an apparent lapse in communication that prompted the latter to get impatient): "I am so sorry that I have not been in contact. When I was in Canada, I was thought to have contracted a minor case of SARS and was quarantined for the last month in that allah forsaken country! It was horrible with a Capital YUCK!"

"Horrible with a Capital YUCK!" Now that's comedy.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Meet the International Association of Gay & Lesbian Square Dance Clubs

Very cool. And brave. I'm reminded of a stunt on the Ali G show in which Bruno raised the hackles of some homophobic sashayers. It was funny, but I kept thinking that it was quite possible that Cohen was going to get his head kicked in.

It's pronounced "Moh-g"

Sad. Bob Moog died yesterday. He was 71.

In poking around the Moog site, I came across this promotional campaign. I kinda want the free T-Shirt, but I don't want to buy the gizmo. Rats.

Speaking of death, I for one am glad that that infernal Six Feet Under is over. Show about death: cool and interesting. Show that takes self-absorption to a new level: yawn.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Uh, okay

I just saw a list of warnings on the coffeepot here at work. Mostly sensible things like "Do Not Heat Empty Pot." The last one, though, was perhaps too sensible: "Do Not Pour Towards People."

Rules, rules, rules!

Upping the ante

More on the previously-blogged Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Way We Were

If you have had a webpage for a while, you really oughtta check out the Wayback Machine, courtesy of the Internet Archive. It's lots of fun.

If you go to this incompletely archived page and click on the "Ugly Rug Records" logo, you'll get to a fully archived page demonstrating the early emergence of what would become the IJG (referred to then, somewhat bombastically, as "The Industry Standard"). We didn't even have a drummer yet. We were still a quartet, if I recall correctly: me, Aaron, Mike, and Jessica. Cory was still a "guest artist" (the soundtrack session referred to on this page was the first time I met Cory, as a matter of fact). We were still playing at Buster's Coffeehouse in South Pasadena.

It's amazing how things change.

Onward and upward: the next IJG gig is September 25 at Club Tropical. I'm going to attempt to expand the group to 15 pieces (5 brass, 6 reeds, 4 rhythm). I guess I've decided that things in my life just aren't crazy enough.

Soundtrack to a film I've never seen

This rendition of the "complete soundtrack to Super Mario World" may be a contender for the best album of the year (at least in the grammy awards in my head... which are sort of like the anti-grammy awards). The funny thing is that I have never been an avid video game guy, but I am fascinated by the genre of video game music. And I can't honestly say I have ever experienced the music of Super Mario World, but the first thing I thought when I heard this set was "Of course!" The tunes and arrangements somehow seem fundamentally right for the job. Bravo, Jason Cox. (via BoingBoing)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Operation Sleepy Time

I couldn't make this stuff up: the idiots at Seventh Avenue now manufacture "Night Vision" bedding for your young 'un. In the daylight it looks pretty much like Iraq war camouflage.

They have a whole line of this sort of stuff--ceiling fans, furniture--all with the same decor, all designed for kids.

I guess they figure that since we're going to be occupying the Middle East for the foreseeable future, we might as well get the little tykes acclimated now, right?

Nonsense

Bush says getting out of Iraq would send a bad signal.

This is one of the reasons I harp on the value of teaching argumentation in college. "Sending a bad signal" is not a reason for staying in Iraq. It's not a reason at all. It's almost a completely meaningless phrase, in fact, at least without some sort of context. ("Bad signal" for whom exactly? And why "bad"?)

That's not staying "on message." There is no message, really, except for the only slightly veiled one that that we should just shut up and do whatever the President wants. And that, friends, would be unconscionable.

I sincerely hope Ms. Sheehan and her supporters push this as far as it can go.

Ouch.



A South Korean man recently died while playing a video game, and this article seems to suggest that the game killed him.

Something tells me there must have been something else wrong.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Unsung Stax no. 3



Eddie Floyd: "Big Bird."

No, it is not about the Sesame Street character of the same name. Floyd wrote it in response to the death-by-airplane of label mate Otis Redding. Specifically: en route to Redding's funeral, Floyd was waiting to get on board a plane that was having mechanical problems. Shee-it!

I really dig the mysterious "big horn sound" on this one, which paradoxically sounds to me like it was created with very few horns.

Monday, August 08, 2005

May you be forever touched by his noodly appendage

Another coup for the critics of right wing moral stupidity.

I'm starting to think this is what the web is best at: not the Alexandrine library that most people tout, but simply a delightful stream of really top-notch satire.

Keep it up, folks.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Talk amongst yourselves

On the way to work this morning (er, afternoon), I saw this sign on a telephone pole (in red, white, and blue letters, no less):

Accent Elimination
Learn to speak American
(phone number)

(Not kidding here, folks. If I had a camera phone I would've snapped a photo.)

So I got to wondering--should I call? Someone recently told me I speak with a northeastern accent (despite the fact that I've been in LA for ten years).

Nah. Accents are cool. Let's keep 'em.

Music for Ms. Moser

Looks like I'll be contributing a chart to Diane Moser's Composers' Big Band in the very near future. (Those of you in the northern NJ jazz community know that this is a long-running and well-respected series.)

What can I say except that I'm honored beyond belief.

Roberta on the IJG

The famed connoisseur of the NYC arts scene shares a few (brief) thoughts about the Star Chamber and Hardcore. Cool.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Michael Brecker needs your help

FROM: Susan Brecker
SUBJECT: Michael Brecker needs your help.

Dear Family and Friends,

My husband, Michael Brecker, has been diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), and its critical that he undergoes a stem cell transplant. The initial search for a donor (including Michael's siblings and children) has not yet resulted in a suitable match. Michael's doctors have told us that we need to immediately explore ALL possible options. This involves getting as many people of a similar genetic background to be tested.

There are some important points to understand concerning this process:

1. The screening involves a blood test only. It can be done very quickly either at a marrow donation center or at a LOCAL LAB. The cost is anywhere from $40 to $75 and your insurance may cover it. (In NYC, you can call Frazier, at the NY Blood Bank, at 212-570-3441, and make an appointment for HLA typing. It costs $40.00.) Check with your local blood bank, or go to http://www.marrow.org to find the donor center nearest you.

2. Your blood typing information can be posted on the international registry, if you choose, where it would also be available to others in need of a transplant. BEING ON THE REGISTRY DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO DONATE, it just means that you may be ASKED to do so. You can take your name off the registry at any time.

3. Should you be selected as a potential donor for Michael, please understand that there have been tremendous advances in bone marrow transplants and the term itself can be misleading. Bone marrow donation is no more invasive than giving blood. Stem cells are simply harvested from your blood and then transplanted to Michael.

4. A match for Michael would be most likely to come from those of Eastern European Jewish descent. If you or anyone you know are in this category please make a special effort to immediately get tested. Ultimately, you would be doing something not just for Michael, but for so many more who are in a similar situation as my husband.

5. You are now part of our internet-based drive for donor testing. If everyone who receives this can motivate a bunch of their friends to get tested, and those friends then forward this email to get their friends to get tested, we will have rapidly expanded the pool of potential donors. I urge all of you to get tested AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Any local blood center/Red Cross center can assist in organizing a drive for Michael, although it would be desirable if you can get a large group, e.g. a synagogue, to sponsor it. Should you have any questions about this, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Michael's management office at 212.302.9200 or info@michaelbrecker.com.

Thank you so much for your love and support.

We are so grateful.

Susan xo

* * * * *

Michael Brecker is 56 and an internationally renowned jazz musician. As a result of his harmonic innovations, Michael is among the most studied contemporary instrumentalists in music schools throughout the world today. Michael has played on hundreds of albums with artists ranging from Herbie Hancock to James Taylor, from Paul Simon to Frank Zappa to Quincy Jones, Chet Baker and Bruce Springsteen---and on and on. As a leader and co-leader of The Brecker Brothers (with Randy Brecker) and Directions in Music (with Herbie Hancock and Roy Hargrove), Michael has received 11 Grammy Awards: more than any saxophonist, ever.

Peacock v. Costello



Somehow I missed this when it actually happened. There are a few unanswered questions about it, so I'll make my commentary brief: it's a damned shame that, regardless of whatever was said between the two men, or what their motivations were, the worst case scenario is still believable in this day and age. What the fuck?

He's an interesting cat, Costello. Not a consistent favorite of mine (the bittersweet, woe-is-me romantic stuff tends to go in one ear and out the other), but I admire his various attempts to push himself musically, as demonstrated by his frequent collaborations, whether they turn out to be gorgeous (Bacharach) or unremarkable (McCartney).

I recently got reacquainted with Armed Forces, one of Costello's early piss-and-vinegar albums, from the phase of his career that I still find most endearing (though Costello himself seems to dismiss a lot of that music now). Highly recommended if you've never indulged.

Karl Rove: The Schmuck Stops Here

That was my lame-ass contribution to the Move On slogan search.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Go to hell

Find out how here.

Don't forget the first rule posted on their "safety rules" page:

"It may be an obvious thing to say but NEVER try to go inside an Entrance to Hell."

Back to the Womb

I like to think I'm a pretty open-minded fella, less repressed than most, and tolerant to a fault. I really had to work on my BS detector when I moved to "the big city" ten years ago, 'cause I was inclined to trust everyone.

Maybe that particular instrument is a little too finely-tuned at this point, 'cause I think the "Cuddle Parties" trend is a huge crock of shit. They should call 'em "Crock o' Shit Parties."

Look: I'm all for alternative therapies. Frequently laid low by chronic back pain, I can strongly attest to the benefits of both massage and yoga. (Sheee-yit, if I could afford it, I'd get a massage every day.) Also, I should point out that the underlying philosophy of the cuddle-gurus is sound: touch and intimacy are crucial to health. That's a no-brainer (literally). I'll go further: there's nothing wrong with a group grope, if that's what you're into, and as long as you call it what it is.

But something about the cuddle-ideology is disingenuous. When it comes down to it, we humans are really good at acting like children (usually of the spoiled variety). Who needs a workshop? We're much better at giving in to our infantile desires (for good and ill) than we are at, say, voting rationally, or coming up with thoughtful, compassionate solutions to problems like homelessness.

Grow up, America. Your inner child is in the White House.

The Hard Sell

Just saw this on a banner ad featured on Yahoo. The company sells life insurance. The heading:

"What would happen to your loved ones if you DIED?"

Jesus Christ, people, is business that bad?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rock and Roll


LA's Key Club recently hosted the 2005 Air Guitar Championships.

My favorite paragraph in the above article:

"The night was not free of controversy. 2003 L.A. champ Gordon 'Krye Tuff' Hintz criticized the scoring that he felt helped the night’s only female performer, Elaina 'Cherry Lain' Vaccaro, defeat more technically savvy players. Vaccaro’s performance of the Rippingtons’ 'Star-Spangled Banner' was marked mostly by her impressive legs and a good deal of jiggling. Said Hintz, an assembly candidate in Oshkosh, Wisconsin: 'The integrity of air guitar in year three is seriously under attack. Air guitar has turned into a joke . . . The more skin you show, the better your score gets.'"

"The integrity of air guitar." Now there's a phrase I never thought I'd hear.

I laughed. I cried.

If you have never seen Machinima (films created entirely within the context of a computer game), here is a stellar example.

Check it out, I implore you.

Think of the children!

Here's an all-claptrap concept: an all-laptop high school.

My favorite sentence from this article: "The lack of computer-aided learning frustrates students such as Todd Phillips, a 17-year-old incoming senior at University High School who has lathered his life in technology."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Unsung Stax no. 2


"As Long as I've Got You," by the Charmels.

What's in a title?

Just found this post. Skip all the way to the bottom for the IJG reference.

For the record, there isn't usually a whole lot of significance to my titles--if I like a phrase I might just stick it on a tune for that reason alone. (As Zappa said, "You've got to call them something.") "Schwarzkopf" really has nothing to do with the infamous incident in the history of recording technology... except perhaps for the fact that the tune is largely in a C-based tonality, and that unlike our previous recordings, it was primarily done "live."

Anyway, thanks for the post, NYCOF. (If that is your real name.)

Mr. Ding-a-Ling



Yet another tour photo (they're really starting to roll in now). This one was taken at Shaunte's insistence as we made our way down from Rochester to NYC. Notice the driving rain--this came as a great relief, seeing as how thus far we had been bombarded with some incredibly heavy heat (as in, let's just close the schools down, it's that fucking hot).

What I don't understand is how the brand name "Ding-a-Ling" is supposed to make anyone want to buy this guy's ice cream.

More mind tricks




Now you can look good and take down the evil empire, all at once.

I've been Paltrowed




Yeah, so I was in excruciating pain on Thursday and Friday. My back just wouldn't shut up. "ANKYLOSING SPONDILYTIS," it kept yelling at me. "FUCKING ANKYLOSING SPONDILYTIS!"

I figured I'd try acupuncture again, and was a little surprised when the good doctor decided to throw cupping into the mix. I had no idea it would leave these purple donut-shaped bruises all over my back (a la Ms. Paltrow, above).

Did it help? I felt a little worse on Saturday (the bruises themselves don't hurt at all). But Sunday and today have been tentatively better. We'll see by the end of the week.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Three lessons

Three things I learned from the Elvis Schoenberg show at the Ford Ampitheater on Friday:

1. Costumes, costumes, costumes!

2. It helps to feature hot chick dancers.

3. Let the audience bring their own alcohol.

The show was a great inspiration, moreso than any show I've seen in a long while. Schoenberg (aka Ross Wright) and his Orchestre Surreal accomplished exactly the sort of thing I'm interested in doing: bringing "weird music" (or whatever you want to call it) to a mass audience. It looked to me like the 1000+ venue was pretty close to selling out. And though the music was really advanced and adventurous, it was fun and accessible too, and people seemed to be having a good time.

Thankfully, the IJG's music is significantly different from the OS's. But I still think we can learn from their shtick.

There are always ways to improve!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mind Trickin'

Beware of Reporters

SANTA FE, NM-July 20, 2005 — Beware of those sneaky reporters and their mind-bending tricks. That's the warning officials are giving employees of New Mexico's Children, Youth and Families Department.

Agency spokesman Matt Dillman says "unscrupulous reporters" will use a "Jedi Mind Trick" to get information.

A memo from Dillman to state workers says they should refer all media questions to him. A union official says public employees are being intimidated.

But Dillman says his memo has been misconstrued. He says agency workers can talk to the media on their own time.

(Copyright 2005 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

[On a related note: was the phrase "Jedi Mind Trick" ever actually used in a Star Wars movie? I can't remember.]

Would you like ham with that?

Check out what google has done to the moon.

Here's the site. Once you get there, use the magnification slider to get as close to the surface as you can (i.e., all the way to the "+" end.)

Don't ask me how I discovered this.

Unsung Stax


(photo by Graziano Uliani)

A single that never got its due: "Memphis Train," by Rufus Thomas (released on Stax in 1968).

Just needed to say that.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Her Majesty

Inexplicable to some, but yes, I grew up (as a suburban white New Jersey kid no less) without ever owning a Queen album. I went through phases with pretty much every classic rock icon but them. Of course, I knew all the hits. But I never really went beyond that.

So I just got A Night at the Opera, partly because of my obsession with the Kleptones' A Night at the Hip-Hopera, which for my money is one of the best albums of 2004. I think one of the things that fascinates me about Queen, and makes them more interesting to me now that I've hit my mid-thirties, is their over-the-top bombast, their willingness to take a ridiculous idea and push it to whatever extreme suits their fancy. So refreshing compared to the Dungeons & Dragons self-serious crap of Led Zeppelin (for instance).

Opera is not a perfect album, but it's a damned good one. Specifically, its strengths ("Death on Two Legs," "Sweet Lady," and the still drop-dead-gorgeous-after-all-these-years (Wayne's World notwithstanding) "Bohemian Rhapsody") vastly outweigh its weaknesses ("I'm in Love With My Car," and (don't hate me for this) "You're My Best Friend"). I never knew the band went in for the McCartney-esque pseudo-old-timey British music hall stuff (e.g., "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" and "Good Company"); those are fun, but skippable too. Of course, the real point of the album may not be the songs, but the performances (Freddy Mercury and Brian May in particular) and the arrangements / production.

There's always something more to hear.

Wow: Ives

I heard a new recording of Ives's Universe Symphony on WKCR last week. Beautiful.

Found this poignant, relevant quote: "For the last decade of his life, health badly compromised through overwork, Ives begged others to finish the symphony from his comprehensive sketches. None would--until now."

This is a good place to make a distinction between WKCR and KCRW. WKCR is an amazing radio station based in New York (Columbia University). I miss it greatly now that my (admittedly pirated) wireless access has mysteriously disappeared. KCRW is the most overrated radio station on the face of the earth. Don't believe them when they tell you it's "eclectic."

All Recitative, No Aria

Daphne and I recently saw R. Kelly's "urban opera," Trapped in the Closet. No, I don't know why; probably because we were bored at that moment.

The recording makes sense, of course. Kelly likes immature women, so naturally he's going to write immature music. MTV, as might be expected, thinks the thing is great. I much prefer the parody.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?

JOHN R. ALFORD Rice University
CAROLYN L. FUNK Virginia Commonwealth University
JOHN R. HIBBING University of Nebraska

Abstract: We test the possibility that political attitudes and behaviors are the result of both environmental and genetic factors. Employing standard methodological approaches in behavioral genetics—–specifically, comparisons of the differential correlations of the attitudes of monozygotic twins and dizygotic twins [i.e., so-called "identical" and "fraternal" twins--ed.]—–we analyze data drawn froma large sample of twins in the United States, supplemented with findings from twins in Australia. The results indicate that genetics plays an important role in shaping political attitudes and ideologies but a more modest role in forming party identification; as such, they call for finer distinctions in theorizing about the sources of political attitudes. We conclude by urging political scientists to incorporate genetic influences, specifically interactions between genetic heritability and social environment, into models of political attitude formation.

Published in American Political Science Review, May 2005.

Get a PDF of it here (for a little while, at least).

Lions Rescue, Guard Beaten Ethiopian Girl

Read about it here.

Maybe the would-be husband was a poacher?

In any case, kudos to these mysterious lions. When you're the proud parent of a truly amazing little girl (as I am), you've got to seek out these positive stories... otherwise you become overwhelmed with depressing shit like this.

A great blogger, back from the dead



After a long hiatus, Henry David Thoreau is online.

(Actually, to put it more accurately, he's been online for a year, and now he's going on a short hiatus... oh, just check it out...)

Walkin' Fool

Yes, I'm one of those. I like to walk everywhere. (I actually hate driving, and I hate cars... even though, living in LA, I spend most of my waking hours behind the wheel.) When I dropped out of college (for a year) I took a job that required me to walk four or five miles each way... my friends told me I was nuts, but in retrospect I think it was time really well-spent (because I was able to use it to figure out a lot of important stuff about myself). Now I know that I do some of my best work (musical and otherwise) while walking. And the setting hardly matters: it's just as useful for me to stroll through a pristine natural setting as it is to make my way through a crowded city.

What's that? You're the same way? Well then, check it out: now there's a society for folks like us: The Center for the Study of Pedestrian Culture.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Pre-gig Chaos




Ah, how I love those moments of frenzy before we actually play. These images were taken at the C-Note on June 15, a few minutes before we started making our particular kind of noise (this was the last minute NYC gig that replaced CBGBs, thanks to the quick thinking of Beth Schenck of the IJG and Alex Hamlin of Jerseyband).

Scene from an Italian Restaurant



The IJG, mid-tour, in a rare moment of relaxation (courtesy of my Mom).

(L-R: Evan Francis, Ruth Ann Durkin, Damon Zick, Beth Schenck, Kim Tiner, Kris Tiner, Shaunte Palmer, Dan Schnelle, Phil Rodriguez, Kevin Farrell, Cory Wright.)

Follow through

Just let your (heavily booted) foot keep moving forward... accumulating pent-up wrath as it goes...

Keep moving... keep moving... that's it...

Don't stop until you make contact... remember, your mission is not complete until the kickee (one Mr. Karl Rove) is sailing out the door, pink slip in his pocket...

Here's why (the text below is cribbed from the good folks at Move On):

On Sunday, Newsweek magazine revealed that Karl Rove, the President's key political advisor, was responsible for disclosing the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. Rove's lawyer has confirmed that he was involved.

Last year, President Bush promised that anyone at the White House involved in the leak would be fired. We believe that the President should stick to his word. That's why we're calling on him to fire Karl Rove.

Valerie Plame was an operative working on stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—the most important beat at the CIA and one of the most important jobs in the country.4 Rove revealed her identity and destroyed her network of connections to settle a political score. He weakened America's national security. For that alone, he deserves to be fired.

But as it turns out, that's also the White House's official position. Press Secretary Scott McClellan told the press in September of 2003, when the story first broke, that anyone at the White House who was involved would be fired "at a minimum." And when asked on June 10th, 2004, if he would "stand by your pledge to fire anyone found" to have leaked the agent's name, President Bush responded, simply, "Yes."

Of course, in the past the White House has strenuously denied that Rove had anything to do with it. In 2003, McClellan said that he'd asked Rove if he was involved, and Rove had said he wasn't. "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved." "I've made it very clear, he was not involved, that there's no truth to the suggestion that he was." Asked again if Rove was involved, McClellan responded, "That's just totally ridiculous."

So what did McClellan have to say about the clear discrepancies between what the President Bush and he had said in 2003 and what Newsweek reported on Sunday? Nothing. Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

Q: Do you want to retract your statement that Rove, Karl Rove, was not involved in the Valerie Plame expose?

A: I appreciate the question. This is an ongoing investigation at this point. The president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation, and as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, that means we're not going to be commenting on it while it is ongoing.

Q: But Rove has apparently commented, through his lawyer, that he was definitely involved.

A: You're asking me to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Q: I'm saying, why did you stand there and say he was not involved?

A: Again, while there is an ongoing investigation, I'm not going to be commenting on it nor is ... .

Q: Any remorse?

It's worth noting that both Bush and McClellan have commented on the case repeatedly since 2003.

Republicans claim that the furor over this case is just politics as usual. But what Rove did has serious ramifications. Here's the story in a nutshell: In 2002, former Ambassador Joe Wilson was sent by the CIA to investigate rumors that Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase uranium from Niger. Wilson found nothing, and wrote about it in a New York Times op-ed column on July 6, 2003 after President Bush used the claim as part of the case for war. Wilson was married to Valerie Plame, an undercover operative, who was revealed shortly thereafter by conservative columnist Robert Novak. Novak cited "senior administration officials" as his source that Plame was an operative.

Why out Plame? While we don't know the full story, there are a couple of reasons to do so: to exact revenge on Wilson for refusing to toe the Administration line, and to send a message to would-be whistle-blowers that they should keep their mouths shut.

In any case, Plame's work was important, and by exposing her identity, the leaker destroyed ten years of covert relationship-building and could have jeopardized the lives of other covert agents in the field. At best, it was recklessly irresponsible; at worst, it was malicious; and either way, the leaker undermined our national security.

That's why we, like the President, believe it's time to fire anyone who was involved with the leaking of Plame's name. And now we know that means firing Karl Rove.

Please sign our petition now.

{Editor's note: Wipe that grin off your face, McLellan. You're next.]