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 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

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.]

Monday, July 11, 2005

Promises, promises

I know, I know, you've been asking for that tour diary I promised you... I'm still working on it, but it'll be in this space soon.

In the meantime, some more IJG sightings around the web (forgive me if any of this gets redundant):

Christian Carey wrote a nice review of The Star Chamber, which is posted on Great Hoboes of NY (love that name). Dr. Carey has the distinction of being the first critic to publicly get our Beethoven reference, by the way.

Some tour previews, now posted retrospectively: this one in The Montclair Times, this one in The Bergen Record, and this one in Hot House (I was on the cover of the print version of this magazine).

So there you have it.


A little blog insurance, here. Of course there are more efficient ways to protect yourself from casual eavesdroppers / potential tattletales at work (er, not that I would have any need for such protection). But I love how someone took the time to create this fairly worthless tool, apparently just to revel in its delightful (if nerdy) rebelliousness.

The author (Gary Turner) is also responsible for this idea, which he calls "dumb," but I call "hi-larious."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Christ, you know it ain't easy...

I just discovered that the above album is not available on CD (except as an expensive import).

What year is this again?

Jolly Good

Thank god (or whoever) for the wry, stoical British. The above photo has been circulating; maybe you've seen it already? (I got it uncredited, alas. Anyone know who the photographer is?)

There's also this wonderful quote:

"On days like this, the music radio stations play sad music - if they play any music at all. I turned on the radio in the bathroom when I was taking my shower just now, and they were playing 'One' by U2. HAVEN'T WE SUFFERED ENOUGH?"

Other stuff of this sort can be found here and here. Nice.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Disco balls

One of the cooler recent pictures of the group. Taken June 30 at Club Tropical by Gary Davis. You can clearly see that Tropical has not one, but TWO disco balls.

Thanks, Gary!

(L-R: Shaunte Palmer (trombone), Dan Rosenboom (trumpet), Phil Rodriguez (trumpet), Robert Jacobson (guitar), Ron Dziubla (bari sax), Matt Otto (partly hidden, tenor sax), me (conducting), Dan Boissy (alto sax), Kelly Corbin (soprano sax). Hidden: Aaron Kohen (bass), Dan Schnelle (drums).)

A little levity

Okay, let's lighten the mood. Try not to get turned on by this.

Judith Miller

Whatever you think of her reporting on WMD, it's insane that Judith Miller is going to jail. (Have I said this before?) I heard people on C-SPAN today dismissing the whole affair because of the Jayson Blair and Dan Rather scandals. Huh? Excuse me, people, but Judith Miller is not Jayson Blair; neither is she Dan Rather! (And neither is Dan Rather Jayson Blair, but that's a subject for another post.)

In an effort to make a connection to this London business, today I recalled an interview Miller did on one of those 9-11 documentaries that aired on PBS a while back (or it may have been a piece on John O'Neill, I can't remember). Quoting Putin, Miller described what was for her a supremely chilling moment (out of a 3-4 year period full of chilling moments)--to wit, the realization that "we are as dust to them." (The "we" here is, of course, the West, and the "them" is presumably Al-Qaeda, or perhaps Muslim extremism in general).

Sad to say, we're going to have to get used to this crap, at least until we're ready to vote out (or, if we're lucky, tar and feather) the current crop of war-mongering demagogues. They've made things much, much worse. (That's right, fuckers, I hold you personally responsible.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Dickens would be proud...

...because it's a serial.

And the music is cool too. (Don't know if Dickens would have cared about that.)

This just in...

Current terror alert level:

Terror Alert Level

On the radio, whoa-oh-oh-oh

Perhaps the coolest thing about this NJN piece about the IJG (scroll down a bit) is that it followed by a mere couple of weeks a similar one about one of my favorite groups: the (vastly underrated) Bobs.

Old media never die...

...they just go here.

Fire up the Hazelcom McLeyvier and grab a pint of ice cream! This is a great read. (Anyone remember the TRS-80?)

If it looks like a duck...

My little girl likes ducks a lot. So I dedicate this link to her.

Quack, quack, Thandie!

Just found this...

...a nice little tidbit on our 12 Miles West appearance. With a nifty picture and all (L-R: Damon Zick, Shaunte Palmer, and Kris Tiner (I don't know who the little girl is)).


Friday, July 01, 2005

Our puny human brains

Watch this. Count the number of times the basketballs are passed.

Then watch it again.

Miss anything the first time?