Wednesday, May 31, 2006


That's how you spell "Thandie."

At least according to my 2 year old daughter, who spelled her name for me this morning.


Monday, May 29, 2006

I'm so fat

Went to the movie theater for the first time in ages today (saw the third X-Men movie--which was a big blah, by the way), and noticed this rather amazing little concoction while waiting in the vicinity of the concession stand.

Let me set the scene: in the background, a startlingly fat little girl (maybe 3 years old) is playing a game projected on the floor; she stomps on digital popcorn, spiders, race cars, and so on. It looks like the most activity she's gotten in months.

Daphne and I are standing in line trying to decide what size popcorn to get.

Out of the corner of my eye I notice that one of the items on the menu is a giant pretzel in which is ensconced a glazed cinnamon roll. The entire thing is probably the size of a small frisbee. I feel a vague desire to retch.

I try to imagine the mindset that would create such a thing. "Let's see, I could buy this pretzel, and then buy this cinnamon roll, and eat them separately. OR, I could buy the pretzel-cinnamon-roll-colossus, and save myself the extra effort it takes to guide my fat fucking hand back into the bag to pull out the cinnamon roll once I'm done with the pretzel! Yeah! Pure genius!"

This is how the world will end. Not with a bang, but with a burp.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

So as I said...

I recently posted this "review" of myspace on an email list I belong to:

"I was a little hesitant to get involved in myspace, but people kept recommending it to me, and a month or two ago I took the plunge. In the interim I have become pretty enthusiastic about its possibilities. I wouldn't use it as a standalone promotional tool (though who knows, maybe someday it'll be capable of that), but I do think it has the potential to be extremely powerful. (And, by the way, I have found some awesome music with it.)

"At the same time, there are some things that would make the site a better tool for indie musicians. Obviously, networking is not just about being able to easily amass large amounts of data (something the myspace interface is really good at). One needs to be able to organize and filter that data to use it effectively. So, for example, I find it very frustrating that except for the 'top eight,' one can't personalize the organization of one's 'friends' (say, by geographic region, genre, or even just alphabetically). Right now the order is determined by myspace, and to the user it appears basically random. What if we have a gig in city X, and I want to send a message to our friends in that city? Or what if I want to seek advice about venues in that city? It would be great if I could just go to a folder or a page that lists all my friends who are living there.

"Maybe this isn't such a big deal when your friends list is still in the hundreds (as ours is), but once you start working with four or five digits, it's got to be a bit of a headache. As I see it, the 'friends space' should be like a digital rolodex, configurable in any way you want. You should be able to make notes about your friends, tag them, stuff like that. (Let's say for instance you want to follow up personally with people who have added you -- something that can be time consuming if you choose to compose some relevant sentences and don't just post an all-purpose image -- it would be so helpful to have some sort of tracking system so you could see at a glance whose profiles you still needed to add a comment to.) In short, to realize its full capabailities as a networking tool, myspace should really enable you to go from the macrocosmic (your entire friends list) to the microcosmic (any specific subset of that list) more or less instantaneously.

"There are, of course, workarounds for these things (adding the friends you find into a separate database program, for instance). But of course, that all takes additional time. And as a wise man once said, 'Time is the thing.'

Just a few thoughts... thanks for the discussion."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Is that supposed to make me want to go to the show?

A recent Pollstar article has the headline: "Kanye, Tool on the Scene."

True, the effect would be more egregious if there were a colon instead of a comma, but still, come on. I'm no Kanye West fan, but doesn't anybody proofread this stuff?

Flaming Tuba

No, really. Fire dancers and a burning tuba performing "Oops I Did It Again." In the words of the anonymous sage: hilarity ensues.

Go ahead! Check it out!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Pod People

That, I think, is going to be the name of the IJG podcast series that I'm hoping to get off the ground this month. But in the meantime, here we are as featured in someone else's podcast. (The show is Taran's Free Jazz Hour. Thanks, Taran!)

Little Things Mean A Lot

Sometimes ya gotta go with whatcha got. I don't know, I find this project funny, poignant, surreal, disturbing, sad, and (effectively) critical all at once. Bravo, little soldiers.

Talk about poignant, disturbing, and sad, I caught a bit of HBO's Baghdad ER documentary tonight. Not very surprising, alas, but it made me wonder just what obscure corner of whose ass Bush supporters continue to pull out the malarky line that "things are getting better over there." (I know, I know, we're over there now, can't pull out, blah, blah, blah. You got your way, already. But those of us who opposed the Iraq war from the beginning still get to point out the hell you have created.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Aggy, we hardly knew ye

I've been trying to start a feud with Christina Aguilera for a year or two now. Part of me wants to challenge her to a battle of the bands. Part of me wants to keep taking veiled pock shots at her (and American Idol) through IJG song titles, liner notes, and live concert interludes. For whatever reason, she hasn't taken the bait.

My motivation here goes back to an incident in the history of the IJG in which a certain motherfucker trombonist (who shall remain unnamed) bailed on some crap-ass gig of ours in order to play with the barely legal ex-mouseketeer. It became a sort of in-joke (in my own head, anyway) to tease said trombonist about his decision, based on the premise that his talent was out of all proportion with the ex-mouseketeer gig. It was a sort of backhanded compliment; he was, the joke stipulated, much better (musically speaking) than that.

Though I continue to milk the joke (because, well, I find it funny), I completely understand the mechanics of the decision to take an Aguilera gig over an IJG one. Not only is there beaucoup bread in the former, but most of the cats I play with have this sort of perverse obsession with the little blonde diva, as if she's actually hot or something.

Whatever. In all seriousness, I do think she can sing. To paraphrase something Zappa once said about John McLaughlin: one would have to be a moron not to recognize her talent. She's just not terribly interesting. I personally think she should do a "girl group" album, introducing a new generation to the Ronettes and the Crystals, et al. Instead, she decided to do this.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Everyone knows it's windy

So last week it was Portland; this week it's Chicago. The search continues.

Actually we have no real designs on Chicago, just came out here for Thandie's birthday and to visit Daphne's folks (as well as a few other scattered friends from days of yore). Chicago is a fun, somewhat abstract place with a downtown that I adore. I've written elsewhere about the wonders of Millenium Park. And it was eerily enjoyable this afternoon to watch the fog roll in off the lake. And of course there is some great music (and some great music history) here.

But we couldn't live in this town. One of the silliest reasons is that the superabundance of food, fatty fatty food and the culture that surrounds it, would wear on us very quickly. Last week Conan O'Brien joked that he could only do his show in this city for five days because his cholesterol level had already shot up in that time. Sometimes it seems like all people do here is eat, drink, watch sports, and try to run each other off the road (I know that's a bit of a cliche, so my apologies for offending any of youze). Don't get me wrong: some of the eatin' is quite delicious. We had a stupendous soul food breakfast this morning, and I doubt whether there are very many other places in this country where you could top off the first meal of the day with some delicious peach cobbler--at least without someone looking at you askance. But living here would be like dealing with Thanksgiving all the time. I would find that a bit depressing.

In music news: lookit! Lookit! The IJG has its first festival: in Carson City this August. More information on that soon.

Back in LA on Tuesday. All kinds of plans a-bubbling, IJG-related projects to see through, and yes, I'm writing more music (as my friend Joe used to say, "will it ever end?"). Hang on, let's see where this all goes.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Birthdays, travel, stock-taking

May has been quite action-packed so far. Got a generous last-minute no-way-you're-gonna-refuse sort of invitation to spend Daphne's birthday up in Portland, Oregon, courtesy of some of our oldest and dearest LA friends, Sarah Shute and Matt Smith. (Sarah took the above photo of my little familial unit waiting to board Portland's efficient-as-hell public transportation system. Looks sunny, right? We got caught in a beautiful rainstorm not two hours later. It was great fun.)

While in Portland, we watched the kids play in the yard (which was deliberately full of clover), drank way too much (apparently, Sarah and I are bad influences on one another in that department), ate some amazing food, and just took a break from the rat / crack race that is LA. Oh, yeah, and Daphne and I got the hard sell ("move! move!"), which included being driven around to several cozy, artsy, urban-yet-livable neighborhoods, and being flabbergasted at how affordable they are.

It's a bit overwhelming, now that LA is putting the screws to me and the wife both artistically and financially (oh, did I mention that I'll be leaving the IML in June? It's good riddance, really (sometime I'll tell you about it), but you know how nice it is to have a steady income). I'm painfully aware that we have to do something about the situation (though I don't want to be an alarmist); I'm just not sure what. I especially don't want to lose the network of musicians who have collected around the IJG; we've come too far for me to just throw that away and start from scratch elsewhere. It's no secret: I love those guys. So I'm thinking that if and when we do leave, it should be to go to a place where I can remotely maintain the group as an LA ensemble. Portland might be too far for that scheme (though perhaps not). The SF Bay area, on the other hand, might be just what we're looking for...

It's all too early to tell at this point.

Anyway, that was the first week or so of May. Got back on the 4th, played an IJG quintet gig at Club Metropol on the 5th (opening up for wicked cool east coasters Gutbucket), and now we're getting ready to head out to Chicago for another week or so; we'll be celebrating Thandie's second birthday there (did I ever tell you that all the women in my life were born in May?).

The quintet gig was fun, by the way. We had a few less people at that show than at the Barnsdall debacle two weeks back, but it didn't matter because the space was (a lot) smaller, and the vibe much more casual. I do love playing the quintet music (it's certainly more sedate and subtle and jazz-like than the big band), but somehow I don't think it's as, well, compelling. The big band sticks out like a sore thumb: a point of pride with me. It may not be for everyone, but it's different and unique, and I'm crazy proud of it. The quintet probably isn't so far removed from other jazz things that are happening these days. But it's (obviously) far easier to maintain. Ah, this fucking business.

It was a thrill to play with Gutbucket, by the way (you can get some of my take on them in an AAJ article I wrote about their first appearance in LA a little over a year ago). With all the struggling the IJG has been doing of late, it's comforting to know that there is a similarly "non-commercial" group a few steps ahead of us, and actually surviving at it. We can learn a lot from them, and I sure intend to.