Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Yes, well, an absence of not quite a week, the longest by far since letting more than 2 people know of this address sometime in late January. With good reason: Yesterday found me printing the first physically extant copy of a complete draft of my dissertation and delivering it to two of the three reading members of my committee. (The third is sometimes a bit difficult to find. Do I sound nervous?) Last week was spent, first, expanding the last chapter from a 12 page kernel to a 50 page, er, cob; then, cutting 30 pages of redundancy, irrelevance, and specious argument out of what had turned into a ridiculous 260-page document. (Also, far too many occurrences of the phrases "Notice that...," and "One might try to argue...." Some of these remain to be rooted out.) I await word from my chair on how much else can go straight out the window; 180 is closer to the norm in our department. (Shorter still if it's a highly technical work in logic or semantics, or if you actually happen to prove something.)

Almost too perfect: Finishing the cuts on Monday night (though I normalized some citations the next a.m.), leaving the house at 9:30, and walking into the Troubadour three minutes before the Mekons took the stage. I cannot remember what they opened with (though the dusted-off "Corporal Chalkie" was second), but between this and the previous evening's acoustic, seated (the band as well) show/reading at McCabe's guitar shop (which began with a very abstruse mbria/harmonium "This Sporting Life,") they played a number of songs I haven't heard them do for several cycles: "Oblivion," "Prince of Darkness," "Hey! Susan," "Ghosts of American Astronauts" (the line "A flag flying free in a vaccum" had not struck me so hard before), plus, on the 'folk' night, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." Hilarity and joy I can't capture here, especially with the complicating feature of Sally Timms' simultaneously enthusiastic and annoyed stage manner. Fortunately, I wasn't there to be a critic -- I danced, did the prescribed wave during "Now We Have The Bomb," and considered the fact that I've been seeing this band, probably on average once a year or a bit more, since 1988. As much as I loved Honky Tonkin' and Rock and Roll (the ones that came out when I was doing college radio), I don't think I would have expected them to be not just good, but vital, 15-or-so years later.

I also managed to see Dizzee at the Key Club (formerly Billboard Live, on the site of pay-to-play haven Gazzari's) Thursday. Unpleasant place, bad sound (worse for the headliner than opening crews, one of whom should probably not make a big deal out of being from Colorado), uninspiring DJ (fucked up badly at least once -- I almost think digital tracks would have been better) and sidekick ("if you know this one, sing along; if you don't, buy the album!"), but you know, the kid has it -- the best parts of the show were three voice-only raps, one about how he got started, one along the lines of the street-life tracks on the album ("from the gift of the gab to the gift to the gauge" was one line I caught), and one, to close, seemingly about his doubts about the music business. Rapid, showy, and extremely musical -- I assume there are other MCs who, for practical purposes, act as their own beatbox while actually speaking words, but this seemed top-flight, I don't think entirely out of ignorance. Crowd 90/10 white, at least; Rael said it looked like the people you'd see at a Squarepusher show; this music clearly means something different here than at home.

Also: His voice has deepened a touch since the record -- the "Wot!"s in "Jus a Rascal" did not sound as poultryish. Still, it's all up for grabs -- I thought I heard him say "Chateau Marmont!" between songs, but I could also swear he says "grade complaint" on the album.

I'm between set tasks at the moment, so I may see Metal Urbain this evening, if this little nap notion I have right now works out. After that, probably in and out of this space for the next 3 weeks. (Though, the annual Film Noir fest at The Egyptian starts in early April, so there will probably be more screening notes.)

Lastly: It looks 95% certain that I will be writing 30,000 words about an album I've owned since well before I'd ever heard of the Mekons. (And someone will be paying me, modestly, to do so.)

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