Wednesday, July 28, 2004

3 for 4; more soon

kspc 8-10

mission of burma -- this is not a photograph
jacqueline humbert -- empty words (disc of commissioned art-songs composed by robert ashley [this one], james tenney, david rosenboom, that sort of crowd; on Lovely Music; will track this down)
real tuesday weld -- one more chance
rasputina -- when I was a young girl
haco -- sunday versions (RecRec comp)

side effect -- spitacular (philly, cheezed-out organ jazz sample; 'like Batman without his utility belt/sometimes I freestyle so my agility's felt'
murs -- 3:16
bad fathers -- evolution is outdated (woo, very june jordan)
wiley -- pies (just got this in the mail -- appears to be about pies)

unid. song-poem artist -- virgin child of the universe (from 'key of z' comp; station's artist of the week is 'outsiders,' like I need an excuse to play this stuff
jandek -- janky
gene marshall -- jimmy carter says 'yes'
captain beefheart -- spotlight kid
truman's water -- x-ray eyes or

cardboards -- electrical generator (cool, we're getting hyped to death comps now, this is pittsburgh '81 and sounds it)
tracy and the plastics -- this is dog city
gift of gab -- up
samson and sejour -- the big throwback

[stayed on mic for longer than usual, briefly ranting about hearing jim ladd on klos last night, and his self-serving claim that his couple of hours of 'free form' AOR a night are the only shred of resistance to corporatization; there -is- non-commercial radio, Jim, not to say its existence isn't under threat.]

mecca normal -- war between the neighbors
robin holcomb -- iowa lands (just picked up 3 cds used, at a price that indicates a dispiriting career arc -- definitely a 'prestige' signing; but, an impressive musician)
animal collective -- we tiger (I don't know about this, are we just back in Elephant 6 territory? Wouldn't have connected the 'whoops' to Truman's if I hadn't happened to program their CD earlier today)
the pioneers -- (why are) people grudgeful? ("joe gibbs mood" amalgamated comp on trojan, never knew this was the fall's source)

dead moon -- war is blind
vril -- despicable cadet/crumpled armada
charles hayward -- madmen, two swords (from 'switch on war' circa first gulf war)
xiu xiu -- support our troops

tangiers -- walk run walk
lansing-drieden - IV

Friday, July 23, 2004

Numb/distracted/blocked -- after today, no more here until I finish 4 tasks I won't list but which are block-lettered on an index card by my desk -- under a week I hope.

Julie Delpy on the Pacifica station this a.m. -- their morning show is called Uprising, which is clever now that I think about it -- talking a blue streak. Hearing the song she sings in the film doesn't make me want to see it.

Listened to some but not all of the radio coverage of the Sept. 11 Commission report yesterday, but hardly heard it in some sense. (What I mean by numb/distracted.) Mostly, I worried that it's pushing what's happening in Iraq post-'handover' out of the news; I feel I've lost track myself, honestly. Also concerned w/ what a nebbishy campaign the Dems seem to be running thus far, and with what little emphasis on the war; and the admin's apparent success in keeping more and worse torture images out of the media. I know this is not analysis, and I may just be outing myself as someone who thinks the difference might make a difference. "Weak citizen," indeed.

Until then, 3 more equaniminous notes. [2, as it turned out.]

1) I still wait to be bettered in the Recipient of Cruel Fortune Cookies Invitational.

a) "Stray not from the path to which fate has you assigned."
b) "You will be faithful in your execution of the public trust." (Received while dinner parter got "Your lovers will never wish to leave you.")

2) By 'critique,' Jordan probably just meant 'assessment.' (In the middle of the post, quote from the Porter piece looking pretty mousy between spectacular analysis [which you should read if you haven't] and Zizek.) But I'll expand a bit:

If Porter had been writing 'integrated musicals' in the '30s, he would have been alone. That's not so say there are (mostly comic) 'plot songs' -- Jubilee has some good ones -- but they're not what he's remembered for, except among OCR nuts. For much of its span, musical comedy was just that: A vehicle for music, and comedy. [There are exceptions, most obviously Show Boat, which marked a path not taken up for another 20 years or so, and, to a lesser extent, the mild electoral satire of a couple of Gershwin/George S. Kaufman shows. And that is fine. Wonderful, in fact. It's probably true that the songs were better than the shows, but it's more to the point that they're more revivable, for a variety of reasons -- topical humor dates quickly, the books for musicals were often tailored for stars (more so than straight plays), and so on. No one ever argues for Porter as a dramatic innovator, and hardly anyone expects him to be; he was inventive within a popular form that was, as it happened, pretty stable for most of his career.

I'm not going on about this mainly to defend Porter -- there are contemporaries I hold more dear, all told. I just want to give notice that I'm not, in principle, a unity freak. To change gears, I'd take Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy over Tommy any day.

Well, that took too long to write for me to get to the third thing, about 'human nature.' Probably just as well, I don't know that I need to get roasted in the sonnetarium. Boiling down something else I won't get to: Structuralist film might as well have been called phenomenological film.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

It's De-nitpicky, complete w/ corrections that came in within hours, ah, me.

2 related matters:

1) Scott Saul:

"Just listening to the version of 'Anything Goes' that comes on the De-Lovely soundtrack [....] and was struck by the line from the opening verse:

"If today, any shock they should try to stand,
'stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
Plymouth Rock would've landed on them."

Strange, because it's such a clear source for Malcolm X's famous put-down, "We didn't land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us."

Given that Malcolm began as a Roseland hipster, the connection seems more than just serendipitous, no?"

(back to fjb): Really interesting, but I wonder -- "land[ing] on Plymouth Rock" is a common enough phrase that independent chiasmus wouldn't shock me. Also, if Malcolm heard it clubs or in dance arrangements, it's less likely that he'd have heard the verse. A connection I've never seen made before, though.

2) Couple of paragraphs I cut from the Slate piece for length (that is, the eds didn't even see 'em):

The dismissal of Porter’s own work in Hollywood is especially misleading. There, the songwriter prospers by diluting his art, dashing off the supposedly banal “I Love You” for Nelson Eddy in Rosalie on a bet, and reducing the vulgar Louis B. Mayer to tears. This song was indeed a response to a titular challenge from Monty Wooley – as was “Miss Otis Regrets” – but it first appeared in Mexican Hayride: Claptrap, but Broadway claptrap. Rosalie may have been a ridiculous film, but “I Love You” is not a ridiculous song: Its lyrics, like those of “Night and Day” and “Begin the Beguine,” are goopy, but the melody line is inventively harmonized, with chromatic touches of a piece with Porter’s best.

On the other hand, “In the Still of the Night,” the film’s prime instance of Porter at his most heartfelt and commercially unconstrained, originated in a Metro production; namely, Rosalie. It’s no surprise that a New Hollywood fixture such as Winkler, who produced Raging Bull and Rocky I through III before turning to direction, would take a swipe at Old Hollywood; but it might have been more accurately aimed. All indications are that Porter, when teamed with Arthur Freed’s production unit, worked more smoothly under Mayer than for his next boss, Columbia’s Harry Cohn. When Winkler can stage “Be A Clown” as effectively as Vicente Minnelli did in The Pirate -- the over-edited antics here are patently unfunny -- then let him mock MGM, the now-diminished and apparently self-hating studio that released De-Lovely.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

mission of burma -- red (oho!)
doris day (w/ les brown orch.) -- celery stalks at midnight
nervebreakers -- my girlfriend is a rock
chops (feat. talib kweli) -- coming' from the lower level

boom box 2000 -- save our ship
hair police -- open body
impractical cockpit -- fresh shrimp (v/a friends & relatives, bloomington comp)
soul providors -- for old time's sake

stuart gillespie -- the handsome cabin boy (smithsonian maritime songs, so great, I just lost my audience)
matmos -- freak 'n' you (comp. of fat cat splits)
safety scissors/kit clayton -- (track 11) ('found objects' are the artist of the week)
kim hiorthoy -- (track 5)
kid creole & the coconuts -- dancin' at the bains douches (dub) (thanks, rael)

dirty projectors -- (throw on) the hazard lights (eesh, how much does this guy like Song Cycle?)
vetiver -- arboretum (long 'un)
great lakes -- teen angel (donovan tribute comp)
carolyn mark -- hangover (tempted to play the michael mcdonald cover...)
thalia zedek -- bus stop (also longish)

the unicorns -- emasculate the masculine (I'm liking it, but it could be a full minute shorter)
passage -- scarefilm
roy ayers -- can't you see me (taken from pb wolf mix cd)
mf doom -- bergamot wild (special herbs v. 3/4; don't worry, used it for backannounce, i'm not an idiot

pookie blow -- get up & go to school (request, how can i resist, and why would i?)
fall -- sparta 2xx (this actually seems a lot different than the uk mix)
fall -- eat y'self fitter (got sent 50,000 fall fans, so why not?)
a-frames -- skeletons
freezpop -- stakeout (just has to come out every few weeks)
henry gibson -- 200 years (nashville strck; now that was a disorienting seg)

mitchell akimaya -- with hope that (for steve reich) (like i couldn't tell)

Fixed zoilus link. Thanks, Liz.

Just in from local radio: Georgine Darcy, "Miss Torso" from Rear Window has passed away -- one of the last surviving members of the cast.

Meant to mention several days ago: Matos informs me that Mike Skinner "reminds everyone of John Cooper Clarke. And Ian Dury." Glad to hear it -- I've listened to Grand more than I've read about it.

Many hits over last few weeks from searches on "Ol' Bocephus." I presume this indicates that some portion of Gretchen Wilson's audience doesn't get the reference, which changes my sense of the make-up of said audience -- or maybe just its size.

Finished the last bit of research-assistant work that I'd been paid for months before filing the diss; commenting on an asst. prof's paper on the conditions under which assigning moral blame might be unfair. Distant from my current concerns, but interesting, though probably not to you; glad it's off the desktop.

License plate frame, Sunset Blvd.: "I hate Barbie -- that bitch has everything!"

Two days ago, "Snow White" in front of Grauman's had an exceedingly short yellow skirt and red thigh-high stockings; looked as though she should have been walking a few blocks farther East on Hwd. Yesterday, same character's skirt was practically to the ground. I think it was a different woman (I only see these things driving by); however, their "Superman" is always the same hollow-chested fellow who looks like Henry Fonda by way of Bill Griffith's Claude Funston.

Pillow to Post (1945, dir. Vincent Sherman): In essence, It Happened One Night set in a auto court near an Army camp (they only take married couples, heroine has to sell oil-well supplies nearby -- yes, she's an heiress trying to prove herself -- so shanghais a lieutenant to be her "husband" in order to get the last available cabin), though the tone is even closer to true farce than most screwball (much mistaken id, doors slamming). The only comedy I've ever seen Ida
Lupino in; she did more of this in the '30s, but was almost exclusively in heavier fare by this point in her career. Of course, she's fine, very physically detailed, though there's a lame drunk scene and both character and performance are very Claudette Colbert. If I've ever seen William Prince, the male lead, before, he made no impression -- his imdb entry suggests a respectable, unglamorous, and long career (TV gigs up to '94). Brief appearance by Louis Armstrong and orch, with Dorothy Daindridge as their singer, in a nearby roadhouse. Even stronger sense than usual that a single instance of unmarried persons sleeping in the same room would instantly annihilate the social order: When she first makes the suggestion, he immediately stops paying attention to his driving and nearly plows down two motorcycle cops.

Maybe not something Stanley Cavell would devote a whole chapter to, but I liked this exchange, when Lupino comes out of the kitchen (where she's to sleep) to brush her teeth in a just-above-the-knee nightgown and robe. I think I have it exact:

He: [some expression of mild surprise at the brevity of her costume]
She (defensively): It's the latest thing in nightwear.
He: I suppose it give you more freedom.
She: Well...that's what we're fighting for, isn't it?

To my utter shock, someone from the museum came out before the movie and mildly berated the Tue. matinee audience -- the regulars are mostly bused-in seniors -- for eating, talking, and bag-rustling. "We've been finding peanut shells...."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions The Anthology, 1961-1977; PJ Harvey Uh Huh Her*; Sushirobo The Light-Fingered Feeling Of...; Walker Kong, Transparent Life.

Between thoughts right now, but would like to draw your attention to some new links, at right:

'matos' is Matos, who you probably know. What could I trade to get a copy of this?

Previously, I've only linked to people with whom I'm already in touch, but I'm breaking that policy:

'lisablog,' by poet Lisa Jarnot, comprises war, horse racing, health, and the bones in your head. Very funny, very angry (and very difficult to decide which of those adjectives to place first. Important orienting statement, from an early post: "There are a lot of boring poetry blogs that I don't read."

'zoilus' is Carl Wilson, a critic for the Globe & Mail. I linked to an admirably detailed Mountain Goats review of his some time ago; I think I underrated his writing at the time. Since then, I've found him consistently insightful, both in published columns and the less constrained environs of the blog. E.g., here's his Nellie McKay v. Nina Hagen matchup (Nina wins), and a long discussion of "Really," the one McKay song that gets past her 'solipsism.' Agree, disagree, whatever: Smart, thoughtful stuff.

*enjoying the textures more than the texts, which may just be me, and which is fine. Happened to see the video for "Good Fortune," from the last one, a few weeks back, and loved, that particular day, both the song and her presence, though I didn't make much of Stories... at the time.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Mr. Silliman would not, I guess, care for the Donne "setting" I did a while back (which made no attempt to operate as 'art-song,' at least as I understand that term). I suppose I understand his concerns, but it all seems a little propietary to me; surely the existence of a musical response to a poem doesn't actually destroy the possibility of responding to it on the page, or in the (unaccompanied) mouth. So much for Nothing Painted Blue Sings 'Tjanting,' anyway.

I do hope that the Extra Glenns someday get a chance to record their setting of this Vachel Lindsay poem. (Obviously, there shouldn't be a break between the 7th and 8th line. Weird choice for a K-12 Xmas recital, you ask me.

Good news (for me): UCLA library has decades of Melody Makers on microfiche. Still seeking something similar for NME; Lincoln Center is the best bet so far (though the catalog entry is slightly unclear about their holdings). There could be worse excuses for an NYC trip. I doubt I'll find Sounds archived anywhere in the States.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

v/a College Rhythm, dance bands 1927-34; DNA on DNA.

Decent day Sat., except for the crushing guilt. Library sale in Glendale in a.m.; despite the hoarders and dealers, scored about 40 LPs, 50 cents a piece, and various books. Will spare you a list, but highlights include:

Stockhausen on Wergo, feat. Rzewski,
John Cage & Lejaren Miller/Ben Johnston split on Nonesuch,
MJQ w/ Swingle Singers at Place Vendome (kinda beat up, though),
Joplin's The Red Back Book cond. Gunther Schuller,
Melanie, Castles in the Rain, Buddha pressing,
10" of songs from Look Ma, I'm Dancing, starring a very young Nancy Walker,
Your Own Thing, a 1968 rock musical "suggested by Twelfth Night,
and two copies of the Painted Smiles LP of Elmslie/Richardson's The Grass Harp (w/ the Brainard cover, I think I have 4 now, and am trying to think of how to give a couple away).


a 1949 illustrated ed. of M.F.K. Fisher's translation of Brilliat-Savarin's The Physiology of Taste,
a bibliography of music articles from Ebony, 1945-85,
an untitled protolinguistic artist's book by Guy de Cointet, w/ various library markings and sleeve for check-out card glued in, but still a major find, esp. for two bits.

Lunch in Pasadena with my old friend Robert Vodicka; went to hear the racist cracker in the evening. Uneven; energy on the low side (even w/in their expected range), Claudia was behaving oddly, I thought.

That said: What does taking M. Fields (of all bands) as an instance of male-paradigmed indie rock, or writing that "Giving in is only natural; hence the popularity of Franz Ferdinand" while other folks are busy working out the homoerotics of "Michael" say about one's attitude toward some other kinds of Otherness?* Any chance that what's being read as Merritt's "whiteness" is -- not instead, but also, which is harder -- the queerness of some of the musical traditions (musical theater & cabaret, but also disco) into which he inscribes himself? Any chance at all that there might be some obstacles to a gay man embracing hip-hop? Does Stephin articulate this or make fine distinctions in his interviews? No. Is there something blameworthy in this? Likely, yes. As things stand, are there some complicated problems in negotiating among various forms of inclusiveness? Ding-ding-ding. Should we be satisfied with tossing bombs to see where they land? One guess.

*Oh, and what was that notion a while back about starting a marginal-but-good (read: accessible)" band to plant seeds of radicalism in an impressionable audience w/o "access to cooler record stores"? Whatever FF's intent, if "Michael" is the overture to a few coming-out parties down the road, good on 'em. Enough? No, anything short of 'the' revolution is not 'enough.' Nothing? Your call.

Friday, July 16, 2004

now playing: John Cale, The Academy in Peril, for no special reason, which is nice.


Two straight days of tying up loose ends w/o really sinking my teeth into much. E.g.: Responding, at editor's request, to one of two very negative reader responses to what I thought was a pretty innocuous short record review. This was odd, first because I don't often find myself in that position, but also because I broke down and bought Craig Seligman's Sontag & Kael: Opposites Attract Me, and had just been reading the section about various attacks on its subjects. Not that the letters about my review were by Renata Adler or anything.

Said book is oddly structured; it doubles back on itself repeatedly, offering fairly contradictory views of, say, Sontag's attitude toward popular culture within a few pages space. I think he's trying to reach a more holistic view of a given issue by dialectical means, but he never quite makes it to final verdict, even provisionally. He's also too forgiving of Kael's anti-theoretical streak, e.g. her putdown of Sigfried Kracauer: "By the time he has established an ontological system to support his right to say that it's a lovely day, our day has been spoiled." Seligman calls this passage masterly, but my immediate response to the guiding thought is: Why is it so wrong (or, more pointedly, threatening) that someone would approach film from a point of view other than that of the journalistic reviewer/critic. I don't see how the approaches vitiate one another. It's fine with me if one finds no time for philosophy, but can't anyone else?

A passage that Seligman quotes from Neitzsche gives me pause, w/r/t to my own dissipated energies:

"That hidden and masterful something for which we long do not have a name, until finally it proves itself to be our task -- the tyrant in us wreaks horrible revenge for every attempt we make to dodge or escape it....Every time, sickness is the response when we want to doubt our right to our task, when we begin to make things easier for ourselves in any way. Strange and at the same terrible! It is the easing of our burden which we atone most harshly."

I'm probably oversensitive to the success or failure of critical work right now b/c of my own worries about the Costello book. Some of my advisors have suggested that I avoid the "how I came to this record" strategy. My rock writing isn't, by and large, marked by the anecdotal, but I am having trouble finding another way in, even though much of what has to be in the middle of the thing is pretty clear. I probably shouldn't be using this space as a one-person writer's support group, though.


Sorry if this is dull. I'll try to get to (my idea of excitement) last night's program of structuralist film at LACMA in a few days. As to the SCTV DVDs, I can only say: The Gerry Todd show.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Radio felt pretty blah tonight, frankly. Need to strike a balance between playing the required amount of new stuff in rotation (hearing which is one of the main reasons I still do this) and making what I bring from home count. Wouldn't hurt to lend a hand reviewing new CDs, either.

I'm not a whole lot calmer than I was Sunday, but I'm doing my best to take myself in hand. A few quick items:

Scornful to suspicious to intrigued to guardedly enthusiastic is not an uncommon movement for me, so I am not entirely surprised that Rodney Graham's Rock Is Hard turns out to be right up my alley; fairly varied, crisply arranged and performed, maybe a few too many guitar solos, with little if any air of being a 'piece' rather than, you know, some music. Vancouver is tight: The production is by John Collins, also involved with most of Destroyer's records, and one of the main players is Mike Ledwidge of Zumpano -- I've wondered for a while what's become of him, I hope he's in the touring band that's here next Thursday. Vocally, Graham sounds like Lou Reed, but good mid-to-late Lou Reed, entirely appropriate for a 55-year-old.

I'm well aware that my biases are on display, but: If more metal bands underwent therapy, wouldn't there be...fewer metal bands?

Jordan: Your point is well-taken, but among prosody fiends, I wouldn't be inclined to call the late Gerald Burns 'icky.' Too singular to be broadly useful, maybe. I wish some of his prose were online (esp. something from the 1989 collection A Thing About Language, but I'm not finding anything. Also, doesn't Annie Finch try fairly hard to be non-icky?

Does Mike Skinner remind anyone else of John Cooper Clarke? Just a little? (Try "I Mustn't Go Down to the Sea Again," near the bottom of the page, for starters.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

kspc 8-10 p.m.

mission of burma -- this is not a photograph
consonant -- the kiss
les georges leningrad -- bad smell
breaker! breaker! -- magenta

tracy & the plastics -- quasaars
skip jensen -- my time's up (one-man garage band, french 7")
rev. gary davis -- there's destruction on this land
summer hymns -- capsized

the bruces -- beautiful slanted northern light (good, no surprise, fuller than last cd)
eddie pennington -- duncan & brady (stackolee era trad tune)
elizabeth cotton -- oh babe it ain't no lie (feat. artist of week)
carla kihlstadt -- flinch (very different from the cut played 2 weeks ago, I'm digging this disc)

libythth -- pimp stumbles into booby trap (starts as electoclash, goes somewhere more fucked, from michigan 'secrets & sounds' comp; at least it's not space-rock)
mr. lif & murs -- sneak preview (old 12" of tracks of def jux 2 comp)
colder -- one night in tokyo
rjd2 -- iced lightning (how did this set get so chill-out?)

miaow -- break the code (from the reissue)
julia vorontsova -- cities and countries (on abaton book company, folkier than marianne nowottny, and she's apparently russian, but this has that same jailbait vibe; label guy mark dagley may have been in the girls, but that was apparently at the more normal end of his range)
soviettes -- tonight (they're playing...tonight; this song is marked 'poppy...mainstreamish' on the station's copy, what, you mean, like, it has dynamics and you might actually remember it?)
nina nastasia -- judy's in the sand

arto lindsay -- personagem
camping -- hier wohnen wir (strongly german-accented fake bossa; odd effect)
n. lannon -- cruel (dog of the show, sorry)
belgianettes -- the crank (from 'show me what you got' soul comp)

james chance -- the twitch
gutbucket -- dance of the demented pigeon (kinda masada jr., but that's not bad)
lansing-dreiden -- II (review says 'resembles radar love,' and it does)
the mae shi -- revelation party (local)
curtis mayfield -- ghetto child

Monday, July 12, 2004

Oh, and:

I thought at one point I would have more to say about the NPR ombudsman's "hip but inscrutable" thing, but Douglas was already spot on; I think all the reviews quoted could have benefited from being edited for the ear, but "arch" is not a fair accurate description of their tone -- if anything, they err on the side of enthusiasm. All I'm certain of is that "surreal," "eerie," and "soundscape," if they must be used, should not be used in the same sentence, as they were in a recent All Things Considered review of a CD by Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter. I believe the exact formulation was "[quality X] makes Sykes' eerie soundscapes even more surreal." The bar is low, people.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

I have to be candid: My mood hasn't allowed for interesting use of this space for the last few days. The most easily discernable element of this is a fairly inescapable sense of pressure about several ongoing/upcoming projects, mainly: The Armed Forces book (which a friend just told me he'd advance-ordered from Amazon, despite the Sept. '05 pub date), the Dylan & Philosophy chapter, and a Philosophy & Literature summer course that starts in a little under a month and for which I don't have a syllabus, though I think it starts with the final sections of the Tractatus and ends with Eunoia. Add the occasional shorter freelance piece with a quick turnaround, and the knowledge that I ought to be revising at least one chunk of the diss for journal submission and tweaking my dossier in various ways for the job market. In sum: A fairly well-stuffed in-box of intellectually taxing work, which could get completed in the time alloted, but only by one of the more industrious and efficient versions of me, plus an almost audible buzz of guilt rising behind every strictly unnecessary activity. Including, over the last week to ten days:

DVD of Mamoulian's Applause (reputation precedes it too strongly; Love Me Tonight is far more entertaining), screenings of Singin' in the Rain and Johnny Guitar (both too well-worked over for me to have much to add here), and watching De-Lovely twice (actually, the last was strictly necessary, as were re-skims of two Porter bios, and tracking down some dates in the collected lyrics, for an upcoming piece); Calexico at the Getty Center (mariachi dub, an idea whose time has come), A.C. Newman at the Troubadour (4th show of the tour, current band still finding its feet) plus an opening band that could easily have been heckled: "Bright Eyes rule!"; most of Menand's American Studies, selected chapters of Anti-Capitalism Reader ed. Joel Shalit, Cecilia Vicuna's Quipoem/The Precarious (expensive book I happened to find remaindered in Seattle), more Jarnot, Mark Steyn's Broadway Babies Go To Sleep (a thoughtful and readable collection of essays on musical theater that gradually won out over Arendt just after Washington), a run at Megan Simpson's Poetic Epistemologies: Gender and Knowing in Women's Language-Oriented Writing, which I've so far just found myself wanting to argue with, John McCumber's Time in the Ditch: American Philosophy and the McCarthy Era, doubly so, and Brian Hinton's Let Them All Talk -- closer to necessary, an Elvis C. book very uneven on prose style and insight but containing a good bit of information I need. Would like to read that new Kael & Sontag memoir, but who knows when? Picked up Lew Welch's Ring of Bone today, remaindered for $2, while shopping for birthday gifts for grandmother (large print novel about Italian immigrants) and mother (already had a illustrated history of the Inland Empire, needed a card and a bow). The problem is with me, not the sounds, but ridiculously little recorded music is doing a damn thing for me right now, except for what I luck into on the radio show, most of which I haven't found time to revisit. A few things I'm excited about are coming in the mail soon, I hope, though the foremost among them is the first season of SCTV.

I probably won't post again, except for the playlist, until I feel capable of something more than an inventory. For now, two items: Despite the scorn I expressed for Rodney Graham's rock-as-art, his other projects seem intriguing, from the little bit of exploring I've been able to do (mainly an article in the free L.A. art-mag NEXT, sort of a less smarmy Coagula). Rael points out that the art-world attention to his music may be a function of the market and the social rather than any confusion or scamming about the status of the work on his part. I look forward to the mid-career survey opening at MOCA later in the month.

Finally, Jane complicates my take on "Redneck Woman":

"I think you miss the "Ol' Bocephus" deal almost entirely. It has everything to do with a) the fact that there are now three gens of Hank Williams', and Bocephus isn't the young one anymore, in fact he's b) of an older generation. I'm sure she woulda said Ol' Charlie Daniels if she'd had room; that syllable is doing TOTAL WORK in marking out generational identifications.

"(btw, if you're worrying about southern-ness and who gets to be country/redneck, listen carefully to Ol' Bocephus's "A Country Boy Can Survive," for the officially sanctioned territories. You need to spend some time in Redding, California, son.)"

To which I only add: Or Fontana, aka "Fontucky" in some circles.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Radio on the way home from radio: Can't get the KSRF Drama Hour in the Empire, stopped at some emo on what turned out to be Radio Disney, followed by H. Duff's "Our Lips Are Sealed," which is kinda great. She doesn't do anything but preserve Belinda's phrasing ("sigh-eh-lence"), but there are new countermelodies behind her; heavy guitar sound, surely some dweeb with plug-ins. Don't know if it was a compression effect, but I could barely make out the drum track, which gave the whole an almost orchestral feel. Bridge seems to have be reharmonized, I'll have to get used to it. Hell of a lot better than the updated "Let's Get Together" from the Parent Trap remake a few years back. Then a bleh remake of "We Got The Power" (the '80s are persistent, no?), so went over to KPFK, which comes into range around Altadena. I discovered a few weeks ago that Bill Gardner now has Tuesday nights. 6 or 7 years ago, he did two wonderful shows on KPCC before it went all talk, Rhythm & Blues Times Capsule and Rhapsody In Black. First place I ever really heard Wynonie Harris, Clyde McPhatter, Ruth Brown, plus a great deal of jump blues and doo-wop. Highlight of the 20 mins. I caught: Bull Moose Jackson's "Bow-Legged Woman." Filthy; I can't remember the lines exactly, but the rhyme-words give you the idea: "straddle/battle/saddle/tattle."


[reconstruction b]

Last week, saw a program of Yves Klein-related material at American Cinematheque, not finished films so much as footage/documentation of gallery openings, actions, his (very Catholic) wedding. Found myself next to Marjorie Perloff in line, who looked at me as though she thought she'd seen me somewhere, so I reminded her of where. Friendly; I do not believe that she knows that I am (even rarely) 'a poet.' Before the screening, the Frenchman who had come over to help organize the related Klein show elsewhere in town (haven't been yet) told us that since the films were silent, and since the pianist hadn't shown up, he had taken the liberty of pairing them with California surf music of roughly the same period! So we watched the naked ladies paint themselves International Klein Blue (well, the first half of the program was b&w) to the tune of "Mr. Moto," "Perfidio," and lesser-known selections. There were some calls to turn it off, one I think from Prof. Perloff, but this didn't happen until much later. Me, I loved it. At one point (once the color portion had begun), after a long passage of blue, blue, blue, a spongy red form appeared -- and received a sizeable ovation.

kspc 8-10

mission of burma -- this is not a photograph
frederic rzewski/anthony de la mare -- winnsboro cotton mill blues
jeru the damaja -- won't stop
eternals -- son of we don't want you here (should really play more dub after this)

calexico -- sirena (for ticket giveaway)
viento de ague -- ola de la mar (puerto rican bomba/plena grp)
the strange fruit project feat lysoul -- maintains (smoove. 'lysoul'?)

canto di soldati -- verra quel di di lune (tuscany, from 'secret museum' 78 comp)
the fall -- loop/houston
sybarite -- killing the moonshine (temporary residence comp.)
mr. magic & pookie blow -- earth break (3rd unheard)

rjd2 -- through the walls (ok, this was amazing; sounds like nick gilder or something)
meringue -- how is the one?
silkworm -- penalty box (new one, tenser than the last couple)
detachment kit -- ricochet (how can you take that band name seriously?)

passage -- jail 4 lil geniuses
orphans -- chinatown (request)
soviettes -- love song
gin palace -- you want it
whisky & co -- southbound train
girl talk -- bodies hit the floor
total shutdown -- tears
charming snakes -- teenage kut out (weird 7", medley of an original and "teenage kicks")

[blood donor psa feat. -- coolio!]

jackie mittoo -- brain mark
studio one -- chase them version (soul jazz comp.; one of the few vocal tracks)
beige -- schmonked starlet ('difficult easy listening' comp.; seemingly another atom heart project/psued)
dangermouse/jemini -- here we go again

craig taborn -- bodies at rest and motion (blue series)
the small group -- shadowy portals (local)
the organ -- it's time to go (vancouver band w/ female mozz impersonator, opened for new porns last year)

[reconstruction a]

At times, I have the paranoid, or simply narcissistic*, sense that Jane (when she writes about cover versions) or S/FJ (when he writes about recording) are engaged in a pinioning action of sometime, an intervention expressly intended to chip away at and ultimately atomize the last bits of some view that I hold, may not know I hold, an cannot at present easily formulate or even name. When they succeed, I will be free! Free!

Nonetheless, I have 'permitted' Douglas to post an electrical recording, from back when I was theoretically moored (ignorant) enough to fucking finish something. I'm 23 or 24, I sound like I have a cold, and n-teen years on, I'm no longer in any position to assess this, though it's one of the oldest songs I still perform; it gets where it's going quickly, at least. What, DBW, 'supervenes on the lunar tug' isn't perfectly lucid? Yes, Charming Tedious, John alters the chords considerably when he plays this. There is also a streaming link to an 'FMU live set; I haven't streamed it myself, but I recall that Porter Wagoner's "Cold, Hard Facts of Life" and Billy Strayhorn's "Strange Feeling" are induced to occur. You should hear some version of these at some point in your life, though not necessarily mine. The Destroyer set that same afternoon was indeed excellent.

In some versions of psychoanalytic theory (Melanie Klein), the root of narcissism is a pathologically weak sense of self.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Resolution: Compose in TextEdit rather than this window; a stray keystroke just ate way too many words. I'll try to reconstruct some of them tomorrow, but here's something else:

Over thirty? Stuck in the same musical bag for too long and getting a little twitchy? Have you run through the three Bs and back to Monteverdi and forward to Mahler and Ives? Are you bored with Perry Como but not desperate enough to embrace "The Stones" or Janis Joplin? Peace.

Under thirty? Are you betting bored occasionally with Jimi Hendrix, maybe a little put off by Jim Morrison? Jaws tired of "bubblegum music"? Want to broaden your horizons without getting trapped in that square symphony and opera stuff?

Good news! There's an area of new music growing that you can listen to without your friends accusing you of selling out to the other side. We don't know what to call it yet and we probably won't until strict "pop" and "classical" and "jazz" categories are ground into dust by the electronic age. But just because we don't have a name for it is no reason you can't go ahead and enjoy it.

Its borders are very hazy and loose. Some of it is being written now by people like Terry Riley and Mort Subotnick and Luciano Berio. Some of it a decade or two old, is just now being discovered; like Blood, Sweat and Tears uncovering Erik Satie or kids grooving to the sound of Harry Partch or Varese.

So, if you've got the musical "blahs," listen. There's enough on this record to keep your adrenalin pumping through 1970. Come on, get with it!

--John McClure
Director of Masterworks

[Liner notes to Wild Sounds of New Music, Columbia 7" seemingly included with a variety of the label's releases. The six tracks are 1:30 to 3:20 excerpts from Riley's A Rainbow In Curved Air, Lasry-Baschet's Chronographie, Partch's Castor & Pollux, Berio's Sinfonia: Section III, Reich's Violin Phase, and Nancarrow's Study #7. Lasry-Barchet is by far the least-familiar of these names; but, then, I know next to nothing about sound-sculpture. The relevant albums are blurbed on the opposite side; for example:]

Let magician Terry Riley float you on his tangerine carousel into a sunshine universe you might have dreamed of once when everything was easy and colorful and innocent. The only bad part is coming down.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Here's my inadequate attempt to memorialize Lizzy Mercier Descloux. I heard about Lacy and Quine after the piece was filed, hence the poor integration. And no, I don't write the titles.

I expect I'll respond to number 3 on the countdown later, but I just did 3 show picks and my next Phx column in the last 9 hrs., so I'm all coherenced out. But, on a tangent: OK, I entirely get that neither Gretchen Wilson nor any other "Redneck Woman" has to actually be Southern to point to her Kid Rock poster -- though the (great) line about the baby makes the autobiographical reading available, in the light of "Pocahontas Proud" -- but what I don't get is why, if she's actually from Illinois, her publishing company is called "Hoosiermania." Another funny thing about the song is the fussy prosody -- "Ol' Bocephus" in the third chorus to match "Charlie Daniels" and "Tanya Tucker" in the first two, rather than a little fudging: "Bo-whoa-cephus" would have worked. The inserted "old" is a hoary Tin Pan compromise, most often stuck in front of faraway places w/ strange sounding names -- e.g. Algiers. But it's hardly a dead practice:"Old Bombay" actually has a referent; not as sure about Saigon.)

By the way, I know "Ready For the Party" is probably the next single, but I hope the Dwight-styled (and -namechecking) "When It Rains" makes it onto the radio at some point -- the harmonized upsweep on "more" is fantastic, and no doubt pitch-corrected as all get out. "Chariot," one of the tracks Wilson didn't co-write, is great as well, though probably too complicated to succeed on its own.

Ready Agape Agape (mark over the first 'e') Saturday night -- I've been skipping bbqs all weekend, just to rest up for this week's work. I've never found time for Gaddis, and this, despite the advantage of brevity, was not the place to start. What a sad, bitter book -- it's minimally dramatized, technically a mix of Thomas Bernhard (quite explicitly) and Gordon Lish (or maybe Stephen Dixon), but addresses the reader so directly that it's nearly impossible not to read it as Gaddis' own apoplectic, presnidone-addled last words on various subjects, including the fact that his own books are going to be forgotten on the shelf with the other 'dead white guys' because too many literary prizes are given out these days. My empathy is limited. I think he badly misunderstands Benjamin's conflicted views on popular culture, and 'his' own (it started w/ player pianos, not sheet music) are virulent and inhumane:

"...been to the movies lately? Listened to their lyrics?! Man I mean like I've heard it you dumb asshole give this muhthrfuckr a blowjob every man his own artist in this democracy of the arts...."

Fuck you, and Steve Allen. Hell, yeah.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Fairly certain I was lightly burglarized during my travels. Not sure how entry was effected: Two doors w/ decent locks and different keys at the front, strong deadbolt at the back. All secure when I came home. It seems to have been through the front though, 'cos the take was roughly what one person could carry off from within two steps of the door and make off with quickly: A few clean towels and blankets I left on the piano bench for some potential houseguests*, plus two randomly chosen alphabetical handfuls from the CD cabinet, maybe 25 in all. Specifically, whatever lay between Andrew Bird and Paul Bley; and between Blossom Dearie and The Decemberists. The discs I'm sure are gone are those by: Peter Blegvad, Carla Bley, De Artsen, and the dB's. (All my Birthday Party is on vinyl; so are Escalator on the Hill and dupes of most of the dB's stuff.) No books gone, that I can see; more valuable and fairly ready-to-hand items -- guitars, Microkorg -- were untouched, likely b/c they looked like something someone might insure or bother to trace. The towels and blankets just make me sad; most likely, the thief is homeless. And heck, if I'd known someone was coming, I'd just have left a couple weeks of promos out -- the trade value would probably be just as good (except for Like This, which I've noted on the wall at Amoeba for $75). But damn, that De Artsen disc is both good and hard to come by.

*Chris Stroffolino and the rest of Continuous Peasant were supposed to crash here at after a show I would be away for, and which later got cancelled; they ended up playing in San Diego and somewhere in O.C., and didn't even come to my place. They were to be handed my extra keys by Catherine Daly, who still has them. It does all make for weird timing....

High tea at Huntington Library this afternoon for Bree's b-day. Afterwards, she and her mom and sis went antiquing in Pasadena, her stepdad had a business meeting, and I stayed behind for a little while to glance at the Christoper Isherwood exhibit in the public section of the library. If you've got to fetishize something, it might as well be Isherwood's personal copy of Auden's first volume of poems, privately printed by Spender, with autograph corrections by the author. Walking away, I distinctly recall thinking, "I'd steal that."

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Not mocking T. Frank on this count; I don't travel with an iron either.

Based on my own experience, 3 quite possibly true, 7 surely false. 1, 2, and 4 (esp. 2): Excellent advice.

Time between previous post and Wed. evening largely spent in unincorporated county territory near Port Orchard, right on Puget Sound, fairly far from the ferry that takes you to downtown Seatlle, though close to the one that takes you to West Seattle. Cabs are not plentiful at either terminal of the latter, however, which led to my missing the anticipated Mecca Normal show. Our gracious hosts: the aforementioned mother-of-the-bride, a retired social worker who now sculpts, quite fluidly, in stone (and gets commisions to do so) and takes personal-growth and social-responsibility courses from The Landmark Forum; strangely, Foucalt and Lewis Hyde were mentioned in connection with this. And: Husband Rick, a semi-retired math teacher who not only bakes (damn good) bread and homebrews nut-brown ale, but built the damn bread oven, not to mention a kayak and a retaining wall. They're members of a class I don't encounter much here in L.A.; definitely boomers, but possessing a higher quality-of-life/lower offensive-consumption-rate than they otherwise might by locating themselves somewhat remotely and by, well, making their own bread and beer.

Many Edward Abbey and Annie Dillard books on the shelves; I whiled away some time skimming The New Humanists: Scientists at the Edge, ed. John Brockman -- a collection of essays by supposed "Third Culture" biggies (who seem to be exactly what used to be called "futurists"): Ray Kurzweil, Jaron Lanier, Daniel Dennett. Lotsa big talk about Moore's Law, which didn't hack me off nearly as much as several (not all) contributors' kneejerk bancruptcy-of-pomo-and-even-mo-arts-and-humanities-ism, which made me feel a lot better about never having read Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct. This is quite explicitly Brockman's own view, but I give him credit for including a section of dissenting responses to his introduction to the collection at the back. (Lanier seems to have a moderate enough view, but I still doubt I'd care for his music.) This whole swath of scientists-turned-public-intellectuals only rarely impinge on my pretty heavily Second Culturalist sphere of interest. (Or whichever one is 'first'; C.P. Snow is not at hand.) It would be a worthwhile project to know something more about their assumptions, ambitions, and degree of influence.

Did make it to Pike's Place Market Tuesday, and hence to Left Bank, picking up MN's self-released Janis Zeppelin, left behind on consignment. Covers of "Like A Rolling Stone" and Sonny Boy Williamson's "One Way Out" -- who knew? Then Elliot Bay Books (where Clinton would be signing his Lyn Hejinian bite the very next day; the phone was ringing off the hook), the Rem Koolhaas library-of-the future (is a Tony Oursler piece hectoring you in the escalator shaft a good idea?), and dinner with the Powers-Weisbard family unit, who appear to be thriving. Though Ann had her doubts, Eric was fairly insistent about taking us to OK Corral BBQ, and I'm glad. Fruit punch referred to as "Hood Juice," family-style platters of ribs, chicken, and dense, snappy links (though I also dig the looser kind I happen to associate with Oakland) which, piled together, surely exceeded the separate dinners we actually ordered, mismatched seating (not in a cute way, either), and very rough bill-estimation. Among its few decorations: A Sonny Boy Williamson poster. As for Rebecca Brooklyn P/W: She does not like the car seat, but can be appeased, at least temporarily, by a few well-timed stroller-donuts.

There's more, but that's enough.

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