Friday, July 30, 2004
Space is the place
So today is happy Brian day.
I'm delaying my Big Books reading for another week. Reason being, I just got the new McSweeny's entitled, well, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern Vol. 13. And it's edited by america's greatest current writer, Chris Ware. Ware's most famous work is Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth, which won Britain's prestigious Guardian prize. And it's a comic book. Yep, you heard me. Comic Book. 'Cept this aint no ordinary super hero kinda thing. Those who know me, know i've been reading them there comics for awhile now. Big fan. From Neil Gaiman to Daniel Clowes to R. Crumb to Peter Bagge, I can't get enough. Course you'll note that none of these authors actually write for kids. Or repressed 30 -something Dungeons and Dragon boys. Comics have come a long way. Jimmy Corrigan is one of the saddest and most beautifully illustrated books i've ever read. I think it should be required reading for all...hop down to yr local library and reserve it now (it's a hugely popular title, so the odds of the library actually having a copy not checked out is rare). Really, i swear to god...it's a serious and wonderful piece of literature, with nary a caped crusader to be found. The new McSweeney's offers works by Ware and a host of other great, mostly independent comix authors. I'll have a full review when i finish.
Another thing making me happy today is The Marx Brothers (you absolutely must click on this link). I just rewarded myself after a job interview today with a dvd viewing of A Night at the Opera. I've always preferred the Marx Brothers to other comic teams. Maybe it was Woody Allen in Hannah and Her Sisters that convinced me, i dunno, but there's just so much more to their films. There is of course the brilliant slapstick that still leaves me in tears. Harpo on the Harp. That walk of Groucho's. And puns, sweet puns. Nonstop. But the Brothers offer something more...they're anarchists (non-political) and populists (political) at heart, mocking every societal convention with unfettered glee. Hide yr cows, cuz nothing's sacred. Get yr Marx Brothers fix today...nothing called comedy now comes even close.
A special shoutout to Jay London.
Tunes should be up in about an hour. I'm having briefcas issues. Keep checking back, and may the road rise to greet you.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
You know what? I'm more pissed off today than i was yesterday. Sorry to be so unpleasant. The fun stuff's gonna have to wait a couple more days, at least until the DNC is over. Last nite I watched a speach that almost made me think about voting for Kerry. Al Sharpton came and and blew the entire building up. He addressed issues that matter to a great deal of people. People often ignored by the mainstream press, and most certianly by the powers that be in the two major political parties. He spoke about things that Nader has been speaking about. He spoke about issues that used to be the core of what the Democratic party stood for. The crowd was on it's feet. I felt better than i have for a long time about politics. It was inflammatory and relevant. Loud and bold. Took no prisoners, gave no bullshit. I thought to myself this is the party i've missed...the party i've been waiting for to return to us.
Whoooops. Boy, was i wrong. You may remember that Rev. Al hasn't exactly endeared himself to a "certain group of people". You may have also noticed that Sharpton is Black. Shucks, the all-white panels on msnbc following his speech sure didn't forget. From Chris (Nutjob) Mathews to "Liberals" who should know better, nobody forgot that Sharpton was Black, and that he wasn't speaking to them, and their carefully cultivated bank accounts. The vitriol spewed his way from all sides (did i mention they were all white?) was, frankly, rank racism. Conservatives i expect to not understand the "negro problem." They (republicans) don't understand anything unless it's god, or, more accurately, how god can get them more money so they can fuck over their fellow man. To them, the Black vote, and Black concerns are minor issues, at best. I didn't expect them to like Sharpton's speech, because it threatened the very "values" they hold dear. The Democrats, the Liberals, though...that's a different story. For the Dems to have come out so anti-Sharpton is the biggest blow to my confidence in the party, yet. With the exception of Willie Brown, who nobody gives a chance to speak, every Dem represented on talk shows like Hard(nutjob)Ball are white. And they completely recoiled from Sharpton's message. They want nothing to do with the real problems in this country. The only Black issues they want to deal with, or allow to be spoken, are ones they can wrap their heads around. The message given the Black community was essentially "know your place". They have no room for "uppity niggers" like Sharpton. I'm disgusted. Sick. A whole group of people told that their concerns are too "extreme" for white america.
I have never voted Republican. I, now, will never vote Democrat, either.
I wanted to put a link to a transcript of Sharpton's speech. Couldn't find it. If someone knows a better place to hunt let me know. Seems to have disappeared. Back to the cotton fields, apparently.
Well, that was fun, wasn't it? Please like me.
So...i can't gurantee i won't be political again. But , tomorrow...no politics. I promise. I'm going to tell you about the greatest new writer in america. And I'll have those promised photos of Phyllis Diller nekkid.
Tunes. That's what we're here for.
Let's start with Gil Scot-Heron...we've heard this song before...but i think it's tremendously relevant. And it's got a great beat.
Bob Dylan wrote "Song to Woody" as a logical extension and tribute to america's greatest songwriter and champion, Woody Guthrie. This is Uncle Tupelo's "bootleg" version.
And finally, a non-political song. I dedicate to Rev. Al Sharpton. Jackie Wilson swooned with the angels and danced with the devil...sweet and sweaty sin. Enjoy. Peace.
Gil Scot-Heron: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (mp3)
Uncle Tupelo: Song to Woody (live)(mp3)
Jackie Wilson: Soul Galore (mp3)
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
hey hey woody guthrie, i wrote you this song
Well...happy DNC week. Let's raise a toast to the party that forgot it's people. Yeah, I'm a little pissed off these days. And not because Chicago interrupted Last Comic Standing to show the same Barack Obama speech that was showing on every other channel in Chicago. Yes, he's a really swell guy. Yes, he's studied Jesse Jackson very closely. Yes, I'm going to vote for him. But this convention is sad. Tired. Trot out the speakers, let them say the same things over and over and over. When was the last time anything said at the pep ralley masquerading as a "Convention" actually came to pass? FDR? Teddy? Bush is evil, no doubt about it. But nothing I've heard or seen so far has convinced me that John Kerry deserves my vote either. And I refuse to buy into the lockstep message I'm being fed. So far as I'm concerned...both of them can go...errr...have relations with themselves. Out of touch. Part of the problem. So much talk about "throwing away our votes". Well, I agree. I refuse to throw away my vote on candidates that don't speak for me. Sorry. I'm just really disgusted. Tomorrow I'm going to put up some interesting and fun links. I promise. Y'all will be well rewarded. Today, I'm just tired from staying up too late watching Scarborough (sp?) and little Ronnie Reagan hug each other.
Changed my mind on the book front (shock! surprise!), due in part to a package I received yesterday. Full details tomorrow...but until then, I'll just say ACME. Heh.
In keeping with my ebulliant mood....This week is going to "political music" week. I hate political music. The U2 kind...that's jingoistic and trite. (hey, wait...come back...ooops i think i just lost all my readers). Even my old hero, little mikey stipe's become tedious. But, hell, there's some damn good political tunes out there. Today, we've got three (THREE!!!!). goody.
The Dropkick Murphys are an Irish band via Boston, MA. A little bit Pogues, a little bit Clash, a little bit dockworker. And they have a lead Bagpiper. Just wait for the guitars. Billy Bragg....well, what can I say. He's Billy Bragg. Most of you are at least familiar with him via the Woody Guthrie albums with Wilco. 'Course Bragg's been around awhile...and has the startling abilitiy to mix the personal a the political with some of the best melodies you've ever heard. This particular track by Bragg starts off slowish, guitar and voice...but it builds and builds and builds, and I gurantee by the end of the song, you'll be singing along. And of course, Billy's toungue is never very from his cheeks (insert joke here). Finally, Randy Newman. We know he can write Disney tunes...but who knew he was a prophet too? Well, enjoy.
Dropkick Murphys: Cadence to Arms (mp3)
Billy Bragg: Waiting for the Great Leap Forward (mp3)
Randy Newman: Political Science (mp3)
(Click on song...go to Briefcase..download from there. god bless us, each and every one)
Monday, July 26, 2004
Thursday, July 22, 2004
October 5th. I'm not remotely excited. Not at all.
Going to keep going. Thanks to all who have emailed or left comments.
Just watched the 911 Commission presentation. Hang on to yr rights, folks. They're going to take them away from us. I think the scariest aspect is the fact that the books we read can now be used against us, making the rather loose connection between what we read and the actions we undertake, a crux of our basic Americanness. So if I read a book about how Dubya is a liar and an idiot, I could be whisked away as a traitor. This is our world now. Scary.
In a similar vein, I just started a wonderful, so far, book called The Book of Ralph by John McNally. It's a coming age story of sorts, set in the south side of Chicago. After finishing that, I'm going to start on two rather lengthy projects that I must admit to being embarassed about not having read yet. First will be Dos Passos' USA Trilogy. And after that, possibly for the rest of my life, I'm going to read Proust's Remberance of Things Past. As a confirmed Joyce fan I suppose I've resisted Proust a bit. How could he possibly be better than Joyce? He's not even Irish!! Well, we'll see what happens.
Couple new tunes today.
Halden and Wofford and the Hi-Beams (see link above) is one of the greatest bands ever to walk this too small planet. I have to admit I'm biased, as I've been one of their prime groupies over the past few years (minus the sex). I still look fondly on my Denver days sitting at the Skylark Lounge enraptured by this mighty band. If you like real country music and honky tonk (and who doesn't?), this is the band for you. Take Merle Haggard, Hank Williams and Willie Nelson, mix with a little Buddy Holly, and a pinch of Bob Wills. Stir in a liberal servings of the greatest steel guitar player in the West, a shit cool stand up bass player, and top off with the best singer you never heard, and you've got the Hi-Beams. Visit their website now. This tune is one of their "poppier" numbers...the guitar line is pure heaven.
Willard Grant Conspiracy...well, what can i say? You're in the middle of the desert, the temperature is well over one hundred degrees. Out of the glare of nothingness, across the burnt expanse, comes a prophet. A large man with a large beard. He opens his mouth. You expect "repent", but what you get instead are songs. The music of the lost and the finding. Amen.
Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams: ABC (mp3)
Willard Grant Conspiracy: Christmas in Nevada(mp3)
(Click on link to Briefcase...download from there)
Monday, July 19, 2004
I am an accordion. And I am beautiful. Love me
So, I've got a few dilemnas today.
I'm currently, and unfortunately, unemployed. The job market sucks. It seems I'm overqualified for some jobs, and underqualified for others. (lots of uns. sorry.). I spend a majority of my day sending out resumes. I feel as if posting a blog is an "extra" to my daily routine, and therefore don't update every day. A friend of mine, he knows who he is, has wrestled with the idea of whether or not there's any point to doing this. I'm pretty sure my readership is much lower than his. I've posted up songs in attempt to evetually develop into a proper music blog, and to also convince others to check me out (hey, kids, free music!). I'm not far enough along to develop into a "proper" music blog...so i hesitate to send links to the larger blogs, in order link back. So for now, this is just for my friends.
So...some opinions, please. Does anyone read this? Would you like me to be more "diaristic" in my blog? More about me? Do y'all want the songs? Should I include some of my writin's/pomes/bookmoviemusic critiques? Nake pictures of Anna K? What can I do to make this more appealing? Ok...I'll stop. Leave me a comment, ifn y'all wish or email me.
Today's tunes: The first, Asteroids, is by a band called The Real Tuesday Weld. It's a late nite kinda song...old jazz samples, modern beats, and a voice floating atop it all about finding love in outer space. You need this song.
The second, Quit Your Lowdown Ways is a greasy, organ-led garageblues tune about sinnin'. and salvation. Shake it, shake it, shake it, kids.
The Real Tuesday Weld: Asteroids
Dunwich Record: Quit Yr Lowdown Ways
(Click on the link, go to the Briefcase...download in the standard way from there.)
Thursday, July 15, 2004
I've got rhythm
Greetings music lovers. Both of you. Glad to have you aboard.
I've been reading John Updike's "Gertrude and Claudius". Great read. I've always rated Hamlet, along with Romeo and Juliet , as one of my least favorite of Shakespeare's (Shaxbeer?) plays. T.S. Eliot expounds further, and brilliantly, of course on the subject of why Hamlet, the play, is a complete failure in his collection of essays, The Sacred Wood and Other Early Essays. Check it out.
But what I really love about Gertrude and Claudius is the way Updike focuses on the events transpiring before the the play begins. Methinks Updike is no fan of of Hamlet either. But he is most definitely a fan of of the supposed "peripherals". And even our dear friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern make an appearance. Highly readable and more highly recommended.
Today's tunes: I've been thinking about god and/or spirituality a bit lately. My dear friend Thurman and I have been trading im's on the subject. As a confirmed agnostic raised in an extremely evangelical situation, it would be fair to say I have a bit of a contentious relationship with all things spiritual, christian or otherwise. Won't get into too many details in this post. But I love certain types of "spiritual" music. Make no mistake, I despise this "christian contemporary music" crap. But from Mozart to Nick Cave, Gregorian chants to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and early Black gospel to Leonard Cohen, some deity or another has been responsible for giving us a helluva lot of good music. Most it of course with an element of sexuality to go with the spirituality. So....I'm not really sure what The Polyphonic Spree's deal really is...are they winking at us? Who knows. What I do know is that the music they produce is exhilarating. This music Should. Not. Work. But it does. I absolutely dare you not shake yr boots at least a little bit.
And as a bonus I've included a song by a group called The Singing Mariners. It appears to be a choral group from the '70's. Yes, it's a Neil Diamond song. And somebody from the Polyphonic Spree must have been listening, 'cuz it's an obvious precursor. Read more about it here (you'll have to scroll down the page a bit).
I really don't have much to say about the song...except it makes me very happy for reasons I'm not sure I understand. Anyway...ta.
Polyphonic Spree: Hold Me
The Singing Mariners: Holly Holy
(Click on the songs...Takes you to my Briefcase. Standard "right click, save as..." from there)
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
there is a light that never goes out
Howdy, y'all. 'Nuther entry.
It's a bit of an overcast, yet extremely muggy, day here in Chicago. I'm still getting reacquainted with the humidity of the Midwest after seven (7!!!) years in the arid wilderness that was Colorado. Hope it rains. It's that kind of day.
Of course the weather lends one to a bit of introspection, I 'spect.
Those who know me know I'm a bit of a crotchety bastard. And our current political climate has done my mood no favours. Apparently we're supposed to decide yet again between this liar and that liar. tweedle dumb and tweedle cantformapropersentence. I'm tired of the rhetoric. Neither one of these idiots is remotely qualified to earn my vote. In the last presidential election I was roundly lambasted for placing my vote with a candidate who "had no chance." It apparently was my fault that Dubya was "elected" president of these here United States. My contention was, and remains, this: 1) I have always worked on the idea that in a democracy with free elections, the individual retains the right to vote their conscience, not the will of others. I could be wrong. 2) The Democratic party has essentially abandoned everything they have stood for, in favor of a Republican-lite wishy-washyness. They no longer speak for me, or the "values" (I hate that word...What does it mean, really?) I hold. It is their fault that they're losing votes, not any individual "independent" candidate. Until they ask themselves the real questions facing their party and stop blaming others for their failings, the Democratic party will continue to spiral into meaninglessness.
Kerry may very well win the election. In the interest of disclosure, I would really like to see Dubya out of office. I understand that many believe the only way to get rid of him is through a united front. I also understand why people who generally dislike Kerry will vote for him on the basis of "the lesser of two evils". Good for you. But when I'm presented with the options of going to see "Gigli" or "White Chicks", I think I'll choose "coffee and Cigarettes" instead. And guess what? In America, that's my right. Will it make "Coffee and Cigarettes" the number one movie at the box office? Nope. Will I feel better about my choice? You betcha. It's all about advertising. If "Coffee and Cigarettes" got the same amount of media attention that the other two films got, wouldn't it have a better chance? Just wondering.
Gee, wonder who I'm voting for?
Hey...disagree? There's a "comments" button at the bottom of this post....lemme know.
So...music. Today's tune is a piece of pure heaven. Really. I promise. While I was living in Denver, I would make frequent trips to Chicago. My last visit before moving here, I took the train, Amtrak. On my way back to Colorado, on a cold and snowy night in early January, I played this song over and over and over on my CD player. It's thrillingly beautiful and sad...and just wait 'til you get to the end. Josh Rouse has been around for awhile, even releasing an e.p. with Kurt Wagner of Lambchop. Hope you like it...it's a little piece of me.
Josh Rouse: Rise
(Click on the song...it'll take you to my briefcase...you can do the the standard "right click, save as..."from there)
Thursday, July 08, 2004
I love trucking music. Love it. From the constant boom chicka boom of the guitars, steel please, to the lyrics about white line fever (lines on the road of course) and drinking too much coffee. There's a commercial for a travel agent or sumsuch that uses, rather inappropriately, his eminence Johnny Cash doing "I've Been Everywhere". I hate that commercial. First, they should never have exploited Cash, particularly after his death. Second, it's quaint.
Dave Dudley. died last year. He was the King of truck driving music. Read more about him here
So, in honor of Dave, and in an attempt a new way to post up some music for all my legions of readers, i'm gonna try this: click on the song at the bottom of this post...should take you to a briefcase that will allow you to download the song. cross your toes.
Dave Dudley: 2 Six Packs Away
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Yep. I'm obsessed.
I'm back, and taking a break from job searching to try a little experiment. I know there's tons of mp3 blogs out there, and the debate is raging about whether they're appropriate or not. well, my two cents is...why the hell not? I think most people who post songs do so because they love the music. It's the equivalant of making mixes. I myself have bought many an album because of "free" downloads. And the stuff I don't like? Well, I delete it off my hard drive...no harm, no foul. I don't really care about Metallica or Britney Spears or, god forbid, Jessica Simpson. They're kinda like the (warning: not very subtle political comment)Democratic party. They consistenly put out subpar albums with only a few "tracks" that anyone cares about, then wonder why their "fans" wander away to...errrr...greener pastures, or take what they like, without buying into the whole album.
So, after all that, I'd like to attempt a little free music. I'm a little technologically limited at the moment, so we're going to rely on yousendit.com for a little help. If anyone knows of a better way, please feel free to send tutorials, advice or stern warnings my way. And this is an experiment, so it may not work. Again, let me know, and back to the drawing board.
Today's selection is courtesy of Shane Macgowan's first band, the Nipple Erectors. Or the Nips for short. The song, Gabrielle, is an absolute treat. Shane sounds almost sober. It's obviously pre-Pogues, and there's not much in the way of Irishness to it, but the melody is killer. Anyway...click on the song, which should take you to a site to download it from. Tomorrow I'll try to say something of substance.
note: If any interested parties (yousendit, shane, record label types, etc.) object, please leave a comment, and I'll remove it. But, geez, we're just fans who love Shane, and if you'd make the song available for sale, i'd be happy to spend the cash.