May 2004 Archives
Elaborating a little on what I noted yesterday: comments are now re-enabled, but the only way to do is is if you're registered with TypeKey (which is painless and very fast). Unfortunately, the commenting system currently seems to be broken outright. Very sorry about the added hassle, but the trickle of four or five obnoxious comment-spams a day had turned into 300 horrifying r*pe-and-b*sti*lity-site comment-spams a day in the last few days, and cleaning them up was taking longer than I've got. It was TypeKey or eliminating comments altogether. Will let you know when things seem to be working again, which I hope will not be long.
[Update, several hours later: TypeKey seems to work now.]
Actual content to follow when I dig myself out from the pieces I've got due tomorrow morning.
I interviewed Kid this afternoon, as in ~ 'n Play. It's an interesting life I've got sometimes.
Saw the Destroyer/Frog Eyes show tonight at Berbati's, which like Your Blues I found pretty frustrating. For those who haven't gotten to see the tour, Dan Bejar's been playing the songs from the newest album (and, I think, almost no others, if any) with Frog Eyes backing him up, in drastically different arrangements, e.g. "The Music Lovers" is a hard-rock song in waltz time. Your Blues seemed like sort of an experiment in the same thing: taking perfectly good Destroyer songs and presenting them in this deliberately bloodless, late-Leonard-Cohen-ified way (with three awful synths), maybe to test the borders of the song-as-composition-with-lyric: it seemed like the Platonic form of the song-as-performed was not the one we were hearing, and we had to judge the song outside of the merits of its performance. The Frog Eyes thing is just pushing that even further... but even though the Frog Eyes guitarist does some good stuff (can't watch him, though), Bejar didn't seem at all into being on stage with an audience in front of him, and the nice two-guitar version of something they played at the end of the set just made me wish I could hear all the songs as they were pretty obviously conceived: voice and guitar, standard Destroyer-pace. When Bejar played on WFMU a few years ago, he did "The Music Lovers" just like that, and that's clearly its "proper" shape. I understand his frustration with "proper"-ness, but the problem with actively avoiding the "proper" form of a particular work of entertainment is that it's likely to end up somewhat less... entertaining. Bourgeois of me, I suspect. Dylan, of course, does the same thing with his old standbys ("can you guess what song this is? hey! it's 'Idiot Wind' and I've already been playing it for five minutes!"), but Dylan can assume that his audience is already overfamiliar with the essential forms of those songs, and can appreciate the difference. Does that make sense?
Comment capability, incidentally, is going away until I can install MT 3.0. Too much abhorrent stuff coming through that I need to weed out.
I think I may have broken my brain from excessive cell-phone interviewing. Fortunately, most of the people I've been talking to today are the kind one can lob a softball to--really just a plastic Baggie stuffed with lawn clippings--and type away as they run around with it for five or seven minutes. But an editor, sending me back what I thought was a perfectly reasonable 60-word blurb, pointed out that I had 1) omitted a "the" without which the whole thing collapsed into ambiguously grammatical torpor, and 2) used obscuro Nigerian slang in a way that I assumed everyone would just grok. Not good. Also, I need to spend the next eight hours or so being cleverer than I'm necessarily up for.
Accidentally sat on our cat a little while ago. Well, leaned back onto her, more exactly. I was alerted to this not by any sound, but by a set of claws sprung deep into my back. Oh, Edie, you minx! 45 seconds later, she was playing with me like she'd never taken offense. Then she curled up and napped again. Edie Blues Explosion Gidley: one Hell of a nice animal, frequently mistaken for a throw pillow, as B. Kliban almost put it.
Line from the Naysayer's set last week that's lodged in my head right now: "Kitten time, kitten time/How do you know when it's kitten time?/I can tell by how much I've been cryin'." Song that lodged, unaccountably, in my head last night: "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun."
The new McSweeney's is the carrot, the real estate listings are the stick. Ya, Wolk! Ya! Ya!
A long-lost, eight-second-long VPN song, circa 1992, went:
I am the man
I am the man
I am the man
I am the man
(He is the man!
He is the man!
He is the man!
He is the man!)
I am the man
I am the man
I am the man
I am the man
With the world's longest attention span.
Saw the Mountain Goats tonight at Berbati's, which seems to be my one-stop shop for live music I want to see in Portland lately. John's voice was a little tamped down by extensive touring, although he managed it really well--don't think too many people noticed. I figured "You're In Maya" would be a natural for PDX, what with its "God damn it"/"Willamette" rhyme; no luck, but I was happy to see that "Dance Music" is already a favorite.
Genichiro Takahashi's Sayonara Gangsters showed up in the mail today, and I gritted my teeth to realize that it's at least ten books down the to-be-read queue.
If I got The Best of Gregory Isaacs and the Easy Star All-Stars' Dub Side of the Moon on the same day, and I vastly prefer Dub Side, is that evidence of rockist tastes? How about if the Isaacs record is mostly just with songs from three albums ca. 1982 (including "Night Nurse" etc.) and not much from the rest of his career? How about if I also think Dub Side is a better album than Dark Side? Which of my unacknowledged preconceptions are at work here? Which do I need to question? Show your work.
Back in Portland, now, and catching up on the large and wonderful-looking stack of music I still have to deal with--at the moment it's the forthcoming Homosexuals 3-CD set, which is completely inspirational.
The 801 show went incredibly well (here's a picture)--Ida were just impossibly kind and sweet to us, and they had some people I like a lot (and hadn't seen in a long time) playing with them: Rose from Babe the Blue Ox and Jean Cook. And Eddie Gormley from VPN poked his head into the dressing room. And Amy Phillips DJ'ed, along with somebody who played a bunch of Eno productions before we went on stage, and somebody else who played "Savoir Faire." Plus Karla from Ida introduced us to her dad, who was in the audience--if you'd told 10-year-old Douglas that Peter Schickele would someday see his band play, well... it was a very happy moment for me. And of course Ida were fantastic: since this was a special show (a benefit for the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls), they covered almost all of Tusk (plus some Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac, and a Buckingham Nicks song I didn't know, and "Farmer's Daughter"). I walked in when they were soundchecking, just as they started to play "Over and Over." I think my jaw may still be somewhere in one of the Knitting Factory's sub-basements.
Our set list:
Needles in the Camel's Eye
Burning Airlines Give You So Much More
The True Wheel
Seven Deadly Finns
St. Elmo's Fire
No One Receiving
Cindy Tells Me
Mother Whale Eyeless
Now do I get to have a band that plays our own songs?
Well. That was revealing. (I still owe a few people answers to their questions--it'll have to wait until I'm not on deadline, but it shouldn't be that long.)
Got into NYC Thursday night and have been on the go-go-go ever since--panel on "This Is Pop" at the New School that night (followed by dinner out with a drop-a-bomb-on-'em-and-so-much-for-pop-criticism panel); hanging out with Abi and Jamie and Lex and Mia on Friday, plus seeing the visual arts MFA thesis show at Columbia (with actual mature work by all the first-years I got to take classes with last year), followed by a train trip to Philadelphia to see Mission of Burma, who were very very very good if not quite as two-feet-off-the-ground levitation-style scintillating as they were when I saw 'em there a year or so ago--new songs sounded great, I'm happy to report; brunch with a whole bunch of friends yesterday, then 801 practice (with Naomi's bass, which is much better than my twiglike bass that's back in PDX but also about five times as heavy), then dinner at a new place called Cafe Henri in our neighborhood, followed by a trip to a Rubulad party at a dance studio in Manhattan (with performances by Fly Ashtray--celebrating Chris's 40th birthday--and GodCo); more 801 practice today (my arms feel like they're about to fall off), followed by a much-longer-than-anticipated nap and dinner in Jackson Heights with Lauren. And now I've got the aforementioned deadline. But I like my days packed full.
Idea spotted bouncing around Livejournal (where I'd be updating the signifier blog/collating bones a bit more often these days if audioblogs didn't have such an addictive hold on me right now):
If you're reading lacunae today or tomorrow, I'd like you to ask me something. Up to three questions, and anything goes--literally anything you want my answers to. I promise not to take offense at any questions, and to answer every one (either in the comments field or by private mail) as well and honestly as I can. If you want to ask your questions in public, put them in the comments field below; if you'd rather email them, there's that "WRITE TO ME" link below and to the left.
(Yes, this is partly my sneaky way of seeing who's reading these days.)
I'm currently in our next-door neighbor's apartment, where I'm keeping her wonderful red-furred cat company. The light outside has that wonderful quality where it's surrounded by blooming plants and everything looks like there are secret crawlspaces and hidden gates everywhere. I realize that I'm programmed to like this, but is that so bad?
Nice discovery this afternoon: a newish restaurant called Gravy, down on an area of Mississippi St. where there are apparently a bunch of new establishments opening (along with at least one very good record store). We got a smoothie, some roasted herbed potatoes, a big tasty scramble with veggie sausage, and a bowl of oatmeal brulée (well, a sprinkling of sugar on top is what got broiled for the crust) with lots of fresh berries in it. Plus: cool recycled decor and an open kitchen. I think it's affected my mood.
Less spectacular but not not-nice discovery yesterday: we went to the Saturday Market for the first time. It's an every-weekend-except-winter (i.e. Sundays too) open-air market under the Burnside Bridge, more or less; the rule is that you can only have a booth there if you've made what you're selling yourself, or if it's locally harvested, I think. This means that instead of the usual overpriced mass-produced tchotchkes, there are not-overpriced-because-they're-not-mass-produced-but-expensive-for-the-same-reason homemade tchotchkes--so much tie-dye! And soap! And jewelry! The "food court" is pretty good as outdoor markets go, though: a very good South Indian stall, in particular, that goes very heavy on the curry leaves & mustard seeds.
Lisa's pictures from Coachella, taken with her new bizarre quasi-panoramic Russian camera.
Knowing my fondness for all things Oulipian and lipogrammatic, Franklin told me about Christian Bök's Eunoia, and I knew I had to have a copy--it arrived yesterday, and I blew off some things I probably should've worked on instead to dive into it. It's a novel--sort of. Each of its five chapters uses only one vowel, and in fact uses almost every English word that contains only that vowel. (The E chapter is, in fact, a retelling of the Iliad: "Hermes, the messenger, tells her the news: 'Thebes sends the fleet.' The Hellene freemen seek redress. The steersmen steer the xebecs between steep, sheer clefts, where reefs prevent sheltered berth; there, the tempests whelm the decks, then wreck the keels--the helms, left crewless whenever the elements beset these crewmen.")
Eunoia proper is followed by "Oiseau," a series of tributes to its French antecedents. "And Sometimes" goes Georges Perecs "Les Revenentes" one better by constructing a sort of poem out of every English word that doesn't contain A, E, I, O or U; "Vowels" is a poem made of words that only include the six letters in "vowels"; etc. My favorite, though, is "Voile," a "Ladle Red Rotten Hut"-ish (or rather Mots D'Heures: Gousses, Rames-ish) English version of Rimbaud's sonnet "Voyelles." "Anywhere near blank rage/you veer, oblivial," it starts. The front cover is "Voyelles," too, with each of its vowels represented by the appropriate color and all other letters represented by gray. (Although Bök, curiously, refers to Rimbaud's poem as "Voyelle" rather than "Voyelles"--anyone know which is correct?) Anyway, I totally eat this stuff up.
Some quick notes on Coachella, which I'm back from and only slightly heatstroked:
*My band of the weekend was LCD Soundsystem--I really really like their singles, but the live version is headspinning--I walked away thinking that this is exactly the kind of band I want to be in. Love how they do the dance-music-derived build-ups and breakdowns, and the on-the-downbeat-every-texture-changes thing, with a live band. And I hope they put out another record very soon.
*Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips descended from the heavens in a bubble (well, what he did was close to that, and that's how he asked us to describe it). Lisa said "I think he's my favorite person in show business."
*Also really enjoyed !!!, the Pixies, Radiohead, Belle & Sebastian, the part of Beck's set that I saw in the pressure-cooker-style Gobi tent, the first song from Eyedea & Abilities (and the parts after that where Eyedea shut up and let Abilities tear it up on the decks),
the short film in the Nike tent about the competitors in a one-meter dash ("you kind of have to think like a gazelle," one of them explains), and the raw vegan organic food from Savo.
*Disappointments: Kraftwerk, who got a huge crowd and huge applause for being Kraftwerk and standing their checking their email (or whatever) for an hour-plus; 2 Many DJs, who were just sort of loud and abrasive in a dull way; Pretty Girls Make Graves, who need to be in a dark cool club late in the night; missing Sara's final show with Erase Errata because of Coachella's organizational disasters, and Juana Molin's set, which was at the same time!
*Active annoyance: the organization of the whole event. From the time we arrived in Indio, it took us almost three hours to get in the door of the festival itself, and after that it was still physically miserable most of the time--and the total niceness of the VIP area over on one side (which, as a press guy, I got to go to) convinced me that it doesn't _have_ to be that unpleasant. We ended up skipping the Cure altogether last night so we could get to our car quickly and escape before the inevitable three-hour traffic jam.
*Passive annoyance: the firmness of the participant/spectator divide--as my campmates and I kept observing, it was sort of like the all-commerce-based ($2 per bottle of water, of which I drank at least ten a day, I think), all-spectator version of certain things about Burning Man. Which is to say: almost entirely different, and stripped of the things that make Burning Man so important to me. But there were definite attempts to grab that vibe, especially in the installation artwork--I recognized "Cleavage in Space," from last year (the chandelier) and the scuba diver made of colored-vinyl records from, I think, 1999!
More details once I get some shut-eye.