April 2005 Archives


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You know how every so often someone will have an idea so good and so obvious that you can't believe nobody ever thought of it before? Nina Paley's "The Sitayana" is not one of those ideas; I am, in fact, not at all surprised that nobody has ever thought of it before. It's a really good idea, though. Like balsamic vinegar on waffles. Just go there and start looking at the Quicktime files, okay? It actually reminds me a bit of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, or rather what that would have been like if it had had a contemporary soundtrack... (Thanks to Jess for the link.)

Who will kiss the devil on his tongue? Who will kiss the baby on his nose? Which tastes better?

what does the lily report?

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Couple of new pieces to note: the first installment of an occasional series I'll be doing for the Boston Phoenix on mainstream comics, this time about Birds of Prey and the "superreader" phenomenon; and the new Sound of the Industry column at the Village Voice, this time about EZT, WEA, and a billion dollars in value that are appearing out of nowhere right about now. Also, I'm pleased and kind of amused to report that my Believer article from last year on camp and the so-bad-it's-good aesthetic has appeared in the German-language magazine Der Freund as "Warum Wir Nicht 'Mehr' Campen Gehen."

Having finally gnawed my way all the way through the Complete Commercially Released Recordings of Bob Dylan (um, whew!)--results to appear in Blender later this year--as well as the Complete Peel Session Recordings of the Fall--results to appear in The Believer later this year--I'm tearing into the piles of new stuff that have been building up here, from record-store trips, presents from friends (including a Certain 17-CD-R Set of MP3s that's going to take a while to process), and promos, all of which I've been itching to hear. It feels like the first cold drink after a couple of hours of dehydration--absorbing stuff so quickly and thirstily I can't even register the taste yet. I bought the Nomo album this afternoon, and all I could think on the first play was AFROBEAT, SWEET SWEET AFROBEAT, I HAVE NOT FELT YOUR EMBRACE FOR TOO LONG.

empirical f.f.r.r.

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Following up a little: Daphne Brooks did a really good presentation on rockism, and not exactly this kind. But given how much of a buzzword it's become since K. Sanneh's piece in the Times, and how broadly it gets used on say ILX, I suspect it might be useful to encourage a pretty narrow definition of "rockism," just to keep the idea from getting too loose or too wide. (I can very easily see a slide into talking-about-rock-is-rockist, which makes it a much less helpful concept.)

The formulation that makes the most sense to me is that rockism is treating rock as normative. What follows from that attitude is that e.g. pre-stereo country and blues are interesting because they anticipated rock, other kinds of popular music "rock" when they're good & also are interesting inasmuch as they work the same way as rock, etc. ... rockism is, at the moment, also kind of built into the discourse about popular music, because almost all of the interesting early writing about pop was about and published during that late-'60s/early-'70s rock moment, which means that the whole house was subsequently built on that foundation.

(What's interesting about this formulation is that a writer doesn't have to overtly disparage non-rock music to be rockist, & at the same time you can write/think/care about rock all you like without necessarily being rockist.)

I suspect that one shortcut to figuring out a non-rockist (or, as Brooks put it, black feminist!) way of talking about popular music may be building on closely focused popular culture criticism that's not about music at all--critical writing about film or theater or literature as a model for critical writing about music, & as a way of short-circuiting the trap of music-crit heritage. We don't need another (fill in the name of your favorite Creem writer here), we need a Pauline Kael. Or a George Orwell. Or maybe even a Ruth Reichl.

Does this make sense?

In other EMP-related news, I consulted my notes, and I actually got Drew's quote wrong: the correct version is "a kind of discursive smoothie of formaldehyde and lube," which is much funnier.

the EMP and the Ukraine King

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Well, I did say they'd be sporadic. Getting back to something like equilibrium, but those who are looking here for MP3s might want to check back in another month or two, I'm realizing.

David Barker reports that he's started a blog covering the 33 1/3 series that includes my Live at the Apollo. Good timing for it: I just got the four new ones in the mail (haven't yet permitted myself to read them), and spent the last few days at the Experience Music Project's pop conference, also attended by fellow 33 1/3 authors Franklin Bruno, Daphne Brooks, Erik Davis, Andrew Hultkrans, J. Niimi and Michaelangelo Matos.

My paper, on Coca-Cola ads in the '60s (specifically the "Things Go Better with Coke" campaign, in which dozens of pop stars recorded original songs that sounded like new singles rather than jingles... until they morphed into the "Things Go Better With Coca-Cola" jingle), seemed to go over pretty well. Also very much enjoyed the Drew Daniel/Greil Marcus/David Thomas triple-threat (best phrase from Drew's paper on nostalgia for Darby Crash: "a frothy milkshake of lube and formaldehyde"), Peter Mercer-Taylor's close analysis of a Cradle of Filth song, and Joe Gore and Elise Malmberg's must-see-to-appreciate history of Clubbo Records, among others. Really regretted missing Daphne Carr's disco-polo piece, the Hua Hsu/Josh Kun/Jody Rosen panel, and Ned Sublette on New Orleans. Was delighted to finally meet Shayla Hason, after several years of multiple people telling me I had to meet her (and more than ten years after I'd seen the last few shows of her amazing band Laito Lychee). Came home with over two dozen amazing-looking CD-Rs from fellow attendees, some of them CD-Rs of MP3s. If I am seen in public at any time in the next three months without music playing either on speakers or my headphones, please correct me. Spent all of my evenings during EMP doing stuff with little or nothing to do with the music industry, which was gratifying somehow, and this morning seeing Rebecca and Brian and Buck, which was great too.

My review of Michel Houellebecq's H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life ran in the Times Book Review today; was very happy to see it next to Daniel Handler's Lovecraft review.

little wiggly arms

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Little to report, except that we're finally beginning to take turns leaving the house for a couple of hours--saw Ida the other night, and they were splendid as always. And it felt really good to see live music again, esp. after my abandoned attempt to see the BellRays a couple of days before. Andrea Moed is currently staying with us; Azalia Snail is playing down the street tonight; we are starting to engage with the social & musical world again, and it feels really good.

In further stuff-to-listen-to news: Andy Bernick writes that Richmond County Archives has moved to a site all its own, and includes among other things a downloadable Trollin Withdrawal album.

In further cuteness-elsewhere news: Lisa has updated the Wolk/Gidley family site with lots of baby and cat pictures, for those who like to look at things that are really, really cute.