November 2009 Archives
My 5-minute lecture from Ignite Portland 7 last week, for your amusement.
First up, my fabulous spouse Lisa Gidley has a new small-scale photo blog, Now It’s In Your Hands. Those of you who like Polaroids should have a look. Those of you who happen to have large amounts of Polaroid film you’re not using should send it to her.
Over at Carrie Brownstein’s “Monitor Mix” blog at NPR, I wrote a little rant called “The Death of Mistakes Means the Death of Rock,” and I’m very flattered by the number of responses it’s gotten so far.
Also, I wrote two chapters of Rolling Stone’s new book Michael (on Michael Jackson): one about his touring career, one about his significance as a dancer. (Haven’t even seen the finished book yet, but I’ve heard it’s out.)
One of the things I’m obligated to do by virtue of what I do for a living is keeping an eye on my own taste—noticing what I like and what I don’t like, in general. Over the last week or so, as people start to nudge me about various end-of-year music things, I’ve been noticing that there’s a lot of very popular (or very “semipopular,” as Xgau puts it) new music that rolls right off me: I don’t like it and I don’t actively dislike it, I just barely even notice it when it’s playing. But there’s also a lot of older music that has been totally knocking me flat, some in idioms I didn’t pay much attention to even ten years ago (that new Franco collection is just incredible), some that I would’ve passed over as second- or third-tier a while back.
I mean, in some sense I know that the Pointer Sisters’ 1975 album Steppin’ isn’t as special as… a lot of other things, but I picked up a battered copy of the LP at Everyday Music for a few dollars, and I’ve been wanting to listen to it every day. (Here’s its staggeringly great opening track “How Long,” an R&B #1 that I swear I have never heard on the radio, and absorbed only via Salt-n-Pepa’s “Chick on the Side”:)
Now, naturally, my job is to figure out why I adore “How Long”—which I heard for the first time last week, so I can’t really say I’ve got a longstanding or situational attachment to it—and can’t bring myself to care in more than a theoretical way about “Wasted” or “Fireflies,” let alone the albums they belong to. I’ve got a vague theory; now I have to figure out what would disprove it.
The local food cart scene, which is halfway between restaurant culture and street food culture. At some point, somebody in Portland realized that an empty lot could be filled with a bunch of trailers, each of which could be a mini-restaurant, serving a very limited menu with very limited seating for relatively low prices. There are a few downtown spots that have had a block full of food carts since we’ve been in town, like SW 5th between Oak and Stark, but for some reason they’ve been proliferating like crazy this year. Most are essentially lunch-focused, but some are open for dinner, and the new cart area at SE 12th and Hawthorne specializes in late-night food—a couple of its carts don’t even open until 8 PM.
Now there’s a blog devoted to them; Lisa and I have been checking out some of the newer ones. Enthusiastic thumbs-ups to Wolf & Bear’s (Iranian breakfast sandwiches!!) and The Ruby Dragon (Ethiopian/Indian-inspired vegan food!). Apparently there’s a new cart, Mum’s Kitchen, that serves not just Indian food but South African-style Indian food. I’ll report back when I’ve gotten to try it.
I’m by myself in an unfamiliar city, eating in a restaurant. A woman I don’t know decides she likes the look of what I’m having, grabs my plate and scrapes half of its contents onto her own. She doesn’t understand why I get upset. Neither does the restaurant staff. I throw my plate to the floor, stalk out of the restaurant into the city, and promptly find myself lost.
Key nightmare concepts: my own sense of entitlement, others’ sense of entitlement, communication failure, squalls of rage, abandoning something small and ending up with a greater loss.
It occurs to me that I should post what-I’m-up-to links—
On November 19, I’ll be giving a very brief (5 minutes) lecture as part of Ignite Portland 7. It’s free, and should be a lot of fun. (I may also be giving some kind of lecture on the 11th; details to come.)
I’m still writing a bunch of reviews over at Pitchfork, most recently the newish Madonna best-of.
I wrote about David Small’s Stitches over at Bookforum.
And I’m continuing to post weekly previews of comics over at Comics Alliance.
Lots of other stuff I’ve been working on is Not Out Yet, I’m afraid, although I’m particularly excited to note that I’ll have a tiny little piece in the San Francisco Panorama, which looks to be the single best newspaper ever, and possibly the last.
Thanks to everyone who supported me in my successful NaNoBloMo (National No Blogging Month) bid, and congratulations to everyone else who managed to not update their blog in all of October, either. It’s tough, but we did it!
For the amusement of those of you who don’t read the Twitter feed (which uh I couldn’t stay away from), here’s what I looked like last night for Anina and Paul’s annual Halloween shindig, which I’d missed the last few years:
(That was one of the very few parties I might have gone to, I’d bet, where at least half the attendees recognized what I was.)
Now: on to November!