« January 2005 | Main | March 2005 »

February 17, 2005

ginchy shit

1.) Bob Dylan playing five nights at the Beacon Theater in late April with Merle Haggard.

2.) Bollywood For the Skeptical, a well-organized introduction to Indian film music for newbies (like me), complete with an album's worth of mp3s.

3.) A 3-D flash recreation of PT Barnum's American Museum, an occasional pet obsession of mine. Filled with mermaid bones, little people (the real Tom Thumb!), and artifacts from around the globe, the Museum -- which burned down in 1865, was moved up Broadway, and burned again in 1868 -- was a discomforting mix of real specimens and fabrications. The website -- which also has a feature where one can try to figure out who set the place ablaze -- is a creepy fusion of Myst and history.

(3a.) The previous two links both came via BoingBoing, undoubtedly my favorite blog not written by a roommate.)

4.) Medeski, Martin, and Wood playing what will surely be four weirded-out sets at Tonic on March 7th and 8th. It's too bad it took Tonic's threatened closing to get 'em back. (And that's not to mention Jim O'Rourke's own benefit there on February 23rd.)

5.) My 10 favorite albums of 2004 as they stood on the day I filled out my Pazz & Jop ballot.

February 15, 2005

the gates

This afternoon, after a minty-fresh visit to my dentist on Central Park West, I passed through Christo's fabled Gates just south of Tavern on the Green. I walked to the Sheep Meadow and wended my way through the southern tip of what Rem Koolhaas called "synthetic Arcadian carpet grafted onto the Grid." This arcadia is my arcadia, indeed. It was a glorious afternoon, sun glancing perfectly over every conceivable surface, illuminating them with postcard precision: hot dog stands, ducks on half-frozen ponds, cyclists, midtown secretaries out for cigarette strolls on their lunch hours, even horse shit. It was almost unbearably picturesque.

But I must admit to being fairly baffled - disappointed, I think - by the Gates themselves. Most certainly, there are many qualities about the work that I admire. Public environmental art can be astounding, especially in Manhattan, which absorbs weirdness with a natural ease. A large aspect of the Gates, I think, is the way it forces people into interaction with their space and the people around them. Christo has said that one can't really understand the piece without walking through it. There's a certain amount of truth to that, of course, but mostly it seems like a New Age excuse. The potential for a public art project spread across the entirety of Central Park, interacting/playing/dialoguing with Frederick Law Olmstead's sweeping Arcadian landscapes is so unbelievably vast, so incredibly rich, that it is a true shame that Christo and Jeanne-Claude didn't do more with it.

Simply, the Gates follow the park's existing walkways, pulling them out of the environment like an ink pellet through varicose veins. And that's nice and all. Pleasant. But why do they have to follow the park's proscribed paths? Why can't they take the viewers on little journeys, dips off the beaten trails, winding through the faux-wilderness to small, Zen conclusions? Why shouldn't they play with scale, increasing the size of dimensions of the Gates to create Wonderland-like optical illusions? The Gates, uniform in their abrupt day-glo orange are astounding in their repetition. That is quite pretty. Yes, yes. But why that color orange? It doesn't seem to relate to its surroundings at all -- not the glass and concrete boxes surrounding the park, not the bare trees, not the snow-fortified mud. And, if the point is for people to go out and interact with them, why the middle of fucking February when the public (remember them?) will be lucky to get one or two nice days to check it out?

The Gates feel very much like a gentrified happening, a much deeper bureaucratic achievement than aesthetic one. I had a wonderful time walking through them, but only because I was astounded (as I always am) by Law's vision of Central Park. I imagine the Gates would be a lot prettier right about now (approaching 3:30 in the morning), their shapes looming like a massed army of shadows in the park's peculiar, still nightmare-infested darkness. Perhaps I'll go back sometime.

February 13, 2005

"boulevard of broken dreams" - green day

week of February 19, 2005
#3 this week, #4 last week, 13 weeks on chart

1.) A guitar song. This is probably the only second one that has come up in the weeks I've been doing this (the other being "This Love" by Maroon5). I have a hard time thinking about it on the same terms as Ciara and Mario and Lil Jon, because its form is familiar, less exotic, though it does sound contemporary (especially the intro, which sounds like it could include some kinda spoken-word tag-line).

Mostly, I feel like I'm at a family gathering and have been introduced to a distant cousin that I will undoubtedly get along with because we share common ground in some wholly unspecific interest, like music. "This song has guitars. You like guitars."

2.) The title seems hackneyed to me, like a shitty lyric off of a latter-day Allman Brothers album. I know I've heard the expression before, but it's one that's lost a specific meaning. Is it a reference to something older? Google searching, the popularity of the Green Day tune has overwhelmed and obscured other bits. In the first 10 pages, we get: a vinyl-only 1985 Joy Division bootleg, a celebrity studded parody of Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks," a graphic novel, Final Fantasy fan fiction, and a 1933 song by Al Dubin and Harry Warren (along with an instrumental MIDI file that automatically fired up inside Explorer and played atonally along with the Green Day song streaming through my iTunes). This, I suspect, will be the oldest reference to be found Googling.

The very diversity of results goes to show just how well the expression has melted into common usage. I still don't like it much.

3.) Pirates of the Caribbean has circulated around my building recently, so I've watched various bits of it here and there. I saw it in the theater and - for a big budget Disney movie - I quite enjoyed it. There's something to be said for a picture that's accessible without being excessively stupid, that keeps the viewer locked in through a nice pace of swash-buckling sequences, chases, cannon fire, bawdy "family" humor, and the high seas. The Aviator does this, too, in its own way.

And Green Day's American Idiot is a musical version of that: a Pirates of the Caribbean for us rockist savages. But there's a difference between Pirates and AI, at least for me: listening to popular music is very different from seeing a popular movie, the latter being such a forcibly immersive experience, compared to the flexibility of songs and the ways we listen to them. Unless it is an artist I am intimately familiar with, it is rare that I sacrifice myself to a piece of music the way I automatically do if I go to the movies (or even watch one at home). All of which is to say that I dig "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" for what it is, but it's not likely to make any of my playlists anytime soon.

4.) I like the brief, wordless verse that begins at the 1:15 mark. I can imagine this becoming a big sing-along at an arena show. It is for this reason that I like this song ideologically. It means that, at least while it's popular, kids will still wanna go to big-ass rock concerts and do things like sing along. Hey, I think guitar-based pop music is a form worth preserving beyond the future equivalent of contemporary jazz clubs.

5.) That main riff is familiar, the melody kinda haunting, like it's lifted from a Dire Straits record or something else I can't place. The phrasing certainly helps -- methodical, assured, sweet as candy.

February 8, 2005

some recent stories

BRAIN TUBA: iTunes A Go Go

Corn Syrup Conspiracy by SeepeopleS

Dick's Picks, v. 33 by the Grateful Dead

brief reviews of 10 bands

Real Gone by Tom Waits

In the new Tracks (John Lennon cover), only in print: album reviews of Frank Zappa and the North Mississippi All-Stars, and a book review of The Wilco Book.

And, in the new Relix (Gov't Mule cover), only in print: a live review of Yo La Tengo at Maxwell's, a feature I edited (and wrote chunks of) titled "36 (Studio) Albums By Which To Get Yer Jam On," album reviews of Pinback, Precious Bryant, and RANA, a DVD review of Vida Blue, and book reviews of Da Capo Best Music Writing 2004 edited by Mickey Hart and Rolling Thunder Logbook by Sam Shepard.

February 6, 2005

a sampling

Spam received between 5:15 am and 5:15 pm on Saturday, 5 February 2005, organized according to Dr. Harold Tuttledge's classification system by spam type and listed by sender.

0. No content
nsbch@forum.dk (2/6/05, 12:10 pm)
ernbcpbwlsmbge@wp.pl (2/6/05, 11:50 am)
Dion Cotton (2/6/05, 8:39 am)
Donald H. Callahan (2/6/05, 8:38 am)
Donovan Jewell (2/6/05, 6:32 am)
Beverley Fletcher (2/6/05, 6:29 am)
Ismael Peck (2/6/05, 5:16 am)

0.1 Foreign language
Adan Sea (2/6/05, 1:17 pm)
�U�����~���?��r�W�l�X�`�����X (2/6/05, 10:01 am)

0.2 English nonsense
Lange (2/6/05, 7:44 am)

1. Goods
Monique (2/6/05, 4:39 pm)
Jennifer A. Clark (2/6/05, 4:28 pm)
Phoebe Frazier (2/6/05, 3:44 pm)
Rosemarie Givens (2/6/05, 3:36 pm)
Preston Murphy (2/6/05, 2:35 pm)
Harry Crane (2/6/05, 1:09 pm)
Benita Wiseman (2/6/05, 12:05 pm)
Darcy Cernvantes (2/6/05, 11:39 am)
Rickie Bell (2/6/05, 11:32 am)
Deidre Reeves (2/6/05, 10:56 am)
twxtgfgp@aol.com (2/6/05, 10:13 am)
Carlton (2/6/05, 9:39 am)
Ella Fenton (2/6/05, 9:32 am)
Felice Mungan (2/6/05, 8:09 am)
Beryl Fisher (2/6/05, 7:53 am)
Mike Cameron (2/6/05, 7:45 am)
ZNPI New York Gzlobal (2/6/05, 6:03 am)
Tammie Parrish (2/6/05, 5:35 am)
Tamika England (2/6/05, 5:31 am)

1.1 Insurance
Autowarrantydelz.com (2/6/055, 11:30 am)

2. Urgent Messages
no examples received

3. Real Estate
Hattie (2/6/05, 10:07 am)
Twila Albert (2/6/05, 9:35 am)
Scott Holden (2/6/05, 8:40 am)
Saman (2/6/05, 7:16 am)

4. Work at Home
no examples received

5. Elegant chains and investment opportunities
Chris Erickson (2/6/05, 4:35 pm)
Ernie Ponce (2/6/05, 4:06 pm)
Rosemary Souza (2/6/05, 3:02 pm)
Wilfred Petty (2/6/05, 1:41 pm)
Brandy Culley (2/6/05, 1:05 pm)
Sydel Buske (2/6/05, 1:04 pm)
Lacey Rasmussen (2/6/05, 1:03 pm)
Philip Kirkpatrick (2/6/05, 12:42 pm)
Anita Chan (2/6/05, 12:23 pm)
Greg Heard (2/6/05, 12:17 pm)
Sharron Tipton (2/6/05, 12:11 pm)
Camille Bassett (2/6/05, 10:39 am)
Tonya Lin (2/6/05, 10:28 am)
Luke Velz (2/6/05, 10:21 am)
Sebastian Ash (2/6/05, 9:16 am)
Sally Carlisle (2/6/05, 8:33 am)
Wendy Askew (2/6/05, 6:50 am)

6. Pornography
Alvaro Randall (2/6/05, 4:43 pm)
Cotopaxi O. Angle (2/6/05, 4:26 pm)
Lucy (2/6/05, 3:40 pm)
Christy Ashley (2/6/05, 3:08 pm)
Henderson (2/6/05, 2:44 pm)
Roland Paul (2/6/05, 2:04 pm)
Doug Wilson (2/6/05, 12:52 pm)
Crystal (2/6/05 12:44 pm)
Stuff Q. Detests (2/6/05, 12:19 pm)
Lily (2/6/05, 12:12 pm)
Dustin Rouse (2/6/05, 11:30 am)
Gogol K. Depths (2/6/05 10:39 am)
Lisa (2/6/05, 8:28 am)
Crystal (2/6/05, 6:45 am)
Paltry O. Kathiawar (2/6/05, 6:06 am)

7. Personal appearance and general health
Clint Oliver (2/6/05, 8:06 am)

7.1 Drug distribution
Noah Devine (2/6/05, 4:45 pm)
Jason Barnier (2/6/05, 4:37 pm)
Ola Surez (2/6/05, 3:57 pm)
Bob Haines (2/6/05, 1:36 pm)
Althea Flowers (2/6/05 1:31 pm)
Luciano Mckay (2/6/05, 1:06 pm)
Lionel Newton (2/6/05, 11:33 am)
Kristin Magee (2/6/05, 11:32 am)
Niki (2/6/05, 10:58 am)
Drew Ames (2/6/05, 10:20 am)
Kevin Bynum (2/6/05 10:00 am)
King Ashton (2/6/05, 9:32 am)
Janey Taylor (2/6/05, 9:32 am)
Johnnie Browning (2/6/05, 9:28 am)
Donnie Melvin (2/6/05, 9:02 am)
Wilson Briggs (2/6/05, 8:58 am)
Jacquelyn G. Joiner (2/6/05, 8:56 am)
Delia Solomon (2/6/05, 8:31 am)
Barney Hutchins (2/6/05, 8:30 am)
Morton Frasier (2/6/05, 7:45 am)
Garland Garrick (2/6/05, 7:45 am)
Emilio Ortega (2/6/05, 7:06 am)
Roosevelt Webber (2/6/05, 7:03 am)
Yvonne Hicks (2/6/05, 6:24 am)
Ed (2/6/05, 6:14 am)
Raymon Boberg (2/6/05, 6:13 am)
Augusta Maria (2/6/05, 5:42 am)
Maria Harden (2/6/05, 5:42 am)
Geoffrey Levitin (2/6/05, 5:35 am)

8. Sexual performance and mating
Raul Muller (2/6/05, 5:15 pm)
Beck Amip (2/5/05, 4:59 pm)
Ariana Rivera (2/6/05, 4:58 pm)
Tim (2/6/05, 4:59 pm)
Kenton Ybarra (2/6/05, 4:46 pm)
Inez Sanford (2/6/05, 4:24 pm)
h Quinn Incoporated (2/6/05, 3:45 pm)
Tabitha Langston (2/6/05, 3:31 pm)
Parmutations C. Capsizes (2/6/05, 3:31 pm)
Entreating T. Ballot (2/6/05, 3:17 pm)
Synopsized M. Anguished (2/6/05, 3:17 pm)
Sean Bell (2/6/05, 2:50 pm)
Connie Burrell (2/6/05, 2:42 pm)
Keisha L. Rangel (2/6/05, 12:53 pm)
Karl Emerson (2/6/05, 12:53 pm)
Kerri Novak (2/6/05, 12:23 pm)
glay.org (2/6/05, 12:10 pm)
Nathan Henson (2/6/05, 12:02 am)
Vilma Ross (2/6/05, 10:18 am)
k Belcher Inc. (2/6/05, 10:17 am)
Brain (2/6/05, 9:45 am)
bodywrap@suddenlyslender.com (2/6/05, 9:37 am)
Weston Ramierz (2/6/05, 9:09 am)
Liver K. Elongated (2/6/05, 8:46 am)
dbzmail.com (2/6/05, 8:27 am)
lycos.com (2/6/05 (8:16 am)
Delbert (2/6/05, 8:11 am)
Cristina J. Vazquez (2/6/05, 8:07 am)
Bettie Key (2/6/05, 8:06 am)
Rachelle Springer (2/6/05, 5:17 am)

9. Anti-spam devices
Gordon Harding (2/6/05, 10:26 am)
SurfClean (2/6/05, 9:58 am)
Margaret Booth (2/6/05, 7:59 am)