Monday, March 26, 2007

We Was Wrong

"It is hard to imagine any post-war dispensation that would leave Iraqis less free or more miserable than they were under Mr. Hussein," we said four years ago. Our imagination failed.
-The Economist, March 24th-30th 2007

First Haircut

Sunday, March 25, 2007

7 Songs

Heath tagged me with a blog meme that's been making the rounds. You're to list 7 songs you're currently enjoying, though I'm probably not alone in thinking it's more fun to follow the thread backward a ways, if only a few degrees of separation. Case in point-- beginning with Heath and working back I came across a 7-year old whose top 7 includes REM's cover of The Clique's Superman. I thought, "Excellent taste, little man, excellent taste!" before feeling peculiar and somewhat ill at ease to be reading a 7-year olds blog, a child who had himself been tagged by none other then his mother. So, you see, following such currents, hoping from hyperlink to hyperlink, blog to blog (ideally reaching its origin) allows for not only a healthy dose of serendipity but odd moments of slightly unseemly voyeurism.

Here are the next 7 songs to be played on the tower's shuffle play:

Little Heart: Harold Budd (Wandering ghost chords, occasional rumbles, chimes...I hope to spend a lot more of life wading in and out of this sort of thing)
Below: Philip Jeck (Jeck works with a modest sampler, mixer, a couple old turntables and 7-inch vinyl. On this cut he loops static, a wobbly sitar -I'm imagining the source vinyl was itself warped- and other unidentifiable sound detritus to create something as sonically cluttered as the present state of our Abby upended living room.
You've Got To Crawl to Me: Johnny Davis (Another one of these Numero Group crate-digger soul reissues, this one focusing on cuts from the Chicago based Bandit label)
Things That Scare Me: Neko Case (Shuffle, with its mysterious shuffle algorithms, sure loves itself some Neko Case. And that's just fine. Blacklisted, from which this songs comes, is drenched in a luxurious reverb, anchored by Case's amazing voice)
Don't Feel Right: The Roots (This song worked well at around the 18-minute mark on a recent treadmill workout...I was ever so slightly inclined, walking a healthy pace with my heartbeat fluxing between 155 to 160 bpm while my endorphin rush mingled, ever so nicely, with ?ueslove's tough strut)
Brond: Mikkel Metal (For which I can think of nothing to say)
Mashed Potatoes
: Nat Kendricks and the Swans (From the always welcome Atlantic Rhythm and Blues 1947-1974 collection, a mostly instrumental with a great breakdown into silence before a grinding sax comes roaring in to serenade a warm, buttery mass of mashed potatoes. Trust me, you'd want to shimmy all around the house in your sox to this one.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Songs: Best of 2006

The Ruling Class: Loose Fur
Chinese Translation: M. Ward
Shade And Honey : Sparklehorse
Big Star Baby: Mojave 3
Young Folks: Peter Bjorn And John
Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives: Voxtrot
One Time Too Many: Phoenix
Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken: Camera Obscura
Soldier Jane: Beck
The First Song: Band Of Horses
We Are The Sleepyheads: Belle & Sebastian
Outdoor Miner: Wire
Meteor Beach: Tom Verlaine
Trinidad: Willie Bobo
Lament 1 "Bird's Lament": Moondog
Blue Bayou: Roy Orbison
Everything About It Is A Love Song: Paul Simon
Spiders House: Califone
Grey Days : The Concretes
Bandits: Midlake
One Fine Summer Morning: Evie Sands
Mansfield and Cyclops: Espers
Comfort Of Strangers: Beth Orton
Song About Traveling: The Innocence Mission
Topanga Canyon: John Phillips
Something On Your Mind: Karen Dalton
Little Brother: Grizzly Bear
Isi: NEU!
Prepared [2]: Lambchop
That's The Way Love Goes: Willie Nelson
Jessica: Kaki King
Childhood: Beach House
Fallin' In Love: American Spring
So Glad To See You: Hot Chip
Andalucia: John Cale
Helpless: Buffy Sainte-Marie
London, London: Veloso, Caetano
Bokme: Momo Wandel Soumah
Let My People Go: Darondo
I'm Just Like You: 6ix
A Part Of Being With You: The Professionals
Willie : Cat Power
Kabassele In Memoriam: Franco And Rochereau
The Sleeping Lady and the Giant Who Watches Over Her: Duke Ellington
Bad News, Bad Times: Marion Williams
L-O-V-E (Love): Al Green
Lily Express: Gwigwi Mrwebi
I Am Controlled by Your Love: Helene Smith
Yolanda: Ambrose Campbell
Maindusa : Les Mangalepa
Feel The Need In Me: The Detroit Emeralds
Long Time Boy: Nadia Cattouse
Ti Tong Ti Tong: Les Vikings
Flop Eared Mule: Gid Tanner & His Skillet-Lickers
Black Rose: Waylon Jennings
Little Glass Of Wine: Paul Burch
Let Me In Your Life: Bill Withers
A Woman Like You: Bert Jansch
Compared To What: Roberta Flack
O Yes My Lord: Voices Of Conquest
Who Knows: Marion Black
Better Thee Than Me: Sly & The Family Stone
Wah Wah Man: Young-Holt Unlimited
Pernambuco : Bonfa, Luiz
Margaret vs. Pauline: Neko Case
The Eraser: Thom Yorke
So This Is Goodbye: Junior Boys
Twentieth Century : Pet Shop Boys
Wasting A Fall: Lawrence
Grey Skies To Blue: Köntrast
New day (Dub): Round Two Featuring Andy Caine
Landing: Matt John
Eleventh Hour: My My
Robag's Bobb Für F. : Robag Wruhme
Silent Shout: The Knife
Do Not Break: Ellen Allien
Batine Acid: AFX
Take me into your skin: Trentemøller
Over The Ice: FIELDS
Skamel: Kalabrese
Body Language / Interpretation : Booka Shade
Another Station: Lindstrøm
When She Said Goodbye: ScSI 9
Like You (Supermayer Remix): Gui Boratto
Harmonise: Herbert
Theme from Sprite: Squarepusher
For Dan: The Rice Twins
Sleazy Bee: Isolée
Dancingbox: Modeselektor
Fly Guy Rap: Fly Guys
Follow The Leader: Eric B. & Rakim
All For U : Aceyalone
Long Time: The Roots Feat. Peedi Peedi & Bunny Sigler
Underwater: Ghostface Killah
Type Inventory: Farben
A Moment To Myself: Alex Smoke
Kaluga: Mikkel Metal
Sowiesoso: Cluster
Gollum: Harmonia
Delius (Song Of Summer): Kate Bush
Naa Er Druene Paa Sitt Beste: Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas
É Com Esse Que Eu Vou: Elis Regina
Come Rain Or Come Shine: Jimmy Giuffre 3
Re: Person I Knew: Bill Evans
Zarabanda: Anouar Brahem
A Falling Leaf : Assif Tsahar/Cooper Moore/Hamid Drake
Mamma: Gilberto Gil
I Feel Like Going Home: Yo La Tengo
Autumn Music 1: Max Richter
Flies: Brian Eno
Nocturne 4 : Boxhead Ensemble
The Glass House: Chicago Underground Duo
Please Gamelan Again: Colleen Et Les Boîtes À Musique
Portrait Of Light: Frequency
The Toy Garden: Helios
Eins: Gas
Sheets: Mountains
Chinook: Loscil
Verlust Der Motorik: Klimek
From a solid to a liquid: Biosphere
Next To The Field : Thomas Fehlmann
Chimeras: Tim Hecker
Love Will Tear Us Apart: Susanna And The Magical Orchestra
Gymnopédies No. 3: Reinbert de Leeuw
Solo Guitar With Tin Foil: Brian Eno & David Byrne
Imagine : Vijay Iyer
Jock O' Hazeldean: Dick Gaughan

Magnificent Creepiness

Tonight's technicolor musical accompaniment is being provided by Frank Sinatra's The Wee Small Hours of the Night. My first memories of Sinatra, of being vaguely aware of his iconic status and appeal, were formed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida sometime in the mid-70's. My Grandma lived there then, in a gated community where the speed limit was 10 mph and every few blocks there was a swimming pool with shuffle board courts. And Grandma dug Frank. It took me another 20 years- but that's when I first enjoyed the magnificent creepiness of the paranoid thriller The Manchurian Candidate and came to dig Frank for myself through his work on the big screen playing a troubled soldier who's slowly awakening to the fact that he's been brainwashed by Chinese and Russian agents. No crooning or nothing, not even so much as a Theme Song From The Manchurian Candidate. Just a couple hours of perfectly pitched anti-Communist hysteria with a knowing wink.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Film: Best of 2006

In no particular order.

-A Prairie Home Companion: Robert Altman, 2005
-L'Enfant: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005
-Cache: Michael Haneke, 2005
-The Departed: Martin Scorsese, 2005
-The Death of Mr. Lazauescu: Cristu Puiu, 2005
-Three Times: Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2005 (especially for the second time)
-Time Indefinite: Ross McElwee, 1994
-The Long Goodbye: Robert Altman, 1973
-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Terry Gilliam, 1998
-The Shop Around the Corner: Ernst Lubitsch, 1940

The above image is a still from Victor Erice's beautiful film, The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), one of my favorites and previously only available on an anemic VHS transfer drained of color but revelatory nonetheless. A new, stunning high-definition transfer was created for Criterion last year and played at the Music Box where I was lucky enough to catch it this past summer. One of those film experiences where I exited the theater stunned, just a little off balance and seriously punch drunk on celluloid. A perfectly haunted evocation of the intersect between childhood and imagination.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Vaguely Laurie Andersonish.

As I write this, I'm exactly 30 minutes away from losing an hour. I'm half expecting a worm hole to open and Jean-Luc Picard to appear. I'd ask him about installing a holodek in our basement.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Crocus Expectations

Spring Break has shed its grace upon us grateful Dominican students, and while I’d love to be telling you that early this morning Cathy, Abby and I piled into the Prius destined for sunnier, warmer climes, it's not without a small measure of regret that I'm now telling you it's simply not the case. For now. At the end of this month we'll be flying with Abby on our laps to Tampa, Florida and from there by car to my parents place in nearby Tarpon Springs, home to an abundance of Greek sponge divers and weighing in with an average yearly temperature of 74.8. I'm definitely wanting myself some 70's just about now!

When we get back it'll be April here in our great city. Crocus's will have already offered some purple exclamations of relief from the drab monotony of the urban winter landscape and, ideally, we'll have had a teaser day or two where warm, moist southerly winds stirred up months of grit and caused an unfortunate percentage among us to reveal their translucent white thighs hauntingly starved of sun. We don't mind, though. That's cool. We all understand the need to ditch the winter coats and expose a little skin to warmth that isn't bone dry forced heat.

It's this time of year that I miss Berkeley the most. Berkeley, home to "one of the world's most moderate climates" and where winter is the green season.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Buoyantly Sneaky Pete

Oh, I'm never taking an on-line class again! Sigh. All this Blackboard posting nonsense (one post by this date, then two by this date in response to what your classmates said before, then start over again and don't pass go) keeps passing me unaware. I'm hard pressed to say why exactly. Like I have some unconscious blinders up-- take them off and I might startle and kick up some dust. I'm haunted by the little note on my syllabus regarding late postings and point deductions. As if it reveals something fundamental about my character. Nonsense, man, pure nonsense, but that's how I churn. I shouldn't care but I do. Way too much. Never used to. Third time is the charm though, I figure. I won't let another get by me. I'll know what's due and when from miles out. For now, we'll just have to sop up our petty sorrows and total possible point obsessiveness and move on. We'll curl up in Garcia's buoyantly Sneaky Pete Kleinow-like pedal steel guitar on Dire Wolf to linger and repose for a while. Really, I've just listened to it three times and I'm now totally ready to get into bed and read about Joy Division. Talk about a double bill!