Friday, August 29, 2008

Fly fishing

My oldest brother (I have three, two older and one, my parents' cat DC, younger than me by some margin) has me fly fishing again and it's beautiful.

We use to go when I was a kid. Recently we are going again and it's such a kick to get out early on Saturday morning and see the sun come up.

In the 90s fly fishing was co-opted by the mega-swells and trendoids who saw A River Runs Through It and thought it would be a good way to spend money. But these little ponds we frequent are scarcely touched, except by the divorced-dad-with-sons-and-worm-can crowd and they don't stay long.

We may get another friend to join us. The Intended, ever sharp as a tack, posits "So, it will be like A River Runs Through It, only fat."

I'm fully committed again for the first time in twenty-five years. And it's only been summer. My brother says wait 'til we have waders on and it's just freezing and it starts to snow.

Of course, on that day, I would hope to wear an LL Bean Norwegian crewneck such as this:

but I just found out they don't make them anymore which is, of course, BULLSHIT!

Greatest LP of all time

Feeling especially larky before this long holiday weekend, I feel compelled to say the Supergrass In It for the Money (1997) is the best rock LP ever. It's just perfect. Both hilarious and deep. The songs are like a culmination of human experience, the zenith of thought. Or something. No, it's just a really great record that is perfect to play all weekend, this weekend. Spare me your cavils! For the first time in my life, I'm sure.

Spaghetti cat

Being There

John McCain's selection of some lady from Canada or something for veep reminds me one of my fave movies evah, Being There. Peter Sellers, a simple man who has never been out of the house where we was raised by the Old Man (he may be the old man's bastard son?), through a series of missteps, ends up in the position to be nominated for President. His main asset is he's completely unknown and so can't be put it a position where someone has something on him. This is a comment about power that blah blah blah --

Sellers is great, but really awesome is Melvyn Douglas in his final role as a wealthy kingmaker who sees exactly what he wants to in the halfwit Sellers. Douglas was sick when shooting, which makes it all the more sad. Funny, yet sad. Hap-sad.

and spoiler:
Be sure to read the INSANE comments!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rich Girls

Following this same double-barrelled train of thought expressed earlier (ie the imminent apocalypse/stuff i would want for that last Xmas, if said stuff really existed), it's time someone put the awful MTV series Rich Girls on DVD.

Admittedly, The Hills makes this series seem like some lost Ibsen scenarios. But, lord, if there is to be a last trace of humanity found by some alien race arriving too late to see what all the fireworks were about, it would be a fair representation of 2002-3 to show this, if scenes included the following:

1. Allie's slough of poolside artistic despond where she really wants to "create" and eat Klonopins
2. the Rich Girls in the "is this terror?" morass of the Great NYC Blackout of 2003, complete with Ms. Hilfiger's order to a cabbie to "take us to my father's store."
3. The loathesome Dad H's bitchy Warholian critique of her daughter's closet full of denim, and his camera-ready declarations that all the Ralph Lauren stuff therein is "cheaply made" or "this is cheap."

This show was so excruciating, someone should actually make a movie about me watching it! I'd watch that!

Also, bonus AND check the typo in the title:

Taschen! Wake up!

The Russians are all cranky and trying to stir up the UN and invade Poland and give Ahmadenijad a golden ticket to the Kremlin's little known combination executive men's lav/centrifuge room...the Cold War is back! Dig!

Maybe this fresh awakening of the sleeping, ursine warrior-state will get someone off their collective publishing ass and see to the publishing of a coffeetable book of the best of the Soviet-era posters and propaganda art. It can even be one of those little ones, like the Christmas one they were flogging (I'm told) at Old Navy (ick) the other year.

I should be able to go into a Half-Price Books anywhere and walk right up to a pile of these. Unless the interminable delay is in fact a tribute to the old "five-year plan"-type Soviet production schedules, where one could wait six years to win a chance at a Trabant. If so, this is misguided. Hurry! I want this book to exist BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

Someone was doing a blog on this topic, then tired of it, I suppose:



Sigue Sigue Sputnik were thisclose to getting the future right!

They famously sold ad space on their 1986 debut record Flaunt It!, as part of their tongue-in-cheek "so capitalist that it's punk!" aesthetic. So, between the two singles and six other tracks of sloganeering Giorgio Moroder auto-dross, there were thirty second commercials for the likes of Loreal and I-D Magazine (which had a sneery Brit rhapsodizing hyperbollically on the glories of the style mag: Once considered the most pretentious magazine in the history of the, simply the best! over a hodge-podge of then-modern beatbox sounds). The UK ate it up for maybe a season; no one here cared.

But what's hot was how they got their ideas about pop music and commerciality exactly backward. Now bands must seek to have their music in commercials, as it's the only way the moronic public will hear it.

I just wonder how much different things would have been if Mr. Tony James and crew had gotten it right. We might all have flying cars now and cash money for wallpaper!

"21st Century Boy". Ooh, Blade Runner-y!:

Noel Gallagher, aka the Mancunian Bill Wilson

Lars Ulrich is off the co-kaine and he credits Noely G for the kickstart on cleanliness, sez the NME:

He added: "I was very impressed with Noel Gallagher. As you
know, I'm an Oasis fanatic, and Noel was like
[adopts Mancunian accent] 'You know what? No more cocaine!' (Gallagher quit in
1998) and I thought, 'If he can do it, everybody else can do it'.
Now, all we need is for someone to get an intervention going to have them keep all their songs under seven minutes!
This may be too much to ask.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I felt kind of sorry for him, to tell the truth

Huh! (from today's Dayton Daily News obituaries):

ACKLEY, Lenora M. of Newport News, VA departed this life on Saturday, Aug. 23,
2008, to join her husband, Robert V. Ackley, and her son Robert
V. Ackley Jr. Lenora was a lifelong resident of Dayton Ohio, where she worked
all her life as a manicurist. She is survived in loving memory by her
daughter-in-law, Luisita Ackley; her grandsons, James A. Ackley, Jason R.
Ackley, and Craig A. Ackley; her great grandchildren, Michael J. Ackley and
Caitlyn N. Ackley; and her great great granddaughter Jessica N. Ackley, all of
the Virginia Peninsula. She will join her husband and son at Shiloh Cemetery
Park in Dayton Ohio. Graveside services and internment will take place on
Thursday, 28 August 2008. Arrangements by H. D. Oliver Funeral Home, Norfolk, VA

His own wife probably called him Ackley, not even "Ack."

And here's this, which you may not have seen:

"Maybe it was injuns."

What? You've never seen Miller's Crossing, the greatest of the Coen Brothers movies (and I stand by this)? What's wrong with you? Are you not telling me something? Fall's almost here. Hop to it!

Poetry in translation

Poetry is lame, yes; this we know. Can't be bothered to write a melody, eh?

Anyway, that's MY stupid opinion and I must cleave to it/like a barnacle on a mighty liner/when the cold stars...what was I saying? Okay, some people, even some people I can stand, like the stuff. Fair enough.

What baffles me is the idea of poetry in translation. Especially if it's poetry that follows some conventional rhyme scheme (a/b/a/b, eg) and then STILL rhymes in the translated to English version. Huh? So all words in other language that rhyme HAPPEN to translate into words which also rhyme in other languages? And as this is a dubious probability, isn't the translator just winging it?

All translated lit freaks me out in that sense, though. Am reading an excellent book called The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig, which is translated from German. When I come across an especially vivid passage such as this,:

She tries to think, but the monotonous stuttering of the wheels breaks the flow
of her thoughts, and the narcotic cowl of sleep tightens over her throbbing
forehead - that muffled yet overpowering railroad-sleep in which one lies rapt
and benumbed as though in a shuddering black coal sack made of metal.

I then wonder how much the translator came up with on his own, and how much of the, er, poetry of the writing is the author's and how much is his interpreter's. "narcotic cowl of sleep" reads so well that it's amazing to think it could also be beautiful in exact translation. The term "railroad-sleep" is, of course, like weltschmerz, a German term that has been co-opted to English (as choochoosnoozen).

I dunno, I just think about this quite a bit.

Also, yes, Marat (pictured) was not a poet, but it gives me a chance to post this, a song I love from my ever-retreating youth (and the connection here is that the above pic is in the background on this song's source LP's cover):

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oxford cloth shirts are HOT! Thanks, GQ!

From the September GQ magazine (asterisks mine):
This summer I inherited* two nearly perfect oxford-cloth shirts: one blue, one
white, both with rounded club collars showing a little of that much-sought-after
gentle fraying. The morning after I got 'em**, I woke up, put the white
one on and started getting ready for work. By the time, I had it tucked
in, I was hot. By the time I had a tie on, I was sweating.
Oxford-cloth shirts look excellent under a suit, and they're as in style now as
they've ever been.*** But they're also made of seriously heavy cotton
that's more appropriate for fall and winter. When I finally break mine
out, you'll be reading next month's GQ. - W.W.
So, W.W., next thing you will tell me is that I shouldn't wear a turtleneck on the 4th of July and that a ski hat is probably wrong for the All-Star Game. Yes, if it's hot out, don't wear a heavy shirt. Someone got paid for writing that! And yet, I daily**** write this screed de couer for you, my only friend, for free. Uncool.
* literally inherited as in from a dead relative? Or were they merely acquired? There's a difference.
** " 'em"? Is this homely down-Maine touch necessary? I mean, I do it, when trying to convey some sort of goony folksiness, but a discussion of sumptuary matters is not the place for such tics.
*** Good grief! Oxford-cloth shirts are beyond in and out of "style." They just are. This reminds me of USA Today when Oprah's Book Club was getting big, they put a headline in the Friday purple Life section: Oprah Makes Books Cool Again. I'm still not over this one.
Sometimes I get so tired.
**** Will be a month already on Saturday! Had you noticed???


Paul Westerberg's Stereo came out in 2002, and I just heard it today. Kicks (some) ass, actually (I never cared about his solo stuff, that I can remember, and the Replacements songs/LPs I love I love, the stuff I don't like bores me stiff, and this album discussed presently is itself a microcosm of this phenom). A friend told me about four years ago I would love this and I just couldn't get enthusiastic enough to listen to it. But opener "High Times" sets the tone, which is: sloppy, almost-punk rock songs played enthusiastically with a Stones undertone. Vocals sound great throughout as well. The groovy "Eyes Like Sparks" makes a mantra of the line "Stay where you are/baby, stay away from me/with your eyes like sparks/and my heart like gasoline." Nice!

A house!, not a "home"

Something else that really sucks (and I have a list) is people talking about their "homes."
It's a HOUSE. You can go home, sure. In the abstract. "I'm going home." Fine. Go. But referring to a "home" in conversation when talking about the actual concrete place as in "We're having the chimney flashing on our home looked at..." is sickmaking in its fulsomeness. It conjures a vision of someone drinking their coffee with both palms around it in the early mornin' [sic], just waiting for word that young Jenny made it back to college safely, or some other 80s coffee commercial hokum. Just stop it!

The accursed novelty tee

Okay, maybe I am getting too old for the novelty tee. I have several. More tend to accrete around me when I'm not looking: SILF above a cartoon of Dagwood sandwich (on blue), Edie Sedgwick in Ciao, Manhattan (red), the Flying Pup King of Yoshitomo Nara (sky blue), Rufus Does Judy (a real treasure, orange AND Marc Jacobs)...but I don't wear any of them as often as I should. I could put on on to go out and water the tomatoes, but that gets a bit costumey.

That cleared up, I still need the CASH FROM CHAOS shirt modeled here by our friend Malcolm McLaren in the movie The Great Rock and Roll Swindle. I'm sure it would get lots of odd looks from people in the fancy cheese aisle at the local grocer: puzzled snorts from the greed-is-good neighborhood swells, "Why is that old man trying to look cool?" stares from the tweens, maybe even the occasional aggrieved wince from the guy who's eight years older than me and was there, man.

Be on the lookout for one!

James Baldwin

Somehow, I'd never read a word by James Baldwin until this past Friday...I knew a few things about him, ex-patriate to France, sparring partner of Truman Capote and Gore Vidal back then, The Fire Next Time. Maybe because none of my high school English class syllabi happened to include Go Tell It On the Mountain, I'd never actually picked anything up and read it.

I happened to read a story called "Sonny's Blues" in a collection of short stories and was fairly entranced. The story of a man watching his dissolute jazz musician younger brother fall further into heroin addiction, it has the power of both conveying the time it which it is set (the early 1950's) and being timeless in its portrayal of the hopelessness of observing a loved one's self-destructive compulsions.

The story is calm and bleak (we are told with a thud that the narrator's baby daughter has recently died, just to add to the heavies) and yet closes with an extended scene of a triumphant performance by the brother at the piano, among his jazzbo peers who admire and respect him, and the narrator can at last see his lttle brother as the king of his drug-sordid milieu, but, moreover, respected for his musical skill.

The story felt to me like a cool-jazz era fictional take on Lester Bangs's essay "Peter Laughner Is Dead." Ordered a collection of James Baldwin stories to see what the hell else he was doing...

Monday, August 25, 2008

YOUR crappy local rock "standards"

Not sure about wherever you are, but I often wonder about whether every city/corner of a state has its own set of crappy rock songs that are still played into the ground pretty much exclusively in your region, as if they really must have meant something to people back in the day and so are trudged out once daily to transport the halt and the simple "back."
I'm thinking of our fine regional outlets' overreliance on:
"Children of the Sun" - by Billy Thorpe, which I first heard or noticed at Field Day, last day of school in 7th grade...
"Lunatic Fringe," by Red Ryder. Rock-nerd erudition watch: sung by the guy who went on to do "Life Is A Highway," which is overplayed on the Crying Admin stations (see other posts)...
"Heavy Metal" by Don Felder. A co-worker asked me one day if I knew that the whole Heavy Metal soundtrack was "the greatest soundtrack of all time." I didn't!!
The works of Canadian power trio Triumph. I thought Rush got to be the shitty Rush. ?
I guess what I wonder is whether my area (the 937) has an exclusive muscle-memory to these crap-trax, or whether they are played into the ground everywhere else AND (a two-parter!) whether in other regions of the country you have songs that are regional cliches for no apparent reason. Somewhere in Maine, will you die if you hear "She's A Beauty" one more time? Ready to jump off the Golden Gate at another play of "Workin' for the Weekend"?

Sixty Minutes - the game!

My efforts to get Poltergeist played in a loop on some basic cable network throughout the Labor Day weekend seemingly thwarted (alas), I must now make do with some other activity for the duration of this traditional closing weekend of
summer. Yes, summer goes until 9/22, but you know what I mean.
If you chance to be driving somewhere this weekend, watch out for cats AND here is a fun game to play. Think of a news event, real or imagined, or some other type of story/profile that would be good fodder for 60 Minutes, then try to get your travel mates to guess which 60 Minutes stalwart would "do" the story.
1. Suppose that the all of the gals from the famous Mia Hamm/Brandi (sp?) Chastain soccer team of years ago were actually pumped full of mad steroids at the time and now one of the lesser-known team members is spilling her guts?
Answer: Leslie Stahl
2. Profile of Ralph Lauren?
Answer: Steve Kroft [bonus if you can see the two of them in your mind's eye riding horses over a ridge]
3. Loose nukes in this world of Putin 2.0?
Answer: Kroft
4. A village in Spain that is home to a circus made up of blind children?
Answer: Morley Safer
Try it this holiday weekend! It's (yes) easy and fun! Beats the license plate game.

What success looks like

Joe Namath, ca. 1969!

Caption reads:

It didn't take long for Namath to become "Broadway Joe," and to adopt such
high-living touches as a llama rug for the living room of his New York

This is like a snapshot of some alternate world where Vanilla Fudge were the Beatles or something, plus if he dropped his Flex-All in the rug, it would likely be lost forever!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Welcome, avian overlords!

Lately I see more and more large birds, birds of prey...soaring in slow circles, waiting to grab an infant vole clumsily scurrying 200 yards away or some such. Saw a hawk/falcon/dino-bird sitting on a ground-level highway sign the other night. Just sitting there, chilled, maybe thinking of picking a nit from his plumage, but, withal, not that bothered.

Still - welcome! I'm glad to see them, and am too afraid to look on the web and see that I should feel guilty that they are displaced because some mid-level management dork from DigiYawn just had to have that split level (and so close to the highway!). And the eagle is close to being taken off the endangered species list, so suburban dells will soon ring anew with the sound of troubled neighborhood teens using potato guns to peg them with impunity.

Just surprised to see so many of them. Maybe things aren't really that bad?


"One of Our Submarines"

It's criminal that Thomas Dolby hasn't recorded any new records since 1992. Well, maybe he has; some video game music or a record to listen to while looking at a Magic Eye book on tigers, or something similarly obtuse. He's one of those poor souls like the Pet Shop Boys (of whom much, much more at another time, but I will pause here to call them the electo-Beatles and say they are the best pop* songwriters of the last 25 years) whose first hit is all the plebes know, and is relegated in the US to noon-hour "80s lunch" formats on the stations that normally play Crying Admin Rock [see earlier post]. Good heavens, Miss Okomoto, it's a travesty.

The best of Dolby's songs (that is most of them) have a cold wintry touch about them, and he was not afraid of complex narratives. "One of Our Submarines" is purported to be about his uncle's dying on maneuvers in a WWII-era submarine, for instance, and when I was 14, and had this song, borrowed on the cassette Blinded By Science ep [worth seeking out] from my brother, it was the just the saddest thing in the world:

(the actual promo video for this is one of those 1982-era "live performance" things, like "Slit Skirts" by Pete Townshend, and live music is never superior to studio versions, ever [c and p Patrick Bateman, yes], except possibly here:

* pop. Not rock, nor even pop-rock. Pop.

Best product name ever?

A correspondent sent a phone pic from the paint store to tell me there was something called "Japan Drier."

It's apparently an additive to make paint dry faster? Maybe?

But still: Japan drier?

I'm sure Bob Pollard has recorded an album called that in the time it took me to type this item.

"Jimmy! Write it down!"

A little help

Say you are stuck on a desert island. Hallucinations have begun; you dart in vain to grab fish in the shallow, aqua water with your bruised, gnarled hands. Things look a bit hairy, in all honesty.

But wait: hope! There! About thirty yards it a box? Some sort of rations that fell from one of those pirate ships you saw last's coming in, for sure, now. What can it be??

So you get your hands on it and tear it open with your last bit of strength, tears coming from somewhere deep, deep beneath your dehydration. What is it?

Dunno, but if it's a box of those little chili seasoning packets from Wendy's, SAVE IT! I want it. I love that stuff; it jazzes up any fast food. At the Wendy's closest to my workplace, they have the stuff just sitting out with the napkins and straws like it was mere ketchup! I load up like I was file-sharing, for reals. IT IS GOOD ON EVERYTHING. Supplants cocktail onions as my fave comfort food!

So, yeah, if a ship comes, don't leave me in a lurch here. The box I envision has 1000 packs or so, maybe more. I'll give you, I dunno, 30 bucks for it? Sweet? Sweet.

Soundtrack to your suffering:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bushmiller in 08!

Nancy, as done by Ernie Bushmiller, fully ruled. After Bushmiller died, the syndicated tried to keep it alive, but tried to have Nancy and Sluggo playing Missile Command or other such jarring intriniscally non-Nancy type activities, which should include things such as bugging Aunt Fritzi or blowing soap bubbles.
There was a Nancy collection published in 1989 or so; it can be found on the internet. There is a quotation in it that says "Any strip that can be around as long as Nancy has, and not be funny once, really must have something going for it."
Also in the funny papers, I have adduced to within a few days when Doonesbury started sucking irrevocably: 1.) arrival of grating "Ron Headrest" Reagan character and 2.) forsaking of static "same panel" layout where all the action takes place in the same room or scene, for such cinematic yet non-Doonesbury panel setups as closeups, backlighting, etc.
The Uncle Duke collection with action figure was a brilliant idea, though.

the key word here is context

I'm about 61 years old, so there's no reason for me to love this record, particularly since I have zero context with them, and had no pre-conceived notions about them, when I first heard them on Idolator a bit back. I was not sure whether they were Against Me! or maybe even Avail...Aesop Rock...

The ellipse is part of the name, even, so that is annoying. But I loved the first song I heard and like the second, so I acquired the LP and it's just dandy. What's nice about it is these kids (and I think they are about 11 years of age) go a lot (or, as their core fan constituency would probably have it, alot) further than is strictly necessary to deliver hook after hook after hook and tight-as-prime-Descendents musicianship with the occasional added Cars-by-way-of-Tegan & Sara keyboard squiggles.

I suppose an easy way to describe it would be "good Jimmy Eats World" [and can you believe that that once-infamous-to-Christianists video with the kids all partying in their underoos came out twenty-five years ago???] or maybe "Smoking Popes for the young" but they have their own thing going. As I say, I have little context in which to place them, seeing as I have no use for Vans WarpFestDotComDot666RadXFest-a-thon!-type tours or whatever "scene" would claim these tykes; equally, their being on the cover of AP means to me little more than Orgy must still be broken up. So, all in all, a pleasant surprise, even to a bitter old person who understands that school started today.

"About a Girl" fan vid:


Why, yes, I am anxiously awaiting an in-depth, critical, humane, heartbreaking and funny biography of Spalding Gray.

Why? You got one?

Enough already!

Let's have a moratorium on the phrase "I just threw up in my mouth a little bit." It's everywhere. Even my 81-year-old mom is all "Oooh, when I see that Taylor Momsen, I throw up in my mouth a little bit."

See also: "______ called. They want their ____ back."

Also, already played fifteen-plus years ago: " a deer in headlights."

Also: "played."


When I was in England last (he typed self-consciously, after cracking his need to mention it was 1985...), this record was at the height of its not-to-get-all-that-popular popularity. "Just Give 'Em Whiskey" was a hot single in the FACE and NME, etc. It was one of the first songs to feature prominent sampling, bits and bobs from 2001 and The Prisoner, all set to a racing drum-machine, and there were no "performed" vocals...this is interesting because the brothers behind this album ended up as part of M/A/R/R/S, which produced the classic "Pump Up the Volume." A friend of mine once had the sheet music to "Pump..." in one of those "Current Hits!"-type songbooks and the sheet music was fantastic: like, one piano note, then four measures of nothing, piano note, then, in the lyrics portion, "pump-up-the-volume-pump-up-the-volume-pump-up-the-volume-dance-dance" done straightfacedly as if it were "I Will Always Love You."
[Along these same lines, I grew up sans cable TV, as is probably apparent. I used to get my rock video fix wherever I could and one way was a show on PBS on summer mornings that showed videos but told you before the song to watch for a specific part of speech in the subtitled lyrics provided; por ejemple, "Nouns": "I met a strange lady/she made me nervous/she took me in and gave me breakfast." So, one day, the video for "Round and Round" by Ratt came on, with the adjuration to be on the lookout for verbs, as in: "Round and round/what goes around comes around/I'll tell you why..." SO then singer Stephen Pearcy gives a get-ready! shoutout: Dig!, which was also in red! It's a VERB, see. Plus, Milton Berle!]
Another single, totally different from the other, was "The Moon is Blue," which probably got to about #36* on the UK charts, but is a great neo-soul number that sort of buries Sade and other purveyors of this sound at the time:
Sort of freaks me out that someone would make a video for it...
* #3, actually! Huh.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

None more yar

Check Jimmy Stewart out starting at 4 minutes.

Bit O' Honey

Yes, I was surprised as you are to find out that Bit-O-Honey candy is still being made, albeit by the evil Nestle people. I forget why Nestle is evil [apartheid?], but that Dan le Sac song says "though shalt not buy Nestle products..."
I remember thinking this a very fall-ish treat when I was a wee lad, and the general gentle nostalgic nature of B.O.H. even then, at less-than-10, bespoke a better time than the late 70s when I first partook. Things only got worse, nostalgia-wise. Like most, I'm paralyzed at the awfulness of today...what was I saying?
OH! Well, I've not had any in, god, twenty years, and realized today that it would probably go great with coffee. Maybe I will. Maybe I will.
Dan le Sac and Scroobius Pip caveat:

Elizabeth Peyton

I always thought I didn't like the painter Elizabeth Peyton, mostly known for her portraits of 90s Britpop stars. Turns out she is a really great colorist, and is excellent in general. Plus, she's Amurrican, of which I had no idea, given her propensity for painting Jarvis Cocker, et al.

I saw a still life of hers in (I think?) Vogue last year, with a vase of flowers that were simple smears but almost photo-realistic upon squinting. I duly clipped it out and stuck it on the wall next to some other crap. Then one day I noticed that lurking in the background was a corner of the cover of Horses by Patti Smith! But the flowers were so well done that I didn't even noticed the Ramones-a-like Smith hanging around.

Here's Brett Anderson:

Wait, I guess that's supposed to be Georgia O'Keefe. Well, whatever, I dig; I may need to suck it up and get a compendium that's on Alibris...

Monday, August 18, 2008

I need a book about this guy...

Dick Tuck (!) (b.1924) was a political prankster, when you could still be such a thing. I had wanted to look up a quote that I somehow had always thought was uttered by Morris Udall (D, AZ, 1922 -1998), but found it was said by this Tuck fellow. I should say he is, not was, because he is still alive as of this afternoon. I should get an email address and write to him, as I missed out on being friends with L Rust Hills.

Anyway, check this bit via Wikipedia (the mistakenly-attributed-to-Udall quote in bold:

In 1964, Tuck ran for the California State Senate. He opened his campaign with a
press conference at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale claiming that just because
people had died doesn't mean they don't still have (voting) rights.
Hearing of Tuck's entry as a candidate, Richard Nixon, with uncharacteristic good humor,
sent him a congratulatory telegram, including an offer to campaign for him,
despite his being a Democrat.
Dick Tuck designed his campaign billboards to
read, in small print, "Dick," and in much larger lettering, "Tuck". The names
were printed twice, piggy-backed one above the other. On the eve of the election
he drove around the area painted an extra line on the upper "Tuck" on the
billboards. This converted the T in his name to an F so that passersby would see
a profane phrase. Tuck said he thought voters would think his opponent had done
this and he'd "get the sympathy vote" with this tactic. He lost anyway.
the ballot totals piled against him on Election Night, the candidate was asked
his reaction. Referring back to his cemetery speech, Tuck quipped, "Just wait
till the dead vote comes in." When defeat became inevitable, Tuck made the now
notorious statement, "The people have spoke, the bastards."[2]


Also, had never seen a picture of him, so had no idea that Mo Udall looked this much like 1983-era Updike:

It happened at Barnes and Nobles [sic]

Was at a Barnes and Noble yesterday with The Intended and, while waiting to pay, I glanced behind me where there were a teenage blonde and her mook-ish paramour. This guy stood close behind her and had his arms wrapped around her tightly like they were watching Vertical Horizon play their last song of the night at the State Fair. He was kissing her neck, sloppily, as she was sort of making faces that were half-disinterested and half-"not here!"

She was in line to buy a book by Kirk Cameron!:

It was an awful thing to see. Mookhead had a look like "Yeah, you just go ahead and get your God book, girl" and the young lady was all "I hope no one tells Youth Pastors Sara and Jerry about this!"

I really shouldn't go out of the house.

American Flagg!

I'm SO on board the Watchmen hype train, I could be the engineer.

I remember telling a creative writing prof I had in 1989 that he should check the Watchmen out, that it was one of the greatest novels of all time and he sort of smirked haughtily and assumed it was the Mickey's Bigmouths talking.

I stand by this! Born out by such endorsements as being on Time magazine's 100 best novels of the 20th century list! Etc!

So, when I started seeing stills and then the PREVIEW (!) for the movie, I assumed they would foul it up. I mean, back in the Joel Silver days, Arnold Schwarzenegger was mooted for Dr. Manhattan, for cry yi. But it doesn't indeed look excellent and the level of venom that serially tetchy series creator Alan Moore has spewed at all and sundry serves as a ringing endorsement.

But, before the Watchmen, there was the hyper-futuristic American Flagg, which ran as a series starting in 1983. Reuben Flagg is an actor reassigned as a cop in a bombed out, gang-ridden Chicago. He traffics with all sorts of sleazy types, all of them from the gallery of writer/artist Howard Chaykin's sorta 1930s-styled future for which he is famous. And Reuben Flagg himself is another handsome Jewish hero who looks more than a bit like his creator.

There is a new compilation out of this series, to make this nerdy-as-hell post at all topical.

The Dutchess and the Duke

I really shouldn't like this record. There's much I should hate: instrumentation (and much, much more) off an early Dylan record, singer dude has a beard...

Yet the Dutchess and the Duke's (dead short) LP She's the Dutchess and He's the Duke (I think - too lazy to look; could be the opposite or maybe one of clauses starts with I'm) sorta sucked me in. Among the sad-sack "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" strums lurk some very nice songs, and they indeed find ways to surprise even in the rickety framework of their general conceit: the chorus of "Out of Time" has some surprisingly tangy 7th chords [yes, I'm get very muso-ish, sorry], and the 1:59 of "The Strangers" zips by like a guy-and-gal "Two of Us."

So, between this and Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, I have liked TWO acoustic bands this year. DOES THIS MEAN I'M OLD???


Friday, August 15, 2008

Quote of the nanosecond

"It may be us they wish to meet, but it’s themselves they want to talk about." - Cyril Connolly

The waning summer

The weather here is to be glorious this weekend, and not too hot.

You should have a dinner party and, when you do, play this record. Just right for this time of year. About nine or eleven times as good as Kind of Blue.

Also, this is also good for this time of year, have loved this song since I was a kid, had never seen this Brazil-on-a-budget video:

Was also surprised that kids still have the presence of mind to release decent songs like the one below in the last two weeks before school starts, capturing that wistful "In Football Season" feel:

Good for them!

The Taos Hum...of my leg

Cell phones are everywhere! Have you seen them?

I got one last summer; I remember because it was the same week that the Posh and Becks: Coming to America special was on.

Of course, after putting off getting a cellular phone for years, I was quickly addicted to it. And I still use it quite frequently!

I never ever have the ringer set to anything other than vibrate, though. It's rude to bother other people. It also blows my mind that so many people buy special ringtones, that, indeed, ringtones are about the only part of the music biz not totally dying...or so it was a year ago.

SO, I keep my phone in my pocket and wait for the telltale buzz when someone calls. Only NOW, I'm starting to occasionally feel the buzz in my leg even when the phone isn't buzzing! Indeed, when it's not even on my person! Like the phantom pain of a missing limb! Just once in a while, but still - SPOOKY!

Since entering the realm of, and reflecting on, paranormality, I remembered that when I was a kid, there was a story about the Bristol Hum on the (CBS) evening news. Bristol in the UK was afflicted by an odd whirring or humming noise that had no discernible source. You could just hear it when walking through a secluded mews, apparently, as if there was machinery running nearby or a distant factory's rumble pervading the area.

By the 90s, there was a perceived hum in Taos, N.M., the oddness having been co-opted by the new-agey American Southwest. I didn't hear of this until recently...I would have guessed it was some mid-90s youths who had gotten some bad vibes after a Candlebox show, but no, there is much on the 'net re this:

Now, what about me and my mysterious leg? I'm carrying on, one day at a time, hoping again that whatever force is controlling me is a benevolent one, both for my sake -- and mankind's.

Bonus crap you have forgotten about!:

"i wish these kids were my real cousins"

So says a commenter on this and so do I:

Late of the Pier

You know how "hot" American bands like Vampire Weekend or MGMT can get on SNL as musical guests, which should equate to fame, but you tell some non music-nerd civilian something about a band like that and they look at you funny and then say they went and saw Sugarland open for Tom Petty or something? That level of band?

Well, it turns out that the UK is full of them! AND they keep making more. Klaxons, Metronomy, etc...
Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs were years ago, grandad!

Not sure why I like Late of the Pier so much, but I really like their single "The Bears are Coming," though they sound on this like some kids who found a synthesizer and a copy of Here Come the Warm Jets that their older brother left behind when he went to Brighton to make dubstep white labels...AND they are probably 14, so that's bothersome. Still, this track veers from one thing to the next to the next and then slathers squelchy Tom Tom Club keyboards over the entirety, yet never forgets to almost rock! Check at will!:

Plus you can go around all weekend and feel confident knowing you will meet no one who has heard of these guys.


So - amidst all the talk of Julia Child being a CIA operative (a story which will launch a thousand New Yorker Casual submissions along the lines of: "June 12: I must have jet lag...when M. Pompidou said there was going to be a bombe, I got under the table! Blasted homophones!" etc) is word that General Jack D Ripper himself, Sterling Hayden, was indeed also a secret agent! And Ralph Bunche! And Arthur Schlesinger! And Miles "Dad of Stewart" Copeland, which is likely why the band was called the Police!

Maybe even my dad! I doubt he will remember. I will ask him, as he walks his cat on a leash.

I wonder about the timing...with the Cold War SO back, is the gubmint now trying to recruit Pete Wentz and Audrina from The Hills to take a stand for freedom? Or will more personages of the past be revealed as haters of freedom? Like that guy that wrote that book that makes kids into non-ambitious cynics and shooters of musicians!:


(check my fresh MSPaint skills! I'm available!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Knockemstiff v. Eden

A friend loaned me a collection called Knockemstiff, by an Ohioan named Donald Ray Pollock. I was initially retiscent: "What, Raymond Carver stories, only Appalachian? If I wanted that, I'd look out my window."

But Mr. Pollock has an amazing ear for dialogue and a knowledge of the godforsaken hillbilly demimonde that will likely [hopefully] remain unsurpassed. All dads in the little town of Knockemstiff, OH, beat their kids, everyone is taking black beauties and drinking constantly, and, if you dare to have a beautiful thought, keep it to your damn self.

One of those cats who worked in a factory for a zillion years before taking up his pen, Pollock has a bottomless well of rural awfulness from which he draws, and yet, when things seem unremittingly bleak, he comes out with a finely honed phrase or picked-up bit of colloquial speech that is the hallmark of a natural:

I was in Frankie Johnson's car, a canary-yellow '69 Super-Bee that could shit
and get.


For most of that week, they'd been smoking on a big block of mildewed Lebanese
hash that a logger had sold them for practically nothing because it made
people's gums bleed. The floor of the fishcamp was sticky with bloody spit.

Previous to this book, I was having a breezy-enough re-read of The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway, not a super-uplifting novel at all, with all its gender hijinx, infidelity and encroaching madness. Still, after passages like the above, it is quite pleasant to return to a world where this is more of the milieu:

The waiter brought them glasses of manzanilla from the lowland near Cadiz called
the Marismas with thin slices of jamon serrano, a smoky, hard cured ham from
pigs that fed on acorns, and bright red spicy salchichon, and another even
spicier dark sausage from a town called Vich and anchovies and garlic

also, for comparison's sake:

Oh, Poe me

Received this email attachment from a friend - my question is, did all the misfortunes befall those listed because there is a semi-obscured spectral Edgar Allan Poe in the background?


Or maybe John Phillips?:

This is also probably as good a time as any to reveal that I'M the "mysterious" cloaked guy who puts the half-bottle of brandy and a rose on Mr. Poe's grave every year on the night of his death. Thinking about starting to take some onion salt and sugary tea to Madeline L'engle's cairn next year instead; or maybe popping over to Frank Herbert's. This whole Poe thing is getting a mite too touristy. Dumb goth kids, etc.

Michael Parks - last, best hope for humanity

The picture here is from Kill Bill, because a couple of cursory two-page searches on google for pics of Michael Parks as Sherriff Earl McGraw in Grindhouse/Planet Terror yielded nothing! Dumb!

But then, I think the balance of the entire US of A was too dumb to get Grindhouse. Actually lucked into seeing a preview showing, packed to the rafters full of film geeks who mostly ate it up. But I believe, as gory as it is/was, people missed the nuanced subtlety of the whole thing (subtlety hidden behind lots of gore, but, yes, subtlety). Obviously a labor of much love for the directors, the too-tricky-for-the-rubes premise and the daunting three hour run time ended up as just a bit too much in a world where time is of the essence and one has to get little Kaylie to her hip-hop cheer class AND get the grass cut.

So, just saying, if you haven't seen this whole schmeer, you are missing out on one of my top five film moments ever, which comes in the Planet Terror portion, where the fearsome hoards of US-military-misadventure-induced zombies are swooping down on the last vestiges of humanity, and Marley Shelton's doctor character, departing with a caravan of so-far survivors, bids adieu to her dad, the good sheriff Earl, who, if memory serves, is standing in a blood-spattered room with a shotgun...

"Bye, Pa!"

Earl gives a sort of brush-off half wave and says "Yokay!" and moves casually out of frame, cos, you know, even with flesheating corpses coming at him, he's a Texas sheriff and has seen, y'know, worse.

Add to this Parks's performance in Kill Bill as both the sheriff and the creepy Esteban Vihaio, and can a Nobel Prize be that far off?

L. Rust Hills - also dead, alas

Oh, man, quel drag.

Just discovered L Rust Hills this past spring...his hilarious book of essays at left was one of my favorite books in years.

In it, he gives advice on such diffuse topics how not to drink too much (hilarious), the correct way to eat an ice cream cone and how to wash a car, which includes such caveats as "make sure it's Saturday" and "you will need kids and dogs around."

One of the greats. His essays are like EB White's, only a bit less persnickety.