Friday, December 19, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
City of Refuge
Asthmatic Kitty Records
The easiest words to describe Castanet’s fourth studio album, City of Refuge, are “sparse” and “atmospheric.” These are both apt but only skim the surface of what Ray Raposa set out to do when he recorded the album alone in a Nevada hotel room.
City of Refuge is a dark, introspective album that allows Raposa to expose himself through narrative, delicate guitar picking and metaphor. It is an album where its songwriter truly does take refuge, returning to the theme not only in the album title but as a two-part song. “Refuge 1” finds Raposa mid crisis, announcing his intention to “run to the city of refuge.” Near the end of the album, after he’s explored himself emotionally and musically, he breaks out traditional blues chords for “Refuge 2,” adds an echo to his voice and begs the “city to take back the whiskey, cocaine and the heavens.” The running didn’t pay off the way he expected it to, but something beautiful and personal happened there.
Though the album traces a personal struggle, it’s not without its tender moments. As with any re-evaluation of the world, the mood is not consistent. The gospel song “I’ll Fly Away,” which has been recorded by everyone from Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch, Johnny Cash and Kanye West, is a moment of false redemption within the search. It’s the moment that Raposa thought he was looking for, and it’s followed by the instrumental and Calexico (without the horns)-esqe “Hum”—a song of travel from the city that leads nowhere but right back to the beginning. In fact, no matter how many times Raposa tries to escape into refuge, and refuge itself, he’s left with only himself. Despite the attempt to either repress the pain or reach catharsis, City of Refuge, like life itself, never fully lets go. And in that constant search lies one of the most introspective and beautiful albums of Raposa’s career.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Now normally I don't find allusions to abusive relationships funny at all, but somehow Paravonian has managed to take the ideas of stalking and obession to a place where they're so over the top they actually work. "Whose your founding father bitch? She'd better say it's me."
Maybe what makes this so funny is that we're all so overprotective right now. Judging from the status updates on my friend's Facebook pages if McCain wins everyone I know, with the exception of the one soul brave enough to admit pride in his Republican vote, will have a complete and utter breakdown.
Maybe we are a little too obsessed with this election. So no more. Ignore it until tonight. Don't spend the day fretting about something that's out of your hands now, unless you haven't voted yet--in that case GET OFF THE INTERNET AND GO GET IN LINE.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Today, that surprise waiting in my mailbox was a new translation of Kafka's Amerika: The Missing Person. I've got an old, beat up illustrated copy that I worked my way through years ago but, as is often the case with unfinished novels, there was something off about it. The new translation is based on a slightly different text than the version I read, and I'm looking forward to diving into this new edition to discover further the strange worlds that Kafka created, and which influenced so many of my favorite writers from around the world.
After throwing down a cool c-note yesterday on nine beautiful new pieces of vinyl I understand that sentiment. Buying music on records is, to me, like buying a painting. Except that at $10-$20 a pop I can afford to bring home several new pieces. Since I've been deep into this drone-y post rock thing as of late I cleaned the Candyman out of A Silver Mount Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It wasn't a direct response to my blog of a week ago in which I quoted an article about how women don't buy records by those types of bands, but it certainly didn't hurt to go against the notion.
I also hooked it up with The Raveonettes' Lust Lust Lust, an album I've had on my computer for some time and finally wanted to blast through the house. The duo sounds like The Jesus and Mary Chain would have if they'd been around when a '57 Chevy was new. I already knew the album, but when my friend behind the counter saw it and exclaimed, "YES!" I knew it would sound even better.
Also purchased was the new Castanets, City of Refuge--which I reviewed for this upcoming Wednesday and am madly in love with--an album by Jana Hunter--who helped Castanets but is amazing in her own right and something I've been meaning to pick up for awhile--Xiu Xiu's Fabulous Muscles and Explosions in the Sky's The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place.
Burroughs is right. As soon as I left I didn't care about talking to my friend any longer. I simply wanted to sit in my room on the floor and listen to all of these albums. Hours worth of music, most of which I already know and love, but wanted to explore more deeply.
The idea of vinyl is silly to some. It's big, it's bulky and it's antiquated. But it sounds so nice and rich. MP3s really just don't cut it for the true music snob, such as myself. A few weeks ago I interviewed the band Pillars and Tongues who shared with me a great story of bassist Evan Hydzik picking up a copy of a Brian Eno album that he had on CD and his dad's old copy of vinyl. Hydzik threw them both across the room. The CD shattered, the record slid to a stop and Hydzik and fellow band member Mark Trecka put it on and listened to it. It's beautiful that a 20 something year old piece of plastic held up. Sure, records shatter and scratch, but they degrade so much more slowly and really are more sturdy. When the sound on a record atrophies it adds to the music, as it does on cassette tape, but on CD a scratch can be fatal. MP3s are given this weird benefit of the doubt that they'll last, but there's nothing to hold onto there. Album art in a program that no one looks at, the loss of liner notes, and if your hard drive goes down...goodbye music. Sure, it's easier to collect hundreds of files, which I certainly have, but it's not the same to scroll through a list as it is to sit uncomfortably on the floor and figure out what to listen to through a more tangible experience.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Check out the latest from the ever-awesome DJ Rocque Ranaldi: a It's The Great Funkin' Charlie Brown!. For those of you, like me, who were sad when Indie went off the air (mostly because I've long loved listening to Rocque on the radio), you can still hear him and other programming on the Web at indiesf.com. And you can download the podcasts.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sad news for New Mexico book lovers as yesterday mystery writer Tony Hillerman passed away in Albuquerque. The 83-year-old author was loved in the Southwest, an area he dedicated both his fictional imagination and his non-fiction voice on. The author of dozens of books will be missed.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Hopefully Paper Toy'z will make a little paper Palin with lots and lots of paper clothes in the next few days. But in the meantime, when you're bored at work and looking to waste company paper and glue, build your own Obama. The site offers up a new design nearly every day and sometimes more than one. Sweet!
Monday, October 20, 2008
As I listened to the music I couldn't find much in the way of an answer as to why men and women listen to different music. Most of the stuff last night was more atmospheric than wordy and the angst that I felt coming from both bands seems to be a pretty common type of feeling. It's angry without being violent, dramatic without being tearful and calmly meditative despite the feedback and pounding drums. Basic, primal emotions, yet the men were by far more into it than the women.
And though the Times article points out that "you seldom see many women buying albums or attending gigs by instrumental “postrock” acts such as Tortoise or Godspeed You! Black Emperor" it's lists of "artists that women love and men hate" and "artists that men love and women hate" stick pretty squarely to the pop side of things. For the ladies it's James Blunt (wait, someone out there actually does like this? Um. Ugh.), Cat Stevens, Tori Amos and Early Genesis, while the boys get The Smiths, Led Zeppelin and Neil Young. I'd love to complain about the lists being unfair in some way but I think they're not too bad. Pop crap coupled with more pop crap, angst on both sides, etc. Two bands from each list for this girl, and a lot of shock that anyone digs the rest.
What I find most interesting about this idea though is not the idea that men and women listen to music differently, it's something that I discussed with a friend the other day. The way female creativity is accepted. (I would have loved to see where the writer felt that Sonic Youth fit on the list, a very "male" group with one of the most interesting women in rock on guitar.) Many male friends of mine who don't let their creativity out much but are of the "creative type" stereotype are automatically assumed to be creative and good at what they do. They say they write or play guitar and it's accepted, even if no one has seen the artwork. Women have to prove their skills in a different way, and even then what is seen is taken at face value and not expanded upon within the imagination. Why can a man paint and play guitar while a woman who does photography shocks everyone when she sings? Then there's the whole issue of dating. When we women date creative men our own creativity, no matter how successful we are, is outshone by the men in our lives, no matter how unsuccessful. The real issue isn't how do we process art differently, but how are we processed by art. Perhaps that's why women gravitate toward easy to digest music by men while sticking with complexity in their female musicians. We understand that complexity in ourselves, yet we deal with it so much in men we want our men simple, the way they're not in real life.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Earlier in the week SFR reported that due to permit issues Rock for Barack may not happen. Rest assured young (and not so young) voters, the show indeed goes on. The Santa Fe Brewing Pub & Grill (27 Fire Place, 424-9637) quality control and music promotions staffer Jeff Williams confirmed this morning by e-mail that “it’s a go!”
The show takes over the Brew. Pub from 11 am-10 pm with a lineup that includes local rock band Kiss the Villain, Cuban street music performers Savor, R&B virtuoso Paul Rivers Bailey and others as well as touring funksters US Pipe (disclosure: US Pipe is lead by my very own big brother) and Jordinian oud player and percussionist Hani Naser.
Rock for Barack 11 am-10 pm Saturday, Oct. 18 $10-$15 Santa Fe Brewing Pub & Grill 27 Fire Place 505-424-9637
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Just a few days ago a former New Mexico resident, Jean-Marie Gustave Le ClézioSalvatore Scibona has been nominated for his novel The End. Scibona was in Santa Fe just a few weeks ago to read from the book at his alma mater. According to his Web site Scibona began the book about 10 years ago in New Mexico, though the story is set in the 1950s in Ohio.
Scibona is in good company with Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project, Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba, Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country and Marilynne Robinson, Home as his fellow finalists. The awards will be announced Nov. 19 in New York City.
Image of Scibona by Carlos Ferguson
Update: Unfortunately Scibona lost out to Matthiessen in the awards, but lets still congratulate our Johnnie and former New Mexican on his big nomination!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This little tidbit from the Washington Post brings yet another interesting political advertising strategy to the forefront. The Obama campaign has purchased a billboard in the virtual Paradise City of racing game "Burnout Paradise." Apparently advertising isn't new to this game, which features so many billboards and product placements that it mirrors real life (unlike what I remember from the few times I played one of the "Grand Theft Auto" games where the ads are all for fictional products.
It makes sense for the candidates to go into realms of entertainment other than television, but it also kind of kills the escapist point of that entertainment. Don't most players want to race around on a virtual motorcycle or in a digital sports car to get away from things like the economy, politics and other stresses? On the one hand I'm impressed with the Obama campaign for jumping into the virtual world in order to reach young people, who, for the first time I can remember, actually care about the election, but on the other, I'm not sure branding our leisure time isn't at least partly to blame for some of the economic issues we're facing.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Zane Fischer, SFR's web editor, columnist and art critic, is profiled today by The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, in its How I Got That Storyseries. AAN is profiling first-place winners from its annual contest. Zane won first place for column writing in our circulation category (under 50,000). SFR won a total of seven awards in the competition, including awards in arts criticism for Emiliano Garcia Sarnoff, editorial layout for Larry Kohr, honorable mention for our now-defunct Bill Richardson blog, and several awards for Angela Moore in cover design and illustration.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Not surprisingly this wordage that ruffled a few petticoats in the community (gay and straight) and an e-mail was forwarded by a few upset folks to a variety of people, including, apparently, to the Mayor who, along with guitarist Ramon Bermudez, canceled his appearance to speak at the event.
Last night, a small group set up shop in front of the conference to demonstrate their own idea of love. The group, led by local performer Wenda Watch (Darron Dunbar), led a peaceful protest and invited SFR to come along and record the conversation.
Wenda gets invited in.
Pastor Doug Brown is the main speaker in this video. Check out 1 minute and 5 seconds into video two. What was he about say?
I finally got around to watching the DVDs of Mad Men (not having a TV means that it takes me a little longer to get to this stuff than other people) and I'm kind of shocked at the awards and press that the show has gotten.
I like the stylized sets and clothes but I feel like the whole show is based around over dramatizing a sexism that used to exist. A few of the lines in there, such as "don't be afraid of the technology honey, the men who made this made it easy enough for a woman to use" don't fit when spoken by a secretary to another woman who has just graduated from secretary school--just the kind of place I'd imagine they taught women to use typewriters. It's also sexist against the men who have nothing better to do than degrade the women and try to sleep with them. It seems like even their work is done solely to get under the skirts of women (who won't understand what it is the men are doing anyway). In fact, it may be more sexist toward the men, because the men have no depth, whereas the women are the (somewhat) complex characters.
Granted, I've only watched two episodes, but I've had enough. So if anyone feels differently let me know why, because I just don't get it.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
So I went out looking on the webs to see if something else was better. Bouncing around blogs looking for recommendations I found a few references on the blog of a friend of mine to Last.fm, I figured, after all the Pandrama I'd better give something else a shot. Way better! This guy looked through my iTunes--okay that part is a little creepy--and saw that I have a mess of music in there. It pulled out the last thing I'd been listening to, Brightblack Morning Light, and for some three hours gave me happy music that I know and like but needed to know more about. Pandora felt like it was just giving me rip offs of music that sounded like each other--which I guess it is--but somehow Last knows that Darker My Love isn't some Panic at the Disco emo band like I thought they were, but something that I should hear. I may not love it, but I like it. Six Organs of Admittance though, never heard of you, love you, marry me! And Akron/Family, Castanets, Panda Bear, A Silver Mt. Zion and on and on, this is what I wanted.
It's like I have my very own personal DJ. Yay. My bitterness shall leave, at least until tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Anyway, a few days ago I started running across news articles and blog posts, like this one, where music lovers are a little panicked about the possible demise of Pandora. Well let me be the first one to say good riddance. A million users a day could very well be wrong. Need proof? Turn on the radio. That's not good stuff there.
Everything Pandora suggests to me, good or not, I most likely already knew about, not from music being handed to me (I know that's probably the perception being that I'm over here at the alt.weekly and all, but like ain't that easy my friends) but from my own diligent hanging out at the Candyman listening to stuff, talking to my friends about it, scouring myspace, etc. In other words, research. I don't need anyone to tell me I might like Massive Attack, I should already know that.
Monday, August 25, 2008
I know we have an open relationship. I'm allowed to visit other cities and you're allowed to invite people over, but I feel like you're holding out on me.
I saw them this weekend. Your visitors. They parked on my street, disregarding the "Residential Permit Required" signs. They won't pay those tickets, they had California plates, and really, who is going to go after them? A few of them even asked me for directions. And that's okay, but there were so many. Old Santa Fe Trail was backed up as far as the eye could see, there was no parking in South Capitol and do I have to tell you about the traffic on Guadalupe? I almost got run over on my bike. They were everywhere Santa Fe, swarming your streets, taking you away from me. They wanted your jewelry, your coffee and your meals.
They came from France, New York City, Texas, Oklahoma and from God knows where else. I know we said it's okay, but must you throw this orgy in my face? Can't you leave one or two places untouched, places that are just ours? They made it all the way down Cerrillos and over to St. Michael's.
But what really bothers me, Santa Fe, is the way you cast them all aside. This morning, as I pedaled through your Plaza there was hardly any sign of the bacchanalian you hosted. All the vendor booths and the food carts were gone. A few "special event" signs and a sandbag or two was all that remained. Subtle, but as telling as the lipstick left on a husband's collar.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Recently my roommate discovered the TV show The Long Way Round, which follows Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they ride two BMW motorcycles from London to New York. So far I've only watched three episodes, and since the show was filmed in 2004 I know they survived, but I'm totally hooked. Episode three follows them off of the cushy European roads and into Kazakhstan. Not only is the landscape gorgeous and the people really welcoming the adventure of what the two are doing really starts to sink in for them, and for viewers. On a map going from London to New York is daunting, but when it comes down to it each and every country is enormous, and anyone who has ever ridden a motorcycle a short distance knows that doing so day in and day out for months on end is going to be a totally different experience.
I can't wait for the rest of the season to arrive in the mail!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
The Brewing Company's outdoor arena was packed with folks who came to hear Taj music. He didn't disappoint, ripping through classics ("Queen Bee," "Fishin' Blues") that got hundreds of asses shaking.
Taj was one of the first musicians I ever interviewed in my journalism career. It was some time in late 2003. I had listened to him since I was barely in my teens, though at the time I hid that fact from my friends like other kids hid dirty magazines from their parents. At the arguable height of grunge music -- circa '94 -- Taj wasn't cool. (What was cool? Alice in Chains, another dear, dear favorite. But anyway.)
The interview went well. Abnormally well. Taj talked for over an hour -- I'm not sure if I even asked a question -- and I eventually had to get off the phone with him. Jesus that man goes on and on. He talked a lot about how he wants his music to be a catalyst for people to make positive changes in their lives. Which, idealistic as that may sound, is easy to believe in, coming from Taj.
We met in person a few weeks later at a concert. Taj was a big guy, gregarious and smiling constantly. I think I also liked him because he looked a little like my dad. Except he's black.
Trivia: according to YouTube, Jenna Bush danced to Taj Mahal's "Lovin' in My Baby's Eyes" at her wedding.
According to me, the videos below are awesome.
The first one features Taj in 1968, performing at the Rock and Roll Circus, a concert documentary that showcased the Rolling Stones and some other legendary rock groups. Taj was kind of eclipsed by the other performers on the bill (the Stones, The Who, John Lennon), but he was hardly outperformed. One thing I maybe should have asked Taj: why was he dressed like an extra from a John Wayne movie in this video?
Taj obviously raided Fela Kuti's closet for this performance.
My other brush with fame was far less triumphant. I met Jerry Wexler in a video store in Florida, where we both lived in 2005. Wexler died last week of heart failure, thus ending a very fat chapter of pop music history. He signed Led Zeppelin to Atlantic Records. He produced Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan. Forgive the hyperbole, but the man's influence is immeasurable.
Unfortunately, and perhaps embarrassingly, none of that came up in our very brief meeting. Terry Porter, a mutual acquaintance of ours who runs Video Renaissance, introduced us. I could not stop staring at Wexler's nose hair. It was prolific and white and all I could think was: it must have been an impediment to breathing.
In last week's Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Wexler's son said he was having inscribed on Jerry's tombstone, "He changed the world." I prefer what Wexler himself said, when asked in 2000 what he would like his epitaph to read. "Two words: more bass."
Friday, July 25, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
The outside of the Warehouse building is linear. A small patio where people can sit lined up on a wall or standing in a small circle. Down the side of the building, to the back parking lot is another long wall and an outside hallway-like walkway.
Inside the situation is much the same. It's a boxy, contemporary building with a lot of open space and flow from one floor to the other, but when the top floor has been closed off it creates three rectangular rooms that are cut off by either doors or a large table, and again there's nowhere for a large group of people to sit.
The concert hall is quite large, great for a big packed house or a dance party, but for an intimate show it's too big and too dark. You can't see your friends when they wave at you and the invisible two feet barrier from the low stage kills the intimacy of a small show.
For a group such as High Mayhem, which is used to a community bonfire and a family feel, the institutionalized seafoam green exterior and concrete/neon paint of Warehouse 21 may bring some young music lovers to the audience, but at the cost of the underground, do it yourself, no rules atmosphere, it may not be worth it.
Friday, June 13, 2008
And sometimes you go to a performance and you leave without being able to say a single thing, but you can't stop talking because it was so amazing that the words are just falling out of your mouth, but how could words (measly, pitiful words!) ever do it justice? Coming out of that concert hall/theatre/arena, you are transformed. Nothing will ever be the same. It's like you just crawled out of a rabbit hole and took a look around and Holy Shit! There's sunlight and the grass is so green and you can't even think about drinking coffee because how could you ever need coffee again after that? On nights like these, the news doesn't matter. You can't sleep.
That's how I feel every time I see a Moving People Dance Santa Fe performance. This weekend, they'll be shakin' it at the Lensic as a part of their 4th Annual Santa Fe Dance Festival. I'm going tomorrow night; my whole family goes each year. This is MPDSF's only performance comprised exclusively of professional dancers (and some very disciplined apprentices). Here is where MPDSF rips open the rib cage of its repertoire to expose itself to the city of Santa Fe, throwing out new choreography and premiering its most engaging solos. It's combination of ballet, modern, jazz, indigenous, and cultural dance is unique and expansive. The talent and dedication of the dancers is obvious, but MPDSF's power moves beyond that. The movement of MPDSF communicates on a deeper level than pretty leaps and impressive acrobatics. It crafts messages for its audiences that can't be communicated through any other form.
In short, they are quite good. With the risk of sounding pushy, I suggest you go.
Monday, June 9, 2008
But first, Philly.
So when I saw The Roots in St. Louis last month, they played at Webster, for a college crowd, and really pushed the new album, and played a little hip hop montage and all that. I already knew I was going to see them in Philly at the Roots picnic, but they added a pre-show the night before at The Theater for the Living Arts (TLA), which was my favorite theater when I was growing up. By the time I landed in Philly, the Philadelphia City Paper had hooked me up and I had tickets to both shows.
The Roots didn't take the stage at the TLA until well after 1 am, but in the meantime, QuestLove had put together more than half a dozen other acts to open, each one better than the next. SantoGold, who a lot of folks had come to see (she had to cancel playing the Roots picnic, which, I gather, was the reason they added the pre-show) was phenomonal, basically combusting on stage with fantastic energy and a voice like a knife. Janelle Monae also was a huge hit; her voice is so profoundly beautiful, I kind of started thinking The Roots were going to have trouble topping the night after she performed. Of course, they did not. The TLA is such a small venue (800 seats, maybe), that they really dug into their roots (sorry), and it was a much more freeform and jazzy show than they had put on at Webster.
The vibe was completely different the next night at Penn's Landing, but I swear to God when Blackthought was rapping on Seed 2.0, it seemed just mind-boggling that anyone human could spit out lyrics so fast and so precise and so down. They were followed by Gnarls Barkley (I thought it was kind of odd and had expected The Roots would play last, although Quest came out and ended the show with Cee-Lo singing). Barkley was beyond incredible. And I had to think, the whole time, that as long as The Roots, and Erkyah Badu and Talib Kweli and Kanye West are all still out there, hip hip is not dead, and I don't care what anyone says. There may be lots of crap out there, but the really good artists are so good, they just drown it all out. And, one more show to go. Again, The Kiva, Sunday night, The Roots and Erkyah Badu. Yes, you will see me there.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Perhaps, as a friend suggested on my facebook page, I am getting old. Or at least old enough to need to invest in a pair of ear plugs. Last night at the Santa Fe Brewing Company the Detroit Cobras and X blasted through a 2-1/2 hour punk rock set that may have been the concert of the year. The crowd was wild, the band dead on and the old school punkers out in full force.
I knew the audience would be dead on as a group of friends and I, mostly dressed in the requisite black t-shirts, took stock of the retro punk band attire that the mostly 40+ crowd rocked. Residents, X-Ray Specs, etc. These were people who knew where they were. There was even a woman sporting a torn up 1982 X tour t.
Everyone waited with anticipation and the second the Cobras took the stage the crowd huddled in close for a listen. The altitude got to the band a bit and they staved off the lack of oxygen by passing around an inhaler--an activity that I thought never left the halls of junior high schools. Once they got their steroid kick they were on it. Such a fun band and an amazing amount of energy. They didn't want to stop their set but had to because of the 10 pm curfew.
I was pretty close to the stage during the Cobras and was pretty sure that I'd better go grab a beer before the changeover. Yeah, right. There were three lines for brew and each of them had a line some 30 people long. So I ditched that idea quickly and headed back to my spot. The little jaunt to the back also showed that tons of people were piling in and my place 3 rows from the stage was going to be a coveted one.
During the quick changeover some familiar faces from the local music scene started popping up all over the place. Bill Palmer from Hundred Year Flood was a few rows back and Sean O'Neal from the Late Severa Wires showed up in a fantastic Siouxie shirt. I was a little surprised when KBAC DJ Honey Harris disappeared though. She'd been grinning like the Chesire Cat throughout the Cobra's set and seemed pumped for the show. But it was Harris herself who got the chance to introduce the band and if she's had a smile before I don't know what to call the enthusiasm that had washed over her face for the intro.
Once X took the stage the crowd burst forward and my ear drums began to take a beating. The sound wasn't perfect, with vocals going in and out, but right up front it didn't really matter. Of the four members, Billy Zoom was definitely the most fun/creepy to watch. His face was set in a robotic "take my picture" pose while his hands threw out a series of complicated chords. Zoom certainly also had a thing for the ladies in the crowd, making direct eye contact and offering them to touch his guitar. It would have been way better from the back because both times he thrust the neck into my face and smiled like an overly Botox-ed Stepford Wife I was totally creeped out. Not hot Billy, not hot.
When the mosh pit broke out I used the pushing to my advantage to secure a spot a little closer to the center and front of the stage. My main advice for mosh pit movement is to use passive resistance. An "Oh my God I totally just got pushed/deer in the headlights" look helps too. Act like you didn't mean to move over a step and no one in front of you pushes you back. Works every time and soon I was second row and center. Which meant two things: No more looks from creepy face and distance from the speakers. There was a very small, probably 10-year-old boy with his dad to the left of me and I tried hard to make sure the kid was safe and having fun. By the look on his face I was guessing this was his first concert, which is awesome. He looked awestruck most of the time and just stared at the musicians. Once the pit got a bit more intense he smiled as he was jammed against bodies but realized he was completely safe. Eventually I was pushed all the way to the front and spent the end of the concert trying not to end up sprawled across the stage. I've got to give the security guys credit for keeping such a close eye on everything and immediately pulling out anyone who was having a problem.
I don't know X's music very well and don't spend the time that I used to listening to punk. I remember friends touting the band back in the day and I know I had a tape at some point, but we were more into the Operation Ivy wave of punk at that time. These guys were already legends by then, and as high schoolers often aren't, we weren't too interested in history. I wish I knew their songs better, but it really didn't matter. This wasn't a sing-along kind of show anyway. It was watching a band that has more than 30 years of musicianship under their belts, know their instruments in and out and have the energy of teenagers.
When 10 pm came they announced that they'd have to stop playing soon, that there had already been a few complaints about the noise, and quickly launched into another song. No one wanted to stop. The band looked like it could have played for another hour, at least, and the audience would have gladly screamed through the set, no matter how long it went on. In the end it's probably good. If they had kept going I probably wouldn't be able to hear my neighbors on their porch right now and I can barely hear the cars driving down the busy street that's only a block away.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Mr. Olbermann, on Wednesday night's Countdown, in finishing off your "World's Worst" segment you set out to discredit your critics, Fox News's Hugh Hewitt and White House counselor Ed Gillespie, who referred to you as a "sports guy," by dismissing them as "comic book guys."Citing idle dialogue between the two conservatives about Bizarro Superman comic books in the late 1950s, under the pretense of self-defense, you suggested in no uncertainty that somehow a love of comic books is an indicator of inferiority, of ignorance:
"I'm getting called out by a comic book guy!" you exclaimed. "NBC's getting called out by two comic book guys! Hugh 'Oooh-the-new-Betty-and-Veronica-comes-out-next-Tuesday' Hewitt, the worst person in the world."Run the clip:
Do not be mistaken: you're not perfect by far. Your leading questions meander far too long; your history asides are evenly split between being confusing in their seeming irrelevance and being poetic in their utter aptness.Let us look at the Bizarro Superman Comics for which you hold such disdain:
The series' writer Otto Binder began his publishing career with a short story in a 1930 issue of Amazing Stories, with his brother Earl, under the pen name Eando Binder. E and O: Earl and Otto. Binder went on to edit Space World magazine, a magazine about the space race. He was editor when Alan B. Shepard Jr. became the first American in space. He was editor when President John F. Kennedy promised America that we would put a man on the moon. He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.Less is known about Bizarro Superman artist George Papp, one of the genre's earliest comic book artists, except for this: He only left the profession twice, first to fight in World War II and second, when DC fired him after he stood beside his fellow illustrators and demanded health benefits.
Your comments were not only an insult to Binder and Papp, but to all comic book artists and their fans. It was an insult to both Tom Tomorrow, the only commentator to nail Fox News as hard as you, week to week to week, and to Art Spiegelman, who wrote one of the most intimate, inspiring and innovative examinations of the Holocaust and was one of the first artists to breach the topic of the cultural significance of fall of the World Trade Center.How dare you, sir? You, a scholar of history, can't recognize the importance of the graphic art form, from the imperial manga of Meiji-era Japan to the treatment of the Bosnian conflict in Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde.
Is R. Crumb not as prolific a figure as O. Henry?Who is more beloved in American culture, Stan Lee's Batman or Orson Welles' Othello?
Who rebelled harder against censorship than the authors, artists and publishers who distributed the so-called "Tijuana Bibles" in the 1920s, layering farce and obscenity on celebrity and politics through pornography?Perhaps, sir, you've never heard of the Eisner Awards or the IGN Awards or even noticed that Watchmen, Alan Moore's postmodern treatment of the superhero genre, made Time magazine's list of the 100 greatest novels of all time. But, if you do not recognize comics as a legitimate art form, surely you must agree that film is indeed a valued medium for expression and cultural criticism. In that case, you have failed to note that comic books have provided the inspiration for many of the greatest examples of cinematic expression over the last decade, in part because the cell-by-cell form provides a blueprint for filmmaking that puts Alfred Hitchcock's storyboards to shame.
Here is a brief list:
Persepolis, winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes. Based on a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi.
Road to Perdition, winner of a BAFTA Film Award and an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Based on a comic book by Max Collins.
Sin City, nominated for Cannes Palm d'Or prize. Based on a comic series by Frank Miller.
American Splendor, winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. Based on a comic series by Harvey Pekar.
You, sir, advertise your own ignorance and hypocrisy with your remarks. As charming as your historical asides may be, they are nothing less than nerdy. You, sir, are a history geek. There is nothing wrong with this. An obsession with history is just as frivolous as an obsession with comics. But an interest in comics is also as valid as an interest in history to understanding the world.
And today, there is no conclusion to make other than you are not only as misguided and misinformed about comic books as John McCain is about the difference between Iran's President and Iran's Supreme Leader. One could hardly argue that Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon's graphic adaptation of The 9/11 Commission Report was light reading.
You do not owe us "comic book guys" an apology. You owe us a thank you for our commitment to free expression and you owe me a thank you for the history lesson, geek.
Crossposted at Swing State of Mind
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
OK, so if we came up with a list of things that I do on a normal weekend it would include things like:
1. Eating breakfast at a French restaurant.
2. Reading the Sunday New York Times online (usually on Saturday)
3. Starting/finishing a book by some foreign author (usually Japanese), often dead.
4. Buying more used books.
5. Going to the fabric store/sewing.
Things that a normal weekend doesn't include:
1. Playing video games.
Sure, that list could go on and on. But let's stop there for a moment. In college, at various times, there were both a PS2 and an N64 at my house. On the PS2 my game was very similar to the mulit-player part of the James Bond games where a person wandered around trying to shoot their friends. Only the characters were teddy bears. On the N64 I played, of course, Bond. I sucked at both. A few times I tried my hand at Gran Turismo. I was good at one thing in all of these games, dying rather quickly.
My point is that I am in no way qualified to discuss the merits or the difficulty of any video game. I sucked at Mario back in the day and Pac-Man. Forget it.
However, when I found myself in front of an HDTV that probably cost about as much as I paid for my first car with a controller right there and the new GTA on the X-Box I thought, what the hell. And wow! My five minute killing spree was a blast. OK, five minutes is pushing it. First I stole a helicopter (thanks to the cheats and a friend giving them to me), flew that around for awhile and the crashed it into the ocean. Swam for shore and the capping began. (I also had a great stockpile of weapons thanks to those cheats that were mentioned above.) Yeah. Despite being a big, squirmy mess when it comes to killing on a movie, doing on the video game was fun. When the fuzz started to show up I pulled out the grenades. Bad idea. Or at least, throwing them and then running directly in that direction was a bad idea. Yup, I'm so bad at video games I went out in an unintentional suicide bombing.
So the low down: The graphics are amazing! Killing people (including oneself) is easy and I'm sure my feminist sensibilities would be hugely offended had I gotten to the point in the game where the ho's begin to show up, but since I didn't, I can say I loved it. And I'll probably never play it again.
Oh, and, yes, I really, really wanted to ram my car into someone on the way home. No, the game probably isn't a great idea, but it is a lot of fun.
Monday, April 28, 2008
If MySpace or Facebook had existed 10 years ago I would, without a doubt, had Portishead as one my favorite bands. So today, when I got my grubby impatient hands, on the new P album, Third, it was like the 10 long year's I'd waited hadn't existed.
Sure, a lot of bands that warmed my teenage, high school heart aren't so great these days. And there's always the fear of being that aging hipster who is still so enamoured with the good old days that it's easy to get lost in nostalgia.
There was nostalgia for a few minutes. Thoughts of the old t-shirt that was tossed out in a post-college clearing out. Of driving around past curfew with friends that have long since disappeared. But then I thought of the Smashing Pumpkins--another love back in the day. When the Pumpkins--well Billy Corgan--put out an album last year I listened to it. Once. And I never thought of it again.
Third is different. It picks up where the band left off, but doesn't imitate what made them so good the first time around. The instruments are clearer and deeper, whereas in the past they rang out with pain. Now they simply moan with it. Singer Beth Gibbons' voice stronger and more assured. The cigarettes she smoked during the taping of the live album so many years ago aging and deepening her vocal chords to new levels of emotional sexiness.
But what of a band that helped spawn a genre--trip-hop--and remained, really, only one of two popular, and good, bands of that genre. How do they go back to what they've been doing and reinvent it without bringing back the 1990's that we're all better leaving behind--well, all of us but the record industry.
First: Speed things up. Throw in some beats that are a hell of a lot faster than anything you've done before.
Second: Start the album out with some Spanish alongside the signature James Bond-groove and bust out a killer dance track for what's just about a full song length before letting your singer break in. (This should detract anyone from saying that it's Gibbons alone that makes this sound like Portishead. It sounds like them--just really fast. And the Spanish is the only indication that the vinyl is a 45, not a 33.)
Three: Cowbell, '90s Portishead probably wouldn't have used it, or would at least have distorted it so much that no one would know what it is.
Four: Toss in a cheerful little doo-wop ditty. It'll confuse the hell out of everyone.
Five: End a track abruptly in the middle of a groove that has bodies moving and go immediately into a guitar-driven whisper-like dream.
Somehow these subtle changes help cheer up the sound of the most gloom-poppy band on the planet, but not enough that they're going to be skipping through fields of daisies anytime soon.
Yes, the nostalgia is there, but the decade long wait has been so long that all expectations, at this point, are a distant memory and the album stands on its own as a much needed touch of class to an indie scene that's trying just to damn hard to be this complex, this all over the map and, frankly, this simple.
1. Kanye West may not be the "greatest star in the universe" as hyped during the show, but he comes close.
2. The end of April is too cold for an outdoor show (and I've got the cold induced by freezing for five hours to prove it).
3. There is way too much alcohol for sale at the Pavillion.
First off, I don't want to neglect mentioning that openers Lupe Fiasco and N.E.R.D. were phenomenal. Interestingly, although Fiasco went first, he was, clearly, much better known to the crowd than N.E.R.D. and got lots of back-up vocalizing from the way hyped crowd as he ticked off Hip Hop Saved My Life and Superstar. N.E.R.D. also was a crowd-pleaser, particularly when Pharrell Williams brought up a very authentic-looking group of ABQ-area ladies for a song whose lyrics seemed to consist of, mostly: "I want to fuck tonight/I feel horny." (Although he did bleep out the F-word, so maybe I just have a dirty mind. Not). I was particularly happy to hear Rock Star, a song I can no longer play in the car because I have gotten two speeding tickets from playing it while driving. It just kind of makes you want to lean on the gas.
But folks were there for Kanye and he delivered. Unlike many rappers who sound like ass outside the studio, West was high energy and his rapping was flawless. The theme to the show was, um, Kanye alone in the universe. His spaceship has become lost in space and he can only communicate with its computer (named "Jane"). I'm sure I'm not the only person who was thinking, wow, how David Bowie is that? Or, well, maybe I was, given that the average age at the show was about 20 and the average blood-alcohol level about four times the legal limit. Still, the technical aspects of the production made it an out-of-the-ordinary experience for a hip-hop show and if it had a little bit of a geek-meets-megalamania flavor to, so be it. Kanye's sing-along version of Good Life was particularly intense and brought the house down. Gold Digger also was a great one, and worth noting that West bleeped out the N word while singing. But not the F word on other occasions. I should have some theory for the selective self-censorship, but I don't.
2. It was freaking freezing outside, which was good for sales of Fiasco's hoodies, but not so good for those of us not in the mood to chalk over many bills to keep from catching pneumonia. Achew. I can't begin to imagine how the many girls wearing almost no clothing managed to survive. Unless, somehow, drinking a lot keeps one from feeling the cold.
3. Speaking of which, before the show even began, I witnessed young-looking girls throwing up in the bathroom and banging, drunkenly, into one another everywhere I looked. It's beyond me how the Pavillion can sell SO MUCH booze at a venue that you've got to drive in and out of. I mean Jaeger Meister shots? Also, one can drink anywhere (there are no designated drinking areas so popular at Santa Fe events), so any kind of control over minors having access to liquor is zilch, from what I could tell. I hate to sound super old or super Santa Feish, but the whole thing seemed like a DWI waiting to happen. Also, a coffee stand wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.
At any rate, I'm glad I went!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff and I had the opportunity to be judges for the Santa Fe Reporter Three Minute Film Festival, which debuted at The Screen last Friday night at a big awards ceremony/party.
But the question everyone has been asking: Who won?
Before I answer that, I've got to give props to all the filmmakers. Movies came in from all over the world and they were great. Some were glorified you tube videos--and they were hilarious--and some were super arty student films. It was a pleasure to watch them, short and sweet and with a lot of thought and love. Damn there are some creative brains out there.
And the winners are:
Best Performance: Meow Wolf for Mega City
Best Comedy: Seth Cohen for One Man Two Cars
Best Animation: Boundary of Moab by Aaron Barreras
Jury Award: Potage de ma Mere by Leonard E. Hoffman
Audience Award: Sole Soul Sol by Benjamin R. Nathan
Best Film: Things She Would Tell Me by Miryam Welbourne
Yeah! And before anyone else asks, no, I don't know who from Meow Wolf's Mega City got the group the best performance nod, Meow Wolf is a collaborative effort so they all did. And their cardboard city was awesome!
So there you go, this is movie making people. Get thinking about next year. Three minutes is a really long time, but it's just around the corner.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
For the second time in as many years the super weird and wonderful Xiu Xiu hit up the "stage" at CSF's SUB. "Stage" because the tiny riser in the corner of the student union building doesn't really put the band anywhere above the audience--though the music puts the band miles away.
For a Monday night the turnout wasn't bad. Why these shows are being held in what is really a cafeteria rather than one of the fine performance spaces on campus is a little confusing, but fuck it. That just makes it all the more punk rock.
Xiu Xiu is one of those bands that I tell people about and expect about 1/3 of them to react positively. It's not easy to listen to or to get. Singer Jamie Stewart throws himself head first into lyrics that are both difficult to unravel and a little hard to understand. He screams and sings his way through his tunes with an enthusiasm that has got to be hard to match night after night.
About half way through all the screaming took its toll on the singer who just about passed out during the set. Having met Stewart last year during the band's CSF performance I know that he's an adamant vegan but I imagine most people thought he was drunk. Two glasses filled with what looked like apple juice or green tea sat in front of him. He certainly looked like he was a little tipsy when he just sat down on the stage and took a breather. But, like a good rock star Stewart jumped right up and kept at it.
Xiu Xiu isn't a band that I'd recommend to just anyone and I'd certainly not have a live performance be a person's first contact. Xiu Xiu's albums are well produced, somewhat dancey and carefully perfected; live the band has a much bigger rock feel, with guitars and drums overtaking the sounds of keyboards and bass.
Ches Smith, Xiu Xiu's drummer, is unbelievably good and has quite a track record himself, playing with the underground artist Carla Bozulich as well as avant garde jazz guru John Zorn. Smith was a little more laid back, as was most of the band, during this performance than last, but still a very solid show.
As you can see if you check out blogger and New Mexican writer Steve Terrell's blog you'll see that he and I were taking pictures from nearly the same vantage point. I'm not sure why the older folks nudged out the college kids on this one but there you have it. The music critics were all about blowing out our ear drums for this one.
I'd travel hours to see this band, so the fact that they've played in Santa Fe to such small crowds seems unbelievable to me. I'd still like to see them on an actual stage, far above their audience, but the intimacy that's created in such a small atmosphere is perfect for a music lover who wants to try to figure out why the dance grooves are coming from the guitars and the feedback is coming from the keyboard.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Nicholas Potter is opposed to making recommendations. He insists he's not an English scholar, and that books are subjective to the person in question. He would rather focus on the book as a thing, an entity that encompasses all things and therefore should not be limited to a few personal selections. I would have to say that I agree with his opinion. However, for the sake of entertainment, I asked that he make a selection anyway. After some initial hesitation he agreed, and I think we'll all be glad for that.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
This Reuters/USAF picture appeared today on the homepage for online news magazine Salon.com as the visual to go along with an article on "How the Press Failed On Iraq." While the article is good the image itself answers the question. It's been 5 years now and this is the first picture I've seen of flag covered coffins.
The second the picture flashed onto my screen my stomach fell. Not simply because this is an image that we've been guarded from for so long now, people of my generation not knowing the images of Vietnam except for years later, but because I spent part of last evening looking at boot camp pictures that belonged to a friend of mine. We talk about how these are children going off to war, but in our minds there is still the picture of the Marine from the movies--rugged, buff, ready to eat bricks for dinner. In truth the pictures show boys, dressed up in their dress blues with a too big hat nearly falling over their eyes. Barely out of high school these are the boys who are sent to take over the world. The ones who easily could still be in algebra class. Even the Sergeants and Staff Sergeants, the drill instructors we know from Full Metal Jacket, look like college boys.
Of the men that can be seen in this picture surely some are adults, career military men, but the men in the boxes are the same ones who make lattes at the local coffee shops, who live in dorms and try to get their buddies to buy them beer, who won't be able to get a job after they've finished college. They're the young, naive men that we ignore, call boys and disrespect at every turn. They're coming home in boxes, and have been for years, and yet we don't see it. The image of those flag draped coffins are more emotional than the words "5 US Soldiers Killed In Iraq." Soldiers sound like men, coffins sound like the boy next door.
Friday, March 7, 2008
The relationship between man and animal has long been a subject of study; from the loyalty of man's best friend to the more intimately perverse. With this thought in mind, I asked Video Library's owner, Lisa Harris, for recommendations based on this subject. The always obliging Harris agreed. She chose a broad selction ranging from sentimential classics like Lassie Come Home to the more, shall we say, unique interactions. Under this catagory is Zoo, a docudrama about a Seattle man's death after an unusual encounter with a horse.
My personal favorite of her picks is Passion in the Desert. Though the last time I saw it was more than six years ago, it's stuck with me to this day. I don't remember the film all that clearly (so i can't spoil it for you), but, basically, it's about young, French officer Augustin Robert who abandons his regiment during Nepolian's Egyptian campaign for a life in the desert, where he befriends a female leopard. The dialogue is sparse which makes Ben Daniel's (Augustin Robert) performance all the more brilliant. Good stuff. (Madason Gray)
Friday, February 29, 2008
A friend of mine back in Manchester is the drummer for Go Lebanon, an indie rock band fascinated with Hezbollah and all other things Lebanese. They're not bad, and Charlie the drummer is a wicked drinking buddy.
Update: Jim Terr turned me on to this silly little home video of Beirut's Zach Condon partying at a camping ground in Las Vegas.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Beirut's success has been pretty amazing to watch. A lot of young folks in town remember Zach's days at Santa Fe High, selling ice cream at the Haagan Daz and as a CSF student. Out of the blue he and his band became indie scene stars and he wasn't just the kid from down the street anymore. Friends from far away places started talking about Beirut.
These days if you google the word Beirut the band's Web site is the first thing to come up. Then the wiki page on "the capital, largest city and chief seaport of Lebanon." Guess the two million people who live in a city in the Middle East don't compare to the power of a deep voice and a dance-y world music beat.
A couple of the guys who play in this band I've known casually for a long time. I can't imagine how amazing it is for them. Nick Petree used to play drums for a friend's band and I remember their first show, when the bassist was so excited that their drummer looked great in eyeliner. And Paul Collins has been known for his outgoing personality for years. The kid's got some amazing skills and he's the kind of guy you can't help remember meeting. He's always bubbling over with excitement in that endearing kind of way that even though it's hard to keep up with him you want desperately to do it.
So sorry Beirut, Lebanon, your distinctions as a 5000 year old city, the birthplace of Keanu Reeves and one of the most diverse religious populations in the world is just going to have to have to take a backseat to some Santa Fe kids who are living the dream.
He recommends some always-ripe-for-reading classics, Dostoevsky and Plato, and for the latter, he explains how The Republic* might be over-emphasized at his alma mater, St. Johns.
For contemporary fiction, he picks Richard Powers' The Echo Maker, a book that I rescued from the reader-pile a month or so back.
A few years ago, I fished Powers' previous novel, The Time of Our Singing, from the bargain bin of a campus medical bookstore. I'd never read him, but a lot of my friends swore by the richness of his prose, especially in Gold Bug Variations, again, which I never read.
Time turned out to be a symphonic epic of physics, classical singing, interracial love and the mixed-race experience. Three years later, this refrain from the novel still sits at the front of my mind: The bird and the fish can fall in love. But where they gonna build their nest?
Damn, it was a fine book. One I know I've recommended.
I've been having trouble digging into The Echo Maker. I've got a short attention span these days and not a whole lot of room in my life for leisurely reading . But I think I trust this Brian's taste. I'll keep at it.
* There are a few dozen sites online where you can download The Republic for free. Here's one version.