Going Home Again
Is it inevitable that the hometown we once found tedious and banal turns into a fascinating cultural crossroads and storehouse of buried youthful memories?
Superb times were had in Annandale, VA while DC required too much energy and would have limited my wine drinking significantly. On this visit, I was floored by the traffic around my parental homebase and also fascinated by the proliferation of Asian-oriented malls, restaurants and services. There's a cool discount store called Samurai near where we saw "Sideways" (easily the best movie of 2004 in case you were wondering.) We took my parents out for Korean food, though my bro and I actually thought it was a Japanese restaurant that we had visited three years ago. Whatever, it kicked everyone's ass. I can't remember the name of the place, (Sambo, 6669 Little River Turnpike) but it was amazing and will surely become a go-to spot for entertaining visitors to the NoVa. There is also lots of Pho in the area, including a new place that is decorated in bright yellow inside and features little flat-screen TVs for each booth. The new face of Pho, I suppose.

I'm finally straightening out my Annandale history here, which I've mainly mined for Revolutionary War ghost stories over the years.


When they talk about the second city, perhaps this is what they mean. Are all Chicago landlords just completely insane? Our handyman has been given the task this morning of removing all the vintage woodwork in the front hallways of our building. Do landlords sit around thinking of ways to spend money on projects that will actually reduce the value of their buildings? It's completely senseless. And on top of that, the heat in the building seems to be off, so I've got to get the hell out of here.

Also I just got an email with the following text from a PR person. "ATTENTION ALL FEMALES!!! the XXXXXXXX. would like to give 12 lucky females the opportunity to meet, greet, and lounge with LUDACRIS at a private location in Chicago TONIGHT for one night only!!"

Are you kidding me?

Just called landlord, they're actually going to clean up the woodwork and put it back.

Biff Bang Pow
So I'm about to hit the sack when I hear the Make-Up coming through my digital cable. Starz is using the "Pow to the People" as a theme song of some kind. Weird. Throwing a party has the unintended consequence of making the apartment life-affirmingly clean and comfortable just in time for the Chicago season where one leaves the house and heat as little as possible. It was so cold today that it scared me.
I'm in the market for a job once again and feeling really good about it. The next few weeks are going to be incredibly busy. More to come on that later. I've been foggy but not quite hungover all day so I'm hesistant to write anything of substance. I did however discover that the pre-fab modern dwelling scene is really taking off. There's lots of info on it at fabprefab.com. Oh, here comes the yawning again. To anyone who made it over last night for drinks and snacks, I salute you.


First Slint, now..
Gang of Four reform! They are touring the UK in January and then coming over here.
The original line-up of Jon King (vocals), Andy Gill (guitar and vocals), Dave Allen (bass) and Hugo Burnham (drums) are making the scene. I saw Go4 in 1990 with the La's and the Violent Femmes, but it was not even close to the original dudes. If I remember there was a gorgeous black woman in a metallic mini-skirt playing da bass or maybe it was Sara Lee. I'm going home and spinning me some SOLID GOLD and ENTERTAINMENT!
Unexplainable Productivity Increase
Every now and then I turn into a machine for getting things done, and I seem to be in that mode right now. I just go and go until I get tired and cranky, have amazing sleep and then start again. I'm juggling a zillion projects right now and sort of loving it. I'm actually hoping to do some more recording when my season of live gigs settles down, three shows in the next three and a half weeks with a vacation in there as well.

Listeningwise, the M83 album coming out on Mute is awesome from what I auditioned last night in the automobile. Internetwise, I'm catching up on all the Dimebag eulogies out there. I always was impressed by Pantera, though I can't say I know their recordings well.

Have you heard about the rat brain? I guess they taught this collection of brain cells to control a flight simulator, though I have yet to confirm. Civilization is doomed. Between that and the dioxin Ukrainian leader poisoning story, this is one fucked-up news month. On the Ukrainian question, I'm actually wondering how the blossoming democracy will affect the locals in my Chicago hood. Orange ribbons are tied around alot of the trees and parking signs in a show of support for the Liberals in Ukraine, so will any of these folks who have built a miniature nation in the middle of Chicago go back for any length of time? My neighborhood has Ukrainian churches, cafes, a huge bank, real estate companies, even its own modern art museum, who needs Kiev, right? Or will the younger folk sell off the brownstones and move back to the old world with loads of western cash? Better yet, rent the places out and move home and live like royalty in the Crimea?


This is a work in progress, I decided to exclude reissues and compilations and just go for the solid rock action. Am I missing anything of quality?

Top Ten Albums of 2004
Franz Ferdinand (Domino/Epic)
Devendra Banhart “Nino Rojo” (Young God)
Animal Collective “Sung Tongs” (FatCat)
Ghost “Hypnotic Underworld” (Drag City)
Blonde Redhead “Misery is a Butterfly” (4AD)
Paul Weller “Studio 150” (V2)
Holly Golightly “Slowly But Surely” (Damaged Goods)
Van Hunt “Van Hunt” (Capitol)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus” (Anti)
CocoRosie “La Maison de Mon Reve” (Touch & Go)

Close but not quite…
The Futureheads (Sire)
TV On the Radio “Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes” (Touch & Go)

Things I need to listen to again because people won’t shut up about them.
Nellie McKay “Get Away from Me”
Ghostface Killah
Fiery Furnaces both albums
Air “Talkie Walkie" (Astralwerks)
Loretta Lynn
Phoenix “Alphabetical”
Wilco “A Ghost Is Born”

Mild disappointments but still kinda good
The Libertines s/t
Rufus Wainwright “Want One”
PJ Harvey “Uh Huh Her”

I’m not sure what all the fuss is about, can you tell me?
The Killers
The Secret Machines
The Cooper Temple Clause
Radio 4
Airwaves Dream
We perpetually listen to Chicago NPR affiliate WBEZ in my apartment, on my aging VW's radio and today at work via the inter-web-net. In general I really dig the programming, it's a bit more lively than the NPR you get in DC, which is wonkish, aimed at a classical music listening staunchly, stuffily liberal Northwest DC residents (though we did have Derrick
McGinty for a while). WBEZ does however go off the rails quite often, it gets kinda kooky. Odyssey with Gretchen Helfrich often has really hilariously amorphous topics and usually only features academics who sound as if they've been locked away in the basement of the library since the Carter adminstration. The discussions rarely go anywhere, it's an intellectual circus with a shortage of disagreement. The music reviews on NPR almost always suck. Today, this guy was blathering on cheerily about the Bob Dylan book like someone who's never actually reviewed a book but just really loves Dylan. I would have rather just read the book jacket. Earlier, Dan Sinker from Punk Planet was on 848, which was kind of interesting though I haven't picked up PP in years to be honest. You can listen to WBEZ online.


Who's Got the Real Old School?
I'm still trying to make sense of the Grandmaster Flash/Biz Markie gig last night. It was utter madness, a great time overall but honestly the DJing was a bit hard to take. All three Djs were spinning on those CD-scratch turntables, no vinyl in sight, and while the beat matching and track flipping was masterful, I heard less than 30 seconds of anything I hadn't heard before and sometimes only 30 seconds of the tracks selected. We're talking Michael Jackson, Billy Squire, Soul 2 Soul plus all the urban current hits. There was absolutely no sense of adventure or discovery. The opening DJ pulled off a ramped up version of the Doobies "What a Fool Believes" that caught me off guard in a good way. And you're thinking... so what if they played hits, you danced all night, right? Well I should have been dancing when the first DJ was on because Grandmaster Flash specializes in stopping every couple minutes and giving an oral history lesson. GMF factoid: Hip-hop was in fact invented in 1971. Explanation: none. And after a nice long intro with lots of build-up about old-school and what have you, GMF unfurls his first track.... and it is... hold your breath... PHIL COLLINS?! Way to impress the south-siders GMF! On the plus side, the crowd was really diverse, the show was free and the break-dancing was really solid. This one guy, something Daze from the T&A crew was just amazing, pulling off these really detailed poses in the middle of springing handstands like he was breathing. Biz Markie was doing spins while he was switching from deck to deck when I left the club.


Listening Station
I'm now enjoying a new view from the place called day job desk. The office move has turned out to be beneficial in numerous ways. Do you realize that companies just give everything away when they move? They pay these salvage people to come in and haul away tens of thousands of dollars worth of furniture and no one bats an eye. I now have both the Hancock and a small chunk of the Marina City towers in my view rather than the snaking El and the back of the Merchandise Mart that were in my view for several years off and on.

Um, yeah so anyway, somehow a weekend that involved going to Texas roadhouse themed bar turned out to be really fun. Selling off some junk CDs netted me some good solid new stuff, the Soul Jazz "Sound of Philadelphia" comp, another Hugh Masekala LP and an original pressing of The Damned's "Music For Pleasure." The latter is a fine record, much more like the Who than I remembered it, and it's been getting lots of spins around my place. Also in heavy rotation is the most recent disc from Holly Golightly, "Slowly But Surely" (Damaged Goods). The last time I saw Holly play it was a drunken, kinda lame show but she's outdone herself with this album. I'm undecided on Ely Guerra, the really photogenic Mexican singer who went to Evergreen State College. She somehow manages to sound like Sade and PJ Harvey in the same song, kind of a funky world beat Polly Jean. Is that a good thing? Well, in a way, yeah, I think this might be more interesting listening than "Uh Huh Her" even if it is "werld" music. I've also come to realize that I need "Shake Sauvage" (Crippled Dick) on vinyl, it's simply the best compilation record I own, track it down if at all possible and tell me where it can be had.


Lying about Jesus
There's a new film coming out called "With God On Our Side: George W. Bush and the Rise of the Religious Right," in which the filmmakers reveal that Bush's conversion to being born-again actually came from a talk with really nutty evangelical Arthur Blessitt, not from a walk on the beach with friend of Presidents Billy Graham as Bush has claimed. That means, that Bush has consistently lied about how he "came to Jesus." The doc will be showing on the Sundance channel soon.
Month of Lists
Upon scanning some music writer blogs last month, I noticed a few year-end best-of lists. What kind of nerd writes a best-of list in November? Come on. That's silly, right? I'm doing at least two of those lists for publication, but I want to hear a few things I missed before I lay it down. In the meantime, in the interest of what's hot and what's not, I'm checking out the somewhat shocking (to me at least), top 100 sellers at Insound for 2004. There's a high "what the f*ck?" factor.


This Space for Rent
It's becoming clear to anyone paying attention to mainstream culture that advertising and editorial content are merging into one, so I'm probably stating the obvious here, perhaps not. But I often find that discussions of the economics of the music business are real shallow, falling into the well-known indie-versus-major or art-versus-commerce rut. It's become obvious to me over the years, that outside of jazz, there are probably very few musicians that don't consider the commercial end of their art, whether it be conscious or not. Some of the things I've actually heard songwriters talk about out loud in regards to their audience would simply shock you, but I'll save that for another time.

Remember years ago, it was oddly thrilling or annoying to hear the Flaming Lips on 90210 or whatever, the crunch of the underground sound breaking the surface crust of the above ground big money world was unusual. Now, the cycle is so accelerated that bands are being broken by TV rather than the largely musically irrelevant MTV and often without building any fanbase at all. While MTV turned its back on pop-punk, indie and emo genres (okay, they're on M2 now in a steady stream of Jimmy Eat World soundalikes), the young-people-oriented series on television have filled the marketing niche. Flip the channels and you can hear The Futureheads on Gilmore Girls, The Walkmen on The OC, someone kinda good or Shuggie Otis on Six Feet Under and on and on. Death Cab for Cutie were "broken" as they say with a lot of TV exposure, though I tend to think that two years of non-stop hype probably had something to do with it. Movies don't seem so relevant but take commercials... that Jet song pretty much made a band huge that would have been a post-Strokes record label write-off otherwise. I was sucked into the air intakes of that Jet album before the iPod commercial hit I'm not embarrassed to say. But this is what is not being said in articles talking about bands signing to majors left and right. They're doing it, in a large part, for the marketing synergy, getting pushed on TV, radio, etc. in advertorial form, in the background of teen dramas, on and on. The songwriters especially stand to make much more if a band's songs are licensed for TV ads, than he/she will get doing a regular amount of touring. Record sales are weak all-around this decade as I understand it (numbers anyone?) but the ad industry is slowly bouncing back and throwing more green around. While many of the big advertisers are conservatively sticking to hitting the baby boomer who prefers his Led Zep, Stones, Seger there are plenty that are going with obscure hip sounds turned fashionable (famously the VW ads with Nick Drake's "Pink Moon") or the ironic ("Eye of the Tiger" with the actualy Survivor miming). Advertising (and the infectious ad mentality) is ubiquitous and as editorial and advertising and promotion have all mixed in magazines that even serious music fans read (see The Fader, Vice) there's probably almost no unspoilt ground if you are one to consider it so. It's a grey world, this world of rock. None of this is really as new as it appears. The latest trend is big labels paying outright and legally for radio airtime for entire albums. Payola never really went away, it just got used to promote lousier and lousier music. I can't confirm, but I'm fairly sure that the rock revolution of Chuck Berry and the Beatles wouldn't have happened without payola. My point, if there is one, is that when considering a rising popularity of band, or when noticing what sells and what doesn't, the marketing aspect of music has become a key part of the story. How the hell do people decide what to buy? Of course, people are not always so easily manipulated and there are surprise hits every year, as well as artists that build their followings through hard work, making great records and so on or having a classy name to start with (Bebel Gilberto anyone?). Whether you like it or not, almost everybody is doing it, and I don't think it's half bad considering the state of rock radio for bands to explore other avenues for exposing your music and get paid in the process. In these days of rising expectations for success following hype and diminishing actual sales, it's really more about making it last rather than making it big.

I've heard things I like on the WB, as scary as that sounds. The idea of someone buying the soundtrack to a TV show is totally bizarre to me, but you can bet the truly mediocre Dandy Warhols (who seem to land on a lot of these) are not complaining. But considered another way, look at the track listings for the TV show comps mentioned above, if it were a radio station, would you listen? Heck ya. Am I buying the CD? No way dude. Let's see what's on cable.


Dune Messiah
The last thing I expected to be doing on Thanksgiving was riding a snowboard straight down the dunes of Lake Michigan. I got a couple good little runs in on my afternoon in Sawyer, even dropping in to some bowl-like areas. Sand plus snow equals soft landing if you manage to avoid the trees and we were just riding this short bindingless board so it was really slow. Drinking white ale definitely brought my latent skate skills to the fore. I'm really jazzed to do some snowboarding this season.


Saturation Point, Courtesy of Trader Joe's Wine Department
Years ago, finding worthwhile music and art was an escape and a passion that took me away from the day-to-day stresses of maintaining a viable straight world life in the status conscious, prep school to private university, trying to get a leg up careerwise grind. I have been conscious lately of how much reading the Washington City Paper as a high schooler affected me and turned me on to the underground culture of the city. I certainly wasn't the only one. I remember a Model UN meet at the Washington Hilton in '89 or so when I met a bunch of guys that were dealing with their highly disciplined Catholic high school years with a steady diet of No Trend. 9353 and Rites of Spring. We couldn't get the Madeira girls to sleep with us, but we had fun trying. I hardly ever compare DC and Chicago anymore but having lived in both cities a good long time, I feel more entitled to make some personal observations. One thing that's quite different about Chicago is the feeling that there is so much going on that you could never really know the best thing to do on a Friday night. And if you don't show up, it's probably not a big deal. There's a ton of stuff going on. In DC, things were more manageable if sometimes predictable and cozy, and I often had the feeling that I needed to go do things and see things that were going on just to be there. I had much more of a "support the scene" mentality. And people certainly let me know if I had missed out on something special. It had many rewards. Chicago certainly is different but I have definitely had a bit more of the seeing the same faces in various places experience lately. That's what happens when you are home.

I have no idea what I am talking about but I hate to see wine go to waste. I also have to note that I watched way too many movies this weekend, and found "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" and "Mean Girls" just decent not that great. Tina Fey is massively overrated in my book. And while I liked "The Croupier," and I understand the point of the class violence in "I'll Sleep" I found the movie almost totally uneventful, like a extended expositional opening scene that never ends. I'm almost tempted to point out that there is no real conflict in the film. Totally a bummer.


Shameless Self-Promotion Part 36
So a colleague tried to order my CD EP from Insound and he discovered that they were out of stock. I emailed with good sir Patrick of Insoundfordshire and he managed to re-stock the CDs from one of your reliable indie distros within a few days. Patrick, you're my online MVP of the week. In other words, my very limited edition, released in 2000 on a Swedish label called Her Magic Field that is now defunct, three song CD EP is still available! I play electric piano, I make my lead vocal debut, I forgot to put bass on one song and the engineer erased my guitar solo on another and never apologized, always a good sign. While I'm on the subject, read a review, and another review (middle of the page) and yet another and then buy, buy and buy again.

And then consider this odd coincidence.


I've had this Honey Cone two-disc compilation floating around my pile o' music for a while but have been studying up on it a bit during the last fifteen minutes and came across this Douglas Wolk piece. If you are a fan of Holland-Dozier-Holland, you should get to know this stuff. Also on my desk today, Gold Chains & Sue Cie "When the World Was Our Friend" (Kill Rock Stars), "Eccentric Soul: The Bandit Label" (Numero Group)
and Devendra Banhart "Rejoicing in the Hands" (Young God). I can't wait to get the hell out of here today, I'm so bored.


My amiable senior editor is south of the border for a couple weeks, which doesn’t mean I can blow off my day job work exactly, just be a bit more flexible, shall we say. I’m planning a trip up to Devon Street to eat at Bahbi’s Kitchen, and organize some other lunch hour hangs with friends downtown. I will exercise my freedom to lunch.

One thing that’s been occurring to me lately in a lot of discussions with friends is that I’m noticing people are completely clueless when it comes to various levels of politics and “being political.” People don’t seem to have any idea that there are huge differences between being interested in politics and international affairs and being informed, being politically active, being an activist, believing in an alternative political system or significant reform of our own, being hardcore dedicated to radical politics and being an out there on the fringe total wacko. Being a political artist in its pure, romantic idealistic form, is quite wonderful I’m sure (“this one really makes a statement about where we are at,” yeah dude) but it’s more about the style of politics than the actual politics, isn’t it? And it’s also a bit like walking into a mine-field if you don’t really have your act together. Everyone wants to be Bobby Dylan, but what exactly is the answer blowing in the wind and how does it relate to NAFTA, nuclear proliferation and The Dharfour region of Sudan? Get me, Mr. Jones?

Fugazi often pulled it off because there stuff is/was arty and generally about a worldview and personal politics. Their stuff is inspired, but not didactic, or reasonably so. They came from a time (the ‘80s) when (much like now), it appeared the country was being taken over by social conservatives and jingoism and a inspired response was not only needed, but required for any intelligent creative member of the youth culture. That band had an effect on who I am today and in general I felt like they had it right most of the time and were tremendously successful in raising a certain kind of awareness.

But I think the internet’s alternative news sources have further confused people a bit. For example, a newly politicized friend sent me some links to a news website a few years ago that was pretty radical, kind of interesting but at the same disturbing in little ways. They were standing up for Slobodan Milosevic as some kind of anti-imperialist hero, which showed the whole enterprise to be a bit more knee-jerk than I was comfortable with. I was left wondering, does my friend think Milosevic is a hero, to anyone really?

Standing up with a very significant minority, the anti-war, anti-Bush crowd, etc. is not in the least a radical stance, and that’s okay, good in fact. You don’t need to be advocating democratic socialism to take those positions, or even know or care much about how the country is really run. In fact, you can take those positions from such old-school isolationist points-of-view, which I’m sure is quite tempting for many.

A lot of this uneasiness about rock politics comes from my experience of rubbing shoulders with and seeing punk rockers play benefits for some fairly radical organizations (none advocating violence of course) when I was a teenager. There were a lot of out-there lefty, anti-war, anti-war machine groups in the DC area growing up. The mid to late ‘80s probably saw a dramatic increase in politic radical activism in reaction to Reaganism. Lots of people got involved with causes through benefits that they only had a passing interest in, but hell, they were fun shows. There were plenty of worthy endeavors to get behind – anti-Apartheid, environmental movement, Sane-Freeze, women’s shelters, homeless activists that got proper benefits. I must note that lots of young fans were uncomfortable with the pro-choice benefits back in the day. For me, what was educational, was seeing bands play a benefit for conscientious objectors or something like that and see another benefit for a group opposed to nuclear power (a kind of questionable in my point of view when you consider that burning coal is polluting the atmosphere and killing people right this minute, isn’t it?). I learned a heck of a lot about under-funded interest groups. Anyway, all these little organizations on the left would come together or get lumped together because they represented an alternative viewpoint, even though in many ways they didn’t have a whole lot in common. It was romantic and inspiring to think that they did, that there was a social movement blossoming. It was an innocent time, it was “Meese is a Pig” posters when the left didn’t have a chance in hell of affecting anything on the national stage.

I watched this documentary “Horns and Halos” this weekend which features the story of a high school and college friend now indie publisher, Sander Hicks as he was re-issuing the controversial Bush biography “Fortunate Son” on his Soft Skull Press in 1999-2000. It’s an incredible story, unfortunately told somewhat slowly and with too much detail by Mike Galinsky and Suki Hawley, who probably could have edited it down to something electrifying. I won’t spoil it for you or bore you with the story. But I couldn’t help thinking that Hicks reliance on tying his high school idealism with politicized punk rock was a bit of a nostalgia trip. There are a few moments when Hicks is talking to interviewers when he just sounds like he’s not thinking about what is actually happening, but relying a bit too much on radical punk-rock publisher rhetoric. It's like being given a chance to fight the big dogs and sort of blowing it because you're stuck in rut. I like the guy, but I really wished he was ready to go to battle when he knew he was charging into it. Supposedly, he’s been working on a biography of Karl Rove.

Perhaps what we have seen with the electoral results is that the alternative political world that has grown in recent years is still holding on to some of the romanticism of the apst but not the hard lessons of organization. We still love our individuality, our freedom to vote or not for whomever we want, but when it comes to electoral politics, exercising you individuality doesn’t mean much. What the left or the opposition really needs is the means to exercise some loyalty and some people that can spread a very simple message on a few issues and get people to vote accordingly. The Democrats used to be able to call on certain constituencies to vote with them every time, folks had the New Deal in their political memory and they knew who was looking after their interests. These days, Evangelicals (somewhat mistakenly according to Tom Frank in his Kansas book), have been activated and will be loyal to the bad guys as long as they believe their agenda is being forwarded that way. To start beating these guys, it may be necessary to lose the “vote your conscience” or “just vote” crap (I know it’s all about non-profit status) and do the long, tedious, boring task of building coalitions of people that live in the cultural-vacuum parts of the country and hitting them with simple but powerful truths about the future of the country and then marching them to the polls en masse.

These coalitions might not involve as many groups of nubile college age women giving each other henna tattoos and griping about the man during pre-protest slumber parties (though that sounds great for sure), but more groups of soccer dads and NASCAR moms wondering about their social security, their kids health care and education and the economic and social welfare of their fellow Americans rather than carrying out the will of literalist Bible-thumpers. It’s gonna be a bitch to get that coalition together.

I’ve heard some incredible stories from people arrested in protests in NYC during the concention, mind-blowing stuff about how the cops are treating people and violating our rights. But at the same time, I can’t help wondering if making the most creative sign or effigies of Bush and Rumsfeld is really worth a lot of attention. Does that alternative spirit really translate into political awareness? After all, the political legacy of the ‘60s, street-fighting man was ultimately apathy, a weakened Democratic party and eventually mainstream assimilation, and you can bet that lots of hippies are now born-agains voting the wrong way. Politics are somewhat fashionable right now, but for how long when it’s clear that the pink-haired vote doesn’t tip the scales? And also, is it possible that folks may get swept up in the anti-war fervor that really have not internalized a progressive viewpoint?

Here’s an example. Do you have a vociferously anti-war friend? Now, say that friend always seems to find ways out of paying any taxes, year after year. Anything fishy there? Think about it, it doesn’t matter how controversial the copy on your t-shirt reads, if you pride yourself on excuses for not paying taxes (I’ve yet to hear a good one), you’re one of them, you’re a Republican, on one issue at least, in terms of how you live your life.

And so it’s about values, there’s a value, a civic pride in paying your taxes and seeing them in action, doing good to hold society together, getting things right, nice roads, good schools, social safety net, the things we want our society to have. That’s a real value, a real alternative to the “values” being foisted on us by the right which are about controlling the personal decisions that reasonable adults should be able to make on their own. But why couldn’t the left make a mainstream case for these values during this campaign?

Of course what I would like to see has even less chance of working. Give folks an honest offer. Can you really sell the message that higher taxes are worth it for a government that can take care of the disenfranchised before it does favors for profitable corporations? That our society is better off if we hold on to a lot of the skilled manufacturing sector jobs that produced our middle-class last century? That our country should have a foreign policy that fights oppression rather than one that just fights to keep markets open? It sounds like fantasy, I know.

The gist of my rambling is that we progressives really want our political change to be organic and come in the form of spontaneous social movements (we love us some grass roots), but I’m certainly not the first to notice that that’s kind of (academic-inspired) romanticism that leaves you a loser when the election results (however flawed) roll in. We’re desperately in need of a strong party with a strategy that’s about winning.


The Modfather
Has it really been a year since I did this interview with Paul Weller? I'm feeling the "dad rock" vibes on his new "Studio 150" (V2) album and loving them. Maybe it's time to father some offspring and own property. His latest is a covers album and it's growing on me more and more. The strings are particularly gorgeous. He does a nice job with Gil-Scott's "The Bottle" and has the audacity to lay down a version of "Close to You," you know the one. Last time he was in town, we were supposed to have a drink but he suddenly and unfortunately cancelled his second night and flew home.


"We got nowhere to be, nothing to do....except be here."
It must be break-up season, not only are Luna and Guided By Voices hanging it up, but my brother Mike's very fine band Thee Snuff Project is calling it a day. It's a shame considering what a smokin' live act they've become. I believe that 3/4s of the band, including my brother are continuing on with a new name. They're playing their last show next week in DC and then self-releasing a final four-song EP.
I Contact
Better Drugs


Get Folky
If you are not already hip to it, the Devendra Banhart "Nino Rojo" record is a must-have. His stuff is kind of early T. Rex with psych touches, at times recalling Jeff Buckley or Billie Holiday vocally. I'm really psyched for his upcoming Logan Squre auditorium gig.

Kiss Me, Stupid
Caught a screening of this Dino flick at a friend's loft (he lives with an expert projectionist), and laughed all the way through. An is it subversive or sexist? Billy Wilder sex comedy, it was way too racy for '64 America and was only released in censored version in "art" house theatres, while it was almost a hit in Europe.


Make a friend
Add Perfect Panther to your My Space friends and let the hits flow into you.


One down
Ashcroft is leaving, thank the stars. Maybe he's knows something that we don't? Get ready for all the fat cats in the Bush administration to hightail it out in the next year or so, lining up their next jobs in the corporate world before this house of cards collapses on them. I'm not kidding, second terms are almost always a disaster and these guys know better than to get shit-stained by standing too close to the volcano of crap that is at the core of Dubya criminal syndicate.

Taken By Surprise
Popped down the road last night with an umbrella in my jacket and wandered into the Sondre Lerche show at the Double Door. It was shockingly good. Sondre played about 45 minutes solo with just his Gretsch hollowbody. Dude is a tremendous singer, somehow finding ways to make his songs sound plenty rich and detailed without a backing band. He's got the stage banter down too. I can't get enough of those jazzy chords he plays. For the last 4 or 5 songs, he brought on a backing band which was fine. I swear the drummer played the snare at below knee-cap level, looked weird but sounded good enough. As for singer/songwriter fellow type gigs, this was possibly the most satisfying I've seen all year. I walked home in the rain yet I remained dry. Magic.


The goons won the election, so what's next?
Yeah, I'm talking thinking outside the box that surrounds the box. Can we do anything about converting these nutty Evangelicals to rationality? Go door to door and force them to read about the Enlightenment, evolution and the history of the United States? Or are we doomed to live in a country with millions of Jesus-freak zombies for the rest of our lives? And note to the "morally virtuous" voter that might stumble on this. The jerks you just elected care little for your social agenda, and even less for your economic future and your children's health care and job security.

If you need to take a hit of brilliance and eloquence to get the bad news out of your system or just want a historical perspective on where the country is at, listen to Gore Vidal.


Palisades MP3s (Exclusive Downloads)
When I Start Jogging
Giant Pandas
The Anthropologist

Instructions: Click to download and add MP3 extension to the filename.

eric davis - guitar, synth, vocals, david wehr - bass, john dugan - drums.
recorded 2003-2004 by the agency at butcher shop and musiczone chicago, il. engineered by john dugan, mastered by joel kriske.


Night Before Election
This is the best graphic I've seen for understanding how close the election is going to be. The New York Times is giving the edge to Kerry right now. If I wasn't feeling like hell, I'd been at a rally somewhere like the Obama thing at the Allegro Hotel. Maybe tomorrow night?

This is a bit late, but if you are not in Chicago, you might not know that the charismatic and articulate Barack Obama is having to run against right-wing zealot Alan Keyes, who was flown in by the hapless Illinois Republicans from Maryland to run. Obama is a law professor who's been in Chicago for years. Carpetbagger Keyes has been good for entertainment value at least. He called Dick Cheney's daughter "a selfish hedonist" on the radio which was interesting considering that Keyes himself has a 19-year old gay daughter named Maya. Keyes also believes in conscription (mandatory military service) and called Obama a "socialist and a liar." Keyes will probably scare some moderates away from the Republicans (and possibly away from Bush). Does that mean the Dems can consider Illinois safe territory for years to come?

The last minute suburban race attack ads running tonight are too funny.

Net Detective
Googling your old band names is fun, n'est pas? Well not fun, but at least interesting. I came across photos of myself that I'd never seen before. Freaky. I also learned there's a Japanese Chisel rip-off band called Twinkle. Does anyone know anything about them?


Miss Misery
Another weekend which I managed to ruin by getting ill and this time I could not shift the blame to Maker's Mark but really only a lack of sleep on Thursday and Friday nights. Perfect Panther's Darkroom gig was reasonably well attented with about 50-60 people in the house at showtime. Our performance was fair, but probably much better than the last couple Chicago shows. This weekend was wall to wall rock gigs if you go in for that sort of thing. If I had the energy I would have had to choose between seeing the Clinic, Ratatat, Mannequin Men with the New Constitution and Plush. But standing for an hour anywhere just wasn't on my agenda.

With my ample couch time, I caught up on The Wire and watched not less than three Woody Allen films that were running constantly. "Love and Death" was the best of the bunch. It's a satire of Russian 19th century novels and the last of his "screwball" comedies. There are a million great lines. Woody Allen's humor and philosophy come together with such a light touch in "Love and Death" that it's hard to discern or notice any heavy message but I think it's a heavier movie than it seems. Allen called it his most personal film. And there are some great jokes about masturbation.

Oh yeah, vote for Kerry or you're not allowed to read me ever again.


Independent Chicago
The Independent Chicago compilation featuring "Gun Court" by Perfect Panther is in, or out, depending on your point of view. You can contact Fork Series about getting a copy. They did a nice job mastering from what I heard.


The Virtues of Effervescence
I've taken three Airborne Formula fizzy tabs in the past 24 hours and they seem to be valiantly railing against a gigantic mofo of a cold that wants nothing better than to bring me down. I've also got an all natural herbal buzz going. It would be premature to declare victory, however. I'm still weak and slightly dizzy. It's been torture trying to work like this.

The Modernist site had to come down because they were deluged with traffic for their new furniture and naked people pictorial by this hotshot South African photographer. Unfortunately, I didn't have the pleasure of seeing it myself.


Listening Station
Wolf Eyes "Stabbed In The Face" from Burned Mind (Sub Pop)
Yulduz Usmanova "Tak Boom"
Lilys "My Lord Will Be Gardening" from Precollection
Masta Killa "Old Man" from Chip's blog

I've got a short temper today, even got riled up enough to try to post comments to some dimwitted conservative blogs I came across. Feel my wrath.

This just in. John Peel died, Beaujon has a nice tribute to him you should check out. He also has a piece on Peel in the Washington Post.

More Peel obits here and here.



Saturday Night Jive
While Ashlee S. was missing her cues, I was out on the town, the downtown specifically. I had a swimmingly fine time, but neglected to eat anything along the way. I won't go into details but I paid for that mistake. Oh my, did I pay. I think I was coming down with something anyway but I managed to make it eight-thousand times worse. I hated existence on Sunday. But over the weekend, I managed to see two bands I had been meaning to see (or see again) for sometime... VHS or Beta were better than I remembered while Mahjongg good overall, great rhythms for sure but kind of careless vocally in an off-putting way. I'm digging my ears into the "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain" double-CD version and loving it so far. I must admit I listened to a cassette dub of this album constantly for three months before it originally came out. I have it hardwired into my brain, and could even fake some of the tunes on the guitar for a while there. Pizzas here, gotta go.


100 Reasons to Boot Bush
I used to love reading the Nation, then it got really tired, but lately it's been getting good again.


Reality Check
This PIPA report explains how half the country could possibly support Bush.

Scheduling Conflict of the Month
So I'm building my night around The Office two-hour special tonight on BBC America. Then this morning ladyfriend asks me if I can go shopping with her at precisely the golden hour of my digital cable bliss. She's going to visit her best friend and new baby and I need to be there to pick out a baby book. Think about it... a baby book. The last thing in the world a baby wants is a flippin' book.


My parents are in town and my Mom had some good anecdotes last night connected with her recent high school reunion. It turns out this guy who was the teenage grease monkey who never studied much, but worked on engines all the time didn't end up working in a muffler shop as everyone guessed he might. Instead, this guy has something like a dozen patents in his name. He's an inventor and a successful one and not of just some obscure stuff like industrial plastic molding injectors or whatever. No, among other things, this guy invented THE AEROSOL CAN. Jesus Christ, you know. Of course, he now owns a chunk of land roughly the size of Bolivia and a small navy of boats. So everyone is on the dance floor and the reunion and they're playing Sinatra's "My Way" and the inventor guy is singing along "I did it my way" but adding at the end "and it worked" and laughing to himself. Okay, so my dad doesn't think it was THE aerosol can but just a version.


Weighing in on Crossfire
You could give a dog a crewcut with all the internet buzz on the Jon Stewart versus Crossfire exchange. I concur with Stewart in that Tucker Carlson is a maddening twerp who indulges in intellectual dishonesty to protect the idealogical goonsquad in the White House. But I don't quite agree that the "partisan hackery" that takes place on Crossfire is evil or poison for the political system. In fact, I tend to think having Begala and Carlson battle it out for a half-hour on the subjects of the day sometimes illustrates that there are real differences between the parties these days. Stewart seems to think that there's some opportunity for deeper discussion of the issues that's being missed. Perhaps, but what that would be, I'm not entirely sure.
The new Elliott Smith album should be heard here. It's his best I would say. One night a few years ago, Elliott bought me a drink and listened attentively to my sob story. What a guy.


Schoolboys No More
Thanks to Jotz for pulling this out. Let me put this New Jersey Star Ledger article in context. Two young men, one of a comfortable background and one of extreme privilege were buddies in college. But naturally, these friends of mine drifted apart by graduation. Both were partying and skipping class and having a good time I should note, but one (not the millionaire's son) had a harder time getting a diploma than the other. Skip ahead a decade and one has become a Republican congressman and the other an indie-rock hero. The rocker has a song on his new album about how disappointed he is in his friend for becoming a nasty, pro-life, pro-Bush Republican stormtrooper. It's quite incredible really, because for me what makes the lyric odd is that the liberal songwriter didn't notice that his close friend was a spoiled, selfish, smug rich kid way back in the day. I was there and I did. Come on, what did you expect?
Hammer Down
Thousands of miles of blacktop and many hours of rock later after an insano whirlwhind outing to DC and New York for Perfect Panther gigs, both of which came off shockingly well according to unbiased observers and undecided voters. I’ll spare you reader the superlatives and laudatory remarks, but suffice to say it was more than worth the 30 hours spent in the "van" over four days. We played with interesting bands (Bobby Birdman, 1999, Barr, Creeping Nobodies, The Disease, Brandon Butler and a few more) in front of great people and we drank for free in DC which was madness I don’t need to assure you. Thanks to my brother and Charles for getting us on some gigs and our friends in Carroll Gardens for putting me up and keeping the vino flowing until the morning. Bacchus smiles on thee. Thanks for the borrowed keyboards and drum thrones, you know who you are. Mad love to all the friends that came out to support. I managed to see about a dozen old chums in a 24 hour period. Familiar feeling of running on caffeine, adrenaline and then beer most of the time as diet deteriorated almost as rapidly as my sense of the humor, both settled in a gutter of ironic anti-political incorrectness that’s somehow a self-preservation mode brought on by being trapped in a vehicle with the same witty but really raunchy people for days on end. Mind needs a good scrubbing. It might have been the David Cross blasting forth from the SUV’s deck, the poor nutritional options available on the highway, or the sight of the regular but not doing too well people who hang out or work in rest stop diners all melding into a bizarre but strangely accurate vision of America as a wasteland of ghastly mass-produced food, giant tinted-windowed trucks, talk radio mind-controlled right-wing zealots and zombies and just plain sad folk dying slowly while over-consuming a bunch of lousy crap. On the other hand, the colors and the foliage (there was a lot of controversy on the trip surrounding the pronunciation of foliage) were just gorgeous, northwestern New Jersey is secretly underrated and Brooklyn was still Brooklyn, as enticing and rewarding as always, everything you could want and much too much more.

Mobile Listening Station
Afghan Whigs “Gentleman” (Elektra)
I think we listened to this three times, still one of the most gorgeously bleak assessments of the state of the sexes ever put to tape, despite the weird mix which favors the intricate drums over the slide guitar magic.
The Ex (Touch 'n Go)
Schoolgirl Report (Crippled Dick Hot Wax)
David Cross “SUYFB” and the other one (Sub Pop)
One disc blows the others away but I don’t remember which. So damn good, but so damn dark.
Biggie Smalls, various
"Sock it to 'Em Soul: 60's Club Soul Classics" (warner strategic marketing)
The Coup
Noonday Underground "Self Assembly"
This Crazy Bollywood compilation that simply destroyed our brains and rebuilt them about every 45 seconds for a full hour. I gotta get more music like this. Wacked-out wah-wah guitar fighting with sweeping strings, fuzzed bass and nutty song structures blending with Indian trad instrumentation to incredible effect. Some Indian teens in College park, MD suggested this to me about five years ago and I had forgotten how amazing it is. Title TK.
DFA compilation
Led Zeppelin “How the West Was Won”
The Libertines “The Libertines” (Rough Trade)


Deja Vu Weekend
Listening Station
Richard & Kool "Wingman" (Crosshair Music)
Eastern Lane
Van Hunt (Capitol Records)

I'm off to NYC and DC tonight.


Hell Freezes
I heard about this but now it is official. Slint are reforming for some gigs and curating the ATP festival. I actually was privileged to hear some super secret Slint outtakes last week and they reminded me how crazy I was for this band and their masterful "spiderland."


We're Internationalists!
I think most videos are crap but the new one from Sarah McLachlan really hit me in my idealistic, DIY heart.
DeeCee Cinematheque
Watch the Weird War video, directed by Eric Cheevers. Eric is fluent in French and horror.
Small version.
Large version.


Everything Must Go
I'm in minimizing mode, either because I've gotten bored with my toys and I'm ready to trade 'em in for new ones or perhaps because having too much stuff that doesn't work as well as you'd like is really a total drag. Initiating the CD/LP weeding-out project was cathartic. The next big cuts in the crap inventory will come from the department of vintage music gear. I've got an extra reel-to-reel four-track (a Teac A-3340S) that I'll probably unload if I can get it to work again. Working models are going for $400 online. There's a big heavy Yamaha keyboard that I love but just don't use too often unfortunately and a weird Italian analog/midi hybrid synth by Siel that someone will gladly take off my hands I would hope. If I can make the inventory reductions that I would like to, I'd like to get a decent new synth, maybe some microphones, oh and my turntable has been bugging me lately... ah man, here I go again...

In other news, saw the Libertines last night, loved the show and turned in a piece on them for the Chicago Reader.


Adventures of an Obnoxious Amateur Soundman
I stopped by Acme Art Works and saw Spires That In The Sunset Rise, The William Young and some art last night. The William Young are kind of a pirate meets Tom Waits trio with oboe, harmonium. They were fun but kinda jokey. Spires were exceptional, using harmonium, guitar, percussion, cello and doing a kind of psychedelic faux world music that sometimes reminded me of the Velvet Underground's "Lady Godiva's Operation" with howling vocals. I helped set up the PA for Spires when I noticed the speakers had been set up BEHIND the first band, which seemed a recipe for disaster. The show sounded great so I guess it pays to get involved. I believe they are touring with the Incredible String Band later this month. Last week, I saw PJ Harvey and she was incredible, much better than her new almost too sparse album Uh Huh Her. As for the debate, I thought Bush's anger was evidence that he's running scared. Kerry's use of the world "Orwellian" to describe Bush's Clear Skies Initiative made my night. It's really nice outside so I'm going to get out an enjoy it. Off to see the Libertines tonight.


Close to the Edge
Spent the evening absorbing radiation and scarfing Thai. I caught the Def Jam focused episode of VH1's "And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip-Hop," worth it even for the hip-hop skeptic. I suggest looking out for "The Farm: Life Inside Angola Prison" documentary on cable especially if you have seen any of the Supermax docs out there. Try this mind-boggling, in that it's meaning goes beyond symbolic, factoid. Angola, Louisiana is named for the home of the African slaves that worked the plantations that are now the fields worked by the inmates doing hard labor.

No Respect
I know Caddyshack backwards and forwards and love it to death. Most of that film was improvised evidently and you get the feeling they were partying hard even while cameras were rolling. Like "Animal House" and early SNL, a lot of the comedy gets it's depth and bite from a critique of the class strictures and stuffy strata of American society. If you watch SNL these days, just notice how many gags are mocking poor, uneducated or disadvantaged people. Things have changed.

And so today I subjected myself (while "working") to a bit of Caddyshack II, a film in which the loathsome comedian Jackie Mason subs for recently departed funnyman Dangerfield, Dan Aykroyd takes over for Bill Murray and the groundhog drinks a Hires root beer left on the putting green during an opening scene. Chevy Chase IS in it, but barely. It goes without saying that it's an awful movie but it's kind of awe-inspiring in how awful it truly is. Aykroyd talks in a strange high-pitched voice as though he didn't want to be mistaken for Murray's mumbling groundskeeper. What's bizarre is that they reprise a lot of the signature scenes from the first film AS THOUGH WE"VE NEVER SEEN THEM BEFORE.
Just Buy Them
So this is what happens in an election year. Tobacco farmers, General Electric, Exxon Mobil, electric utilities, movie producers, Hewlett-Packard, Eli Lilly and agricultural producers get big fat tax breaks! To make up for EU's protective tariffs, we're giving corporate America a $76 billion tax cut over the next 10 years.


Trading Up
Today, I dumped a lot of the CDs that are not, shall we say, in my area of interest. And no I'm not naming names. This week's cuts have been from the get-out-of-my-sight-immediately category. Though I'm sure I will have a few "where did that go? ah, I sold it" moments, something had to be done to put a dent in the pile-up. Through the magic of the trade and barter system I've come away with the Soul Jazz Studio One Funk comp on vinyl which sounds good on first pass, the revelatory Clash documentary "Westway to the World" DVD which I'm actually watching right this second, "The Harder They Come" DVD, an Atlantic soul comp that looks more interesting than it sounds, a dub record on the Attack label and a few soul 45s that need cleaning. Two of the record shops I visited were selling lots of bootleg live DVDs that were quite tempting, though ultimately too challenging to my conscience. I am left wondering who is getting what cut of the $20 they want for a DVD of a '78 Wire gig in Dusseldorf. I doubt Robert Gotobed is seeing a dime. I won't take too strong of a stand, there's always next week.


Two Weeks of the Panther
This Wednesday will be the band's first headlining club gig, which is great but still somewhat premature in that we don't have any records out. We should have CDRs for sale and t-shirts for NYC and DC gigs.

Wed. Oct. 06 - 8PM - 21+ - BOTTOM LOUNGE
QUIETING SYRUP (ex Denali / mbr of Pinebender)

PP is also playing Washington DC Fri. Oct. 15 at the Warehouse Next Door and Brooklyn, NY Sat. Oct. 16 downstairs at North Six for CMJ festival.

You can hear Perfect Panther MP3s here. Both tracks recorded by Iceman at Soma.


Swift Fact Check
I stumbled, internet style, into this parody/response to the Swift Boat slander that has been aimed at Kerry.
Debate Aftermath
In a blatant attempt to steal the headlines from the news that he's been trounced in the debate and new polls, Bush and his cronies launch a major new offensive in Iraq. It's doubtful that we have enough troops to secure any cities we take, but that's irrelevant. Back home, the media is reporting that Kerry easily took the debate, um, or are they?

"Anyone who declares a winner in this debate is a predictable partisan. They both did beautiful."
-Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia

This story and others purport that the debate was "a draw" while running unscientific polls that indicate that 70% of us though otherwise. This Sabato (who's on thin ice grammatically with a missing adverb) is either in the pockets of the Republicans, just completely not paying attention or hedging his bets on a conservative campus where he has to resort to outright lies to get tenure. Seriously, Bush took some direct hits and his feeble, repetitive mumblings about "hard work" can't have looked good to undecided voters. You could feel Kerry's confidence and momentum. Bush held his own? No way. He was embarassing.

I also have heard that only 8,000 Iraqis have been trained for anything, far short of the 100,000 figure that Bush was bandying.

Having poked around the web a bit more, it seems that the very same media outlets are indicating the Kerry scored with swing voters. Fair and balanced?


"Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2"
was brainy, beautifully animated and heavier on noir vibes rather than stylized violence. Where's a fan nerd site that unpacks it all for the manga novice? I ran into Iceman at the Rainbo who gave me the report on the Ramones doc. It sounds fascinating, tragic and rentable.

If you live a non-veg lifestyle and pass through Chicago, I highly advise you to make a date for Avec. Actually, vegans could just do few salads and the foccacia and be quite satisfied. Owned by the same people behind Blackbird, they serve exquisite small plates and a few entrees. The room is done in cedar and oak, resembling a long sauna with five eight-person communal tables. The food is right on the money. The perfection of the focaccia can't be explained and the stuffed figs are unforgettable. The giant wine list is intimidating but the servers are really into pointing you in the right direction. We ended up with a kind of fruity Portugese red that played nice with everything we ate. I bumped into Kiki Mercury for about the fourth time this week before she jets off to LA. I would have suspecting her of stalking me except that she was out with her mom, which doesn't seem very stalkerlike. Hopefully, she will be back as she's been a huge asset to the Chicago writer and partier scenes. Besides, she hasn't let me read her novel yet.

I'm dying to post MP3s and have tons of webspace with Comcast, but there's something that won't let me upload MP3s. I'm talking about my own music, not some pirated action. Once I can figure a work-around, I'll be uploading recordings of Palisades a recording project I did with Eric and David, some rehearsal tapes of a band called The Tax I've been trying out with, some solo demos and some Perfect Panther demos.

I've been listening to The Bees after hearing more about them from Dan in the New Constitution. It's a pastiche they're doing, but a good one.

Man, I'm nervous about the debate tonight.


My actual birthday involved almost no reckless, stylish indulgence but lots of wandering Western Avenue which is reportedly the world's longest road. It seemed proper to hit the local taco joints, thrift stores and Brazilian Legal Aid/Brazilian themed boutique while my exhaust system was being replaced. The total damage to my already critically injured checking account was $200, and considering I went there expecting to get out with a $40 muffler, it was a huge birthday bummer. Last night was chill, I even skipped a going-away party I was invited to. Today, I'm making up for it all.

I struck gold at Dusty Groove, nabbing a couple original Billy Paul LPs for 5 bucks, the Rotary Connection original LP for much more, but passing on the Trojan Rock Steady box set because honestly I have tons of Studio One and reggae comps that I have yet to really dig into. On Billy Paul, I've been digging the "360 Degrees of" best of for a while (LP is easy to find) and he's also been included on a lot of pricier Philly Soul comps coming out this year. In 2003, he was awarded $500,000 for his "Me and Mrs. Jones" recording, which you've probably heard on oldies radio many times. His case was a landmark in the fight of small production companies to get royalties from big distributors. Right now I am enjoying "War of the Gods" a bit more than "First Class" though it is the latter that DJs are all up in right now.

Birthday plans include seeing a movie ("Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2" perhaps) and getting all Euro with dinner at Avec.


I made it down to see Ghost at the Empty Bottle. It was well worth sticking it out through Xiu Xiu who were just painful. The club was crowded, stinky and beers didn't really make me any more comfortable. The sound mix for Ghost was pretty horrible, the soundman had tons of reverb on Batoh's vocals which were also mixed too low. The band responded by rocking a bit harder, they were miles away from a sleepy ethereal space jam, much more like Can meets King Crimson. The set consisted mostly of material from "Hypnotic Underworld" with a few tunes from earlier albums thrown in. Batoh wore a purple velveteen suit with freaky drawings on it.

I also paid a visit to South Bend for a trouncing of the Huskies on the gridiron by the Fighting Irish, the weather was incredible and it was great to see my parents so active and upbeat. My brave fiance came along. I've always been a bit schizo about football and the sport doesn't even rate in my top ten. American football fandom resembles a kind of a cultural fascism that obliterates everything in its path. I did, however, do my fair share of fist-pumping and high-fiving on Saturday. I enjoy a lively passing game and most definitely got it.

The big bed swap took place over the last week. I came out a winner with a Queen size boat of Italian origin as did Human Torch who took my Full and almost new sheets over to his boho rocker pad above the Empty Bottle.

Direction last night sounded really amazing with Kevin from Hi-Fi Records and the Mannequin Men as guest DJ, but the turn-out was extremely light. Personal set highlights included The Bar-Kays, Billy Nichols, Miaow, Humble Pie, Ebony Rhythm Band a lot of what Kevin was spinning... By the way, the Wire has a great piece on psychedelic soul in this month's issue.

And yes, comments work again, my links are back up and I'm digging this new template. Note the pretty pictures too. MP3s coming soon.

It's my birthday and I have to go get a new muffler.


Comments don't seem to be working, I'll tidy up the code later today.

In the meantime, just read that pot actually has fairly mild affects on brain chemistry. Legalization now?

These are mine now.


Okay come clean. Who did it? Someone gave my home phone number to the inmates at Cook Country Jail. I received several collect calls today from dudes in the lock-up. If it's just random and they've got the wrong number, that's just plain weird. If you are on your way to jail, please don't call me.

How is Russell Simmons going to explain DefJam Fight for New York, the videogame of street-fighting thugs? How does that jive with Def Poetry? Which one is more painful to watch for 15 minutes? Respond now.

I'm writing for the Chicago Tribune now, check out my piece on Ghost in Friday's paper.


My birthday is coming up, who wants to get me the speakers or MP3 player from Front design? You know you want to.

Listening Station
The new Nick Cave double CD thing (ANTI)
VHS or Beta, Night on Fire (Astralwerks)


Sagebrush War anyone? I've been in guidebook heaven (hell?) the last couple weeks and I know more about Oregon history and national parks than I ever thought I would. I'm also discovering some interesting (and mostly moronic) libertarian literature that invokes the Sagebrush War for inspiration. For those that are not bored senseless already, the Sagebrush War involved the breakaway Republic of Nataqua which for 8 years existed outside the bounds of the US, California or Nevada territories. Susanville, CA was the capital... back to work...


This weekend, via email, I asked a few ex-coworkers with really boss blogs to link to me and thus far I have had a grand total of ZERO responses. Thanks guys. In the meantime, today's workday has been mostly concerned with editing pieces on singer/songwriters so I've been formulating a snide definition that covers most singer-songwriters, something along the lines of... "Someone with the ego to want to tell you all about themselves, but without the balls or brains to know who they are and what that is." Get it? Okay, it's a work in progress. Welcome to my process.


Supposedly, this is a great archive web site where you can snag web pages from the past. I have not really got into much, but I am told you can read just about everything I've written for places like Citysearch.com and CityPages over the years. Useful but truly scary in a way.


One of those Porsches (alright, the garish bright yellow automatic) went for a paltry $1,275 and the winner of the auction was... someone called "iliveforthelordjesuschrist" which suggests to me that I need to get one of these sometime in early '05 just so that someone with such a brazenly pious nom-de-guerre does not take home another German roadster. Sidenote: I read somewhere that the 924 was originally designed for Volkswagen who shelved it.


Listening Station
The Futureheads s/t (Warner)

Check out this review of Thee Snuff Project "Dyin Ain't Much of a Livin" CD on Splendidzine. It's quite complimentary if not bizarre in some respects as in those "Jawbox bass" references. No offense to Kim Coletta, but I don't remember Jawbox being known for really memorable basslines, fine band in their own way of course. I just find that DC music kids often have a way of seeing the whole music world through the lens of DC punk bands which of course is absurd since it was, at one point, one of the most isolated if fruitful music scenes in the nation. How can you not mention the Stooges of Spacemen 3 when reviewing Thee Snuff record? The Fall, yes, Fugazi, well maybe...

erm, and while I'm at it. This is absurdly inaccurate in almost every respect possible.


Listening Station
Reed/Cale/Nico, Le Bataclan '72

Borrowed this live CD from a friend. Is it a bootleg in lush packaging? It seems so. It's pretty great with Reed quipping one liners before each tune, acoustics aren't band at all despite what I had read online. They play VU, Reed, Cale and Nico songs, naturally.


I'm just getting up to speed on the Jessica Cutler AKA Washingtonienne sex scandal back in DC. Washington's first big web-related sex scandal. She's done an exclusive Playboy.com (not the magazine) pictorial and as an occassional contributor to Playboy.com I got something in my inbox about her interview and photos this morning. Basically, Jessica, this low level staffer on the Hill had a bunch of sugar daddies, at least one a Bush appointee and wrote about her experiences with them explicitly in her blog. I don't find this all that shocking. A friend of a friend in NYC has some kind of international businessman sugar daddy and I think it is a relationship that while widely considered a few clicks short of prostitution is extremely common in metropolitan areas. I'm sure if sugar mommies were more common, I could have used one in about 1994. Maybe it's my coffee talking, but I'm not so much appalled as curious. Also, having worked on Capitol Hill very briefly and spent a lot of time in the DC area, I know that while it is not exactly the most stylish of cities, it is probably one of the most sex/power mad places I've ever lived. People are working it. For more information on the scandal, check out Playboy.com or perhaps the ever popular Wonkette. Forget the election, people will be talking about this in DC for years to come.

Also check out this piece on dating chicks in bands by Meghan McEwen. It's silly, but actually incredibly accurate. Nice work Meghan.


I just came across something I wrote back in 2000 that made me laugh. Take the '70s rock trivia quiz. Answers to be posted later.

Maybe you are pulling off that 70s look that’s come back strong: feathered long hair, patches on your fading flared jeans, suede jacket with fringe, too tight rainbow colored three-quartered t-shirt and oooh yeah, a comfy pair of moccassins. But have you really got your 1970s FM rock n’ roll down? Back in the day, the real "heads" as they were called kept track of rock’s increasingly complex who’s who with an incredible amount of detail, even if they did most of their research lying on couches in smoke-filled, black-light lit rooms studying liner-notes to a pumping 8-track stereo. Maybe it’s time to get reacquainted with some of the stars of 1970s, the rockers, the singer-songwriters and even folkies that shaped the party decade’s golden sounds. Come on, turn the knob up and imagine that you are a ‘70s rock trivia "head" and check out XXXXXX.com’s ‘70s Rock Trivia Quiz. Warning. This isn’t Brady Bunch stuff. If you don’t know which New York City band dressed up in black and white make-up, elevator heels, had a hit with "Beth" and met the Phantom of the Park in 1976, then don’t even bother. (Answer: Kiss, man).

1. According to legend, what British titans of ‘70s rock renamed themselves (at Keith Moon and John Entwhistle’s suggestion) after going down badly in front of Scandinavian royalty on an early tour as The New Yardbirds?
a. Queen
b. Led Zeppelin
c. Jethro Tull
d. Deep Purple

2. What Canadian-born ‘70s rock singer/songwriter briefly played in the first mostly white act (the Mynah Birds with Rick James) signed to Detroit’s famous soul label Motown Records in the mid-1960s?
a. Emitt Rhodes
b. Todd Rundgren
c. Neil Young
d. Peter Frampton

3. "Bron-Y-Aur" was the name of Led Zeppelin’s what?
a. rare species of pet shark to which they were partial.
b. overweight Indian tour manager
c. Satanic spiritual guru
d. Cottage in Snowdonia, Wales where the band wrote much of their folk influenced acoustic material.

4. October 20, 1977 was a dark day for Southern rock because on that day…
a. Greg Allman quit The Allman Brothers to begin a successful solo career.
b. Molly Hatchet swore off drinking.
c. The Carpenters played a sold-out show in Atlanta, Georgia where fans behaved decently toward one another, cleaned-up after themselves, applauded the duo’s icky songs and went home thoroughly entertained.
d. A plane crash outside of Gillsburg, Mississippi killed Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister Cassie, one of the group's backing vocalists.

5. Walter Becker (bass) and Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards) met at Bard College and played in band called Bad Rock Group in the late 1960s. In the 1970s they went by the name Steely Dan after a dildo in William Burroughs' Naked Lunch and made jazz-influenced records chock full of FM hits. Who was their drummer back in the early days?
a. Steve Martin
b. Tom Waits
c. Chevy Chase
d. Max Weinberg

6. Two years before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac, they were romantically and artistically attached, recording an album for Polydor called Buckingham-Nicks (1973). It stiffed, but ended up catching the ear of one Mick Fleetwood looking for a new guitar player. Stevie Nicks says that her major complaint about the album (done a few years before Buckingham told her "Go Your Own Way" on an A-side for the Mac) was what?

a. The fluorescent lights had been "too friggin bright" in the studio during the recording session throwing her off key.
b. Her ex-boyfriend Buckingham sounds more "feminine and mystical" than she does.
c. That Buckingham convinced her to pose bare-chested with him for the album cover, explaining that it was "for the sake of art."
d. That Fleetwood Mac never played or recorded any songs from the album.

7. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were the ‘70s first real supergroup. Their three-part harmonies, powerful often politically aware songwriting made them instantly huge at a time when hard rock was the big thing. Which of the following CSN&Y factoids is false?
a. The second CSN&Y gig was Woodstock, where they sang the Joni Mitchell penned "Woodstock." However, they also played with the Rolling Stones at the hellish, violent Altamont Speedway Concert, just snuck out early to play a more groovy UCLA gig that night.
b. In 1970, National Guardsmen shot and killed four students at Kent State. CSN&Y recorded and released Young’s "Ohio" within ten days of the event.
c. Sometimes CSNY’s skyrocketing career looked as if David Crosby had made a deal with the Devil. The same day that the band’s first album went gold, David Crosby's lady, Christine Gale Hinton, was killed in a head-on collision as she took the couple’s cats to the vet in his VW bus.
d. While other groups were using more than 21 microphones, CSN&Y refused technological upgrades, playing stadium concerts using only three mikes.

8. Most lazy critics assume that the punk rock explosion was a reaction to the dullness of the music of the 1970s. History, however tends to favor the theory that punks were well studied in glam rock and power pop, and built on the mod and garage music of the ‘60s. Some punks, such as Joe Strummer of the Clash were even ex-hippy folk. What ‘70s guitar rock hero from the wrong side of the tracks was so knocked out by punk that he celebrated it by joining an "authentic" punk group?
a. Alex Chilton, who quit his pop band Big Star and started a group in New York called Television.
b. Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, who joined a group with ex-members of Generation X called Evil Empire.
c. Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, who formed a bad-boy all-star group with ex-Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook called The Greedy Bastards.
d. Randy Bachman from Bachman Turner Overdrive, who after cutting his hair into a mohawk on a dare, liked it so much that he guested with the political punk band Crass.

9. Yes, for better or worse pioneered the progressive rock sound of the 70s and broke new ground in spiritual flakiness and muzo embellishment. Jon Andersen wrote one Yes album inspired by Portrait of a Yogi and the Shastric scriptures he discovered in the East. What did Yes manager Brian Lane do to create the proper atmosphere for recording 1972’s hit album Tales from Topographic Oceans?
a. Sent the band aboard an ocean liner with nothing but instruments, curry and rice to record in the South China Sea.
b. He brought Indian Gurus for each member of the band, available to teach meditation 24 hours a day.
c. To give the studio the feel of a rural village, he had a picket fence built around the band, equipment set in bales of hay, and a full-size cardboard cow with mechanical udders.
d. Shaved his head except for a pony tail, dressed in silk robes, crossed his legs like Buddha and sat in Yes’ studio until the album was finished.

10. The Eagles were one of the most commercially successful bands on the 1970s. Their Greatest Hits has now outsold Michael Jackson’s Thriller and is the best selling album of all time. The Eagles, however weren’t always stars. They were LA session musicians assembled by producer John Boylan as the backing band for what singer?

a. James Taylor
b. Linda Ronstadt
c. Carly Simon
d. Cher
I read this article in Automotive or some car mag while getting my oil changed about how one of the '80s Porsches was a great used car, relatively inexpensive, easy to maintain and fun to drive, yadda, yadda. So that explains why I can't stop ebaying Porsches. It turns out the '80s Porsches are pretty cheap. There's even a 924 going for $250 right now, here in IL. Of course, it will sell for a few grand more than that and I would rather not deal with the insurance, tags, parking fees for another car, but it's fun to day dream. Maybe a Triumph or a Alfa?

Listening Station
Macha "Forget Tomorrow" (Jet Set)
Masaki Batoh "Collected Works 95-96" (Drag City)


Was it Sundance or IFC? Probably Sundance. I'm pissed as I was watching "Rude Boy" late one night on Sundance and figured it would be on again soon ripe for the taping (no Tivo or DVD recording here yet), and what do you know? Sundance says it's "not currently screening." Just a one time thing or what? Isn't cable all about re-running things ad nauseum?


This Newsday article about Dave Itzkoff is interesting for two reasons. The guy completely created this fictionalized version of himself to appeal to Maxim readers and he was completely depressed despite his success because of his relationship with his father. If I can get a review copy of the book, I'm all over it.


I heard that the brownie lady got busted. I'd do a story on her situation except that I have no time for the next month or so. I've basically gone from being a total waster in July to having the equivalent of two full time jobs for September. I'm bracing myself for it.

I had a review quashed by a higher up editor at RollingStone.com for no reason. I'm doing another review for them next month, but I'm still annoyed.


I banged out some CD reviews for StopSmiling's online edition.

Perfect Panther is playing tonight at Schuba's. I am drumming. We sound the best we ever have.

I am listening to RTX and getting the shit kicked out of me aurally.

RollingStone.com evidently thinks they posted my latest review for them, though I can assure you, they did not.


Still trying to get the Blackwell hook-up going again. His people are great, he's just busy and important and considering how much free time I have, I must be the complete opposite. I did chat with Carl from the Libertines today. He was soulfully intelligent and has quite an amazing way at looking at things, considering how chaotic and unstable his band situation. His co-frontman Pete Doherty is currently exiled from the band for doing too much of the drugs.

Miles, Dave and I went to the hookah bar so I that I could review it. The decor was bizarre, the belly dancer definitely doing Latin steps and the smoke quite delectable. I think it took a full hour to get our check. Good times. Ran into the New Constitution guys at the Rainbo and caught up with them. They're super nice. May have to convince them to let me executive produce their album or A&R them or do something biz-wise that will make all of us rich as hell.

Otherwise, I've just been completely deluged with work opportunities. It's going to be a busy and hopefully lucrative season which makes up for the all the total freelance partying decadence of the last few months. Having no time to go to the pool, fiddle with the guitar, write absurdly long emails may be a shock to the system at first, but watching the bank account rise is a novelty that I can't resist.

My parents moved to South Bend, Indiana this week. I'm certain to see more of them for the next few months. Or am I?

Lovin' the Lympics, aren't you? Tennis, swimming, fencing, soccer in abundance.

Top things of the week...
The Animal Collective (live at Open End)
Rodan (especially that Japanese beer with the owl logo)
scoring Spooky Tooth, Humble Pie, Robert Palmer, Stories and Grand Funk LPs for sixty cents a pop and some nice Japanese ceramics thrifting yesterday.

By the way, check the air in your car tires. I went to inflate my left front tire on the Golf and realized the tire pressure was below 10 PSI. The suggested pressure is around 40 PSI. I'm lucky to be alive.


I'm waiting for Chris Blackwell to call me back right now for an interview to run in Stop Smiling, should be interesting. I'm trying to keep the Island/Marley questions to a minimum. He's only in NYC for a short time, so I have to make the most of it.

In the meantime, I've been at war with my computer lately, but have won the latest skirmish. It turns out a lot of my Word files has the W97 virus or whatever it is called. Norton fixed those. In the meantime, I tried to install OpenOffice which is supposed to be an open source alternative to MS Office which I have been cursing lately for it's constant freezing up. Anyway, OpenOffice couldn't run, even with the X11 code installed etc. so I took that monster off. I'm not quite up on Unix and all the possibilities that it holds for Mac OS X. In general, it reminds me that my computer programming training ended in 1989 with C and I'm not sure that's a horse you can just get back on and ride.

I dropped off my amp and guitar to get repaired and set-up. I've just had it with that stuff being unreliable and hard to work with. Hopefully, getting the Vox fixed won't cost too much. I went out to Niles, IL where I believe Ludwig or Slingerland drums were once made (gotta check on that). There's like a weird little area with a music shop, comic shop and a natural foods store. Otherwise, it's not a very inviting suburb, though I saw some alright looking bungalows on the way in.

Oh, by the way, been daydreaming about a FLW house. There is one (the McCartney house I think) for sale near Kalamazoo for just over 300 grand, a steal. I've yet to dream up a way to finance it. Who's sick of rented apartments? Raise your hand. Oooh, actually the Eric Pratt house is up too. I want to live Usonian Automatic style.

Now back to waiting by the phone...


I'm back from New York, with lots to report, but in the meantime, there's a few things I've read this morning that are worth checking out. Jack Shafer of Slate comes down pretty hard on the media monopoly book and in many ways I agree with much of what he says (especially the part about most story ideas originating with the big four newspapers, none of which are owned by the big five media companies). Having found the Harper's article on Clear Channel from last year to be extremely half-assed and full of unsubstantiated assumptions, I was hoping he would get into that, but he doesn't.

I saw some amazing breakdancing on the train in New York, these teenagers were doing flips, one-handed stands, even spinning a bit with very limited clearance. They were really professional and charming and I was smiling by the end of it.

Passing through the WTC site twice as I caught the PATH train to and from Newark was really intense. I had no idea that the subway station looked out on the crater from the 9-11 tragedy until I got there and was therefore uprepared for the incredible wave of emotion that hit me when I walked through. Everyone stops, looks, takes photos. It's this incredibly quiet, still but massive space.


Nice work, this is really interesting. One of my old professors wrote this piece for Foreign Affairs on how sanctions actually did work in Iraq, we just didn't know it.

And also, if Steve Hawking can admit when he makes a mistake, why can't I? Simply put, because I don't make mistakes. Ever.


Townsend vs. Moore. I have yet to see F-911, but I am very curious. Moore is an imperfect documentarian, a bit loose with facts, etc. but on an emotional level he has a great way with images and words. Hitchens hates the film which makes me a bit less ready to embrace it. I tried to see it with my girlfriend on the 5th and it was sold out so we saw the very worthwhile "Control Room."
So this evening, I'm writing a little short story about cats that study at universities and fly by attaching aerodynamic wings to their little old paws. (My defense: it's a birthday gift.) And what happens? My best friend and confidant Misha takes a dive from my sunny three story balcony. Probably chasing a bee, but that is no excuse. Neighbor buzzes the front door and tells me that he saw my cat go flying by. Between freaking out, calling vets and trying to figure out what to do I really drained myself. Someone (who was working a 14 hour day) calmed me down, then the freak out began all over again because the cat started acting strange. Hours and hundreds of dollars later, all is well, x-rayed cat is hurting but drugged up and owner/parents are sedated by exhaustion, sauteed spinach, white wine, chocolate chip cookies and organic milk.

Jonathan Ames has a new book out and was on Letterman tonight. The new season of Ali G starts this weekend and Sacha Baron Cohen is interviewed in Vanity Fair (illuminating) and Borak was on Conan tonight. Both were absolutely brilliant if a bit over the top. TV talk shows are not about subtlety. More Baron Cohen here.

I'm pitching stories to some different publications this month, got some good contacts right now. Editors seem to be less responsive this summer than usual. What the hell is going on?

Kiki Mercury, Jason Modernist and DJ D-Mack get praise for being inspirational, conversational but almost never confrontational this past weekend. I felt like I was in the smart kid club at a new school. I missed the Dome of Doom party but I ate great Indian food at Bahbi's, went to the Green Mill, Oak Street beach, a couple lame bars, ate those little asian samosas at Marshall Fields and had a totally new Chicago experience almost every hour. The Modernist party was a bit sparse while Direction wasn't so bad. I ended up playing a lot of '80s stuff. I also noticed my copy of Magic Bus is worn out, has no low end whatsoever. I'm working on getting the M's to play at Direction sometime soon.


How Your Band Can Fire Bush

Serious props are in order to Damian for putting this together. I first met Damian when he was in high school and have always known him as a really can-do, creative guy with impeccable manners. Add this brilliant stroke of rock as activism to his resume. You can download the guide to How Your Band Can Fire Bush at okgo.net/images/bandsfirebush.pdf


Wait up dude and check this out if you think Nickelback totally suck.


Updated my audio driver for my USB Duo thingy. Thanks M-Audio. My Word program has been crashing a lot lately, making the project of writing a silly fantasy novel harder than it really should be. I wanted to do it in a week and still plan to. For some reason, I though the audio drivers might be crashing the computer. Anyway, I'm somewhat underwhelmed by Panther so far. Thrilled to hear about a new OS X update coming soon.

Listening Station
10cc Deceptive Bends and more...
David Bowie Diamond Dogs 2xCD
Jackie Mittoo & the Soul Vendors
Comets on Fire Blue Cathedral

This week was mainly about swimming, grilling, bugging editors about jobs and assignments and jamming on guitar. I did go out and drink outside at least once. Altogether an unproductive week except for delving into the fiction thing. I plan to finally write lyrics to one of the demos I unearthed from my Butcher Shop days. I interviewed Martina Topley-Bird last week and it was really cool, that should be running on Playboy.com at some point.

I'm part of the conceptual team doing the Modernist Society at the Darkroom. Our next theme night is going to be... St. Tropez Vice! Don't ask me what it means, the Riviera meets Miami in Chicago, right? Hopefully we can convince some people to wear their swimsuits.