The depths of incompetence
The Donald Vance story is everywhere right now, but I must admit my jaw (quite literally) dropped at how stupid, unjust and just plain embarrassing it is for the military to arrest and detain a security office from Chicago who was actually an FBI informant on illegal weapons trading!


meet Pippin.
He weighs 2lbs, loves to climb sweatpants with people in them, enjoys bouncing, shiny orbs, chirping and face cuddling.

This old drum

Thanks to Kelly for inspiring this entry the other day during our staycation. I've been on a bit of a tear with getting some of my junk-shop drums back to playable if not quite Japanese hedge fund director/drum collector worthy condition. The big project, which was probably at least a 40 hour job, was recovering my 1969-70 Sonor Swinger kit. The kit was previously wrapped in some kind of diarrhea-stained grey discount wallpaper when I bought it from some Quebecois drum shop off eBay. It was cheap as hell, but I also bought a vintage Pearl kit the same month which arrived damaged which has resulted in a serious grudge against FedEx Ground and also a lot of emotional baggage connected with this otherwise, no-risk kit. So back to the drum thing. They look amazing now (see lousy cellphone pic above) and I would definitely recommend the project for anyone with some evenings they want to kill and an ugly drum kit. I ordered my drum wrap from Jammin Sam. Getting some decent drum wrap on your kit is also protective and older kits, however high quality they might be, are a bit fragile in many ways. There, there, you are getting very sleepy, yes?

PS, I have yet to actually play it since putting the finishing touches on it, so that will be the subject for another scintillating blog.

PSS, Found out during the process that while these German drums are roughly standard sized, the original hardware is actually metric. If you have got a line on metric sized thumbscrews, get a hold of me. Seriously.


Top records of 2006, a work in progress

Top ten lists are a pain in the arse, but god, are they fun to read and sometimes I get paid for them.

Still shuffling this around... comments, suggestions? Hated the Rapture and Jenny Lewis at first, but ended up loving them, but they still didn't make the cut. Cat Power didn't make it, not sure why.

1. Goldfrapp, Supernature (Mute)
2. Lindstrøm, It’s a Feedelity Affair (Smalltown Supersound)
3. LCD Soundsystem, 45:33: Nike + Original Run, (Nike)
4. The Ark, State of the Ark (Rebel Group)
5. Scritti Politti, White Bread, Black Beer (Nonesuch)
6. The Kooks, Inside In/Inside Out, (Astralwerks)
7. Love is All, Nine Times the Same Song (What’s Your Rupture?)
8. Vitalic, OK Cowboy, (Uncivilized World)
9. CSS, Cansei Der Sexy (Sub Pop)
10. Spank Rock, Yoyoyoyoyo (Big Dada)


1. Young People, Peter, Bjorn and John
2. Pop the Glock, Uffie
3. 45:33: Nike + Original Run LCD Soundsystem
4. SexyBack, Justin Timberlake
5. Daydreamin’, Lupe Fiasco
6. Waters of Nazareth, Justice
7. Anything by the Chromatics
8. Easy Love, MSTRKRFT
9. Magick (Simian Mobile Disco Mix), Klaxons


1. Cerrone, Cerrone 3, Recall
2. Thee Midnighters, In Thee Midnite Hour!!!! (Norton?)
3. Bee Gees, The Studio Albums 1967-1968 (Reprise)
4. The Byrds, There is a Season

DJ Mix CDs



Nothing makes you feel homesick like "Reign in Blood"

U.S. Headlining Trek to Kick off in January

Los Angeles, CA - (November 1, 2006) -- The members of the thrash/punk band SLAYER - Kerry King/guitars, Tom Araya/bass, vocals, Jeff Hanneman/guitars, and Dave Lombardo/drums - will take a few hours off from their current European "Unholy Alliance Tour" schedule to pay a visit to the 52nd Services Squadron located on the Spangdahlem U.S. Air Force Base in Germany on Wednesday, November 8. With a sizeable chunk of Slayer's core audience being enlisted men and women, this will be the band's first-ever visit to a military base.

The band, whose latest release, "Christ Illusion," deals with the brutality of war and religions fanaticism, scrutinizing America's role in Iraq and Afghanistan, will spend a couple of hours meeting and chatting with the soldiers, signing autographs, and possibly viewing a fighter aircraft or two.

Upon returning home just before Thanksgiving, Slayer will take the holidays off and then launch a headlining tour of the U.S. Dates are still being confirmed and will be announced shortly, but the intended cities for the tour include:

Tucson, AZ
Las Vegas, NV
Los Angeles, CA
Sacramento, CA
Reno, NV
Salt Lake City, UT
Fargo, ND
Sioux Falls, SD
Kansas City, MO
Atlantic City, NJ
Providence, RI
New York, NY
Hamilton, ONT CANADA
Rochester, NY
Youngstown, OH
Columbus, OH
Indianapolis, IN
Myrtle Beach, SC
Orlando, FL
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Washington, D.C.


Impossible is Nothing
Okay, last thing tonight... This Aleksey Vayner stuff is addictive. Any bets on who picks up the reality show?

And, like ouch dude.
Two items regarding Notre Dame.
The last five minutes of the game against UCLA = just mindblowing... For someone who basically ignored football for a good chunk of my life, it was terrifically exciting. Quinn to Samardzija was a beautiful thing considering the announcers had convinced me to give up on the game, but not turn it off. The Irish scored with 27 seconds on the clock which is usually when I have started my channel surfing.

The second item is almost too absurd to be believed but can be summarized this way: an immediate family member is (reportedly) currently the subject (a very small subject) of a desperate Republican attack ad! The best part... IN INDIANA! Yes, the Dugan family is a powerful clan with deep ties to the venerable Democratic party, but did you know that our power has the GOP twittering in its Men's Wearhouse specials all the way in the midwest? We do, yes, we do. I'm looking for the ad online right now!


bad Brains
Looks like there is a new video compilation of the OG Bad Brains which is about time. I'm feeling kinda lucky that I managed to see them a few times (okay, twice) at the old 9:30 Club in the late 80s. I beg to differ with some bloggers who have discounted the Brains reggae tunes, which are pretty solid. Moreover, HR's reggae band "HR" was amazing live the few times I saw them.
Studio 60
I'm not ready to pass judgement on the new Aaron Sorkin vehicle. I eventually succumbed to the West Wing because my Washington Metro area based parents basically fell for it hook line and sinker, and you can't beat the Martin Sheen as the liberal Notre Dame sweatshirt wearing President for wish fulfillment. An odd effect of watching Studio 60 is that a look behind the scenes of SNL ends up revealing a serious problem with the actual SNL, as in not so funny, soft politics. Years ago I noticed that SNL had become quicker to mock poor people or people with accents and less adept at skewering those in power. There's a parallel with West Wing in that Sorkin's faux SNL is being rescued by quick witted though emotionally damaged writers in the way the country was being run by someone more sympathetic on WW. Right? Anyway, all this is beside the critique which I intended to make of the Studio 60's godawful theme song. W.G. Snuffy Walden wrote everything from the Mary Tyler Moore, thirtysomething to My So Called Life and obviously West Wing. What happened bro? Not so oddly, when you watch the episodes online they don't use the theme song as far as I can tell, anywhere.


Rite to your YouTube
I knew this guy in VA who probably had 100 hours of Rites of Spring videos. Finally a few surfaced last month. This tune they play at the old 9:30 Club was new to me, I don't think it was every released. The 9:30 Club very wisely videotaped every show at the club for years on end, so I'd expect that a lot of that footage will find its way to the video Tube.


Catalonia capsule
A few days in Barcelona really just isn't enough. I feel slightly tortured that my trip was cut short at both ends (a sad story I'll spare you). Next time, I'm going to see FC Barcelona no matter what. But I did luck into hitting Barcelona during La Merce 2006, an annual cultural festival which involved lots of live music on multiple stages in downtown Barcelona which also brings out just about all the children in the city during the day and allows for drinking beer in public squares at night. I mostly stuck to Catalan folk bands or folky-rocky-ska bands, but also caught some Afrobeat on the main stage. Somewhere in the city, Neko Case was playing but she bored me to tears last time I saw her in Chicago. Dirty Pretty Things were playing a free show the afternoon I arrived. There were loads of gigs in the city on the 28th (the Rapture), but I was up in the Pyrenees pretending to be the Duke of Cardona for a night. Two shows I would have like to have seen were Digitalism and the Divine Comedy, but I'm sure they'll come around here. The drive from the Costa Brava into the Pyrenees itself proved to be one of the trips highlights. Next time, I'm putting the pedal down. No sleep til Andorra. The other revelation was this... Spanish food totally rocks (Cal Pep was everything it was promised to be and more) and Spanish wine... good God! I ended up drinking wines from the Ribera del Deuro region but Baldoma Seleccio, Lealtanza Magnum, Alidis tinto were some of my favorite reds. I got in the habit of drinking a glass of cava before dinner and took it easy on the Estrellas (which are in fact, just a type of beer made by Damm, I had no idea). Some of my favorite places were small, restored medieval towns that are pretty unknown. During the driving portion of the adventure, iCat was my companion, a Catalan station that plays the likes of Beth Orton, Cat Power, new Paul Weller alongside regional folky singer-songwriter rock. There are also a few stations kicking out the Ibiza anthems non-stop. The big revelation being that Catalan radio kicks ass over what you get in the States but that's Barcelona for you, really stylish but never, in my experience, annoying.


World Inferno!
Jack's an old chum of mine, who I highly regard simply for the reason that the I last time I saw him he told me a priceless, revealing but very embarrassing story about a mutual friend. The new WIFS hit is "The Velocity of Love" but it is the slightly inferior "Only Anarchists are Pretty" that is the free download on their Myspace page. Oh well.


Does anyone have any chain mail I can borrow? Just for a week. I'm going on vacation and I'M STAYING IN A CASTLE ON MY BIRTHDAY. So the hell with y'all!


Maybe when you return to Cookie Mountain, you can see if they have some graphic designers there. What the hell happened with TV on the Radio's album cover? This looks like the cover for an early ’90s third-rate grunge metal act. At best, it's a lousy version of a Vaugh Oliver style 4AD package. The booklet is a bit better, but still. This band can self-produce its records, but it opts for slick, soulless design? It doesn't add up. Don't judge a book by its cover, Cookie Mountain is pretty decent.


Peter, Bjorn and John
Who else is hip to these Swedes? Just heard 'em. The "Young Folks" remix is ace.
You may have noticed...
a break in the blogging. It's been a busy month but also I'm supposed to be blogging at work, which really takes the fun out of blogging from home. That said, the Spike Lee Katrina "doc" running on HBO this week will make you sad, angry and nauseous all at once.


Lollapalooza as it really happened.
I actually had a great time and that wasn't entirely due to my mixing of Sophia Coppola's new champagne with Vitamin Water, but it definitely had something to do with it. I'm not a huge RHCP fan, but Frusciante is just awesome to watch, even from 30,000 people away. {my lousy photos will not upload for some reason... just picture Perry Farrell in a white suit with a pink shirt with the Chicago skyline behind him.}


The Power of Nightmares
I highly suggest you check out this BBC doc series (from 2004) if you are interested in the history of the Neo-Con and radical Islamist movements. The first episode of the doc traces the birth and rise to power of both Straussians and Islamic Brotherhood leading up to Afghanistan which found the Neo-Con and Jihadist revolutionaries teaming up against the Soviets. The big shocker for me was about the Team B, the NeoCon group which built up the myth of the Soviet threat in order to derail dentente. Also interesting is that the CIA and the NeoCons have been battling since the ’70s. A warning: this doc makes the pragmatist Kissinger look very very good compared to the nuts we have in power right now. I'm not sure if BBC AM is broadcasting this, if not, they should be.

You can screen the entire doc here:
Part 1


Time Out Beirut
Everyone I know who's read these letters has found them pretty affecting. I actually have the complete text but I'm not really cleared to publish it. My thoughts are with my colleagues Ramsay and Amir Ben-David.


Pitchfork, in brief
I had to split the scene a few times but I don't think I missed anything amazing. Word is that Spank Rock were killing everyone who hadn't heard them before, which doesn't surprise me. Os Mutantes videos I shot came out like abstract modernist paintings, must have something to do with the zoom button.


Pre-Pitchfork Party
I'm spinning some records downstairs.


What's the matter with North Dakota?

Nothing this weekend, really... crystal blue skies, waves of bright yellow canola and blue-lavendar flax. I met some really interesting people from different walks of life that are now connected to me. These nice folks had the displeasure of seeing me with a swollen mouth and I had the joy of coming home to a two-hour date with the dentist chair. Hopefully, I'll be back to normal someday.

On the way home, I borrowed What's the Matter with Kansas? (which I had bought my Dad for Christmas when it came out) and plowed through it like a 20-ton threshing machine running on high-test ethanol. It's a great airport book for travelling lapsed-leftists. It'll get your blood boiling, make you feel sorrow for the working religious right and also scare the crap out of you... in a good way. I know this falls into my book reviews of books that are easily available on the used shelf, but my stack of new books is just too intimidating. Tom Frank's book does a lot of repeating itself, but that keeps it focused. His periodic mentions of punk rock bands, the Embarassment and his chapter on his personal political journey via college at first irked me, but end up being quite memorable. He has great knowledge of his home state and for that alone, he holds attention. While we are on the topic, I guess there is a historically inspired indie music fest coming up in Lawrence. What's up with all these music fests?

In other news, my World Cup pool standings took some serious damage because I forgot to make my second round picks in time. How do I feel about the way things have gone? Remarkably good. France has been stunning in the last couple games. The talent-heavy Brazil never found its groove and neither did England really. Portugal seemed to have some heat, but it faded and they seem to play dirtier than anyone else. Italy began as a bit of an opportunistic, dare I say, lazy team, but really hit its stride later. I love the idea of Zidane winning the world cup in his last appearance. Right now, I'm pulling for France.


Revenge of the Nerds?
Yes, it's true. Two of the world's richest men admit that free market capitalism is incapable of doing anything about poverty.

My quick Intonation festival top five:

1. Blue Cheer, not the original guitarist but I sure couldn't tell. They might have relaxed the tempo on a few tunes but were otherwise powerful, charismatic and real... which couldn't really be said of any of the other live acts.

2. Lupe Fiasco, skateboarders on stage, more paranoia about people downloading or recording his tracks, but he has a vibe and some pretty catchy tunes... okay, really just "Kick Push" but he was on.

3. Free-flowing 312.

4. the poster tent... I'm really into those skill-screened rock posters, even though I think it's hard to find one that both looks good and has good bands on it. I have a small collection that I have carefully unstapled from boarded-up walls on Division Street. There was a nice Tristeza poster but I can't even remember who that is. There was a killer screen for a Sonic Youth show in 2002 that I actually went to. But Sonic Youth?

5. The BBC fake Masterpiece Theatre tent. Guerrilla marketing can be annoying, but I really want to go in this tent and play pool, I just didn't quite drink enough to do that.

6. MSTRKRFT and Jordan spinning on Friday night at Smartbar with tons of sticky, nasty people dancing like some kind of futuristic pagan tribe.


Strummer in 20/20
I gave a certain magazine editor a hard time a few years back for publishing an inaccurate bio piece on Joe Strummer. I knew that Strummer wasn't "working-class" as he was repeatedly described in the piece. The ed's excuse was "the writer has a lot of experience" or something like that, and "we don't pay our writers." Nice. Anyway, I was recently vindicated in a big way in Mojo magazine, which really got to the heart of the Strummer land of make-believe and even gave us the lowdown on Cut the Crap, that weird Clash album with the drum machine that I bought on cassette the day it came out. Crap was crappy, but it primed me for B.A.D. whom I still really like. The magazine with the shoddy fact checking and lots of freak folk in it still exists.


A lot of stoner rock out there is bullshit, but I'm really digging on Danava, coming to Chicago in July.
Frere-Jones is the crunkest member of the Magnetic Fields
I think he's on fertile ground in this piece on why recent British pop (or indie) exports don't often connect with mass American audiences, but I'm not sure what it is. He seems to say (let's infer) that a puritanical American music biz can't handle the social realism of songs about prostitutes, certainly a stretch. He cites examples of inoffensive, upifting fluff like James Blunt that has gone into the charts. Thankfully, he doesn't mention the Spice Girls, even once. Is he saying that Americans prefer uplifting fluff? When I was living the UK (early 90s), uplifting, schmaltzy fluff was all you heard on the radio. The Brit indie scene was ace but in retreat and post-grunge dominated the music press, except for Suede who laid a lot of the groundwork for the resurgence Britpop.

What he doesn't get into wondering is why are some American bands able to go over to the UK, get big (so quickly) and use that as a launching pad for US success while others seem to fall flat in the UK. I'm not sure I have an answer. I do have some anecdotal knowledge of how the British music industry sometimes worked in the ’90s which might be a contributing factor. At least one band I know had their label pay off a British music journalist to write glowing profiles of the group before its UK tour. Voila... a cheap investment produces a five year career! Does it still work that or did it ever? I have no idea. Can anyone explain Adam Green for me?

Another thread to be explored is the government programmed radio angle. The BBC has only a few channels and manages to expose a massive amount of people to a wide variety of music and styles often programmed by experts and actual DJs rather than commericial-funded corporate monoliths. Why do British people give a shit about dance music, for instance? On the other hand, why has commercial hip-hop failed to get a foothold in the UK? Traditionally, the music press in the UK has more influence, but radio also matters more there than it does here. Man, I'm rambling...


I know a famous person
Erik Wemple is a super solid guy and ace editor who also falls into the slim category of newspaper men that actually take my calls. I congratulate him on his new gig at Village Voice.


Make-up time
So backpedaling on yesterday's post, Jay let me know that he didn't do what I suggested he did in the interview and he's correct. Thanks Jay, you've given this blog some much needed gravitas. I can't talk about sneakers, Belgian ales or drum wraps for at least a week.

In the interest of making good, I should tell you that Babcock is
appearing on AirAmericaRadio's "the Marc Moran Show" on Monday, May 29 in a 20-minute segment discussing the Arthur v Godsmack episode and also Arthur's forthcoming CD (curated by Chicago's Josephine Foster) which benefits anti-military recruiting campaigns.


Judgment day for Godsmack?
This is almost a month old but it's been a hot topic this week.
The guy from Godsmack definitely deserved to get some serious flack for this and props to (we don't do fact-checking, we just love pentagrams) Arthur magazine's Jay Babcock for going for the throat. But sometimes when music writers do politics, they forget to do so journalistically. Babcock doesn't stop to consider that the administration and the military are really two different, conflicting entities these days. He is subscribing to a Vietnam-era idea of a monolithic government/military complex. Anyone who has followed the lead-up to the Iraq invasion should know that the administration ignored the advice and dissent of top military advisors and also that many retired military officers have publicly opposed the war from the outset. I think Babcock could have done what he wanted to do without introducing unsubtle radical politics into the discussion. At the same time, I like the idea of some radical left O'Reillys out there shifting the angle of the debate. I just like it better when they are a bit more logic-bound and informed.

Also, anyone seen this doc Baghdad ER? is very well done, horrifying but not sensationalistic at all.
Be afraid, be very afraid.


Good Lordi.

The Finnish band Lordi won the Eurovision song contest with its original song 'Hard Rock Hallelujah.'

The band bears a striking resemblance to the costumed metallurgists GWAR who originally hailed from my home country of NoVa.


One rather curious (but obvious) sidenote to the hip-hop/race discussion going on is that political hip-hop's audience consists largely, if not overwhelmingly, of white folks. Here's a Village Voice piece from a while back that gets into it.


More on Merritt/Hopper/Frere-Jones.
Wishing I had the Prince on my playlist so I could play "Controversy."


The not-so-rare seven-inch that inspired a movie.
Some old friends hit me up about a split single from the ’90s which I did the graphics for way way back in my Indiana days. Evidently, the record or the performances around the time it was released inspired an indie rock doc film (which neither of the bands on the single appeared in). This mp3 posting is pretty hilarious for its alternate history (ie: none of these musicians have passed on to my knowledge).


I will post some listening station suggestions. I can’t tell you the racial make-up of all the musicians involved. You’ll just have to figure that out for yourself, or not.

Camera Obscura Let’s Get Out of this Country (Merge)
Country-tinged forlorn female stuff with some Joe Meek-esque production details, much better than that snoozey new Neko Case record.

The Lee Boys
, Say Yes
Gospel with a shredding steel-guitar that sometimes turns psychedelic.

Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped (Geffen)
Hey this is melodic, this isn't that weird, this kinda rocks.

Monsieur Gansbourg Revisited (Verve Forecast)
The songs of the one and only Serge Gainsbourg are redone by the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Portishead, Gonzales, Marc Almond in English for our listening pleasure. It’s one of those tribute records that ranges from the super weird (Sly & Robbie with Marianne Faithful) to the predictable (the Kills sounding like Blonde Redhead).

Radio 4
Enemies Like This (Astralwerks) Way more rockin’ than the last album which was a stinker in my book. Good guys, though.

Tony Allen Lagos No Shaking (Honest Johns)
The extraordinary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen (longtime Fela Kuti associate) does his thing well here, but its more about simmering and grooves than seething intensity. It falls on the laid-back end of Afrobeat, maybe slightly on the smooth touristy side rather than the raw freaky side.


Okay, now this is just getting crazy.
No, I don't like watching car wrecks. The responses should be showing up here and here.

And flash, Albini weighs in as only Albini can and will do.


Kristol has his day.
This guy usually gets away with murder on TV but Colbert (who's Report is actually often hit-or-miss) gets him on the ropes and keeps him there. Cobert vs. Kristol (QT).


Talkin' Nat Geo World, y'all
Er, yeah... I contributed a bunch of stuff to the fresh, hot, online National Geographic World Music Guide.


The Tax is playing with E'Nuff Z'Nuff.

Zizek anyone?
I'm thinking of heading over to In These Times for the Zizek panel tomorrow night. Who's in? The other option is to go sell stuff down at Hyde Park Records.

Hit the archives at Hyde Park Records for MP3s of some of the rarest stuff they've sold lately. An LP called The Mail Must Go Through by the Cult (not the She Sells Sanctuary one) and a D.R. Hooker album that went for a cool grand.

While last week was a social and sonic overload, this one seems to be about work, dull interviews, fascinating interviews, Elizabeth miniseries immersion (love the Helen Mirren, didn't need the graphic decapitations) and few frustrating scheduling conflicts for the rock bands. And what is up with the arctic backlash weather around here? I froze my ass off today in v-neck sweater, windbreaker and wrinkled-up Burberry dress shirt.

And I almost forgot... a new feature of this blog will be to track newspaper stories that jack from articles I've already published or something like that. The New York Times recently ran two pieces on modern auction house Wright 20 and Richard Wright in what seemed like the same issue. I profiled Wright in the Chicago Reader back in 2002 or something like that.


Opening band blues
I'm not talking about being the opening band, which is its own kind of blues I suppose but watching an opening band blues. The New York talent pool is running a bit shallow right now and Blood on the Wall has found that its number has come up (mixing metaphors, I know) and its time to tour with Karen O's band, whateveryacallem, er, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. BOTW just don't have it, nothing to offer really but some tired Pixies-isms and proto-metal grunge. Miggy is a cool guy and good drummer, but sorry pal, they're not giving you much to work with. I think New York bands voted them their favorite local band... possibly they meant to say favorite local band to drink beer with and tour with, because the other night they made the YYYs look good, really good. KO was bouncing gold-sparkly something that you couldn't take your eyes off. Some tunes didn't go anywhere but mostly it was worth driving up for and leaving early from. James Murphy kicked out an early DJ set later that night, bursting with disco both obscure and classic. He played a giant-drumbreak-sporting Rare Earth track, a band that you must respect simply because Motown named its sub-label after them, the first band signed to it.

It was a great social party weekend for me, highlights being the mime-styling dancing at Sound-Bar, the mind-expanding set (loads of Benelux goodies, Bad Brains, the Catherine Wheel soundtrack, a disco track called "Exercise Your Ass Off") from Nick Common Factor at Derek's converted bakery loft and the endless real lime and tangerine juice margaritas and gourmet homemade salsa bar at my in-laws easter fest. We made enough guac for 22 people and I think I ate half of it.
You'll be blazed by Average Homeboy.


Loading the dishwasher doesn't allow as much time for deep reflection as doing the dishes by hand. But it allows more time for scanning cable for something of substance. Last night, I sat riveted by The Tank Man, a Frontline piece on China that looks at the politics and economics of China through the lens of Tiananmen Square. You can watch the special here. I had a Tank Man t-shirt for many years that pictured the anonymous Beijing resident. My cool-as-hell aunt had given it to me. She bought it from the Asian students organization at her university. One of the most shocking moments in the special features four students at Beijing University that don't recognize the photograph of tank man.


I don't want to be at work today so I'm reading Music Thing.


The Tooth of Crime

I caught the opening night of the Tooth of Crime at Straw Dog tonight, missed the first 20 because I was parking and with the Cubs playing, parking spaces just weren't happening. This edition of TofC is a bit different from the one I drummed for in college. Sam Shepard has deep roots in Illinois even though he's identified so much as a Californian. He was also a drummer, which makes sense if you know about the scene that's all about rhythm and British Invasion drummers in the play. Tooth was written while Shepard was living in London in 1972. But evidently, he revised the text at some point. Now, it contains references to hip-hop and seems to be more concerned with authenticity, relevance and the way the dialogue about music in the culture dances around those questions. I swear the TofC that I knew was a bit more about being an outlaw, driving fast and how being on top of the charts only makes one alienated from one's self as well as an easy target for the next generation. I remember it being a bit more Death Race 2000, but maybe it's just me.

I must suggest that anyone with Sundance (or BBC 4 in the UK) lock on to City of Men. Tivo, tape or just cancel your plans to see this. I screened the first four episodes and it just gets better and better. The first episode provides a challenging political theory backdrop for the situation in the favelas in which the stories are set, comparing the gangsters to England and France in the days of Napolean and trade wars. As for point of view, imagine an American television program that portrays kids in the slums not so much as victims, but as fully formed people who can be both creative and wonderful and selfish and stupid. The gangsters themselves are also well-drawn. There's a bit of baile funk in the soundtrack and some stuff that sounds like its from a Brazilian Morrissey.

More here in Portugese.


I'm in the throes of new office Mac bliss. I didn't realize that my old eMac was slowly grinding to a non-working condition. It all went down yesterday and now I'm kicking it live with a newly souped up eMac that does two things my old comp quit doing. It plays CDs and it opens and closes windows. I also archived like 4,000 emails after dumping like 5,000 more. All in all, it's a spring cleaning of the digital variety that makes me feel good.

A quick survey of blogs and I discovered that the music writer blogger that I find repulsively pretentious in writing but actually quite nice in person is exactly that way on in the blogosphere. Not so shocking.

So the CDs are getting listened to at a furious rate. I'm hopefully screening the new Matthew Barney joint this weekend. Also, I will suggest you see the Devil and Daniel Johnston. I have a piece in the next Time Out on DDJ and I trust you will enjoy the film even more than I did as I saw it in a lousy screening room with a notebook and a bunch of crusty academic types.

And then there is this fezteefal stuff going down. Chicago is turning out to be a kind of music festival central for this summer. We're getting Lollapalooza again and the Intonation and Pitchfork festivals, which have a big nasty rivalry going. Music festivals are a good time and a good value cash-wise so I say bring-em on. I think the Intonation might have the most adventurous line-up, Pitchfork the most solid and Lolla (obviously) the biggest and safest names. The Intonation fest is curated and dominated by Vice Records associated artists.


Do y'all know about this already?


Miami action
I'm just back from Miami. You can read all about it, here.


The time of the season...
Putting aside the fact that I'm taking some mild prescription painkillers to deal with my torturous teeth situation (soon to be resolved), its been a really interesting couple of days. Its the first time, in a long time, when I've felt the Chicago social vibe has been so pleasant, in that I've gone out to a few events (the Stop Smiling anniversary party) and come home early having seen many more friendly faces that I was expecting to encounter. There's also something really strange (but not good) in the air, in that I know about four or five couples recently split or on the verge of splitting. Also, there's something about constant pain, or a minor crisis that you can only manage not really escape that puts a lot of things in perspective. Argh, here it comes again.

Listening Station:

Soledad Brothers
The Hardest Walk (Alive)
A lot of the Ohio garage stuff is vastly overrated but the SB joint that drops this month is excellent. They come to Chicago March 16.

I just got new music from Dem Franchise Boyz and a stack of Eurasian traditional music with DVDs. I've got the Big Apple Rappin' comp and the Masekela singles comp to dig into but I'm saving my VHS copy of Wonderwall for my op recovery day. Though I considered blowing 30 bucks on the Brigitte Bardot DVD, tripping with Jane Birkin will have to do. For now.

Also, there's been some chatter on the net about the Chisel rarities project and trust me, it is coming along, but very slowly. Some significant material has been put in the post to me but yet to arrive. Then there's mixing, selection, mastering, sequencing and security council approval to happen yet, so maybe 2007?

Also on the release front, the Perfect Panther CD should be out in a month or two. We're wrangling with the artwork issue right now and some DC/NY/Bmore gigs are in the works.

Oh and this is from a protest outside the Homeland Security building in Chicago. My pics of Cabrini Green getting the wrecking ball treatment this past week didn't come out. Something about the fact I was driving when I took them, I suppose.


The Agony
My wisdom teeth have picked this week to cause me constant, unbearable pain making the writing of sentences almost impossible. It's pretty awful. In the meantime, I've been watching the Nick Sylvester situation unfold with some interest. Also, I gotta give props to Simon Reynolds for hitting me back almost immediately about my review of Rip It Up and Start Again. Go buy it, seriously.


Spin finally sold
Considerably less than $5 million?
Can you date this Fugazi show?
I wanna say... Wilson Center or All Souls Church, 1989! I remember the dude in the Gorilla Biscuits shirt... or I want to.

What's Norske for S C O R E ?
Last weekend, I was led by some unseen force to a pretty crappy estate sale in the northwest suburbs. It was semi-cleaned out and just basically dingy, sad and almost the kind of place you walk in and walk right out of. There was, however, a little plastic electric piano (busted of course), lots of LPs in good shape (mostly lounge) and an entire set of vintage couches and loveseat (polynesiany tiki bar style). But I became taken with a painting hanging in the basement, clashing badly with the wood paneling, and on the suggestion of my life partner, went for it and made an offer. So I end up somehow squeaking the painting in the Golf and heading out into the vortex of Ikea and outlet shopping. Turns out the painting from 67 or so, of Norwegian origin and was originally sold to a notable Norwegian architect. Now, I'm not Norwegian, but I seem to be getting pulled towards Norway and modernist (even futurist) Norway in particular. I buy a piece of original art about every 6 years, but so far my track record is really good.

In other news, this blog is doing pretty big numbers on Fridays, which is quite ironic considering I usually work a long Friday, as I did today discounting an afternoon siesta. Siesta and a temperature of 7˚ don't really jive I know.

Also, I really wanted to see a rock band at a house party tonight, but after eating and contemplating the absence of mercury moving conditions I thought it better to retire early after taking in some sleep-inducing bobsled racing.


Not exactly Robert Frank, but you get the idea...


Remembering Sly
I broke into my house, kinda says it all.


Country Ass
We've got this thing at work about "country ass" this and that. We picked up the term country ass from some music message board but believe me we've made it our own. The total opposite of country ass is the band Owls and Crows. They've got MP3s, they play all the time and they rock me in a pleasing manner. I've spent the last hour downloading DC hardcore 7"s and listening to the Fall singles collection. My hate has an appetite of its own. I don't want to name names, but I'm kind of confused as to how a band that sounds like Smog singing for Spacemen 3 made someone's top ten of the year. Maybe in like '98, but come on...


Pazzin' and joppin'
The poll is up. There are some "essays" too, but I don't know that I will be reading them.


A night (post-gym) of drinking Argentine wine (farewell Marshall Field's wine shop) and munching on Indian flavored crispy things (thank you Trader Joe's) put me in blogging mode, but I somehow lost my first take. Note to self: save drafts. Anyway, I planned to catch up and lay down some things I've had in mind for a while, but all of those ideas seem to have left me right now.

Must have/throwin it on the iPod
Beth Orton - Comfort of Strangers (Astralwerks)
Folky, moody but with a soul jazz lightness to it at times, just got this today and I'm loving it, comes out Feb 7.

Actively disliking
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love)
This is just kind of icky, thin faux country that leaves me cold. Why is she getting so much press? Maybe because she dated Donnie Darko, I have no idea.


So blogging has not been a priority in the new year and that is unlikely to change. On top of that, I’ve somehow lost all the mental blogging notes that I am usually in the habit of keeping. I’ve been trying to just get the last cough out of my system from this annoying cold I had last week. Which brings me to the story of the cold, and how colds evidently are some kind of reaction to stress. The Tax went to Ohio for the weekend to play some shows in Athens and Columbus with the Tough and Lovely. I ended up renting the vehicle (Mitsubishi Galant = solid!) and doing most of the driving. While driving all day isn’t always a great way to get amped for a live gig I actually think I played better than I have in some time. I’m kicking myself for not recording both nights. I also learned that rockers in Ohio partee all-night in the manner of Quiet Riot and city slickers like me just can’t keep up. So everything went ultra smooth. I particularly like visiting college towns that the hip bands of the moment completely ignore. Athens isn’t all that remote, but its just out of the way enough that it rarely shows up on a tour itinerary, except for that of comedian Jeff Garland who was playing the night after us at the University. So I get home and 24 hours later I feel awful. Ohio thrifting wasn’t as spectacular as I had hoped but one of the guys somehow walked in and found several Flaming Groovies Cds just waiting for him. There was that kind of magic in the air in Ohio.

My Norwegian posse was just in town and hanging with Anita and friends was probably the biggest shot of inspiration I’ve gotten in years. Lots of amazing chit-chat and eating and drinking type action. Typical of Anita… I give her directions to Cabrini Green which she wants to see on the way out of Chicago, the Norwegians hug goodbye and set off in their blue bomber and a I get a text later that she’s met someone at Cabrini who’s lived there their entire life and is making a documentary about the project before it comes down forever and she’s totally psyched. The combination of that enthusiasm for life, desire to follow your own interests and the do-it-now attitude is pretty rare. I wish I could have some kind of infusion of that zest every few months. We’re planning a Numusic junket for the fall with a few days at the family compound in “the archipelego” on the fjords outside of Stavanger, can only be heavenly.

In other news, I’ve just got a voracious appetite for music biographies, documentaries and critical surveys. I’m pounding about one book a week. Don’t ask me why. I’m wading through the somewhat dry Under Review DVDs for Syd Barrett and the Small Faces. The British take a single by single analysis of a band’s career, which makes for some really compelling analysis.

I’m going to see Jah Wobble a bit later tonight after mojitos, expecting a dubby, roots reggae kind of thing, but I have no idea.

As for writing (I just typed wiring), I promise to get back in the swing of things. Entry to come… Whats with friends of mine dating famous writers, getting their book jacket photos taken by famous photographers? Why is it that I’m drawn to the idea of working with undiscovered talent? Its not that I’m cheap, or is it? Or is their a camaraderie of being semi-am or semi-pro that makes things more fun than working with big names and bigger egos?