12.12.2007

No one tells me anything.
This is a sad, strange fucking story. Jeremy Blake was a bit of a superstar when I knew him back in high school–shit, I thought he was older then me, not a month younger. The guy was on track to becoming one of the notable artists of our generation. I'm getting a weird feeling thinking about NOU circle of characters and where they have ended up. No joking around, this is simply very sad and I'm not going to partake of the sensationalism that's continuing to cloud around the tragedy. More to the point, I feel a bit stupid being the last to know about these kind of things.

12.10.2007

{Rare} Nirvana live found!
In one of those rare moments where I actually scare myself with my accurate memory of things that should be forgotten, it took me about 12.8 seconds to find my missing Nirvana live tape, circa 1990 Chicago Metro. I wrote about it in the Chicago Reader back in 2002 or so, but I couldn't actually track it down until I remembered a box of cassettes stashed in my folk's basement. It was there, on top, with a live Jawbox set on the flip–no offense, but that's not quite as exciting. I'll digitize it soon, EQ it. Question is, what then? Post online? Send to Krist Novo?

12.04.2007

About time, 10 years worth, for some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. from the fourth estate, I should say.

12.02.2007

I'm only at the computer tonight because I'm coming off my second cold of the season—the last one lasted a full week in early October—I seem to have a lot going on in my stuffy head and I've already spent way too much time with my butt on the couch. But at least one good thing has come out of being stuck inside all day, my desperate effort to clean out a backlog of unwatched DVD screeners has moved along nicely—I finally sat down with The Situation, which isn't a half-bad Iraq drama featuring Connie Nielsen and that red-haired dude from "Life," make it a rental. Richard Lester's Royal Flash has amazing scenery and costumes, but as a farcical romp it doesn't really have enough comedic moments to sustain it. He should have written a role for Keith Moon. In other news, I actually read a book that wasn't 6 months old, Unmarketable, but found it very disappointing. If anyone cares, I'd be happy to explain what I didn't like about it, but I'm too foggy right now for a full review. I'm in a non-fiction, documentary watching mode and that reminds me... I recently discovered the most incredible cable channel going, Link TV,
and I haven't really had a chance to spread the word. I watched something called Good Copy, Bad Copy tonight that was really good—it totally hipped me up to yet another Brazilian electronic music genre, Techno Brega (or something like that). Ugh, starting to fade again.... incomplete thoughts, typos....

Listening station

Suede - Suede
Studio "East Side" and anything else I can find on blogs!
Stanford University Human Rights lectures (iTunes U)

11.11.2007

Er, 'tap tap' is this mic on? Man, the blog has a layer of dust on it, I'm actually impressed that I could even sign in here. Cough cough... No explanation or excuse, except perhaps that I really don't read many blogs lately, just grab music from them. Again, I have to blog during the day to get paid... so there may be something there. Let's just move on, shall we?

This Atlantic piece on quirk is way old news by now, but it came out right about the same time I was formulating a distantly related piece on the tiresomeness of preppy chic in all of its manifestations, be they leaden with irony or just part of the trend recycling game. I was IMing with a workmate the other day and all I could really offer about my discomfort with the regurgitation of preppy style was a 'I lived through high school in the ’80s so it's not nearly as cute the third time.' Something else occurred me—visiting in Italy in the mid-90s preppy chic was all the rage, because, I suppose 'grunge' and alt-rock hadn't really made the Italians hip to the fact that dressing like lumberjack junkie rent-boys was all the rage. Preppy was sort of a default setting for Europeans trying to look like wealthy Americans. {Side note: maybe these were just Italian clothes marketed to Americans that Italians also bought—I dunno} Anyway, the point being, that I associate preppy chic with a lot of political, personal and social baggage of the ’80s, which I shed to varying degrees way back in friggin' high school, then took from selectively afterward. Sometimes its nice to remember you wore a khaki uniform to school for four years. Preppiness as an attitude makes an impression that I can see from a mile way—polos and docksiders need not be involved, nor an actual prep school. Though I know punkers and rockers and grown-ups that could never shed their preppy high-school background no matter how hard they try. Of course, if you didn't feel the preppy wave in the ’80s—I was visiting the Midwest enough back then to know that it slammed the burbs of Cleveland and Chicago just as hard—than you can more easily adopt its affected, apolitical, Tanqueray-guy, false sense of superiority and be on your way—to where I don't know—Kanye's old pad maybe. It's a refreshing antidote to the nu rave style. But ask yourself this, would you be with the real preps in 1986? They were complete bastards. If not, why do you want to dress like them now? And if you think they'd have liked to have you around, you just plain don't get it.

7.12.2007

Pimpin' is actually quite easy.
I've been horrible about the blogging lately as I have been spending my free time drumming on my new drums all alone, running all alone, playing guitar with the cat on my lap, detoxing for two weeks (almost and not alone), starting to go to bars again, starting to bike a bit and avoiding the home computer and the very messy home office.

But hey, my pal Porochista has a book coming out and the cover is awesome. Buy that shizz.

And another thing, some nice guy did a nice Edsel fansite. Who would have thunk it? Or, it's about friggin' time, I should say. It may relocate, or may not.

See you at Pitchfork? I'll be working, y'all.

4.24.2007

Kevin Shields, revealed.
This is old, but worth a look for you MBV fans. I learned a lot. Example: Born in America?!?

4.21.2007

Hey, it's me again, a bit ashamed that the trickle of nonsense that made up the bulk of this MLN! phenom has dried up, it's the day job, man. Anyhow, a few things to get out there, just in the spirit of house cleaning... ITEM: Why is Amy Winehouse so friggin' polarizing among the muzo cogniesciti? I'm firmly in the sure secretaries love her but she's fuckin' awesome camp, but I keep getting flak from peers, fans and random folk that seems unjustified and unsubstantiated. Someone actually said that she has "no presence" the other night, which is just crazy talk. If you're gonna hate, at least hate acurrately, right? Besides, the record sounds like dynomite.

On another note, I had the pleasure of briefly shooting the shit with Nick Barat the other night, an editor/writer that often delivers the goods in an era in which lots of people get away with faking it. Two things about Nick: he's got much more of a sense of humor about hip-hop orthodoxies than you might expect and secondly we totally agreed about the level of mediocrity of a recent big name producer's record. Music writers never agree on anything. Weird.

In the cheap late adopter technology corner, here are a few tips for you on extending the life of the iPod. If your iPod suddenly says you have no songs and therefore no directory, hang in there, reset it a bunch of times, try pulling your songs off via iPod Access (it works even when iTunes says you're toast), then keep plugging it in to the computer. I was going into a third round of recovering files when suddenly iTunes decides everything is hunky dory. Video ipod, your services will not be needed, quite yet.

In other news, spring has hit Chicago and I like. Rooftop view of the sunset down North Avenue? Priceless.

3.13.2007

Is there some twisted logic to the fact that two new series that portray Irish-Americans in an unflattering light have debuted just before St. Patrick's Day? Or is it just unfortunate timing? It's kinda weird, right? The Black Donnellys, a preposterous Paul Haggis vehicle, is all about these ne'er do well working-class Irish young folk just can't stay out of jail and are drawn into a life in organized crime. The season opener tries to get away with a... they just had to brutally murder some nasty gangsters to start over. It doesn't have a lot going for it in terms of believability. Then there's the Riches, which concerns a family of Irish travelers (also known as the Tinkers) posing as upwardly mobile suburbanites. The Irish traveler con/scam artists do exist. They've been running repair and house-painting scams in the southeast and mid-Atlantic states, as I learned on 60 Minutes about three years ago. And with Eddie Izzard on board, I have to go with the later and issue a warning about the former.

3.05.2007

Tidying up
Because it is turn-your-spit-to-ice-shards frigid outside tonight, I bailed on seeing my pals spin records, watched lame TV and reorganized the links section to your right. I've also retitled the blog url, not for any reason other than I don't care to read my own name in a web address. If you have any objections, please register them now.

I'm working on a great blog post in my head about phrases that are used in music press releases that I never need to see again because they are utterly meaningless. One such phrase is "7.9 in Pitchfork." I'm blanking on the other ones right now.

In other news, execept for participating in the Guitarkestra, my live rock calendar has been bare for a while, but tomorrow night (Tue 6) I'm playing a show with Perfect Panther at the Empty Bottle. I'm not up on the other bands, but I will venture that it'll be one heckuva show and will feature no members of the Arcade Fire, nor will it feature a choir from Budapest.

2.25.2007

Blizzard of id
Y'all, I've got to blog for a living so this personal blogging has been hung out to dry for a bit. Tonight, cabin fever + snowstorm + too many glasses of gratis champagne last night = my feeble attempt to get back in the swing. I finally fixed my statcounter so I see who's coming and going here. It's like the surveillance cameras have been disconnected around here. Who knows who's been lurking about.

I wasn't planning on doing any shopping today, I just wanted to sell some stuff but I ended up buying some threads from hejfina, this amazing boutique that's usually way out of my price range but right smack in my neighborhood. Hejjie still has some awesome deals. Guys get over there and buy the Fred Perry sneakers while you can. Skinny guys, buy the Rag & Bone jeans for $30. And second and more importantly I scored a bunch of krautrock and prog stuff at Reckless, something like 5 LPs for $30. Ridiculous! There's some Michael Rother and some Le Dusseldorf in there.

Also props to all the kids who came out to the DJ night at rodan. It was billed as a 'space disco night,' but that was really Gabe's department. He's smooth! No train wrecks. I got props from these hip-hop DJs for playing a Police album track that they didn't know. Easily impressed I guess!

Also must admit I'm wishing I was with my family in VA right now, with all the technological upgrades I'm hearing about.

Also, on an archival note, all my ’90s writing for Washington City Paper will soon be online and free.

2.16.2007

The first black president?
Those who fall for every conspiracy theory and alternative history are tiresome. I enjoyed reading and citing the People's History of the United States whenever possible in college to send the conservatives into an instant tizzy. But these days, there's so much just plain absurd stuff going around.

But with the Obama campaign underway, it's been interesting that some of the R&B and dusties DJs on Chicago radio have seen fit to mention John Hanson whenever possible. The first elected official to formally use the title President of the United States in Congress Assembled, he often shortened to President of the United States on signed documents. The fact is that Hanson was the third of a number of "Presidents" of the U.S. under the Articles of Confederation (predated by Samuel Huntington and Thomas McKean) but the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled. It's truly bizarre to me that Hanson is not better known Constitution or no Constitution. The Articles established the weak union of the thirteen original states. Appropriately, people freaked out when the Articles were adopted, celebrating with the fireworks that we now associate with July 4th. Did people give a shit that it was a unicameral body and not the tricameral government we have today? Do you even know what I am talking about? Snopes has a different take but I think it's slightly misleading in its description of the Continental Congress as something along the lines of NATO. Apparently there's a lot of misinformation about Hanson going around and you can read about it elsewhere.

But one of the dubious and just plain silly things regarding Hanson going around on the internet is that his biography is often accompanied by what appears to be a photograph. People, the man died in 1782! Photography wasn't invented until the 1840s. Turns out that the photo going around is actually of a different John Hanson.

As to claims that Hanson was a moor, no one is really offering any information or family background that would even suggest it, other than mentioning that his grandfather might have been an indentured servant.

This ties in with my latest cocktail conversation piece, acquired via the New Yorker, which is President's Day doesn't actually exist. We get Washington's birthday off, some Federal workers get Lincoln's off as well, but basically President's Day was made up by the friggin mattress discounters to sell some more back stock.

2.14.2007

Real quickly... no theme here.
So I heard about the Pazz & Jop cover controversy. My take: unintentionally racist and just a bad art concept overall. But coming up with cover images for a weekly is extremely difficult and for every good one out there, there's probably five lousy ones. Alt weeklies tend to do pretty well with photography but illustrations? Somewhat riskier. Art direction isn't taken seriously enough in this country and I mean that. I seriously don't remember what I voted for, but my picks are up. As I mentioned in a blog for Time Out, I would amend my poll to include the Blue Van's Dear Independence and probably drop Spank Rock or something like that.

In my vacation news, I just got back from one of my favorite spots in Mexico for yoga/snorkeling/eating where unsurprisingly they show a much more interesting variety of new music videos on the satellite cable channels. They also have these channels where they show a bunch of movies featuring the same star, as in three from Tom Cruise, four from Wynona Ryder, etc. Hence, I saw Girl Interrupted and Beetlejuice again without really trying.

I just ate a bunch of high-end chocolate truffles with my Malbec so excuse me while I ramble on. The island has a "socialist village" on it which is extra interesting considering its proximity to both Chiapas and Cuba. The sign to the left kinda says it all.