Thursday, September 29, 2005

Freaky If You Got This Far 

Let's say you're a brilliant, impressionistic singer-songwriter signed to an awful label. Let's say you need to get out of your contract right quick so you can release the most difficult and poetic album of your career. What do you do?

You sit down and make up 31 songs on the spot, with titles like "Twist and Shake," "Shake and Roll," and "You Say France and I Whistle."

You are Van Morrison, by the way. Download your greatest work here.

The lyrics are here.

I see, you see, we'll get a guitar,
yeah, we'll get a guitar
and, oh, we'll get, we'll get three guitars,
No!, No!!, we'll get four guitars
and we'll get Herbie Lovelle to play drums,
and we'll do, the
"Sha-la", sha...
We'll do the sha-, sha-la bit.
"Sha-la, sha-, sha-la, sha-la", we'll do it,
we'll get together, uunghh, we'll get
uunghh, ttcchh, uugnhh-uunghh-uunghh, like that,
and we'll do the sha-la bit and then,
then, then, and we'll get, we'll get sixteen guitars,
and then, then we'll play it,
and then we'll do that one, yeah.
Let me hear ya' do that again.
Over and over, Bert Berns song, over...

This man would write and record "Madame George" within a year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Answering the Eternal Questions 

image courtesy The Poor Man Institute
Jonah Goldberg, what's on your iPod?

I Believe In Salt Along the Rims of the Glasses 

Someone please tell me I'm not just dreaming this:

Like on October 25, when the Hold Steady will perform a live acoustic set during seventh period (12:40-2:10 pm, folks) in Littleton, Colorado's Littleton High School gymnasium.

By now, it has probably set in that this show a) isn't at a bar, b) isn't at night, and c) won't be open to the public. But we still think you should know about it, because the circumstances surrounding the performance are pretty darn cool. See, the event is part of a special program at LHS called Freshman Academy, one dedicated to aiding ESL, Special Education, and behaviorally/emotionally troubled freshmen in the transition from middle school to high school.

One of the Freshman Academy instructors, Thom Uhl, heard about the Hold Steady on NPR's All Things Considered, and thought that the band's music and message would fit right in on Mental Health Mondays, a segment of the program directed at tackling various teen and social issues. Uhl contacted the Hold Steady and, well, the rest is history...or upcoming...or something!

The class is currently studying the band's music and using the lyrics to fuel class discussion. In preparation for the big day, the kids are participating in an invitation-design contest, constructing a Hold Steady Advent calendar and...wait for it...staging a Hold Steady look-alike contest.
[emphasis in original, though it totally would've been mine anyway]

Ahem. A Hold Steady lookalike contest.

This is what the Hold Steady look like:

Ok, really. Here are some selected Hold Steady lyrics for your students to study:

He was breaking bread and giving thanks. with crosses made of pipes and planks. leaned up against the nitrous tanks. he said take a hit. hold your breath and I'll dunk your head. then when you wake up again. you'll be high as hell and born again.

Look, I used to attend a college that Robert fucking Christgau taught at, and nothing remotely this cool ever happened.

In fact, I would say that the Hold Steady are determined to make being in a semi-popular rock band as completely ridiculous as possible -- how else to explain their bizarre KISS Saves Christmas-esque appearance in this Target-sponsored internet-only sitcom-ish thing (episodes four and five, which you must watch)?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Posted, Rather Meanspiritedly, Without Comment 

"We're a band everyone can agree to listen to on a car trip," Mr. Barron said. "What should we listen to, Limp Bizkit? 'No way,' said the parents. The Doobie Brothers? 'No way,' said the kids. Spin Doctors? 'O.K.' "
-That '90s Band Tries Again, New York Times

Friday, September 23, 2005

From the Archives 

Memo from CBS News President Richard Salant, dated June 5th, 1968:

America's loss of innocence=viewship. (Everybody understands death of american dream after Dallas '63)
We need to put it on air right away, get Cronkite to cry again (in addition to Harry Reasoner)

ask the guys in art to mock up a "PREDICTION: END OF THE '60s" graphic.

Doesn't Anyone In the Media Elite Have a Job? 

Invite-Only Blog Commenting: Because Gawker could always use more jokes that only twelve people will get.

That said, my invite goes to either the highest bidder or anyone who can fix my old-ass all-tube Ampeg Jet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Some Content Is About to GET FREE! 

Shhhh! Let's keep this between us, ok?

Hey, you wouldn't have paid for Thomas Friedman's no-longer-charming naivete anyway:

If Mr. Bush wants to make anything of his second term, he'll have to do his own Nixon-to-China turnaround, reframe the debate and recast the priorities of his presidency. He seems to think that by offering to spend billions of dollars to rebuild one city, New Orleans, he'll get his leadership halo back. Wrong. Just throwing more borrowed money at New Orleans is not leadership. Mr. Bush needs to frame a new agenda for rebuilding all our cities and strengthening the nation as a whole. And what should be the centerpiece of a policy of American renewal is blindingly obvious: making a quest for energy independence the moon shot of our generation.

Yes, that will certainly happen. While it's no stretch of the imagination to think Bush will emulate Nixon, he's a little more likely to mine a harbor than metaphorically "visit China." Though he might cruise over it in Air Force One, wearing a snappy jacket, of course.

Thanks, Sadly No!

Also, Me and Cynthia Liu Got the Same Score On the SATs, but I Still Write Grammatically Incorrect Post Titles 

Atrios and Jack Shafer have apparently never read a "trend piece" before, if they're getting all hot under the collar over this one. They exist for one reason: supremacy on the most emailed list, which this one is currently OWNING (of course, without the heavy-hitters in TimesSelect to contend with, it's a bit like batting .500 in tee-ball).

It's true, though, that this story sure as hell doesn't belong in the the A section. It's a Sunday Styles piece, or maybe a "Way We Live Now" if it was in the first-person (which it so wants to be). But haven't we learned yet that trend pieces in the Times bear as close a relation to real news as dispatches from Elisabeth Bumiller?

Should we now expect Mr. Shafer to point out that, contrary to Malcom McLaren, rock 'n' roll was not, in fact, invented by Christian Dior?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Political Science 

When you make fun of Wall Street Journal readers on a site that actually gets traffic, they will email you, it turns out. They're a thick-skinned bunch, for the most part, and smarter than, say, Washington Times readers. And some have a sense of humor. I got this email yesterday, which I believe I published on gawker but which I'll excerpt again here:

amidst the peach mojito recipes and the garden club primers diminutive turkish opinion writer melik kaylan snuck a gem of a piece in... the article espoused the merits of placing (albeit carefully) land mines along the border of iraq and syria ... the crux of the argument being that a few maimed limbs and innocent casualties should set those border encroachers straight... how un-P.C... certainly not the light and fluffy reading i expected over my cranberry scone and skim cappuccino, brilliant and good fun nonetheless.

This reader was kind enough to include a copy of the piece itself. And it is brilliant -- a Swiftian defense of land mines, fer chrissakes. If there is an indefensible to be defended, the WSJ editors will be on the case faster than anyone shy of the Village Voice music writers.

Here's most of the piece, which really needs no commentary. I will merely italicize my favorite lines:

Why Haven't We Mined Iraq's Borders?
September 17, 2005; Page A14

As the war in Iraq settles into its medium-term attritional slog, most Americans know -- if they know anything -- that the insurrection is daily replenished from outside in manpower and matériel, chiefly from across the Syrian border. The border problem, by now, seems as predictable as the seasons, self-evident and insurmountable. There are not enough troops to seal clandestine access routes, we are told. So everyone suffers, including the citizens of Tal Afar, who have now endured a second joint assault by Iraqi and American troops to purge their town of cross-border terrorists who go to ground there. The conflict waxes and wanes, the borders remain porous, fanatical volunteers sneak in, car bombs destroy innocent lives, the sun also rises.

It doesn't have to be so, yet no one points to the obvious. An effective method of interdiction exists: the laying of minefields on the border.

* * *

Why has nobody publicly debated this idea? Perhaps the shock-horror-gasp factor is to blame. Minefields?! Has one forgotten the sainted Lady Diana's endeavors to ban these infernal devices? Or forgotten the outcry when the U.S. mined Haiphong Harbor during the Vietnam War? At first glance, minefields would seem to furnish a wildly hackhanded propaganda victory to the enemy, another juicy chance for Al-Jazeera to trumpet American barbarism. Yet once tempers have cooled, it should become clear that of all the unpleasant products of war in Iraq, mining the border offers the least unpleasant.

Minefields can be clearly marked and laid according to a network-blueprint which remains highly classified until after the conflict ends. That blueprint would allow the mines to be cleared quickly, and systematically. The decades-long Afghan- or African-style tragedy of maimed limbs happens when mines are laid irresponsibly, erratically and without a plan. Europe, on the other hand, endured two World Wars without a lasting threat from forgotten minefields. [Note: "In the West, World War II landmines in the Netherlands continue to maim an average of 12 people per year." Also, the Saharan Overland would like a word with you. -AP]

The U.S. can repeat the feat in Iraq. In the meantime, the porous borders can be choked and narrowed down to well-regulated crossing points. Inadvertent casualties there may be, but considerably less than is caused by car bombs -- or "smart bombs," for that matter. The point here is that a precisely ordered minefield is a weapon of peace, rather than war, a deterrent and a stabilizer. When done right, its aim is not to kill or maim but to take a swatch of territory out of the conflict -- and to give relief to innocent border-area residents forced, at the point of a gun, to collaborate with infiltrators.

Take the plight of Tal Afar's citizens, living as they do close to the northern border near Syria. Their town underwent a fierce purge by U.S. and Iraqi troops last August. The enemy melted away and came back. The operation was repeated again last week, and the allies found few fighters and numerous underground escape tunnels leading out of town.

Tal Afar's population is heavily Turkmen, who already suffered greviously under Saddam. The Turkmen are Iraq's next biggest minority after the Kurds, with whom they are in a struggle for ancestral territory. The attacking Iraqi forces consisted heavily of Kurds. Here is being laid the groundwork for ethnic rivalry and hatred from which only the terrorists will gain. Who can say that Tal Afar's Turkmen would not wish for a securer border by whatever means? Who can say the Iraqis themselves would not opt, in a referendum, to lay mines along their troubled borders, with clear demarcations and a clear time limit? Who will have the courage to offer them the option?

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I'm Not Going to Pay A Lot For This Content 

By the way -- I'm guest-co-editing Gawker today. But shhhh! Keep it quiet!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Internet Continues To Blur the Line Between Wishful Thinking and Deliberate Obtuseness 

I know, I know... I've been a horrible blogger lately. I'm sorry. But I've been busy! I've just returned from a much-needed vacation in the fantasy land where no one remembers 1972 and Democrats don't invariably capitulate to marketing majors masquerading as political advisors demanding the perennial sacrifice of another craven mealy-mouthed pseudo-centrist. It's quite nice this time of year, and much less humid than New York.

Whenever you're on vacation, you want to be home -- but then, of course, once you get home you remember it's a sticky and depressing place where people say things like "Evan Bayh" and "Joe Biden" without crying or at least looking ashamed of themselves.

Thursday, September 15, 2005



John Roberts Jr.: Aw, shucks. This has been a humbling experience, Mr. Chairman. To think that a boy from an exclusive prep school and Harvard Law could grow up and be nominated for the Supreme Court - it shows how in America it's possible to rise from privilege to power! That's the hallmark of our great nation.

So while, of course, I can't talk about specific cases, or any emotions, weather patterns or sandwich meats that may come before the Supreme Court at any time between now and my death in 2048, I do want to reiterate that I feel humbled by this experience. I feel humbled that my wife is dozing off behind me. I feel humbled by this committee's inability to lay a glove on me. And I feel modest. You see this suit? I skinny-dip in this suit. That's how modest I feel.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Current Events Depress Me 

Quote About Christopher Hitchens of the Day:

Writing before the invasion, Hitchens argued that the U.S. must attack even if Saddam offers self-exile in order to capture and punish this heinous criminal. Shouldn't he urge an attack on the U.S. to capture and punish Kissinger?
-Norman G. Finkelstein

Thursday, September 08, 2005

You Kids Know What's Going On, Right? 

Someone tell me -- what the fuck is myspace? Should I care about it? How is it different from a livejournal?

I've a feeling this fellow could tell me -- I happen to know that his embrace of the zeitgeist is passionate enough for him to have filmed an MTV pilot. Or something like that, I don't remember. The point is: although he is under the mistaken impression that I have anything to do with Sploid anymore, he's kinda funny.

Though he's in one of those goddamned "comedy troupes" that terrorize our every performance venue -- you can't throw a brick in this town without hitting someone who will make it into an improv exercise.

Not to speak ill of late veterans of comedy troupes past.

The other important thing to note (I'm totally buzzing on cold medicine right now, by the way) is that, all criticism of George Bush aside, he really does appear to be a quite talented (if experimental) guitarist -- that's some complicated jazz shit he's playing, like a D 13th b5 or something.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

George Bush Doesn't Care About Castaways 

Bob Denver, TV's Gilligan, Dies at 70

What's especially tragic is that if he'd held out another week or two, FEMA might've reached the island.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Better Use of Money Than Rebuilding Trent Lott's House 

Help for Musicians:

Healthcare for Musicians and several other organizations, including the Grammy's MusiCares program and The New Orleans Musicians Clinic, have joined to create the Lafayette Health Alliance to specifically help musicians and music business professionals.

People can send money donations to Healthcare for Musicians which has an emergency fund account set up through SW LA Health Education Center, its sponsoring non-profit agency.

The address is: Healthcare for Musicians 103 Independence Blvd. Lafayette, LA 70506

If anyone knows of any displaced musicians who need help please let them know to call Healthcare for Musicians at 337-988-1583 Through MusiCares they can get financial help for all basic needs.

Also: Preservation Hall has a relief fund.

Yer Gonna Have to Find Yourself Another Best Friend Somehow 

RIP, you old bastard.

Children by the Millions 

Alex Chilton is apparently ok.

I, for one, am heading the committee to appoint Kanye West to the Supreme Court.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Alex Chilton 

All right -- to the hundred or so people who've come here in the last two days looking for information on Alex Chilton, still missing in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina:

His friends and family seem to be posting here and here. For updates, or on the off chance you have any information about his condition, go there.


Other missing persons here and here.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Trying to Wash Us Away 

Go read Ken Layne.

At best, the United States remains prepared for absolutely nothing, with every American city seemingly ready to descend into eternal hell while politicians congratulate themselves in television studios — four years after the horror of Sept. 11, the day we would “never forget.” At worst, an American treasure, the nation’s energy infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of lives were forever destroyed this week by the deliberate actions by the very government agencies charged with protecting citizens and immediately responding to disasters.

"31.3 Feet of Water Atop Howard Beach" 

I made tangential reference to this earlier, but all residents of very large coastal cities ought to be fucking petrified right now. This scaremongering but suddenly useful NY Press article describes what a hurricane could do to New York, though it could use an update now that we know that the federal government does not give a shit if an entire city perishes.

It seems increasingly possible that, should something like this happen here, Manhattan would be more or less succesfully evacuated while the less wealthy parts of Brooklyn and Queens would become New Orleans redux.

I hate to make this all about me, considering how quickly this sort of talk becomes irritating, but it might be worth your while to figure out an evacuation plan. One that doesn't rely on Greyhound, of course. Or the Metro-North.

Alex Chilton is still missing, by the way. Considering how many thousands of people are dying or dead right now, it's not that important in a grand-scheme sense, but it's still depressing as fuck.

And General Pokey Knew We'd Need More Troops To Secure Baghdad 

Oh my fucking god. When I saw this Rude Pundit post, I thought it was a joke.


The president, who claims that no one could have foreseen the levees breaking, is now officially more inept than a barely-animated hunk of clay.

Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Six Feet of Water In the Streets of Evangeline 

Can anyone confirm this with a more reputable source?

'Fats' Domino Missing in New Orleans
Before NBC, MTV or anyone else puts on a telethon to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, they might want to explore some ancillary issues. To wit: New Orleans is a city famous for its famous musicians, but many of them are missing. Missing with a capital M.

To begin with, one of the city’s most important legends, Antoine "Fats" Domino, has not been heard from since Monday afternoon. Domino’s rollicking boogie-woogie piano and deep soul voice are not only part of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame but responsible for dozens of hits like “Blue Monday,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” “Blueberry Hill” and “I’m Walking (Yes, Indeed, I’m Talking).”

Domino, 76, lives with his wife Rosemary and daughter in a three-story pink-roofed house in New Orleans’ 9th ward, which is now under water.

On Monday afternoon, Domino told his manager, Al Embry of Nashville, that he would “ride out the storm” at home. Embry is now frantic.

Calls have been made to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s office and to various police officials, and though there’s lots of sympathetic response, the whereabouts of Domino and his family remain a mystery.
Also not heard from by friends through last night: New Orleans’s “Queen of Soul” Irma Thomas, who was the original singer of what became the Rolling Stones’ hit, “Time is On My Side.”

And where the fuck is the federal government?

How can that goddam Randy Newman song I posted Sunday night become more appropriate every day?

The cops have been ordered to protect private property by any means necessary, while no one seems to be organizing any sort of major search-and-rescue while that is still possible.

Let the looters fucking loot if they want to -- these store-owners have no stores to go back to, fer chrissakes.

The fact that a major American city can turn into a shitty post-apocalyptic movie, more or less abandoned by the federal government (except for those of its representatives protecting Wal-Mart) and left to fend for itself in some bizarre combination of martial law and anarchy once the white folk flee, is heartening to this non-car-owning Brooklyn resident.

I would like to point out that this is more less the situation that led to the rise of crazed populist Huey Long. And these days, yr crazed populists are more likely to be religious fanatics than mere dime-store wealth redistributors. So watch the fuck out.

UPDATE: Further sketchy, unattributed hearsay has it that Alex fucking Chilton is missing as well.

Courtesy I Love Music:

from a co-worker:

"heard about it on the mishpucha list. Even crazier is that Chilton gave his car to a girl from the Gories so she could leave town."

FURTHER UPDATE: Look, it doesn't make the news any better, but Reuters says there is at least a chance Fats got out... and as for Mr. Chilton, well... maybe, maybe not.

My advice to everyone is to turn the tv off and donate money. But not to FEMA.

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