Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Random Ten

The Mendoza Line "31 Candles" 30 Year Low
Louis Armstrong "Lonesome Blues" The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings
Dave Pike "Aphrodite" Latin Verve Sounds
Pere Ubu "Electricity" Ray Gun Suitcase
Syd Straw "Paper Maiche" Pink Velour
David Byrne "Something Ain't Right" (live) Hanging Upside Down ep
The Zutons "Not a Lot to Do" Who Killed the Zutons?
Elvis Costello "Waiting for the End of the World" My Aim Is True
Alejandro Escovedo "People (We're Only Gonna Live So Long)" Real Animal
Wilco "War on War" Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Ryuichi Sakamoto "Replica" Playing the Orchestra

Relatively satisfying, very all over the map, and it's always good to see some recent purchases pop up. In fact, that Syd Straw might be my first all-album iTune download (it's only available that way). And if you like Straw, you'll like it. If you don't like Straw, I'm not sure I like you.


Nigel in Margaritaville

For Dog Blog Viernes: it was really hard to take this. That said, no sombreros were harmed in the making of this photograph.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cut to the Chase

As Coyote Mercury used to say, this post isn't here. But it is over here, and if you want to read about the kind of woman who truly is an inspiration, go. So upbeat, after years of discrimination, of sexism, and a year in a FEMA trailer. And to think I complain about my life sometimes....

BTW, Amy and I had the good fortune to enjoy a dinner at Dooky Chase in June 2001. Wonderful meal, my first court bouillon (that's coo-bee-on if you're in New Orleans, which does not, as Andrei Codrescu reminds us, rhyme with rice and beans). And when we waited for a cab outside, in a dicey neighborhood across from some tough projects, it was Dooky himself who stuck his head outside to say, "You folks ok?" So we've had a guardian Dooky.


The Miramar Has Two Faces

In his post Wednesday, the venerable Craig Smith wonders how Travis Armstrong can complain that Rick Caruso doesn't take care of the Miramar property as well as previous owners of the seemingly ill-fated spot when there's a history of the News-Press writing how the previous owners did NOT take good care of the property. Craig asks, "Can Armstrong's memory really be that short? Or did an accurate recollection of what kind of a caretaker Schrager was not fit in with his agenda?"

My take on it is simple--Travis Armstrong is no dummy. Like anybody with even half a brain in this town, he doesn't read the News-Press either.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Billy, Don't Be a Singer

Whereas I work in cube-land,
and whereas my cube-neighbor listens to LITE radio,
and whereas I've done my time in Joel (it's like in jail but worse),
whereas she's always a woman to him,
let it be acclaimed that the song would be better if she was a woman 110%.
Then it might still be cliché-ridden, but it might be 10% less piffle.


Running Inference

Our president is from Texas. So is a person who recently got to this blog by Googling "what does from suit to nuts mean."

Draw your own conclusions.


Dems All, Folks

I want to be upbeat, so I'm calling it a provention. Not watching all of it, of course, as it's show for show's sake, of course, not to mention the Terrific Televisual Stage and Land of Light-o-Rama makes me nervous--we might just wind up with Bob Barker or Wink Martindale as president (Trebek is Canadian, so he's out).

That said, here's some random notes:
  • Michelle Obama just nailed it Monday, and now I know that if her husband wins I will be even more disappointed when the actual governing happens. I hate when they toy with my better nature like that. I almost forget it's politics.
  • I missed Hillary last night, but I'm glad to hear she did just fine. I like, "No way. No how. No McCain." Of course, the press will still on and on about how her legions aren't into Obama no matter what she does. I mean, reality just gets in the way of their stories.
  • If one more person says we have to stop our addiction to "foreign" oil I'm going to scream. We don't need to be xenophobic about petroleum. Even oil from the good ole U.S. of A. is a problem. You see, ours runs out, too. (There are even rumors it has something to do with global warming.)
  • My favorite bit so far, with a hat tip to FiveThirtyEight, comes from Ted Strickland of Ohio: "You know it was once said that the first George Bush, he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. Well with the 22 million new jobs and the budget surplus that Bill Clinton left behind, George W. Bush came into office on third base...and then he stole second."


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Kingdom for a Bullpen

Hey, guys, thanks. It's so nice of you to get your suckage out of the way in August, and thereby save us another heartbreaking September. Seven game leads, seven run leads, it's all the same to your fine ability to crumble.


Monday, August 25, 2008

If I'm Beer-Powered Am I Green? Depends Upon How Full My Tank Is

(Photo from Tom Tomorrow's blog.)

1) How do you tell the waste beer from the beer at Coors?
2) Can your car get pulled over for DUI?
3) Coors initial grant started the Heritage Foundation. How do they belong at the Democratic Convention? Is it their union-busting, their racism, or their years of supporting anti-gay groups that makes them most welcome?


Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Random Ten

The Buzzcocks "Love You More" Operators Manual
Carla Thomas "I Kinda Think He Does" The Complete Stax/Volt Singles: 1959-1968
Bettie Serveert "Private Suit" Private Suit
X "When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch" Wild Gift
The Clash "The Card Cheat" London Calling
XTC "Desert Island" King for a Day ep
Lambchop "Sunrise" No You C'mon
Orchestra of St. Luke with Dawn Upshaw "Five Songs #3" Cradle Song" John Adams Conducts American Elegies
Pizzicato Five "(something in Japanese)" Happy End of the World
Portastatic "Song for a Clock" Be Still Please

Glenn Gould "The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080 - Contrapunctus 2" The Gould Variations

A bit heavy on the punk and post-punk, but there are worst thing to be. Not sure what to make with the John Adams CD popping up 2 weeks in a row. And that Portastatic album people just didn't talk about enough a couple of years ago.


Mook, Lays, No Stinker

For Dog Blog Friday: This week in Odorama--scratch your monitor and you'll see the no longer bandage wearing Mookie has had his first bath in two months.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

People Are More Fun than Anybody

115 years ago today was the birthday of Dorothy Parker
So while these notes are usually silly, this one must be darker.
With the men she'd wield her wit around the Algonquin Round Table,
But even she'd submit the superficiality of it would leave her somewhat unstable.
So she drank to drink and drank to drown
The Queen of the New Yorker, the Toasted of the Town.
Still when dry of liver as well as mind she agitated
For civil rights she knew were belated
And for her efforts got called Communist by Joe McCarthy
Perhaps he just knew she was the life of the Party.
Of course I confuse the details with the film with Jennifer Jason Leigh
But to be finally fiction might suit her, or just be far too clever of me.
So raise you glass to Mrs. Parker, as wise as she was sad,
Quick to quip, tending to tipple, never better than when she was bad.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Excavating Escovedo

This wonderful artist has a new album out and you all need it. This song sort of just seemed to follow all the talk in the last entry somehow.

And if you want to see him sing this song with a much more famous friend of his that doesn't need pimpage from me, check out a "boss" version here.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Miles than Money

Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of my arrival in California. Once upon a time a good 13 years ago I was working on a very different essay that has since disappeared into the depths of a computer stored slumber. But it hit me this passage from it might be a fitting way to remember what it was like, moving from State College, PA to Santa Barbara, CA:

There's nothing quite as close as the cab of a Ryder truck for five-and-a-half-days. Fill that cab with two people, a boombox and about fifty tapes (few of which would get listened to), chips and chip dust, maps and books, Snapple bottles rolling about the floor. A cat carrier, too, complete with a disgruntled, confused feline. This space, empty, is only 10 by 5 by 3.

As it turns out instead of my then significant other, filling this space with me was Travis, a relatively odd choice for such a trip, given what Travis and I always did best together was drink. And I don't mean sloppy sloshed and falling down evenings, although we did that, too. (One night ended with Travis and another guy rolling on the sidewalk, pried apart by more bouncers than I knew the bar had, after the guy said Travis worked at MacDonald's and Travis tried to put his cigarette out in the guy's eye.) Drinking was an all-around aesthetic experience for us: We coveted cobalt blue cocktail shakers and beautiful bartenders who knew how to use them, we lamented the loss of all bitters except Angostura's, we cradled cocktail glasses as lovingly if less frequently as we did breasts, we aspired to be as happily, woozily, wisely tight as Nick Charles in The Thin Man.

Driving across country, it turns out, is a lot like spending time in a bar. There's a premium on being witty; there's a need for talk. There's that more and more quality--things just roll. Things only stop for bathroom breaks. The more you do it, the giddier you get, especially when you pass Bourbon Cemetery, or the eighth billboard with a smiling Tony Orlando giving you that "hey, bud" finger point endemic to show biz hackdom, a clear sign Branson, Missouri is as frightening a place as you might imagine (note Missouri natives can pronounce their state's name to sound like misery). Travis and I even designated an extra special silly time as Happy Hour, and it was odd how often the road complied. We found that Christian rap radio station in Indiana--"J.C. is in the h-h-h-house"-- from five to six. We made it to Santa Barbara, the town Baudrillard refers to as home of cocktail culture, my new home, just before six, and at last had drinks in our hands, as if the gods, at least Bacchus, smiled on us.

It didn't have to turn out that way. To be honest, I was dreading the move, worried about twenty feet of truck and my car behind that, the great grades of the Rockies, the stretches of desert the AAA Triptik warned were barren of services, the days and days. I fret by nature; I come from a family that doesn't say, "Have a good time," when you head out of the house, instead they intone, "Just be careful." I have an uncanny ability to imagine every possible and impossible disaster of any task awaiting me--I am anticipatory to a fault. A rental truck (who had this rig before? how did they treat it? what's the karma of this mother?), bigger than anything I had ever driven, a trip longer than any I had ever driven. Oh, and that cat, too, Simone (named not after de Beauvoir, but Simone Simon, star of the original Cat People), cranky and peculiar and apt to be as prissily haughty as her name.

To be yet more honest, I didn't know what to make of traveling with Travis, either. I knew he would be entertaining--one of his many interests is performance art, which for Travis isn't as much an occupation as a character defect. But entertaining might not be the charm one always needs, ten hours into a day of highway. Could he be responsible, too?

It simply came down to not knowing him very well.

In a way before the trip we had been lost along that nebulous acquaintance-friend continuum, and our connection seemed as much an acted one as a real one. Perhaps the performance artist in Travis brought out the latent actor, no, ham, in me. Even today some part of me longs to be a stand-up comic; instead I'm a teacher, which isn't much different except students realize they get better grades if they laugh at my jokes and I can't curse quite as much, especially at the hecklers. Travis and I clearly made a good team, even physically--I'm taller, sharper angled, short shorn, he's shorter, his round face accented by round glasses, his hair a spirally mass of blond fusilli held back in a pony tail.

The point is, you never know. Every bit of stomach lining I ate away in anticipation I wish I had back, for the trip didn't just go smoothly, it sailed. Travis was a joy--fun, a fearless driver, always up. By the end of the trip, you could have called us lovers.

And no, I don't mean that. I mean what another friend just wrote me in a letter, "We, George, are in it for the long run. And if this makes us lovers, I'm grateful." Sure lovers love each other, but I've come to realize that more than anything lovers earn that name when they learn to love something outside of both of them together. More than anything, that's what Travis and I did. We learned to love our country from a truck. We learned to love the locals in an El Reno, Oklahoma bar, hangout of Booger Red, at 22 the youngest two-term city councilman in the country. (That's just the beginning of Booger's tale, which included the world's largest onion burger, which don't cook right, so don't eat it, and Booger's "quart" watch--he got it in a trade for a quart of Milwaukee's Best at his job at a liquor store in, uh, "colored town.") We learned to love the Grand Canyon, so stunning it redeems itself from postcard cliché, particularly with a thunderstorm rattling down just one of its many arms. We learned to love Simone, whose will seemed beaten out of her an hour into each day, and who went with us, cat carrier and all, to the very rim of the Grand Canyon (we learned the word cat in many languages that evening). We learned to love each other, as we took turns with our stories I know at least I parceled out, so my past could keep unfolding in a way as complex as a map you could never refold, and why would you want to.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh, Back in the Saddleback Again

Unbeknownst to many, INOTBB also made a very brief appearance at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church this weekend. As he did with the other candidates, Rev. Warren asked INTOBB "At what point does a baby get human rights?"

INOTBB replied, "When it's a baby. Babies live outside of wombs. And I have a question for you, Rev. When do gays and women get human rights?"

Turns out the reason John McCain wasn't in the cone of silence is they used it to beat me about the head and shoulders outside the auditorium.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Paree Is for You and Me--Day Fourteen

It's our last real day, as we leave the next morning too early to do anything but get to Charles DeGaulle. We are kind of burning out, though--so much to absorb that you realize you can't quite absorb it all. Still, the morning gets off to a fine note as we walk in for maybe the fifth time to have our coffee at the counter at Tabac de l'Universite and the guy who has waited on us several times smiles and shakes our hand like he does with the local regulars. And people say Parisians aren't friendly.

We then Metro to Notre Dame and decide come hell or ridiculous line, we're going to the towers. So we stand, move little, freeze lots. It's well over an hour, but we finally get past looking up at the chimera and gargoyles and get to go inside and begin the ascent.

They make you stop half way up and try to sell you things--that's where the giftshop is. Pretty sneaky. Then you continue and get to go outside, where you learn what really cold is. The wind comes whipping down the Seine at 46 meters high. No wonder the chimera look so mean and perturbed, even with their wonderful views.

We don't post pictures of ourselves on the blog, but if we did, you'd see us looking really chilled.

You do get to go back inside for the south tower belfry, luckily free of Quasimodo. Alas unfree of children, whose parents let run oddly wild in places where steps are steep and narrow. And where other visitors might prefer not to have a kid running past him and almost stepping on his big feet. Fortunately I did not have to kill any children in Notre Dame. (Why yes, they were American children, how did you guess?) We did get to see the 13 ton bell they call Emmanuel. It's good to know the bell has a name.

You keep going up from there, and get a great 360 degree view, even if you don't look long because it comes at a price--what feels like 10 degrees below zero windchill (I lived in Iowa for four years, so I know windchill). Here's the Invalides dome and that tower and the Seine and way off the Arc de la Defense, even.

After the adventure we want food, mostly since we know calories are heat. We head into Ile St. Louis and lunch at Le Flore en l'Ille, which even better than being tasty, is warm. Actually, I order a soup that's watercress based and perhaps the greenest thing I've ever eaten. It got to be a bit monotonous, to tell the truth. (See, Smitty, not every meal was perfect.) But to make ourselves happy we hit Berthillon one last time for the best ice cream on earth. This photo as art isn't much, but if you've been to Berthillon you are Pavlov's dog and this is a bell (not to be confused with Emmanuel, of course).

We sort of wander the town after that, hunting down Christian Constant's chocolate store as its supposed to be so good. Again, it's almost too artful to get anything, and very expensive, but we buy some bon bonbons. We end up in a Metro station that looks like this...

and can't figure out why there's no French word for graffiti. (I mean, we have people tag rocks in the park where we like to walk our dogs in oh-so-tranquil, except for the monthly gang stabbing, Santa Barbara.) Do they just patrol that well, or clean up that quickly, or actually respect things? More power to them.

For dinner we decide we want to go out on a cassoulet high so Google a bit at the hotel to determine what people think is the city's best. Many say Fontaine de Mars, where we went a few nights ago, and we sure loved it, so figure let's go back. Again, it's just incredible food. We could have a pot of cassoulet weekly and not get tired of it. Since it's not far from the Eiffel Tower, we go by for one last peek, and it's even reflecting in the big tour bus windows.

Since it's our last night I want to keep doing things so in that way the vacation can't end. We never made it to the famous Willi's Wine Bar, so although I realize it's more restaurant than bar, I figure we can get in and have an after-dinner round. We get there and it's still swinging, if already after 10:30. At first we have to stand near the smallish bar, as it's occupied by diners. We actually win over many eating, as our position lets us close the door as people seem to forget on their way out, as if the cold night air wasn't a hint you don't leave doors open. We enjoy a Cognac and Armagnac, trading off to sample both, wish I had what they were but don't as am noteless for the evening. They were lovely and warming, though, especially given our doormen position. We finally do get to sit at the bar, checking out all of the famous Willi's posters (that you too can order on line--do it from my website, and I get a cut of the action).

Then it's time to head back, to finish up packing, to cry. Trip ends are always so hard as I want vacation forever but I want to be home (comfort and the pups, you know) and I want to no longer have to be sure I'm getting the most of time abroad. I don't do it enough to take it casually. I mean I can go to the beach 3 miles from my house if I just want to laze in the sand.

So it was one last evening's entrance to our two-week home room 34, and that looked like this.

With that our travelogue comes to its end, with the hope a door opening means more opportunity, more of the more-ness the world has to offer.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Music 81-63: Like Discs Through the Hourglass, These Are the Albums of My Life

I have to admit as these lists get older it gets harder, partially as some more classic artists I enjoy more on greatest hits packages or live recordings than any single album (I'm looking at James Brown, for instance, but the Buzzcocks, too). Trying to compile this lsit also made me realize how much I'm not into "classic" rock. I mean I want to like Hendrix and Van Morrison, to pick two very different types, and all sorts of other talented people more than I do, but I just don't have the urge to go back and do it when new stuff keeps coming out and getting me interested. So take this with a huge grain of salt. (For the previous lists see 1995-1982 here and 2007-1996 here.)

X Wild Gift
Eno/Byrne My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Garland Jeffreys Escape Artist
Joy Division Closer
King Crimson Discipline

The Clash London Calling
Gang of Four Entertainment!
Talking Heads Remain in Light
The Clash Black Market Clash
Rockpile Seconds of Pleasure
XTC Black Sea

Graham Parker and the Rumour Squeezing Out Sparks
Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps
Nick Lowe Labour of Lust
The Clash The Clash
XTC Drums and Wires

Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians
Elvis Costello This Year's Model
Nick Lowe Pure Pop for Now People (Jesus of Cool)
Anthony More Flying Doesn't Help
Wire Pink Flag
Big Star Third

Television Marquee Moon
Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols
Richard Hell and the Voidoids Blank Generation
Talking Heads Talking Heads 77
David Bowie "Heroes"

Brian Eno Another Green World
The Modern Lovers The Modern Lovers
Graham Parker and the Rumour Heat Treatment
The Ramones The Ramones
Graham Parker and the Rumour Howling Wind

Roxy Music Siren
Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks
Bob Dylan and the Band The Basement Tapes
Brian Eno Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
Neil Young Tonight's the Night

Richard and Linda Thompson I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
Roxy Music Country Life
Big Star Radio City
Gram Parsons Grievous Angel
John Cale Fear

Mott the Hoople Mott
John Cale Paris 1919
Harder They Come sdtrk
Roxy Music Stranded
Al Green Call Me

Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street
Randy Newman Sail Away
Big Star #1 Record
Mott the Hoople All the Young Dudes
David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers
The Who Who's Next
Miles Davis Jack Johnson
Sly & the Family Stone There's a Riot Goin' On

The Velvet Underground Loaded
Miles Davis Bitches Brew
Fairport Convention Unhalfbricking

The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground
The Band The Band
Rolling Stones Let It Bleed

The Band Music from Big Pink
The Velvet Underground White Light/White Heat
The Beatles The White Album
The Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Dusty Springfield Dusty in Memphis

The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground and Nico
Love Forever Changes
The Who The Who Sell Out

Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde
The Beatles Revolver

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited
The Who My Generation
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream and Other Delights
Vince Guaraldi A Charlie Brown Christmas

Bob Dylan The Times They Are a-Changin'
John Coltrane A Love Supreme

James Brown Live at the Apollo (I know I wasn't including live albums, but it's the only album from the year I want to mention)

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Friday Random Ten

Glass Eye "Perder la Guerra" Bent by Nature
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "The Sword Song" Some Loud Thunder
Stephen Malkmus "Church on White" Stephen Malkmus
Joy Division "Atmosphere" Substance 1977-1980
Frou Frou "Psychobabble" Details
Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach "In the Darkest Place" Painted from Memory
Janet Bean & the Concertina Wire "Glass of a Stranger" Dragging Wonder Lake
The Du-Tells "We're Still Here" Wish You Were Here: Love Songs for New York
Orchestra of St. Luke with Dawn Upshaw "Five Songs #5: Serenity (Charles Ives)" John Adams Conducts American Elegies
Bill Nelson "The Invisible Man and the Unforgettable Girl" Blue Moons and Laughing Guitars

XTC "Beating of Hearts" Mummer

The first four made me think this might be the best random ten ever. But despite burning with optimism's flames, my ecstasy wouldn't really return until the end. Plus it got mighty dark--elegies by Ives, a song for 9/11, etc.


Mooks Door and Grille

For Dog Blog Friday: Mr. Mooks wonders if he can place a call with the iPhone.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fools Russian Where Neocons Fib to Trod

Time for one of those point and nod entries, but I have to admit I was sort of thinking what Robert Scheer writes about here on his Truthdig:

Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?


Yes, it sounds diabolical, but that may be the most accurate way to assess the designs of the McCain campaign in matters of war and peace. There is every indication that the candidate’s demonization of Russian leader Putin is an even grander plan than the previous use of Saddam to fuel American militarism with the fearsome enemy that it desperately needs.

McCain gets to look tough with a new Cold War to fight while Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, scrambling to make sense of a more measured foreign policy posture, will seem weak in comparison. Meanwhile, the dire consequences of the Bush legacy that McCain has inherited, from the disaster of Iraq to the economic meltdown, conveniently will be ignored. But the military-industrial complex, which has helped bankroll the neoconservatives, will be provided with an excuse for ramping up a military budget that is already bigger than that of the rest of the world combined.

What is at work here is a neoconservative, self-fulfilling prophecy in which Russia is turned into an enemy that expands its largely reduced military, and Putin is cast as the new Josef Stalin bogeyman, evoking images of the old Soviet Union.

Go read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paree Is for You and Me--Day Thirteen

Believe it or not, this trip, and the chronicle of it, are coming to a close--just two more entries. But I do not have the journal notes for these last two days, so it will be a bit more impressionistic and very much keyed to the photos. No doubt we had breakfast this day, but where I'm not sure. Perhaps it was a day we actually sat and ate and had fine coffee at La Terrasse, close to Ecole Militaire, the imposing school and the Metro stop. We then Metro up to Rue Montorgueil, a pleasant pedestrian street filled with shops eager to fill you stomach. And signs eager for you to take lots of photos, only some of which I'll post.

I have to admit this next sign is much more appealing visually than as a clarion call for the sick to come forward for aid. First, I'd prefer my pharmacist not to look like a Pilgrim. Second, although I know the snakes are part of the Caduceus or Rod of Asclepius (I'll let purists argue that one out on their own), there are at least three of them on this sign, so I'm beginning to imagine that's Samuel Jackson under the Pilgrim hat ("gotta get these motherfucking snakes out of this motherfucking cauldron!").

Sorry, got distracted there watching Nomar homer so the Mets are tied for first (thanks Dodgers) and Broxton gets the win (good for my fantasy team).

Meanwhile back in Paris...we do stop and get a baguette from Eric Kayser's shop as Elizabeth at Three Forks had just recommended them in a comment on the blog. And it is good, but everything is good--the wonderful bread, that we get free wireless in the hotel, that now grown-up children of friends have such good taste they make brilliant recommendations. Of course, everything is beautiful because it's Paris, dammit. Even their snails are beautiful.

This street runs us back into Les Halles, so soon we get every possible angle of St. Eustache, where we saw/heard the organ concert on Easter Sunday. To prove there is a god, the sky gets briefly blue, too, even if the church has a clock on it, which seems to confound the senses of time the religious are supposed to have with our earthbound version. Or the architect just couldn't resist.

The area also features wonderful kitchen supply stores, and as a foodie who thinks he can cook a bit, it's probably the same as Mookie and Nigel walking into a neighborhood made of Milk Bones. We end up at Dehillerin, where even Julia Child shopped. But it's been open since 1820, so I have a hunch Victor Hugo probably shopped there, too. (Oh, don't be miserable because of that joke.) It is incredible, the best such store I've ever been in--even beats Surfas in Culver City. Amy kindly buys me a terrific copper pot as a birthday present, so we have to head back to the hotel, as a copper pot makes for a great dead weight, too.

Since we didn't go to Patiserrie Secco for breakfast, we can stop for lunch, and all the shopping for kitchen goodies has us hungry. Of course that blue sky by St. Eustache has since clouded over and we get caught in a brief downpour, but things clear up in time for us to eat along the Seine in our usual spot. I think I have a pissaladiere and Amy has a sandwich but neither of us remembers for sure. No doubt there was a post-lunch sweet.

Afterward we head back to Galleries Lafayette as it's time to do some more souvenir shopping and the place and its dome just amaze. It even has a rooftop observatory, and for it Jesus visits the Eiffel Tower in his glorious rays.

What's more, Lafayette is full of food, as I pointed out earlier. In its top floor cafe pretty much everything is self-serve, and then we discover that France is the best country in the world as this department store has self-serve beer on tap. Think about how much more smoothly shopping trips in the U.S. could go if each Macy's had a place where men could get liquored-up as their wives shopped away. Lafayette also had this surprise, a single-arched McDonald's, clearly, from this photo, a gathering spot for terrorists. (I kid, in a Tropic Thunder way.)

For dinner we played the dumb Americans. We opt, thanks to the ever-helpful Pudlo Paris, to try Le Comptoir de Relais, a place with an actual Pudlo plate (he does plates and not stars). Luckily we don't know that if you Google the place it's the star of many "impossible to get reservations in Paris" stories. Nope, we just show up and ask if we can eat there that night. At first they only offer us tables outside, and even with heaters and blankets adorned with an awfully (not ofally) cute pig, that seems extreme. But the maitre d' then asks if we don't mind taking the last table on the way to the kitchen, and we say oui oui.

The place offers one set menu every evening, no choices, for 48 Euros per. Not cheap, but it's 5 courses at a fantastic place. And you don't go to Paris to save money. Indeed, our meal was exquisite, starting with a brilliant broth with just a spot of foie gras in it, the simple and complex flavors playing off each other and upping one's hunger. The second was a coquille saint jacques, a gorgeous presentation of scallop. The third, perhaps the best lamb I've ever had, or carre d'agneau du Limousin roti, as that almost sounds as good as it tasted.

But then it was the cheese course. We could make that much out from the little postcard menus written in French that we still have, but had no idea what was going on when the previous course's plates got cleared and the waiter set up a wine bucket holder to the edge of our tiny table. Then the maitre d' swooped in with a massive slate full of maybe 9 cheeses, each with a honey or quince or jam that matched it. Since we were the first people in and eating that evening, and a course ahead of any other table, the maitre d' said, "You have a half hour to eat as much of this as possible." Of course we couldn't, but we certainly tried everything, much of it cheeses we haven't seen it the U.S., including a smoked sheep cheese we can't remember the name of but can still sort of taste, if we think hard enough. Later the table next to us got to their cheese course and asked us what was good. Turns out they had a different cheese plate, with fine examples of many things we actually knew. We really lucked out.

There was dessert, too. Lait de vache cuit, jus frais de kiwi, premiere fraises Gariguette. Speak French to my stomach and it will love your forever.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Attorney General Says Breaking Laws Not Crime

"A little 'confessed' evil saves one from acknowledging a lot of hidden evil."
--Roland Barthes, "Operation Margarine," 1947

"I am well aware that some people have called on me and on the Department to take even more drastic steps than those I have described. For example, some commentators have suggested that we should criminally prosecute the people found in the reports to have committed misconduct. Where there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing, we vigorously investigate it. And where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute. But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime. In this instance, the two joint reports found only violations of the civil service laws.

That does not mean, as some people have suggested, that those officials who were found by the joint reports to have committed misconduct have suffered no consequences. Far from it. The officials most directly implicated in the misconduct left the Department to the accompaniment of substantial negative publicity."
--Prepared Remarks of U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey Before the American Bar Association, August 12, 2008

"Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime."
--George, next time I get pulled over for doing 80 mph

I am completely prepared for the substantial negative publicity. I say bring it on. Just try to catch me as I speed away, legally breaking the law.

(hat tip to the Generik Brand)


Monday, August 11, 2008

How the Cokie Crumbles

I'm sort of amazed I haven't ranted about Cokie Roberts in the 4 years I've been blogging for in many ways she's the perfect smarmy symbol of all that's wrong with the Washington press corps--totally insular, completely involved in perpetuating the myth of its own savvy insider know-how, ridiculously wrong about 89% of what they say. That she gets trotted out regularly on NPR is exhibit 1 that NPR isn't liberal in the slightest.

So now we get this, if you missed it. It seems Roberts thinks Obama picked the wrong place to vacation this week. According to TPM:

On ABC's This Week [she] added that Hawaii was not an appropriate destination: too foreign and too exotic. "I know Hawaii is a state, but ..." Roberts declared, while insisting Obama vacation in some place like Myrtle Beach, S.C.

That's one wonderful construction, " I know _____ (noun) is _____ (part of a larger noun it's really part of), but _____ (eyeroll that means we all know better no matter how true silly words are)." Sort of like, "I know Cokie Roberts is a senior news analyst, but..." After all, what better place for the first African-American candidate for President to vacation than the state that still displays the honorable ole Rebel Flag in front of its state house. I hope I'm not stretching my neck out to say that there's no better place for him to do some relaxing.

Roberts didn't think her claim was a mistake, of course. Instead she repeated and deepened it, as she'd heard it before and now it most likely seemed to be received wisdom. Here's her exchange on NPR:

RENEE MONTAGNE: Now Obama is spending the week on vacation in Hawaii, he's taking a vacation, he says, because it's good for his family, but is it a good point in the presidential campaign?

COKIE ROBERTS: It's a little rough to be doing it at this point, although I think he's feeling somewhat secure, but Hawaii is also a somewhat odd place to be doing it. I know that he is from Hawaii, he grew up there, his grandmother lives there, but he has made such a point about how he is from Kansas, you know, the boy from Kansas and Kenya, and it makes him seem a little bit more exotic than perhaps he would want to come across as at this stage in the presidential campaign.

Nice job, getting "the boy," "Kenya," and "exotic" all within 16 words of each other.

Look can we discuss the candidates' positions on things and not what we learn from their breakfast choice or favorite iPod download (oh, sorry Senator McCain, I realize an iPod is too 21st century for you to understand). As this "insight" gets offered and then repeated by a so-called "expert," we've got McCain going all apoplectic about Russia and Georgia, probably because it seems like something he can relate to--the big bad USSR pushing its neighbors around. Let's talk about that. And how the US of A would never push its neighbors around--it goes halfway around the globe to do that.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Paree Is for You and Me--Day Twelve

Bet you thought I'd never get back to this trip, did you? (Or finish my film or movie lists, either, well...ok, I haven't finished those. But now you have a reason to keep coming back--to read about music groups you don't know and movies you've never seen.) Since the date I'm writing about is already over 4 months ago (it was 3/26), I will rely heavily on my notes written then for obvious reasons.

I turn 45 and Paris isn't so giving. We head out and do the typical Patisserie Secco and Tabac d'l'Universite morning routine, eating our pastries along the Seine, so far, so good. Pain aux amande here is indescribably good, with a touch of chocolate even, but it's the combo of flakiness and chewiness that makes it so wonderful. Then we metro to Cite, Amy's favorite station, on the line were the trains zoom along as if the engineers are all TGV drivers in training.

We are headed to St. Chapelle, but the line to get in is surprisingly long. We learn this is also an entrance for the city justice building, so security here is much tighter than at other spots--they actually ask Amy if she has a knife in her bag. (Well, it is a big purse.) Once inside the complex, the church itself--a fine Gothic example, if not as huge as nearby Notre Dame--is easy to enter.

All the guidebooks tell you it's one of the best, if not the best, stained glass displays in Paris. Then you enter, and you're in a stunted floor of a nice enough arched church, but nothing special. And you begin to wonder.

Turns out the lower part is where the commoners got to worship back in the day. (Good thing there's nothing like that these days, where the rich get better stuff than the rest of us.) As commoners, they got something more common. But the "real" people, they got to go upstairs, which you are allowed to do (you paid your Euros), and you wind up a circular staircase to be nearly knocked senseless. Turns out it's all stained glass, amazingly beautiful even on an overcast day like the one when we were there. It almost seems as if there's not enough columns to hold the building up around all its windows. If you ever wondered what it might be like to be dropped into a human-sized kaleidoscope, this is the church for you. Luckily there are benches along the walls so you can sit down, as you almost have to, it's sort of dizzy-making. Pictures, at least my pictures, don't do it justice.

The windows tell Bible stories, but it's too hard to follow the narrative with all the colored glory drawing your eyes to a different fantastic place.

From there we decided to do the DK Paris book's walk in Faubourg St.-Antoine out from Place Bastille--once a horrible prison, now it imprisons drivers in a terrifying traffic circle (we were repeatedly happy we never rented a car). Mostly we windowshop the Viaduc des Arts, shops set in the arches of an old railroad viaduct.

There's lots of cool stuff, but we aren't bringing designer furniture back from Paris. (We don't belong in the upstairs church at St. Chapelle, after all.) On the way back we walk the top of the aqueduct, the Promenade Plantee, a brilliant idea for a way to work a park into the middle of a city. Those clever Parisians. It also gives great views of the interesting architecture in the area, like this mix of caryatids and art moderne.

Back in the center of Bastille-land we find some take-out sandwiches in a little place and munch our simple lunch on a bench in front of the new Opera House, watching teen punkers, the crazy traffic--we even get asked for directions, but, alas, don't know enough to help.

We then want to go to Montparnasse to see the Catacombs, as a little memento mori never hurts on one's birthday. We get there to find they are closed for renovation--do the skulls need polishing?--but that leaves us moving to plan B, which would be the Montparnasse Cemetery (yes, there is a theme here), but we don't get to see the tombs of Sartre and de Beauvoir, Serge Gainsbourg, Beckett, Baudelaire, Man Ray, etc. as the skies open up and my umbrella is still enjoying itself at Bofinger (if you can remember way back to that entry). So we move to plan C and hope to commune with the spirits of Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Hemingway at the famed cafe Les Closerie de Lilas by downing some spirits ourselves, but it's closed as they're putting in new carpet. I begin to wonder if 45 is going to be such a good year.

So plan D is changing neighborhoods all together and we Metro up and over to Madeleine to see if all the stores closed on Easter Monday are open and not polishing their skulls or re-carpeting. Turns out the famed places are open, so we wander through Hediard and Fauchon gawking in our foodie ways at displays of food set up like art. It's hard to imagine buying anything here, everything is so precisely, gorgeously laid out. If you took an item it would be like bad karma commerce Jenga or something. It's a relief when one worker at Hediard sneezes and let's out a hearty "Jesus Christ!" to break the decorum. I am still thirsty after the sandwich and not finding Les Closerie de Lilas open so we walk the few blocks to the guidebook suggested Mannekin-Pis, which is right across the street from Harry's so is easy to find but nonetheless closed, without a note or anything. I start to feel as if I'm personally responsible for shutting down half of Paris.

After a break back at the hotel, we head over to the Eiffel Tower for an evening ascent pre-dinner. We learn: 1) the dancing lights on the hour aren't as cool to watch from on the tower itself; 2) Altitude 95 is fun enough--champagne at 30 stories high over the City of Lights is cool--but they over-work their service so they're inattentive, 3) it's really hard to get off the tower, especially when you're trying to do so on the lowest level and every elevator car arrives jammed with people from the two stops above yours.

The we hike to Petrossian, the famous purveyor of caviar that has a restaurant too and for my birthday I figure it can't be bad to connect with my Ukrainian-Russian roots. Turns out the dining room, above the sort of museum-like turn of the century first floor store front, is much more upscale; it's easy to imagine Madame Lyubov Ranevskaya eating here at the turn of the last century (well, if she wasn't a fictional character). Dinner is terrific. We both take the 45 Euro menu as a la carte you'd need to be a Russian noble spendthirft to eat here. Amy has a salmon trio with artichoke and potato whipped souffle and red mullet with coconut "perfume," as the waiter puts it, I have the risotto with crab and caviar (have to have some of it at this place) and the perfect special sea bass with a zucchini tart I would order all by itself. For an expensive place they oddly offer wines by the glass at 5 Euros each, something you couldn't get in the U.S. unless you like wines from a box. We have the viognier with the first, the recommended sauvignon blanc with the second, and then a gift of what I think was Baumes-de-Venise (which took us back to our Provence trip) with dessert. Great pairings. Dessert was a trio of incredible tastes, each in a glass--some vanilla pineapple combo, an apple-citrus crumble, and some chocolate crunch balls. All in all a wonderful meal of elegance and fine service. So not everything went screwy for my birthday, that's for sure.


Friday, August 08, 2008

A Doggone Good Hotel

For Dog Blog Friday: Mookie and Nigel don't understand why they can't get room service Milk Bones.


Friday Random Ten

Elvis Costello and the Attraction "Big Boys" (demo) This Year's Model
Richard Hell & the Voidoids "Ignore that Door" Spurts: The Richard Hell Story
Megan Reilly "On a Plane" Loose 4: Start Your Own Country
Jill Barber "Hard Line" Country Girl: New Sounds of the Old West Vol. 5
The Feelies "Decide" Time for a Witness
Dollar Store "In the Gravel Yard" Money Music
John Cale "Paris 1919" Paris 1919
Elvis Costello "Tramp the Dirt Down" Spike
Laurie Anderson "Puppet Motel" Bright Red/Tightrope
Miles Davis "Sanctuary" Bitches Brew

Gillian Welch "Wrecking Ball" Soul Journey

While I would argue that "Paris 1919" is a classic, somehow iTunes claims its genre is "classical." Now, I know Cale studied at conservatory, but, c'mon. Otherwise, a reminder Spike is underrated even if Costello never is, three country women singing purty, something punky, something faux country, some whatever the Feelies are, and then Laurie Anderson into Miles Davis, as all the edges blur.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

No Time for Relationship, Skip the Foreplay, Let Her Rip

Tom at If I Ran the Zoo was so "kind" as to tag me with the music meme going around--name 5 guilty pleasures. Now, I lived through the early 1980s, so I am rich in embarrassing things I still sort of like. I do want to know, however, watching these videos, how any of us survived with any sartorial sense at all.

Tom included Tuxedomoon's "Jinx," for its totally pretentious video that is perhaps the fever dream of the biggest art grad school twit you've ever met. (Don't believe me, go watch it at IIRTZ). But I think I might be able to top it, from folks who should know better, too, for here's Wire's "Kidney Bingos":

It is a catchy as all hell song, though. I mean, just try to get "Money spines paper lung kidney bingos organ fun" out of your head. Without an ice pick, that is. (Sorry, Ms. Farmer.)

As for a second pick, I have to admit I still like Sparks--their album from a couple years back Lil' Beethoven was a clever sort of tinkly-rock-opera. But as for the embarrassment pick let's go to their Giorgio Moroder phase, cause it was disco and it was good. Here's "Beat the Clock":

I actually got to interview the Brothers Mael back in college and it turns out Russell doesn't say much and Ron is the chatty one. Guess Russell is saving his voice for that falsetto.

Coming at number three in the silly parade is this little known ditty from Prefab Sprout. I don't think I've ever seen this video before. I like the song less now, just because of that guy's facial hair. I might have to invent a time machine just so I can go back and fix that one thing.

Sure those string synth washes are next to the word wimpy in the aural dictionary, but you have to admit, there are some great lines in this song.

Might as well stay with "it's the 1980s and I like wimpy music if I want to" (BTW, I'm not going to pick this, but I dare you to watch the entire video and not giggle at least once). So here's Postcard Records' own Orange Juice doing the simply irresistible "Rip It Up":

Hope you stuck with it through the bridge, which concludes with the great lines:

You know me I'm acting dumb-dumb
You know this scene is very humdrum
And my favourite song's entitled "Boredom."

I mean you have to appreciate the shout out to Spiral Scratch in a song this mellow. Great sax solo by Dick Morrissey, too.

And for #5 there's Thomas Dolby doing his version of "In the Navy." Well, you know what I mean. Be sure to watch for the mean dance move he breaks out at the 4 minute mark--he's got the funk and it's coming out, dammit!

If anyone can explain the croquet mallet percussionist, I'd appreciate it. And if anyone can find a video of Captain Sensible doing "Martha the Mouth," I'd add it to my list of guiltiness in a second. Oh, and so you don't think my embarrassment stopped in 1986 or so, here's a video for a song released just last year (by someone best known for his work in the 1970s, but oh well). It's a dandelion wisher, it's a hedgehog, it's Ian Hunter!

Ah, the power of mid-tempo rock mawkishness. This one gets me, folks.

I'm not going to tag the folks at Around the Keg, as they're probably busy drinking, or Mike, who is in Korea anyway, or Ricky, who has a brain tumor named Aaron Heilmann (who stole Johan's win today the bastard), or Queen Whackamole, who doesn't seem interested in posting period, even though she has two blogs. That would just be mean, and I feel at one with the round earth right now.

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The Song Remains Profane

Fittingly it's 45 years ago this Friday that an obscure group from Portland, Oregon released a single that changed the way drunken frat boys would mangle lyrics forever--yes, the version of "Louie Louie" we know best. But maybe more than the lyrics, which are about a sailor but far from salacious, the Kingsmen gave us the classic dum-dum, dum-dum-dum riff that turned out to be pretty smart (and the heart of a gazillion other rock songs, from "Wild Thing" to Alex Chilton's "No Sex," in which he cleverly does make the song obscene with its AID-era chorus of "come on baby, fuck me and die" refrain). Still, parents managed to get worked into a lather by that rock n roll thing and soon the FBI investigated. Their crack team discovered the lyrics were co-written by Richard Jewell and Bruce Ivins. The various obscene versions of the tune were passed about schoolrooms and the song was even banned in Indiana, but it turns out the lyrics they confiscated from a school there were penned by a young Dan Quayle, and merely spelled atrociously. There are all kinds of obscenity, after all.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Booze and the Blowens Cop the Lot

A besuited Ricky Jay comes on stage, says nothing, but says everything. For a man who savors the lithe and limber language of the flim-flam, it's a striking beginning. All he does is roll up his sleeves. Of course, there's nothing up his sleeves. But there's lots up in his show Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants, perhaps the ultimate display of card conjury matched by a museum curator's sense of detail, of detritus not grand enough to be history but nonetheless worth dusting off for our enjoyment. While his tricks awe, as his aces always wind up in the precise right places no matter his manner of shuffle, he sets each bit in context you never quite know whether to believe, either. Some of the stories are as wondrous as the card effects, and in many ways it's essential he tells the tales of those who came before--how many times has the cups and balls routine, which closes his show, been done? How many mouths has it left slack-jawed? Acknowledging them adds to the power, making the magic something more elemental and timeless. It doesn't hurt the show is set on a stage jammed with bric-a-brac, looking very much like Laurence Olivier's home in the original Sleuth (there's even an automaton in one bit, adding to the antique, carnivalesque flavor).

There's no trick, ultimately, greater than Jay himself, a portly, bearded man with surprisingly stubby hands for the grace with which they can manipulate the deck. He doesn't seem a man able to deal exactly what he says (or better, when needed, when a build up to a "how to cheat at poker" mini-seminar needs a topper), a man who is perhaps the only man to know of so many before him who could make cards do their bidding, could make words wiggle in an effort to con. He doesn't just recite a 15th century poem by Francois Villon, he recites a 19th century Victorian slang translation (from which this post's title is taken). Watching him you get to watch a whole history and it's as if the weight of years conspires against you, a simple rube who will bet and lose it all. And still think it was a blast.

If there are any tickets left and you can get to Los Angeles' Geffen Theater you should go. If you can't here's the opening of the show (from a much earlier performance of it, of course):

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Little Trouble in Big China

It's hard enough getting up in the morning, but this A.M. I do the stiff-backed stumble out of my house to pick up the ever-shrinking LA Times (sure, do away with the Books and Opinion sections on Sunday, that's just stuff that will make me think, but the Food section last Wednesday was a mere 4 pages and most of it was written by stringers, and I need to have recipes!), and I almost gasp as there's a second paper in my driveway. Of all things it's the News-Press, as I guess my "Boycott the News-Press" bumper sticker wasn't enough of a clue that the delivery person should stay away. Of course I took it straight to the recycling bin, worried even touching it might give me anti-real-news cooties or something (luckily it came in a plastic bag, sort of a McCaw prophylactic).

Also inside the bag was a green flyer pushing the paper's "Olympic Special," and all I could do was dream of the contests in a N-P Olympics--the Steepleton 100 yard dash to a donut, the Armstrong wrong way drunken drive 100, the Apodaca and then there were none marathon, the Cappello synchronized suing. Seriously, though it seems I could get 12 weeks of 7 day home delivery for $20. First, that must mean the next round of circulation figures gets determined in October. Second, that's 24¢ a day, so you might call this a loss leader. Third, the flyer looks as if it were designed by a Cub Scout pack member or something, definitely not what you'd expect from people who print things for a living. It's got some clip art columns on each side for "visual appeal" but as far as I know, the Chinese aren't into the Ionic column thing. I know the Olympics started in Greece, but just because I was born in NJ doesn't mean I expect anything about me to feature a Hadrosaurus foulkii.

Of course, the big sell for the flyer is that "The Santa Barbara News-Press is excited to be sending one of our very own to Beijing China. We are the only local news source who will be providing a local view on this exciting world event." There's no word if they'll bring the "one of their own" they send back from Beijing, so that person better be careful--The Chinese are tougher on their journalists than even Wendy is, even if both share a penchant for blocking websites. And all kidding aside, usually part of the point of a sell like this one is to trumpet who that fine reporter will be. Back in 2004 when the News-Press was still a paper it built a whole ad campaign about John Zant reporting live from Athens; in fact his work can still be found on the News-Press website, and not behind the paywall, even. What this means is our town's paper has writers no one knows by name. And no, Staff Report is not a name. In 2004 the paper was proud to say Zant was covering his 7th Olympics for the paper. Now it's possible the writer going to Beijing will be writing his or her 7th story for the paper.

It's also telling that our local news source is most proud about covering an event an ocean away. We're talking about a local paper so committed to its community it couldn't even post all its stories about the recent Gap Fire for free, as a public service or something.

I already called the 800 number on the flyer to report littering as I found a mass of paper on my driveway that doesn't belong. If it happens again I am going to report a violation of V.C. 42001.7 and hope that the police will be willing to prosecute. I really don't appreciate garbage being thrown on my property.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Music 95-82: Some Are Old, Some Are New, Some Choices Leave Me Blue

And the music parade continues whilst I still have the oomph for it. While I did do Top 10s at least back to 89, I don't have those files anywhere (they might exist somewhere in Mac Write II). So for those years I'm doing the top 5 now. Then from 1989 to 1981 I have cassettes I made with cuts from the top albums, as it's something I did back in my college radio days (and then for 2 years at home, lamenting I no longer did college radio). Alas, the blind spots grow larger the younger I was, but that's the case about so many things.

Yo La Tengo Electr-o-Pura
Archers of Loaf Vee Vee
Son Volt Trace
Guided by Voices Alien Lanes
Magnetic Fields Get Lost

Pavement Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Victoria Williams Loose
Guided by Voices Bee Thousand
Built to Spill There's Nothing Wrong with Love
Dave Alvin King of California
This year goes to 6 (7?) with the double release of Magnetic Fields' The Charm of the Highway Strip and Holiday

Uncle Tupelo Anodyne
Liz Phair Exile in Guyville
Archers of Loaf Icky Mettle
Yo La Tengo Painful
Eleventh Dream Day El Moodio

Freedy Johnston Can You Fly
Pavement Slanted and Enchanted
Giant Sand Ramp
Luna Lunapark
Tom Waits Bone Machine

The Pooh Sticks Multiple Orgasm
Matthew Sweet Girlfriend
Mekons The Curse of the Mekons
Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque
Shams Quilt

Yo La Tengo Fakebook
Lloyd Cole Lloyd Cole
Reed/Cale Songs for Drella
Eno/Cale Wrong Way Up
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Mustt Mustt

or the beginning of the "tapes exist" years (where was Rosemary Woods when I needed her?)
was then
Pixies Doolittle
XTC Oranges and Lemons
Peter Gabriel Passion: Music from the Soundtrack for the Last Temptation of Christ
Mekons Mekons Rock 'n' Roll
Yo La Tengo President Yo La Tengo

is now
Mekons Mekons Rock 'n' Roll
Pixies Doolittle
David Byrne Rei Momo
Syd Straw Surprise
Lounge Lizards Voice of Chunk

was then
Throwing Muses House Tornado
Pixies Surfer Rosa
Pere Ubu The Tenement Year
Penguin Cafe Orchestra When in Rome
Billy Bragg Worker's Playtime

is now
Lucinda Williams Lucinda Williams
Sonic Youth Daydream Nation
Feelies Only Life
Pixies Surfer Rosa
Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens Paris-Soweto

was then
various artists Lonely Is an Eyesore
Tom Verlaine Flash Light
French Frith Kaiser and Thompson Live, Love, Larf, and Loaf
Throwing Muses Throwing Muses and The Fat Skier
John Hiatt Bring the Family

is now
Tom Waits Frank's Wild Years
The Replacements Pleased to Meet Me
Tom Verlaine Flash Light
Pianosaurus Groovy Neighborhood
John Hiatt Bring the Family

was then
WOMAD music samplers
XTC Skylarking
Peter Gabriel So
Bill Nelson Getting the Holy Ghost Across
This Mortal Coil Filigree & Shadow

is now
various artists The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
Feelies The Good Earth
Billy Bragg Talking with the Taxman about Poetry
Talking Heads True Stories
Elvis Costello and the Attractions Blood and Chocolate

was then
Kate Bush Hounds of Love
Talking Heads Little Creatures
Shriekback Oil and Gold
The Armoury Show Waiting for the Flood
Replacements Tim

is now
Mekons Fear and Whiskey
Tom Waits Rain Dogs
Talking Heads Little Creatures
The Pogues Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions Rattlesnakes

was then
XTC The Big Express
Laurie Anderson United States Live and Mister Heartbreak
John Cale John Cale Comes Alive
Lou Reed Live in Italy and New Sensations
Yellow Magic Orchestra After Service

is now
Replacements Let It Be
and lord knows...all sorts of good stuff this year (see the above, plus Three of a Perfect Pair, and Brewing Up with Billy Bragg, and Stop Making Sense, and How Will the Wolf Survive?) but I just don't have a feel for this year--maybe it's all washed away by Born in the USA

was then
XTC Mummer
Yellow Magic Orchestra Naughty Boys
Bill Nelson Chimera and Savage Gestures for Charm's Sake
New Order Power, Corruption, and Lies
Howard Devoto Jerky Versions of the Dream

is now
Tom Waits Swordfishtrombones
Talking Heads Speaking in Tongues
T-Bone Burnett Proof Through the Night
Marshall Crenshaw Field Day
Lou Reed Legendary Hearts

was then
XTC English Settlement
Peter Gabriel Security
Bill Nelson The Love that Whirls (Diary of a Thinking Heart)
Simple Minds New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
Modern English After the Snow

is now
Richard and Linda Thompson Shoot Out the Lights
Elvis Costello and the Attractions Imperial Bedroom
Lou Reed The Blue Mask
Marshall Crenshaw Marshall Crenshaw
ABC The Lexicon of Love

That was exhausting. And just 19 more years of my life to go!

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Friday, August 01, 2008

A Dozen Five Faves for Friday

In an incredibly act of juggling, INOTBB will now perform two memes at the same time! Yes, I still need to finish the film list, but I thought I should get started on the "albums of your life" one, too, especially since I actually have Top 10s for the years 1996-2005 already. Here comes the list of the top 5 INOTBB picks to click from right now--minus 2008, as it's presumptuous to know what's best with 4 months left--to 1996, with apologies for the stuff about which I know better now.

Shout Out Louds Our Ill Wills
Okkervil River The Stage Names
Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha
M.I.A. Kala
Allison Krauss & Robert Plant Raising Sand

Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Tom Waits Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, Bastards
The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America
Regina Spektor Begin to Hope
Howe Gelb Sno' Angel Like You

The New Pornographers Twin Cinema (I didn't get into them until this album, which is why they don't appear in earlier years)
Sleater-Kinney The Woods
The Decemberists Picaresque
Andrew Bird The Mysterious Production of Eggs
Shout Out Louds Howl Howl Gaff

Drive-by Truckers The Dirty South
Rilo Kiley More Adventurous
Neko Case The Tigers Have Spoken
Futureheads Futureheads
Magnetic Fields i

Fountains of Wayne Welcome Interstate Managers
Yo La Tengo Summer Sun
Johnny Cash Unearthed
Lucinda Williams World without Tears
OutKast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

The Mekons Out of Our Heads
Bright Eyes Lifted, or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
Sleater-Kinney One Beat
Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Rhett Miller The Instigator

Gillian Welch The Revelator
Old 97's Satellite Rides
The Strokes Is This It
Joe Henry Scar
Manu Chao Próxima Estación: Esperanza

PJ Harvey Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Sleater-Kinney All Hands on the Bad One
Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos Muy Divertado!
Yo La Tengo And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
Kasey Chambers The Captain

Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs
Built to Spill Keep It Like a Secret
Wilco Summerteeth
Guided by Voices Do the Collapse
Beck Midnight Vultures
(why, yes, I missed Moby Play and Old 97's Fight Songs--can't always be on top of things, I'm afraid, especially in such a great year)

Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Billy Bragg & Wilco Mermaid Avenue
Belle & Sebastian The Boy with the Arab Strap
Peter Case Full Service No Waiting
Elliott Smith XO

Yo La Tengo I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
Pavement Brighten the Corners
Sleater-Kinney Dig Me Out
Steve Earle El Corazon
Built to Spill Perfect from Now On

Beck Odelay!
Los Lobos Colossal Head
Steve Earle I Feel Alright
Ani DiFranco Dilate
Amy Rigby Diary of a Mod Housewife

Bands many people with quite good taste like much more than I do: Radiohead, The White Stripes, The Flaming Lips, The Shins, Arcade Fire.

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Lazy Legs*

For Dog Blog Friday: They do go all the way up. And all the way over the bed.

*Bonus movie trivia if you know the film in which a character is consistently referred to as Lazy Legs.


Friday Random Ten

Beck "Movie Theme" The Information
Beck "The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton" The Information
Alison Krauss & Union Station "Cluck Old Hen" Live
John Doe "Dyin' to Get Home" Meet John Doe
The Bently Boys "Down on Penny's Farm" Anthology of American Folk Music
Kronos Quartet with Foday Muso Suso "Tillboyo (Sunset)" Pieces of Africa
David Byrne "Princess" Look into the Eyeball bonus CD
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions "Perfect Blue" 1984-1989
Talking Heads "Love → to Building on Fire" Sand in the Vaseline
David Byrne "The Red House" The Complete Score from "The Catherine Wheel"

Carmaig DeForest "Kiss Me Seven Times" El Camino Real

I promise this popped out from 20,474 songs. Yes, two cuts that actually run in the same order on one CD to start off. And then the David Byrne obsession, but there are worse folks to get focused on, especially if "Love → to Building on Fire" is in the mix (cut o' the week). And we've had the Carmaig DeForest conversation before--turns out every blogger I know knows him.


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