Friday, July 31, 2009

Everybody Wants to Be Someone's Here

A couple of vids for your Friday enjoyment. The first just because it exists and I never knew it did, one icon taking on another. We are the winners.

Then a more recent one, and sort of a cover, too, and if you like this be sure to get down to SOhO on Wednesday, August 5 cause Doe and the Sadies will be there. (Bonus, the person who first sang about kissing a girl, Jill Sobule, and who didn't get all coy about it, will open.)

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Eye in the Sky Greyhounds

For Dog Blog Friday: Two hounds, two bowls, two feet. Always too cute.


Friday Random Ten

Doug Martsch "Things Never Shared" Doug Martsch
Helen Merrill "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" Night and Day: The Cole Porter Songbook
Hayden "Stride" Loose: New Sounds of the Old West Volume Two
Randy Newman "Have You Seen My Baby" Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman
PJ Harvey "It's You" Uh Huh Her
Jack Logan "New Used Car and a Plate of Bar-B-Que" Bulk
Kelly Joe Phelps "Roll Away the Stone" Roll Away the Stone
Les Negresses Vertes "Famille Heureuse"" Famille Nombreuse
Yo La Tengo "Tired Hippo" And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
Guided by Voices "Teenage FBI" Do the Collapse

T Bone Burnett "Every Little Thing" The Criminal Under My Own Hat

Number 2 is quite fitting, and goes out to Amy. Then it's a three-way struggle for first with Jack Logan, GBV (yes, I like Do the Collapse--you GBV purists can make all the fun you want), and T Bone.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hearst So Good

I made a reference to being a scullery maid at Hearst Castle a few weeks ago--if you want to see the details, check this out.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bed My Tired Bones

For Dog Blog Friday a day late and a made bed short: Found this on the iPhone and don't think I've posted it before. I miss these guys. It is kinda nice not to have them sleep with me, though.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Random Ten

Elvis Costello "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
The Magnetic Fields "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower Eastside" 69 Love Songs
Pavement "Wanna Mess You Around" Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creeders Edition
Condo Fucks "Shut Down Part 2" Fuckbook
Damien Rice "Creep" Sounds Eclecitc the Covers Project
Regina Spektor "Man of a Thousand Faces" FAR
Jose Gonzalez "Crosses" Paste Magazine Sampler 18
Johnny Cash "One" American III: Solitary Man
Neko Case "Train from Kansas City" The Tigers Have Spoken
Sonny Landreth "Gone Pecan" Grant Street

The Avett Brothers "Talk on Indolence" Paste Magazine Sampler 20

All from the iPhone today, so lots more good stuff than usual.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It Just Happens to Rhyme with Pleurisy

So, I'm off to experience the Weird New Jersey sampler pack for a limited time--just one week. I will try to post, but can't promise how much I'll have access to my sisters' computers as I don't feel like lugging a laptop given I don't have to work. But we'll always have iPhone.

In the meantime, you all have a reading assignment, although knowing this "crowd," most of you have read the book or plan to--Charles Pierce's Idiot America. Now, it doesn't just catalog idiocies, thank god, for we all lived through that and still can't quite flush the memory of Joe the Plumber. But he does come up with a framework for how classic America crank--which he appreciates, nay, relishes about America--too quickly gets sold and a crank at market is a dangerous thing. (Birthers....oops, sorry, a little gas from my lunch there.) It's very funny, as only Pierce can be (I refuse to make a piercing wit joke), but also deeply moving in spots--what happened to the poor souls trapped in the Terry Schiavo circus is a true sin. So, go read and enjoy. Hope you're all here when I get back.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

He Embouchures Aerophones by the Seashore

The egrets I'm used to, although they were impressively arrayed slough-side this morning on the bike ride in, almost as if they decided to ape the folks at the nearby beach, each laying claim to its own real estate.

It was the older guy sitting in the back of his van that got me, though. There he was, facing the bike path, the airport a bit further in the distance. In front of him, a music stand. In his hands, a trombone. You've got to practice somewhere, I guess, and no doubt the missus made him leave the house.

Perhaps the egrets thought it was some sort of call.


Monday, July 20, 2009

What a Kirk Off

I should just be writing about Farragut North, a new political drama in a run at the Geffen Playhouse in LA, but I can't. For instead of discussing how a play can moralize about the amoral, seem part of the headlines and timeless, instead of praising actors much better known for tv and movie roles--Chris "Kirk 2.0" Pine, Chris "Mr. Big" Noth, and Olivia "Juno's BFF" Thirlby--I have to talk about manners.

You see, we tend to go to matinees in LA as the timing just works better--traffic from Santa Barbara to there is almost always easier (and I know I just jinxed my next ride), you can catch an early supper someplace (Father's Office is ever a favorite) and be back home by 9 pm. It's a fun day. But matinees also mean that the theater crowd that tends to skew old anyway shuffles ever further down its aged curve. And I don't mean to be ageist, but old folks at the theater have been mighty crotchety of late. When we saw Oleanna it was post-show discussion day, so we stuck around to see what Pullman and Stiles would say about acting in such a heated show. And while their comments were interesting what was perturbing was one older woman who would interrupt every answer with "you have to speak up" and "What!!"

But she had nothing on the ass at the Geffen Sunday. For this guy shouted out "Louder!" during the play. Several times. During a super-charged scene (the play exists for its two-person scenes in which you never quite know who's zooming who), one that requires shifting dynamics, he shouted "Louder!" several times. Now why someone with him or near him didn't stuff a Playbill in his annoying yap I'll never know. I don't remember if the Geffen laid people off (I know Center Theater Group did)--if they did were they ushers?

So disruptive was he, that Olivia Thirlby turned from Chris Pine to address the man. In a manner so firm and clearly furious that it shrunk my manhood for the rest of the month and I was sitting in the mezzanine and being appropriately quiet, she said, "Don't do that. Stop." Instead the shithead said "Louder!" again, as if betting pot odds on his own shmuckdom. Then Chris Pine told him he should leave. There was a pause, the actors clearly conferring on how to get back into the play, and they re-wound, as it were, and made it to the finish.

Of course, they weren't the only ones cheated. There's nothing like getting drawn in by an hour and forty-five minutes of a play to have someone force the actors to admit to all of we need to wake up from our dream they so artfully constructed.

So, whoever you were, thanks, ass. At least you've reminded us all that it's not just the younger generation that feels its incredibly entitled.

As for the play...Farragut North, we learn, is the Metro stop in DC where you get off when you're a consultant--it might not be the end of the Red Line, but it's the end of the political line for someone who wants to be a true macher, as Stephen Bellamy (Pine) clearly wants to be. He's the hotshot young press secretary to a governor hoping to surprise in the Iowa caucuses, and all similarities to Howard Dean are purely coincidental, having nothing to do with playwright Beau Willimon having worked on that campaign himself. He does seem to have the adrenalin-filled patter perfected--imagine Mamet morphed with Joshua Micah Marshall's evil twin, say.

But, of course, as with any play about politics, it all comes down to who rules who, and Willimon plays those out in a series of clever pas de deux. The most intriguing pair to tango is Bellamy and Molly (Thirlby) a precocious yet innocent 19-year-old intern who might be too much the kind of woman that only exists in plays written by men, but Thirlby manages to make her pretty (word chosen advisedly) believable--at least until some ass makes her break the fourth wall.

Is the message new, that power corrupts, that the rotten stench of our national politics gone bad leaves us all stinky? No, but the force at which Farragut North makes its points is thrilling to watch. It doesn't hurt that Pine, who is on stage for nearly the entire play, is commanding, even as his world begins to fall apart. As probably the only human being who hasn't seen him in Star Trek (I'm a geek in many ways, but know nary a syllable of Klingon), I can't compare the performances, but he never bored, even when acting the only side of a phone call. In fact, during that sequence he risked one enormous pause, a good ten seconds that is eons of theater silence, but then he said, "Yeah, I'm here," and it seemed clear the other person had put him on hold. That should have been Bellamy's hint his world had shifted with this one call--he's the kind that answers the phone and interrupts conversations that need no interruptions or calls Molly the cleaning lady to the person on another phone call (while it seems an insult, and it gets a laugh that the audience then gets to feel bad about, that is also her symbolic role in the play). But that pause, it takes courage. So here's to Chris Pine. He deserves audiences better than ours.


Friday, July 17, 2009

The Ocean Cliff Clearing

For Dog Blog Friday: Just to make the parents crazy, all the best smells are at cliffside.


Friday Random Ten

David Bowie "Love You Till Tuesday" David Bowie
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint "The Sharpest Thorn" The River in Reverse
Jon Langford "Invisible Man" Gold Brick
The Buzzcocks "I Don't Know What to Do with My Life" Peel Sessions
Waco Brothers "Out in the Light" Cowboy in Flames
Joan Armatrading "Lost the Love" What's Inside
Paul Simon "Under African Skies" Graceland
Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers "Time Bums" Married to the Mob--Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Otis Ball & the Chains "Hooray for Flowers" Time for a Change--Bar/None Sampler #2
Chris Mars "City Lights on Mars" Horseshoes and Hand Grenades


Cotton Jones "Gotta Cheer Up" Paranoid Cocoon

Weird. After a song from the album River in Reverse, on the next cut Jon Langford first sings, "There is a bridge where the river flows backwards." Spooky. Otherwise, mostly just strange.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Fetchit

July 16 isn't just the date the British humor magazine "Punch" was first published in 1841 (in fact, it began when the British boxing magazine "Guffaw" folded). Nope, it's also the day that Jimi Hendrix gave up trying to convert the nubile young things of America. Yes, it's the day of his last spot opening for the Monkees on their 1967 U.S tour. Turns out he got tired of the crowd shouting "We want Davy!" in the middle of "Purple Haze," although the alternate reality where Hendrix goes to the prom with Marcia Brady is too rich not to ponder. So he gave the crowd the finger, stormed off the stage, didn't even bother to put out the fire on his guitar. America got the last laugh, of course, remaining resolutely uncool and very very white for a long time. Rumor has it there might still be places where the Hendrix lesson has never been learned.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"You Agree with Us? Well, We Don't!"

"It is sort of a unique position to be in, to be willing to accept 64 amendments and having the authors of the amendments reluctant to have their amendments accepted."

No, that's not a line from some lost Joseph Heller novel about the machinations on a fictional, absurdist Capitol Hill. That's a line from the real Capitol, on Monday, uttered in obvious bemusement by Senator Chris Dodd in response to Senator Mike Enzi on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. You really have to watch the video--at the least Enzi himself seems embarrassed. (Too bad he couldn't teach that response to his fellow senators asking Judge Sotomayor stupid questions that start with the assumption default human is white male.) It seems the Republicans have 64 amendments to the health care bill. Fair enough. But it also seems they themselves don't like their own amendments, and perhaps not just one's like Tom Coburn's intended poison pill (his amendment: that every member of Congress and their staffs would be required to enroll in the public insurance option).

Or, perhaps, they just don't want anything to get done.

I'm beginning to think they should dump the elephant as their symbol and instead go with a baby. Not one too young--one old enough to just say No. And only no. One old enough to want everything, like, say, both a wife and Buenos Aries babe. Yet one with the attention span and focus of old what's-her-name from Up North.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sneak A-tax

Just so the record is straight, as this argument always bugged me on its surface, but now I've got the facts to back up my hunch:

If high income taxes were chasing away rich Californians, high-income households would be more likely than low-income households to move to states without income taxes—but they aren’t. How come? States without income taxes are cheaper than California in other ways—housing costs, for example—that matter to all types of households, not only to those with the highest incomes. In other words, California does lose people to lower-tax states—but not just because of income taxes.

That's from a report by the Public Policy Institute of California. In some ways if you look at the full report (which I recommend you do) what you get is everyone's leaving California. But if you have to live in Nevada instead, I feel sorry for you, and some ice is in the mail. After all, one assumes you get something for the taxes you pay to a state.

So, my guess is that if you're rich, you might want to stay in California even if you have to pay a bit more in taxes. Here's a bit of what you get for those taxes, and that's even before someone goes to school or gets saved by a firefighter or borrows a book from a library:


Monday, July 13, 2009

Not Enough People Love Him and I Don't Know Why

Perhaps Alejandro Escovedo almost always tours with strings because his voice is in their register, if sometimes unstrung. Of course that one sentence is already too far into the story for many of you, as Escovedo has never got much beyond cult status--sadly mentioning that his niece is Sheila E. might be the best way to put him on most folks' cutural radar. But over his four decade career (wrong word, as that implies a plan), Escovedo has made more good music of more kinds than most, and by being so insufferably un-pigeon-hole-able has never even got the acclaim of, say, a Leonard Cohen, ever the cynical-Buddhist-roué (a genre-busting role, sure, but a consistent one). Escovedo first performed with the SF punks the Nuns, even playing at the infamous Sex Pistols' last concert. But since 1975 he's gone country punk and then maybe just country (Rank & File and the True Believers), fronted the thank the wham-bam-of-glam band Buick MacKane, and released solo albums fine enough to get him named No Depression's artist of the decade (1990s). Of course, those albums feature tunes as sweet as the love song "Broken Bottle" and a cover of The Stooges "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Oh, and he's Mexican-American, but that signifies more culturally (a whole song cycle for his dad and the immigrant experience) than musically ("Castanets," for instance, isn't Latin-tinged but an out-and-out rocker, something like the Chuck Berry meets the Replacements). I mean us anglo-folk can't even say he's the guy who covered "La Bamba" or something.

But we can love his music and his performances of that music, as what looked to be a near sold-out house did at the Lobero Theatre on Saturday night. He opened in front of the stage (it's a usual bit of his performance, working in or near the crowd), and that's part of his power--he draws you in, sometimes so you might swoon, sometimes to make you flinch. Playing with his longtime guitarist David Pulkinghame and a cellist whose name, alas, I couldn't quite catch, they kicked off with "Five Hearts Breaking," a song that sets his musical scene well. The cello gets to both soar and saw; the song whispers and wings--his love of volume/tempo shifts echo how his art witnesses life's duality; as for the words, well, her voice is five hearts breaking, but it's saying, "Believe believe and everything will be alright." Escovedo sings it likes he means it--he always does--so we end up with a song that says believe while recognizing exactly why we shouldn't, too. It's way (weigh?) more than a pop ditty.

That's how the rest of the show went, too. Escovedo brought out show opener (and, sadly, sort of a bore) Chuck Prophet, musical accomplice for his most recent fine album Real Animal, for the last two-thirds of the set, and even those who were not-for-Prophet before had to be converted with killer versions of "Always a Friend" (so damn catchy), "Sister Lost Soul" (slowed down and even more mournful), and others.

Finally, for encores he both pleased and slightly pissed off this fan, and not just because he didn't play the monumental "Pissed Off 2 a.m." Nope, it's because he promised so much that I wanted more--he's not the kind of guy who you let off the hook for just a fine show, it has to be a killer (in every way). First, they played "Broken Bottle," with its haunting melody and wistful lyrics, ever a crowd pleaser. Except I've seen the definitive version of it live, Jon Langford and Sally Timms doing a death-defyingly slow version at McCabe's a few years back. Now, Escovedo could probably win the song back, but not with the help of his special guest Amy Cook, who suffers from that over-dramatic singing thing that gives me American Idol creeps. You have to be more gnetle with a "Broken Bottle" you know. Next up was a cover of the Bowie-penned Mott the Hoople-performed "All the Young Dudes," another winner, till Ms. Cook got her verse and wrung its poor neck. (Sorry to be harsh, but Cook doesn't deliver in my musical kitchen as it were.) Then to close they opted to resurrect an obscure cover (it's on a Bloodshot Records anniversary disc) of Mick Jagger's (no, not the Stones, we're talking solo Jagger) "Evening Gown." It's a terrific country rock romp, a bit too melodically straightforward to fit on Exile on Main Street perhaps, and it fits Escovedo's timbre perfectly. Alas, instead of dueting with (and no, I'm not obsessed, but it sure does seem odd to me he comes up twice) Jon Langford as he did on the recording, he dueted with Chuck Prophet. And going from Jon Langford to Chuck Prophet is like going from Rembrandt to Thomas Kincaide, minus the units moved, of course.

So, what should have been out and out a brilliant way to go out was just damn good. But Escovedo is so damn good, I wanted more.

I realize this probably says more about me than the show.

Here's a version of "Everybody Loves Me" with a violin in place of the cello, but you'll get the point.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Eye Don't Get It

For Dog Blog Friday Sunday: Nigel sort of sums it up here. Was out of town just overnight (but what a night--details will eventually follow about my evening as a scullery maid at Hearst Castle). Got back, friend had a 40th to-do. Saturday was Alejandro Escovedo. Today was my first ever kayaking adventure (and boy are my arms tired). So there's lots to write about, but little brain power to do it with. Here's hoping I can get back to more regular postings. In my irregular way, of course.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Random Ten

Elvis Costello & Steve Nieve "Allison/Living a Little, Laughing a Little/Tracks of My Tears/Tears of a Clown/No More Tearstained Make-Up/Clowntime Is Over" For the First Time in America
Willard Grant Conspiracy "Beyond the Shore" Regard the End
John Hiatt "It'll Come to You" Slow Turning
Franco & Rochereau "Lisanga Ya Ba Nganga" Omona Wapi
The Beatles "Here, There, & Everywhere" Revolver
Big Star "Hung Up with Summer" In Space
Leonard Cohen "I'm Your Man" Live in London
Wilco "Radio Cure" Kicking Television: Live in Chicago
Roger Eno & Kate St. John "Our Man in Havana" Familiar
The Magnetic Fields "Parades Go By" 69 Love Songs

Daniel Lanois "The Messenger" For the Beauty of Wynona

Late, and in some ways cut 1 should be 1-6, but it ends up all over, doesn't it?


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Makes You Long for the Days of Fred Grandy

TPM reports:

GOP Rep. Steve King Is Only Vote Against Recognizing History Of Slave Labor In Capitol

Here's an interesting example of those famous lone "No" votes in Congress -- the contrarian who is willing to stand up alone against the overwhelming majority of his or her colleagues, and vote against something that was passing easily.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 399-1 for the Capitol Visitors Center to have a plaque acknowledging the role of slave labor in the construction of the Capitol. The resolution has information in it that even this history fanatic didn't know about -- for example, slave labor was involved in constructing the "Statue of Freedom" atop the Capitol Dome.

At the time it was unclear why King would make such a stand, but INOTBB has learned the following from King spokesperson John B. Irchers, "Congressman King has grown worried over the past few weeks that he was losing his vaunted spot as the most ridiculous Republican. John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Sarah Palin--they've had too much news time of late, and then there's Michele Bachmann who is at least a St. Paul short of a Twin Cities. King is sure this vote will help cement his reputation that he prefers is not tarred."

What's more Irchers claims that Congressman King "thinks this whole thing about a few slaves is just part of what the media wants you to believe. Look, if history taught us one thing, if we only kept going with all those very much legal immigrants we wouldn't have the illegal immigration problem we have today. Heck, after they got done with the Capitol, they should have built that electric fence the Congressman's been asking for."


Monday, July 06, 2009

Resigning Woman

Sarah Palin on July 3, 2009: In the words of General MacArthur said, 'We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.' One with less grammar."

Sarah Palin on July 27, 2009: "I have hiked the Appalachian Trail. It does not go to Argentina."

Sarah Palin on July 29, 2009: "Please tell David Letterman that Bristol was not on the hike with me and she was not knocked up by Mark Sanford. Now I have to go hold two magnificent parts of myself in the faded glow of night’s light. Look for a full pictorial in the August Runner's World. And my lawyer will threaten a lawsuit in the morning."

Sarah Palin on October 23, 2009: "Since the truly worthy causes in this world should be the public priority with time and resources and NOT this local / superficial wasteful political bloodsport, I have decided I will find out what happened to Amelia Earhart, especially as she probably disappeared over the Pacific somewhere tropical."

Sarah Palin on November 21, 2009: "I have discovered the real killer of Nicole Brown Simpson but I can't tell you who it was (hint: wrong famous black man). I know not to explain: your friends don't need it and your enemies won't believe you anyway."

Sarah Palin on March 15, 2010: "A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket... and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can WIN. I am proud to be named the new coach of the Clippers."

Sarah Palin on March 25, 2010: "I've never believed that I, nor anyone else, needs a title to do this - to make a difference... to HELP people. So I will no longer be Clippers 'coach' while still making a difference."

Sarah Palin on January 20, 2013: "I am honored to be elected the first female president of the United States. And since I do not believe in politics as usual, I am resigning the presidency with this speech. Also."


Friday, July 03, 2009

Pepless Pup

For Dog Blog Friday: Mookie sort of sums it up and he doesn't even enjoy visits to Hollister Brewing.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Friday Random Ten (Thursday Edition)

Moby "35 Minutes" Hotel
Penguin Cafe Orchestra "Perpetuum Mobile" Concert Program
Freedy Johnston "Underwater Life" Blue Days, Black Nights
Guided by Voices "At Odds with Dr. Genesis" King Shit and the Golden Boys
Pavement "Blue Hawaiian" Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition
The Mad Lads "Patch My Heart" The Complete Stax/Volt Singles: 1959-1968
This Mortal Coil "Another Day" It'll End in Tears
Mick Moloney "Jigs: Arthur Darley's/Over the Hills to Runbush" Strings Attached
Andre 3000 "My Favorite Things" The Love Below
Pixies Gouge Away" Doolittle

Yo La Tengo "Tijuana Taxi" Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics

Not the most crucial of lists this week, no? And, alas, cut #12 was "Thirftshoppin'" by Pianosaurus, so good music lurked. As for the actual list, can you spot George's favorite? Can you guess which album was part of a crucial label-honoring show he did way back when he did college radio in grad school (probably 1985)?


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Jackson's Soul, Why Roaming?

Took this photo last Thursday and forgot to post it. Perhaps it's Michael Jackson's soul floating out over the hills above the Santa Ynez Valley. I will not make a joke about the prominent sign in the foreground or the Boy Scout camp you can't see in the background.


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