Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Interview With The First Daughters

Here's a clip from the A&E interview with Jenna and Barbara Bush. They seem so...normal. Kinda makes you want to invite them over for a Heineken.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Viva Voce mp3

Alive With Pleasure, from their forthcoming album, The Heat Can Melt Your Brain, out Sept 11th. I previewed the album on the Viva Voce Radio, on their website. Alive With Pleasure is pure, straight power pop, infused with pulses of new wave, complete with handclapping, a plinking piano, and ghost noises. The best thing about it, though, is Antia Robinson's delicate voice, which should sound completely out of place in this song, but eases in so naturally when the song morphs into yet another song, a la A Day in the Life or Paranoid Android. Her chorus, "Give it some time/Give it some time/You'll make it with me/We'll be just fine," leads us into a searing guitar solo, and a return to the inital song structure. Bliss.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Elliott Smith Live at Northsix

Link via kingblind:

Elliott Smith Live at Northsix -
Williamsburg, Brooklyn- June 6, 2003 - full show

Goats for Daddy - Terese Taylor

I like this song, Goats for Daddy, but the reason I like it eludes me. We've got the trite quiet-verse/loud-chorus pattern, a simple and overused chord progression, and Terese Taylor's opening line, "All the stars in the sky..." just doesn't inspire me. It begins like something a drunk friend would start singing at a party, and then this spirited, over-loud guitar blazes in. But it has a weird charm that keeps bringing me back.

Maybe I'll hate it next week.

The Art of Book Jacket Design

Article from this Sunday's Book World.
Can you judge a book by its cover? Yes, say Frank and Eve Metz. And not only by its cover, but by its back, its boards, its title page, its contents page, its chapter openings, its typographical design. So much work goes into the physical aspect of a book -- the art and display of it -- that it is safe to say that a reader is getting as many messages from the artifact as from the themes inside.

Madame Astonishing

Michael Dirda reviewed Madame Bovary in Sunday's Book World. He declares:
It still astonishes.

If one were to ask, "World, which is the most perfect novel ever written?," the world would immediately answer: Madame Bovary. There are novels of greater structural complexity, such as Lord Jim and The Good Soldier, or of a broader social canvas, like Anna Karenina and In Search of Lost Time, or of more stylistic dash -- Ulysses, Lolita -- and many far more beloved (Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, The Leopard), but Madame Bovary still stands as the most controlled and beautifully articulated formal masterpiece in the history of fiction.

and ends the review:

if you've never read it, or if you've only worked through it in first-year college French, you need to sit down with this book as soon as possible. This is one of the summits of prose art, and not to know such a masterpiece is to live a diminished life. Some early critics complained that Emma's story was a sordid and commonplace one, yet that is, paradoxically, its glory. The novelist once famously proclaimed that he himself was Madame Bovary -- but failed to add that so are you, so am I. We are all the victims of unrealized or unrealizable dreams. They somehow slip from our grasp or glitter before our eyes, only a little beyond our reach. "I admire tinsel as much as gold," Flaubert once wrote in a letter. "Indeed, the poetry of tinsel is even greater, because it is sadder."

Relief for the Touch-Deprived

Get spooned at a local cuddle party. From the Washington Post:
Perhaps because of his concern that people will confuse cuddle parties with orgies, Mihalko has adopted a kind of kindergarten teacher language. He calls the people who attend his parties "cuddle monsters" and calls their praise "cuddlemonials." He signs his Cuddle Party newsletters with phrases like "Happy spooning." He says his parties create a "safe space" that allows people to be "energetically open." He has a community of apostles who attend cuddle party after cuddle party, saying it relieves stress and social anxieties.

Creepiest, most perverse thing I've read in weeks. And I've been reading Lolita.

Screw the Olympics. House Gymnastics Rule!

Are you oddly compelled to attempt the "Tomahawk?" Learn this and other great moves at housegymnastics.com.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Pixies mp3 at fluxblog

Not here. Go get it at Fluxblog. It's their second post-reunion release, titled Ain't That Pretty At All. It's a fun, raucous howler, with Black Francis and Kim deal opening with some spoken word, and ending with falsetto screams and blazing guitars. Glorious.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

PJ Harvey on iTunes

If you're a PJ Harvey fan, the new iTunes exclusive album is essential listening. She precedes each song with brief, revealing commentary, and the iTunes exclusive recordings give you a different perspective on old favorites and the new material. The updated A Perfect Day Elise is edgier and harder than the original, and the verses in The Life and Death of Mr. Badmouth sound more ominous and guttural than the Uh Huh Her version, resulting in starker contrast with the choruses: "wash it out, wash it out..." and "everything is poison..."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Foo Fighters Likely to Release Double-Disc Set

Story at kingblind. Grohl is my Ambassador of Quan. All about the love, baby. Did I spell "Quan" right?

Deerhoof Interview

Those crazy quirky noise-poppers are interviewed at PopMatters.

Listen to strange pop here:
Milk Man
Milking (on right sidebar, under "Selected MP3s"

Milosz in the Post

Two poems and a brief remembrance of Czeslay Milosz From the Washington Post's Poet's Corner in Book World. These poems are celebrations of humanity, and of a life lived without illusion. The first, Confession, begins:
My Lord, I loved strawberry jam
And the dark sweetness of a woman's body.

it continues:
Who would have trusted me? For they saw
How I empty glasses, throw myself on food,
And glance greedily at the waitress's neck.
Flawed and aware of it...

Hirsch says:
His poetry was fueled by suffering but informed by moments of unexpected happiness. He understood the cruelty of nature and yet remembered that the earth merits our affection.

He thought deeply about the rise and fall of civilizations, and he praised the simple marvels of the earth, the sky and the sea. "There is so much death," he wrote in "Counsels," "and that is why affection/ for pigtails, bright-colored skirts in the wind,/ for paper boats no more durable than we are."

Monday, August 23, 2004

Because You Need One

Watch the video for Need One, from Martina Topley-Bird's new album, Anything. It's intimate and soulful, and yet...it will rock you. It's part martini, part beer: a beertini.

Beer, Wings, T&A, and...The Gospel of St. Matthew???

It's late, and I got my ass kicked today. Literally. My body wants to hurt, but the standard 800 mg of Motrin is barely keeping it outside the muscle and bone. So a short post tonight.

It's been said that the House of God is wherever people gather in his name. I don't think that whoever said that had the home of bare midriffs and plastic ta-tas in mind. Watch this clip on Bible Study at Hooters. Read the story here and here.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The End of the Century

The New York Times and Salon.com review The End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones. From the Salon story:
The passion of fans, unfortunately, doesn't always add up to actual dollars. But even if the Ramones never got to live like rock stars, there's no doubt that they were rock stars of the highest order. Fields and Gramaglia are never cavalier about the band members' fractious relationship. If anything, their movie is imbued with a sense of gratitude that the Ramones would suffer so much internal bitterness in order to give us, their fans, so much rock 'n' roll bliss.

Listen to the demos below, taken from their self-titled reissue, with bonus tracks. Isn't there a place, even today, for hard-driving songs (guitar, bass, drums) with 3 chords and simple lyrics? These songs are certainly more moving than the pseudo-poetry you find in some of the indie music you hear today, destined for insignificance in three to five years. It's all about the sincerity of what they were doing. The Ramones rocked like they meant it, and we sweated with them in our leather jackets.

mp3: Judy is a Punk (Demo)
mp3: I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (Demo)

Saturday, August 21, 2004


Listen to Beckology on BBC's Radio2. From BBC.co.uk:
With the upcoming release of a new album, and another new direction, Stuart Maconie presents an intimate portrait of one of the world's most eccentric and influential musical mavericks - Beck.

This is a fantastic interview that begins with a discussion on his growing up in a crack neighborhood, and includes comments from collaborators such as Niles Godrich and the Dust Brothers.

k-os: "The Love Song"

You've heard and seen the video for B-Boy Stance, the first single from k-os' Joyful Rebellion, available August 31. Now listen to The Love Song. Salon.com's Wednesday Morning Download describes it this way:
"The Love Song" is based around a very pop four-chord progression banged out on a far-away piano, around which K-Os weaves some lovely string parts that have a warm, reverb-heavy, not very hip-hop sound. It's a beautifully produced track, atmospheric and unusually well-blended, but also sparklingly clear and vibrant.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Tangent Donnie Darko + mp3s

This Friday, fans of the 2001 cult classic Donnie Darko return to theaters to watch the Director's Cut. Will the new, less mysterious, more explanatory version collide violently with the original, tear a hole in the sky, and cause both movies to collapse on themselves? The Keoki and I watched the new movie last night, and we agree that, though some of the endearing weirdness is gone, and the important questions are fed to us, the new version is at least as compelling and eerie as the original, and we prefer its treatment of Donnie to the original.

Pages from Roberta Sparrow's "The Philosophy of Time Travel" are superimposed over transitional scenes to explain the effects of our universe and the tangent universe colliding. These pages also describe Donnie's role as the collision begins and Frank starts speaking to him. Two things become immediately clear: After reading the book, he knows that there is a purpose in a life he feared was meaningless and alone, and Ms. Pomeroy (Drew Barrymore) and Dr. Monnitoff, assuming they're both intimately familiar with the book, both know that Donnie is the "chosen one" who will make a choice to decide the fate of the Universe. If you've already seen the original, you know the bittersweet ending, and may have been left with doubts as to Donnie's sanity. He was either a schizophrenic twice removed from reality, or he was a misunderstood hero who understood his unappreciated purpose. The new cut eliminates one of these choices.

The new cut also eliminates a song in the memorable opening scene where Echo & The Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon" used to play. "Never Tear Us Apart" replaces the original song, with a far less creepy effect. It's like taking "People are Strange" out of the opening sequence in "The Lost Boys." The lyrics are more appropriate to the Darko environment, though: I/I was standing/You were there/Two worlds collided/And they could never tear us apart). Richard Kelly makes up for the Echo & the Bunnymen deletion by inserting 'Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry" into an added scene in which his mother comes in to Donnie's room, talks to him for a few moments, leaves after he yells at her, and after closing the door, hears him call her "Bitch."

Added to the film are a slew of deleted scenes that were included in the DVD, with revealing commentary. Better effects also help the movie preserve its creepiness--fast- and slow-speed clips give us a sense of shifting time, and an important symbol in the movie, the eye, is given chilling special effects treatments.

Even with all the Sparrow book pages and the revelatory effects (Kelly almost shows us the God machine), the movie is still cryptic. Does Donnie have a free will and the ability to make choices and change his destiny, even after seeing his future? Maybe. But he still follows the "water" that emanates from his thorax and leads to the places he's meant to go. Perhaps the only time he changes anything is at the end, where he fatefully stays in his room instead of following Frank. Perhaps it's because he has the freedom to make this choice (as predicted by Roberta Sparrow's book) that he laughs in his final scene.

Since I first saw the original movie, Donnie has been a hero of sorts, representing honesty in an age of deception and disinfection. He deserves this Director's cut, to be seen as the misunderstood martyr, defeating, as his father states in another added scene, the "conspiracy of bullshit."

From the Michael Andrews Donnie Darko Score: The Artifact & Living

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Moonbabies mp3 - Forever Changes Everything Now

Forever Changes Everything Now from the Moonbabies' 2004 album, "The Orange Billboard." It's clean, harmonic pop reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, but with subtle electronic effects. Listen to it closely for the gentle noises and voices fluttering in the background, always clean, always complementing.

Oh yeah, and they're Swedes. You can get the above mp3 and a ton of other material at their website.

Washington Post Whitewashes Washingtonienne

Sunday's Washington Post Magazine had an article about the Hill staffer/slut/blogger Washingtonienne. Sure, that whole thing was only like three months ago. But we guess that's how long it took to turn her into a victim. It's not easy work; for example, when she writes
I am done with W, for real this time. A man who tries to fuck you in the ass when you are sober does not love you. He should at least take you out for a few drinks to spare you the pain. Now I know that W does not care about me, only my asshole.

The whole situation depressed me so much, I turned down a free dinner and asked him to take me home. He peeled off a few hundred from that roll of cash he carries around, and put the hundreds in my hand as I was getting out of the car. I acted indignant, like I don't need his help, but I kept it: why punish myself? I should get something for putting up with his tired old ass.

you must turn that into

But her Friday night date with the Georgetown lawyer turned out to be dreadful, Jessica reported in her blog. He wanted a kind of sex that physically hurt Jessica.
Poor baby! and
MK found my half-empty bottle of K-Y last night. He will probably never speak to me again.
Jessica informed her readers that her former steady boyfriend had visited her apartment the night before and discovered evidence that she was still cheating on him.
That's some evidence! Those are just our two favorites. To find your own, compare the two. (Warning: the Post story also has a bunch of psychosociobabble about JC being a symbol of the times or something).
Washingtonienne Archive
Blog Interrupted: When Jessica Cutler put her dirty secrets on the Web, she lost her job, signed a book deal, posed for Playboy -- and raised a ton of questions about where America is headed

Monday, August 16, 2004

Coma - The Conductor of Your Mind.

The new Comas album, Conductor, is out next week, and I've ordered mine already. Watch the video for the first track,The Science of Your Mind (on the left sidebar). It begins, appropriately, with a sci-fi noir shot of a Gothamesque city, then gets personal and blurry. The climax, in which an elevator explodes and a woman in a lounge chair flies toward the camera in a backdrop of flames, is gorgeous. Sitting on one's ass and watching the tube has never been so surreal. You'll see what I mean as you watch.

From their website, get the mp3 for the same track, and also give a close listen to the fifth track, The Last Transmission. Download Tiger in a Tower from their last album, A Def Needle in Tomorrow, here.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

mp3 Blogs = Online Airplay

A Reuters story titled Blogs Build Buzz, Raise Copyright Questions came out yesterday. It begins: "The blog has begun to emerge as both a music industry friend and a potential bootlegging nightmare." A bootlegging nightmare? Oh, come on. Nobody's posting anything that would result in reduced sales for an album. More: "...many of the same Web sites are developing into the next possible headache for copyright owners.

That's because the individuals behind many blogs are using their sites to plug new music from under-the-radar acts, while hosting and distributing unlicensed MP3 files. "

Hmmm...I remember when I was a pup...I used to tape songs from the radio, fall in love with them, and go out and buy the records, like all the other kids. The music that didn't get any airplay didn't get bought.

Being posted on mp3 blogs is like getting airplay.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Czeslaw Milosz dead at 93

The great Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz passed away today. Read Salon's story. I'll leave you to dwell on his own words, in the poem Christopher Robin, from his 1998 collection, Road-Side Dog.

Christopher Robin

I must think suddenly of matters too difficult for a bear of little brain. I have never asked myself what lies beyond the place where we live, I and Rabbit, Piglet and Eeyore, with our friend Christopher Robin. That is, we continued to live here, and nothing changed, and I just ate my little something. Only Christopher Robin left for a moment.

Owl says that immediately beyond our garden Time begins, and that it is an awfully deep well. If you fall in it, you go down and down, very quickly, and no one knows what happens to you next. I was a bit worried about Christopher Robin falling in, but he came back and then I asked him about the well. "Old bear," he answered. "I was in it and I was falling and I was changing as I fell. My legs became long, I was a big person, I grew old, hunched, and I walked with a cane, and then I died. It was probably just a dream, it was quite unreal. The only real thing was you, old bear, and our shared fun. Now I won't go anywhere, even if I'm called in for an afternoon snack."

Military Retailers vs. Fahrenheit 9/11?

Nope. Though this news story would have you believe so.

AAFES is an organization managed by savvy business people, who are certainly not ignorant of the fact that military personnel will see the movie at their local theaters, and get the DVD from their local Blockbusters, Targets, and Wal-Marts or online sources. Democratic servicemembers will watch the movie and love it, Republican servicemembers will watch it and hate it. But my point is: we'll watch it, whether or not AAFES shows or carries it.

Friday, August 13, 2004

mp3 - Static on the Radio

Static on the Radio is a dark, reflective song about the things we can't see, but know are there, and the things that we do see, yet question their existence. He yanks the blanket of reality from beneath our feet. The song is from Jim White's 2004 album, Drill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You See. It clocks in at over 6 minutes, but it passes like a slow, deep breath. The beginning is beautifully creepy, and the vocals and instrumental layering of violins, guitars, and organ make for hypnotically gorgeous choruses: "Everything I think I know is just static on the radio." This song will stick with you for a while.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Room in the Attic

...is the title of the Steven Millhauser story in the Tin House Summer Fiction Issue. In the story a teenage boy named Dave makes nightly visits to Isabel, who confines herself to the darkness of her attic after suffering a breakdown. They meet over a Connecticut summer, and play guessing games involving description and touching--"playing the game of darkness." One night, Dave brings a flashlight to the attic, and plans to turn it on during their games:
"She would spring into existence--at last!--if only for a second, before vanishing into the hidden world. I would apologize and we would continue as before.

As I sat in the stiff chair, holding the little flashlight and listening to Isabel tell me about a new word game she'd invented, I kept waiting for the right moment. I could hear her shifting in the bed--I imagined her moving her arms about as she talked. Then I imagined her sleeves, perhaps pajama sleeves, slipping back along her gesturing forearms. At that instant my desire to see her, to strip her of darkness, became so ferocious that I raised my fingertips to my throat and felt the thudding of my blood. It seemed to me that to shine the light at Isabel, to expose her to my greedy gaze, would be like tearing off her clothes. With a feeling of shame, of sorrow, and of something that felt like gratitude, I returned the light to my pocket.

On the way home I thought: What attracts you is the darkness, the existence of an unseen, mysterious world. Why do you want to destroy that world?"

The climax, logically, is the moment of Isabel's emergence into light, both to Dave and to the reader. I won't say what happens. Pick up an issue on Tin House while they're still available.

A-Team Cleared and Sally Gets Her Period.

The U.S. Military has finally cleared the A-Team of all war crimes charges, and the elite commando unit that has been pursuing the A-Team since the end of the Vietnam War will be reassigned to the hunt for bin Laden. More details in the Onion article..
A quote from the Onion story:

"Murdock said his primary concern at present is getting Baracus to fly from L.A. to Washington, D.C. for the trial.

'He keeps calling me a 'crazy foo' for trying to get him to fly,' Murdock said. 'I told him the chance of the plane crashing into a field of rednecks harassing a religious group was very slim. I'm thinking that if we drug his milk, we can get him on the plane.'"

Elsewhere in the same issue, a seventh grader named Sally becomes a woman in her middle school restroom.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Where are the Asian and African American Sprees in Technicolor?

Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree answered my stupid questions in his online discussion yesterday. Thanks for the tip, SugarDuck! But dammit, I forgot to ask if they're vegetarians. Here are my questions and his answers (I live in Bowie, work in Bethesda):

Bowie, Md.: About the robes... do the colors symbolize anything?

Tim DeLaughter: The robes just symbolize that we are a colorful band and are unified by all these colors.

Bethesda, Md.: Do you recruit new band members or do they generally come to you? And do any minorities ever show interest in joining the band?

Tim DeLaughter: Yes, they all come to us. That is basically how the band has gotten together.

We did have an African-American who played Tuba who approached the band and was going to do it, but at the last minute he had to move back to East Texas where he went to teach at a school. But we really don't have that many minorities approaching us to be in the band.

He seemed like a regular fellow in the discussion. He doesn't fool me, though. I just know there's something fishy going on there in the midst of all that love and harmony.

We Only Know the One Song From the Eternal Sunshine Soundtrack...

The founder of the Polyphonic Spree will be taking questions today at the Washington Post's Live Online feature. So if you ever wanted to know what's the deal with the robes...

MP3 - From Bubblegum to Sky

From Bubblegum to Sky's infectious pop tune, Operation Big Beat, will grab you with its playful opening piano and guitar lines and hold you with strong, simple melodies. Mario Hernandez is the band, and according to his page on eenie meenie records,
It's a solo thing with a band-like moniker. "I chose the name From Bubblegum to Sky, because I didn't want it to be like a "Mario Hernandez" thing. It would feel odd for me to see my name on a record like that. I feel like it's a band, even though it's just me. The things that people are doing to me, or I'm doing to them, or whatever experiences I'm having-that's the band. I couldn't write without those experiences and in a way that's what a band member does."
But why "Bubblegum to Sky," really, and not "Mario's Band?" From his (their) second album, Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen. Hear more of their stuff here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Pixies Interviewed

The article is in this past Sunday's NYT Arts section. The sidebar contains audio interview excerpts with Frank Black on writing lyrics, singing as a child, and screaming, and with Kim Deal on the Reunion Tour and on avoiding cliche. Is a new Pixies album a possibility? From the article:
Marc Geiger of the William Morris Agency, the band's longtime agent, says he is hoping the Pixies will record a new album early next year. "I have thought of that concept, yes," Mr. Black said. "I wouldn't mind asking Tom Waits to produce us. Why not? I like the way his records sound."

Monday, August 09, 2004

Dizzee Rascal mp3

Download Dream, at Fluxblog. Fact: you can take any shitty song in the world, rap it in a British accent, and it will sound cool. Try it.

Kill Bill 2 and The Flower of Carnage

Kill Bill 2 is out on DVD tomorrow, and I'll be picking up my copy during my lunch hour. Until then, I have both of the soundtracks to keep me occupied. Two of my favorite tracks from those CDs are The Flower of Carnage, from Vol. 1, and Urami Bushi, from Vol. 2, both by the prolific Japanese songstress and actress Meiko Kaji.. Both are songs of mournful desperation, but sung with strength and confidence, rather than helplessness. If you already have the soundtrack to Vol. 1, you know the dramatic lyrics to The Flower of Carnage:
Begrieving snow falls in the dead morning
Stray dog’s howl and the footsteps of geta pierce the air.
I walk with the weight of the milky way on my shoulders
But an umbrella that holds onto the darkness is all there is.
I’m a woman who walk at the brink of life and death
Who’s emptied my tears many moons ago.
All the compassion, tears and dreams
The snowy nights and tomorrow hold no meaning.
I’ve immersed my body in the river of vengeance
And thrown away my womanhood many moons ago.

Listen to an untitled track by Meiko Kaji from the movie Alleycat Rock 2: Wild Jumbo. All of these mp3s and and more can be downloaded here. Note: the Meiko Kaji website linked above is in French, so if you can't read it, have your translators ready.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Possessing Beauty

From Alain de Botton's The Art of Travel, in the chapter titled On Possessing Beauty:
A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold on to it, to possess it and give it weight in one's life. There is an urge to say, 'I was here, I saw this, and it mattered to me.'

But beauty is fugitive, being frequently found in places to which we may never return or else resulting from rare conjunctions of season, light, and weather. How then to possess it, how to hold on...?

Friday, August 06, 2004


You gotta love the brackets in this last paragraph from ET's news story on the death of Rick James:
In 2002, James was asked by Rolling Stone how he'd like to be remembered.

"As someone who beat the odds, and as a musician who gave up the truth," James said, adding emphatically--and colorfully: "My music ain't no contrived [B-S]. It ain't no sci-fi [crap]. It's the real [you-know-what] deal."

How he wouldn't like to be remembered:
In 1991, he was arrested for singeing a woman with a hot crack pipe. In 1992, while out on bail, he was arrested for beating up another woman at a West Hollywood hotel.

In 1993, he was convicted of assault in the two arrests, but cleared of a torture charge in the crack-pipe incident that could have put him behind bars for the rest of his life. He served two years in prison.

For the truly nostalgic, at RickJames.com, you can watch Rick James video snippets and listen to Rick James Radio, featuring a 24-hour per day, 7-days per week stream of the "elder statesman of funk."

Yes, I'm a Beck Fan.

Now that we've cleared that up...I know it's 3-days' old news, but Pitchfork has a story on the new Beck album. From the article: "According to scattered reports by NME, MTV and Rolling Stone, Beck's as-yet-untitled new platter is a much more aggressive, guitar-focused affair with tracks produced by the esteemed Nigel Godrich and long-time collaborators The Dust Brothers." Also: "The album will also contain a song titled 'Brazilica', which will continue the man's deep-seated love of Brazil and Brazilian music first explored in 'Tropicalia' and 'Deadweight'." Can't wait to hear that one. To celebrate the good news, here's a Beck mp3 - a cover of Mississippi John Hurt's "Stagolee."

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Nothing is Lost (The Final Death Post)

After this post, I'll get off of the subject of death, I promise. Just a few poems for your reflection.

I read this one by Slovenian poet Edvard Kocbek's Nothing is Lost: Selected Poems (Princeton, 1990), in Sunday's Book World:

Earth, I Get Everything From You

Earth, I get everything from you, earth
to you I return, my flesh smells of holy
sacrifice and mortal sorrow, long will I
look upward by day and by night.

Earth, our grave, how lovely you are, earth,
I am a sweet dark grain among grains, bewildered
by your depths, birds chirrup over our heads,
one of them will peck us up.

Notice how he isolates and repeats the word "earth," and how he slows us down with "sweet dark grain among grains," to make us feel so close to the dirt that we'll become.

Here's another, from Marie Howe's collection, What the Living Do (Norton, 1998), a reflection on her brother's death from AIDS, and how she copes with it. You can feel the frustration of her ghost brother as he tries to tell her what death really is. I got this one here.

The Promise

In the dream I had when he came back not sick
but whole, and wearing his winter coat,

he looked at me as though he couldn't speak, as if
there were a law against it, a membrane he couldn't break.

His silence was what he could not
not do, like our breathing in this world, like our living,

as we do, in time.
And I told him: I'm reading all this Buddhist stuff,

and listen, we don't die when we die. Death is an event,
a threshold we pass through. We go on and on

and into light forever.
And he looked down, and then back up at me. It was the look we'd pass

across the kitchen table when Dad was drunk again and dangerous,
the level look that wants to tell you something,
in a crowded room, something important, and can't.

One more, from Billy Collins's collection, Picnic, Lightning (Pittsburgh University Press, 1998). I sent this one to my friend Tom, after he tried to help a woman on the highway after a collision with a tractor trailer. She was already dead. Tom was disturbed by his feeling of uselessness at the time, and at the randomness of death, and at the way that little split decisions, like the decision to cut someone off on the road to get home a few seconds sooner, can result in the greatest cost of all.

Picnic, Lightning

"My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three."

It is possible to be struck by a meteor
or a single-engine plane
while reading in a chair at home.
Safes drop from rooftops
and flatten the odd pedestrian
mostly within the panels of the comics,
but still, we know it is possible,
as well as the flash of summer lightning,
the thermos toppling over,
spilling out onto the grass.
And we know the message
can be delivered from within.
The heart, no valentine,
decides to quit after lunch,
the power shut off like a switch,
or a tiny dark ship is unmoored
into the flow of the body's rivers,
the brain a monastery,
defenseless on the shore.
This is what I think about
when I shovel compost
into a wheelbarrow,
and when I fill the long flower boxes,
then press into rows
the limp roots of red impatiens--
the instant hand of Death
always ready to burst forth
from the sleeve of his voluminous cloak.
Then the soil is full of marvels,
bits of leaf like flakes off a fresco,
red-brown pine needles, a beetle quick
to burrow back under the loam.
Then the wheelbarrow is a wilder blue,
the clouds a brighter white,
and all I hear is the rasp of the steel edge
against a round stone,
the small plants singing
with lifted faces, and the click
of the sundial
as one hour sweeps into the next.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

REM and Springsteen Flex Their Political Muscle

REM, Bruce Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, John Mellencamp, and the Dave Matthews band will all perform on the Vote For Change tour, presented by MoveOn.org. Their mission: to sway all of the Republicans and swing voters in attendance, and get them to vote for John Kerry. That would be all 3 or 4 of the Republicans in attendance, and no swing voters, which we all know are imaginary. Read the news story here. And see the Republicans call the artists pansy gay-wads here.

The Republicans are countering with their own concert tour, featuring Toby Keith. The opening act will be...Toby Keith. Republicans apparently love Toby Keith like Germans love David Hasselhoff, and Toby Keith loves G.W. Bush like Michael Stipe loves Thom Yorke.

Are there any Pro-Bush non-country music artists out there? [silence]

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

He Only Sings When He's Sad

I don't mean to be a downer, but since I was on the subject of loss, here are a couple of mp3s from M Ward's LP-long meditation on the loss of a friend, Transfiguration of Vincent, from 2003. Sad, Sad Song is from Matador's site. The page it's posted on lists it as Vincent O'Brien, but the page is wrong. I prefer Vincent O'Brien, a sad yet whimsical song about a man who sings and dreams to shake the tragic loss blues. "You better get yourself together soon," warns M. Ward. The old-time saloon piano enters at precisely the right moment, and the ending is triumphant. It's music for the broken spirit, but anyone can get a lift out of it.

Summer is Here, and Charlotte Hatherley is Hot.

Ain't she?

Watch her stellar video, Summer.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Heartbreaking Post and mp3

Both the entry and the Cyndi Lauper mp3 at antipopper are wrenching. When tragedies strike, we seek the genuine and the profound, and struggle to find either in our commercial trashmosphere. We put aside the CDs that we thought were clever yesterday, and replace them with those that speak to our hearts. Cyndi Lauper has always been sincere and convincing. Go back and listen to her early songs; they sound different now than they did in the 80's. Lately I've been stuck on When You Were Mine, penned, of course, by Prince (hence the u's in the lyrics below). She makes the song real with the longing in her voice, and you believe it when she sings:
I know, that you`re goin with another guy
But I don't care, cause I love u baby that's no lie
I Love u more than I did when u were mine.
The song posted at antipopper is about a child who sings "I want a mom that will last forever."

Sincerity is welcome in a sarcastic, cynical world, where so many acts strive to be witty and brilliant, but end up sounding pretentious and stiff.

Said the Spider to the Fly

I just listened to the pAper chAse's single, Said the Spider to the Fly, off their new LP, God Bless Your Black Heart. It's a warped noise rock breakup song that degenerates from a quaint piano melody to a repetitive, thumping, hellish, chanting dissonance, complete with a grating guitar solo and demonic mumbling at the tail end. The song opens with:
I want your head
I want your wicked parts
I want to wring out your evil thoughts
I want to eat out your bitter heart

and later,
And I'm telling everyone everything
So scratch it on the wall on your coffin on your sick day home
And when your lover loves to cheat there's another you can meet
It's a short pier, it's a long walk home.
kiss me like you mean goodbye
said the spider to the fly...
Download the MP3 on the right side of this page. You can also watch a creepy breakup video for Don't You Wish You Had Some More from the What Big Teeth You Have LP. I love the hands on her back at the end of the vid.