Wednesday, March 30, 2005
real-time beck album (guero) listening party:
i bought the new beck album (guero) today. or, rather, i downloaded the new beck album off iTunes on my NEW G4 POWERBOOK. ok, alright, simmer down. the powerbook is nice, but i'm here to address the new beck album with my own personal real-time beck album (guero) listening party.
possible influencing factors on my review: head cold, nyquil, dayquil, cold-eze, fifth of maker's mark, nabokov's lolita, stupid neighborhood listserv, cat inside nearly all the time fucking up my shit, hail damage, mexican food, the memory of her touching my arm at the roping as i shook eddie's hand and buried five years of a hatchet, gently leaning into me as if to steady a fall, all the other things i could've said in this same space.
1st track: E-Pro. he released this on a special iTunes whatever album earlier in the year so i've already heard it. i'm a sucker for the heavy guitar-devil's haircut beck song and this one delivers. did you ever think i'd say "delivers" in a music review? well, there you go. blame the song. na na-na na na na na.
2nd track: Que' Onda Guero. i guess this is the title track. my favorite track so far. well, it's the second track, but still. try to keep from singing this song out loud when you walk into the convenience store and order a slurpee. something about a puppet with a mullet. there are so many lines in this song you'll hear quoted while you're standing in line for beck tickets. "hey guero." "yeah, bro." "que' onda guero?" he even gets in a dig about yanni (which is like attacking a koala bear...funny, but entirely unnecessary).
3rd track: Girl. a little weak. my summer girl? i wish i had the liner notes. catchy and poppy, but maybe too much. will probably skip this one after two listens. i'm betting this one gets radio play though.
4th track: Missing. i like the two or three notes that he hits in that "i pray..." part. his voice almost cracks. man, that kicks me in the guts. just when you think he's some sort of mechanical pop machine, he pulls out a song like this. sad and danceworthy at the same time.
5th track: Black Tambourine. this album should really be called odelay dos. if you liked odelay, this album will be like listening to that album only DOS as much fun. again, bobbing my head like on the first two tracks. will probably go 1, 2, 5 when driving really fast and racing people on mopac. rok!
6th track: Earthquake Weather. "spaceships in the jungle." kind of tropicali meets fuzz disco guitar. hold on, i gotta get up and dance a little. this may be the perfect headphone album. even the little crackling record sounds work.
7th track: Hell Yes. hmmm. hell i dunno. maybe the first real stumble. this sounds too much like too many other beck songs. that patent, breakneck whiteboy rap. the stutter step drums. probably a b-side for midnite vultures.
8th track: Broken Drum. the token beck slow song. think around the bend or nobody's fault but my own. again, i'm a sucker for this, but it sounds like several other songs. i'm not sure that anybody can escape from sounding like themselves nor would they necessarily want to (you gotta dance with them that brung ya, etc). but it's a real quandary for beck who probably outdid himself on odelay and never quite recovered. i mean...shit...that was one of the best damn albums ever. if we can't agree on that, i'm not sure we have any traffic. but it's sort of like prince after purple rain. where the fuck do you go after that? it took the rest of the world several years just to catch up. same with beck. he's tried hard to break the mold, but at a certain point, he has to cycle back and cover the same ground. it's not bad. it's just you want that sublime moment again. that first time you heard "loser" or "jackass" and thought, "i'm down with the sound of the leaves turning brown and i'm digging every word that you say." or something like that.
9th track: Scarecrow. starts off with a billy jean riff (which was a copy of something else i'm sure someone will tell me). cuts in the hillbilly honk of a harmonica. great rhythm. i swear, he's got keith richard's sensibilities when it comes to hooking a riff on a drum machine. he could just shit these out for all i know. ok, so it's 1, 2, 5, 9 for driving. "scarecrow's only scaring himself." how does beck get away with these lyrics? i'll tell you. by repeating them. boldly. you can just about get away with any lyric if you put a hip-shaking beat behind it and say it over and over again like a zen koan. think big bottom girls by queen. i swear to god, you start to think...maybe beck's trying to say something about the war in iraq and how we're only scaring ourselves. maybe he is.
10th track: Go It Alone. a bit too many na na na na na's for my taste. sort of a slow-mo where it's at.
11th track: Farewell Ride. beck does robert johnson. this is the stripped down blues from mellow gold or even stereopathic soul manure filtered through lusher production (listen to the drums and the background moaning). almost sounds like a tom waits cover. i bet we get a beck-tom waits farewell ride tour before we hit retirement age. they'll be on the same circuit as the flaming lips.
12th track: Rental Car. this sounds like what beck must hear when he listens to the radio. like he actually changes the channels so fast that he creates this noise. i think i heard some steely dan in there. and mariah carey.
13th track: Emergency Exit. eerie otherworldly with that hillbilly feel. nice acoustic guitarwork mixed in. he is clearly a musician and a geek when it comes to mixing up various styles. most of it sticks to your guts. i'm thinking, of course, of nabokov's lines in lolita:
"This then is my story. I have reread it. It has bits of marrow sticking to it, and blood, and beautiful bright-green flies."
ah, the bright-green flies. i've seen glimpses here.
my neighborhood listserv is abuzz with people nearly foaming at the mouth about these metrohouses (hey crazy neighborhood listserv people! welcome!)
what's not to hate, right? affordable modern homes replacing rundown, rat-infested shacks? young, wealthy families? urban growth? somebody better tell these hipster developers this is austin and you can't do that sort of shit in our town. nope. we want progressive, smart growth. just not in our neighborhood.
this looks good as far as these things go...
truth at the sentence level (does this guy ever stop?)
Monday, March 28, 2005
and again, the bleat says it better than i ever could myself:
"Then there are those who brim with passion not just for the state-approved quietus, but with fury for those who oppose it. Fury and impatience. I’m not talking about the people who regard Schiavo as brain dead and believe her guardian should be allowed to carry out what he insists are her wishes, without the state’s intercession – I mean those who show up on message boards and comment forums sneering about vegetables-in-pampers, and have a good larf pointing at the christers with their imaginary friend in the sky who tells them that an angel will come down and give her a brain like the Wizard of Oz or somethin’. It’s this combination of nihilism, cynicism and a flat nasty refusal to even consider the possibility of transcendence, puffed up with that brackish snarkier-than-thou style that makes the Comic Book Guy the patron saint of the Usenet.
In short: err on the side of life is not a bad motto to keep in mind. This seems simple enough. I respect those who nod, count to three, and offer a soft “however” so that we may refine the particulars. But I don’t have much time for those who hear “err on the side of life” and automatically bristle, because they hear the voice of someone who, damn their black and God-addled brain, once sent $10 to a politician who opposed parental notification law that did not have a judicial review.
You may not always agree with that sort of person. You may have no need for them. But you never think you have need of any chocks until you're in the truck, and you realize it's rolling down the hill. Backwards."
Saturday, March 26, 2005
my apologies for not keeping up with sxsw reviews. sxsw rule #2: you usually forget everything a week later.
then there's the ongoing national distraction (we all do love a good fight don't we?) of terri schiavo. or the schiavo case as some would call it. i don't have many good things to say about it. it's generally agreed the husband is a louse (melted wedding ring down, living with another woman, changed plea after insurance settlement, made bogus offer to parents about donating to charity for publicity then almost instantly withdrew it). it also seems to be the general consensus that this is a political sideshow. that these self-same conservatives haven't given two shits about other folks in the same less-noteworthy condition and that the federal government shouldn't seek to overturn state judicial decisions or get involved in "personal right-to-die" cases. it's also hard to miss all the commentary about the dozens of court cases and the dozens of experts who have essentially decided that it is a matter between terri and her husband and that he ultimately gets to decide.
i only have two comments.
it is heartbreaking that the parents, who clearly love her, don't get to take care of her. i don't think we know if she's dead and the endless litany of doctors paraded about just makes me more uneasy. since when did doctors become the final authority on anything? they told my mom she had three months to live. she lived three years past that estimate. persistant vegetative state is just a euphemism for "we don't know what the fuck is going on in there." you think the experts agree on what this medical term even means? think again. if feeding her is deemed "life support" then i guess we could also allow for moms who don't want to feed their babies? oh, but they are alive.
bad cases make bad law. this is an awful example for either side to pin their respective hopes on. right to die advocates could pick dozens of better cases. what is the harm in allowing the parents to care for her, esp. since the husband appears mia and not truly interested in terri's best interests. social conservatives should worry that this sort of intervention at the federal level could seriously backfire the next time a janet reno gets into office and tries to sort out things in florida (elian gonzales anyone?). i certainly don't want the legislature involved in my death. but, if lonanne were in the same situation and her mom was screaming out to take care of her, why would i stand in the way of that? no living will could account for all the variations of death. it's foolish to think otherwise (what makes God laugh? men making plans).
i think the worst thing about it is we just don't know how to define life at these points. sure, we say we do. heartbeat. some sort of brain activity. able to swallow? but, if you apply those rules to other areas, they seem dark and twisted. the minute you make up a rule about it (look at the pro-life movement and it seems to be a heartbeat and what looks like a human face at roughly 10 weeks of pregnancy), the other side starts to digress. you get a lot of talk about viability. am i viable on third night of sxsw? are you? not to joke, but all of this falls into absurdity for me.
you think not? now we have ten-year old kids arrested for attempting to bring water to mrs. schiavo. did anyone think it wouldn't devolve into this? let the arguments continue. the kid was a schill sent by some church. the kid was a saint, simply trying to right by his own lights. someone commented to me the other day that all this was "just politics." i couldn't agree more. but i happen to think politics is what we all practice (in arguing, in cajoling, in venting, in flaming, in threatening, in redefining) whether we like it or not. i think deep down, this case, this woman does matter. more than we'd ever care to admit.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
sxsw rule #1: much as in real estate...location, location, location. a great band can have the life sucked out of it at a frat-daddy bar on sixth street. or the sound system can seriously blow. or they come up with a mixed drink called a sparkleberry (sparks beer + some berry juice + vodka!) and you don't give two pig farts who is playing.
octopus project (emo's): great. really, i mean just great. i could listen to this stuff all day. heck, i probably already do.
bonk (emo's annex): goofy norwegian blues rock. or what norwegians think is blues rock and we think is psychedelic 70s rock. or what i think is psychedelic 70s rock after three sparkleberry's and everyone else thinks is pure crapola. kyle and ramona left 2 minutes into the first song. i hung out and talked to their manager/record label guy afterwards. for some reason he thought i was a writer for the austin-american statesman. he was extremely nice. i'm wishing i hung out with those guys more if only b/c it would be fun to walk around and pretend i'm a writer for the austin-american statesman. oh, and their lead guitarist looked like bearden. for awhile i thought it was bearden playing an overly complicated practical joke on me. this is the sort of thing that allows lonanne to call me paranoid.
mono (emo's): more great. ambient japanese acid metal? like lars ulrich slipped into a sigur ros album and forced them to rok.
jawbone (red eyed fly): i mean this in the best possible sense. street performer.
selfish cunt (club de ville): i know, i know, but the name alone wasn't what drew us. they honestly didn't sound half-bad on that mp3. we came 15 min. into their set and the guy was squatting on stage like he was taking a dump. then he ran into the audience and humped some dood. did i mention he was dressed like a circus clown? finally, midway into the song he gets pissed off about something and walks offstage. or maybe that was part of the act. i felt a bazillion years old after this set.
micah johnson (the vibe): if i were him, i would seriously consider suing the vibe. i think he's good, but the sound system made him sound like a retarded ryan adams. this is what "fifteen minutes in between sets" buys you.
we are scientists (hard rock cafe): we ended up watching most of this set on a flat screen tv next to our table. still, i liked them until i walked up after the show and saw their set list taped to the stage. in-between songs it read "say something here." i swear to god. they were dressed like i did in junior high. which could be cool if you weren't me. in junior high.
america is waiting (hard rock cafe): i'm a sucker for this stuff and i'll probably be ragged mercilessly for it, but damned if this band didn't act as if nirvana never happened. it was just like an opening act for jane's addiction only the guy looked like trent reznor. i mean, he asked us if anyone wanted to come with him to the mountain. like, seriously, in a perry-farrell-pigs-in-zen way. of course, i raised my hand. later, the lead singer got kicked off the stage by the bass player and cut his head. i love this band!
twinemen (blender bar at the ritz): these were the former morphine guys minus the lead singer (obviously). i couldn't tell you anything about them. we did talk to some people from belgium who worked at apple. they were nice. somehow i think of working at apple as an imaginary fairytale land. it's like people who work at google. who are you people? are you the same ones that shop at whole foods?
parlour (eternal): bluh.
echo base soundsystem (flamingo cantina): what a letdown. their clip on the site was promising, but they sounded like a electronic-rasta version of particle. kyle said he sensed noodling so we bolted.
mono (eternal): again, yes. at this point, we'd already seen them once before and nadav was passing around a flask of rum (!) while lonanne propped me up with her boots. i think we left after the second song. or maybe the third song. it's really hard to tell where their songs end and begin. it's also a mistake to ever put rum in a flask. if you're sitting around with an empty flask and you think "hey, i've got some rum," don't do it. you're better off peeing into the flask.
[stay tuned for thurs. night and sxsw rule #2!]
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
pre-sxsw lineup tonight at room 710.
Awesome Cool Dudes
looking forward to migas (natch) and bleach. then sxsw kicks in full-time tomorrow. here's my mixed-up night schedule so far:
Wednesday, 16 March 2005
[X] 08:00PM Bonk (The Parish)
[X] 08:00PM Nizlopi (Buffalo Billiards)
[X] 08:00PM Robyn Hitchcock (Emo's Main Room)
[X] 08:00PM Jawbone (Red Eyed Fly)
[X] 09:00PM Trespassers William (Copa)
[X] 10:00PM Asleep in the Sea (The Hideout)
[X] 10:00PM Drums & Tuba (Blender Bar at The Ritz)
[X] 11:00PM The Octopus Project (The Velvet Spade Patio)
[X] 11:00PM Evil Nine (Elysium)
[X] 11:00PM Echo Base Soundsystem (Flamingo Cantina)
[X] 11:00PM Ray LaMontagne (Buffalo Billiards)
[X] 12:00AM Areola 51 (Red Eyed Fly)
[X] 12:00AM Twinemen (Blender Bar at The Ritz)
[X] 01:00AM Laika & The Cosmonauts (The Drink)
[X] 01:00AM Album (The Velvet Spade)
[X] 01:00AM Sleater-Kinney (Emo's Main Room)
[X] 01:00AM The Wrens (The Parish)
Thursday, 17 March 2005
[X] 08:00PM NickNack (Zero Degrees)
[X] 08:00PM Aberfeldy (Nuno's)
[X] 08:00PM Be Your Own Pet (La Zona Rosa)
[X] 09:00PM MonoBand (Soho Lounge)
[X] 09:00PM Slaid Cleaves (Caribbean Lights)
[X] 10:00PM Holy Fuck (The Velvet Spade)
[X] 10:00PM VHS or Beta (Stubb's)
[X] 11:00PM Viva Voce (Latitude 30)
[X] 11:00PM Best Fwends (The Velvet Spade)
[X] 11:00PM M. Ward (The Parish)
[X] 11:00PM Turing Machine (Whisky Bar)
[X] 12:00AM Crooked Fingers (The Parish)
[X] 12:15AM The Earlies (Maggie Mae's)
[X] 12:30AM Fatboy Slim (Stubb's)
Friday, 18 March 2005
[X] 08:00PM The Addictions (Hard Rock Cafe)
[X] 09:00PM Seis Pistos (Mambo Kings)
[X] 09:00PM The Longcut (Exodus)
[X] 09:00PM Harold Ray Live in Concert (The Jackalope)
[X] 10:00PM The Kills (Emo's Main Room)
[X] 10:00PM The Shapeshifters (Flamingo Cantina)
[X] 10:00PM Bloc Party (Stubb's)
[X] 11:00PM Viva K (Pecan St. Ale House)
[X] 11:00PM Immortal Lee County Killers (Club de Ville)
[X] 11:30PM DJ Rhettmatic (Flamingo Cantina)
[X] 12:00AM BLEACH03 (Whisky Bar)
[X] 12:00AM Porn (featuring Billy Anderson, Dale Crover & Tim Moss) (Room 710)
[X] 12:00AM Goldie Lookin Chain (Eternal)
[X] 12:00AM Special DJ set by Fischerspooner (Stubb's)
[X] 12:30AM New York Dolls (Stubb's)
[X] 01:00AM Shonen Knife (Elysium)
[X] 01:00AM Calexico (Antone's)
Saturday, 19 March 2005
[X] 08:00PM The Hot Shots (Elysium)
[X] 08:00PM ATX Records Clique (Zero Degrees)
[X] 08:00PM Apostle of Hustle (Momo's)
[X] 08:30PM Mood Ruff (Caribbean Lights)
[X] 09:00PM The Willowz (Blender Balcony at The Ritz)
[X] 09:00PM Jakob (Whisky Bar)
[X] 10:00PM Million Dollar Marxists (Beerland)
[X] 12:00AM Anders Parker (The Drink)
[X] 01:00AM Matisyahu (Buffalo Billiards)
[X] 01:15AM MF Doom (Emo's Main Room)
Sunday, March 13, 2005
here's to stories
via bearden: a msnbc article which highlights the nea's efforts to help iraq war veterans write. the video clip features barry hannah (if you're interested in hearing/seeing the man in action). it's short, but sweet.
we're off today to see my mom's headstone which got put in less than a month ago. william asked if we'd have to be careful not to fall in. i told him the grave was covered up and there was nothing to worry about. strange, but i think kids (or maybe just our kids since they've seen more than enough of it) have this preternatural sensibility about death. they ask gut-piercing questions and then leaven it with some sort of joke. exhibit b: yesterday thomas and i were running errands and listening to a little willie nelson (in honor of the rodeo which we attended later on that night) and he asked me if william knew grandpa. out of nowhere. these things can hit you like a mac truck and i admit getting a little lost in the question. "grandpa knew william," i said. "that's not what i asked," said thomas. "did william know grandpa?" in a sense the answer was no. william was a baby when bill died. but this closed off everything. left out all hope. before i could answer though, thomas said, "i think he does know him because of all the stories you guys tell." then he covered this up a bit, possibly b/c he could see his old man getting choked up. "and william was probably one of those super babies who can see things other people can't see." he laughed a little like it was a joke, but the look in his eyes told me he was holding back something as well. "yeah," i said. "william was a super baby." (and so were you, i thought. so were you.)
thomas: it's a good thing they invented the word 'beep'
me: oh yeah, why's that?
thomas: otherwise you'd hear a lot of bad words
Thursday, March 10, 2005
he's a baby christian now.
this story seems to be as old as clapton or dylan (both actually "accepted christ" at the height of their careers). musician becomes mega-rich superstar, then leaves it all for a bout of the gospel. only maybe they don't leave it all b/c they still milk the same fan base and do "korn family" songs or pseudo-gospel covers. maybe they even dredge poor larry norman up (google it). but it's not about the money. that's why he'll be giving the album away, right? i'm not sure what bothers me about these stories. it's not that these folks aren't sincere. i believe them to an extent. you hear this parable all the time. former [hell's angel, drug addict, pimp, rapper] gives up rock bottom lifestyle for jesus. and then you get 200 converts in whatever church they show up for. i think the little voice i hear in the back of my head after listening to these stories is always saying the same thing. "too easy." it is. it's too fucking easy. "what now?" i want to ask. it's thrilling to talk about being rescued from hell. but what now? do you ride that rawker-turned-rocker-for-Jesus story till its a sawhorse? do you not have other, more subtle failures and temptations and losses? is it the end of the movie and you're walking into the sunset with your arm around st. peter? clapton reneged on his jesus deal and went on to steal his best friend's wife. then his kid fell out a ten story window and he milked it for a simpering pop song and a grammy. dylan? last we saw him he was in a victoria's secret commercial. oh, but it's not about the money.
it also falls in line with the cancer survivors and the people who walk away from car crashes unscathed. they show up at church to tell you the miracles God wrought in the fabric of the universe so they could be in a cheap auditorium with stained glass windows holding up your sunday lunch with yet another "there but for the grace of God" stories. only i'm thinking God would've killed them off if he had known they'd be spouting half the nonsense i hear. sure, sure, which of us doesn't want to believe there is some special purpose to our life, some reason for all the stupid, inane things we've done? some explanation for why the other guy bought it, but not us. some thread that informs. we were preserved from such and such a cataclysm (usually this involves drinking beer...on a bus, if you're korn) to shine our winning personalities on the rest of mankind. to speak God's word "without a clue of what we're going to say!" christianity filled the western world with a narrative. each life matters. each soul matters. and i don't doubt this. i believe it in my bones. but at the end of the day i come back to Job, the inverse of all these stories. it's not that nothing matters, it's that everything matters so very much, but we're not given to know how or toward what purpose (unless you're lucky enough to have a christian family member who can spell it all out for you whenever "you're broken down enough to listen"). our lives aren't revealed to us except in snippets. and things don't always turn out well. sometimes the sorry tractor turns over and the cancer treatments don't work. sometimes your dad leaves and doesn't come back. sometimes shitty people get away with shitty things. and sometimes it's how you walk through the fire, how you take the five hundred blows and your kids dying and your friends abandoning you and your wife telling you you're a wuss and God coming out of the whirlwind, raging at you to gird up your loins like a man b/c he's got some shit to spill. and what is it? what does he have to say to poor Job, the guy he sold out on a bet? you're you and i'm God. motherfucking deal. that's it. these are the stories i want to hear. the people still beating it out. the ones who've looked into the maw and seen what's what and said fuck it and loved anyway, despite the screwed-up nature of it all. the ones who haven't shut their eyes.
maybe brian "head" welch can write a song about that. i'd pony up 99 cents for that song.
Monday, March 07, 2005
how to use gmail as your personal file server.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
maggie ma's farm
actually, it's shirley's farm. up in the panhandle in a little town called groom. we went up there weekend before last for lonanne's great-grandmother's (maggie ma) 95th birthday. she's still as spitfire as ever. rob asked if she drank whiskey. i told him only men in the panhandle drink. the women bury them.
you can't really see it, but lonanne's holding a piece of cotton in this picture. this year's cotton crop turned out pretty good, although the rain apparently made it stringier than it should have been. someday, kids, all this could be yours.
thomas and william in their grandparents' backyard. behind them is the largest cross in the western hemisphere. that's right. it's second only to some cross in south america. if you ask why they didn't go for broke and make it the largest cross in the world, you'll get the same response every time. "they'd have to put lights on top for the airplanes, and, well, that'd be gaudy."
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
japanese warning signs
interesting find a grave site.