Thursday, December 28, 2006

The New(est) Pollution

To wit:

C.Lo unleashes her "diaries," Sonic Youth get compilation happy, Parson Sound get reissued (and I can't link to it because is screwing up lately), everybody makes it home alive.

This will very probably be my last blog post of 2006, so everybody have a happy and safe and prosperous New Year, m'kay? It'll be better on the other's got to be.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Fleeting Fictions, Part I

The camera, stationed at an omniscient remove, slowly zooms in on you, your body, your being, your terrestrial actualization, outfitted in a ludicrously large snowsuit, grinning stupidly, lying prone and still in a bank of soft, powdery snow, staring up at nothing in particular. You’ve just made a snow angel and you’re thinking about how wonderful this all is, this unlikely scenario, the climate cold, chilly, but tolerably so at mid-day, the clustered mounds of teensy-tiny ice crystals refreshing and new and miraculous somehow, the genuine sense of peace and precious isolation yours to treasure secretly, privately, completely, existentially; this is the moment just before the moment where you realize that it’s growing hot inside the suit, that the snow is beginning to feel oppressive against your ungloved hands, that you are in the middle of nowhere on the side of an unplowed rural road, that the fact that no-one is around also means that there’s no-one to playfully lob snowballs at – there aren’t even any trees or squirrels, for Pete’s sake – that the snow is, in fact, so loose that you couldn’t pack a snowball even if you actually wanted to, that it will be difficult to maneuver to a standing position whenever you finally want to do so, that the whiteout effect caused by the reflection of the sun off of all of this fucking snow is actually becoming unpleasant all of a sudden, even painful—

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bloggers in "Endless-Hall-of-Mirrors-BS-Effect" Shocker

So I just googled the name of this blog and, of course, I show up on Doug's, but also here, here, here, and here, among others, because apparently it isn't enough for some folks to list their favorite albums or movies or what-have-you of 2006 - they need to list links to people they probably wouldn't know from Adam listing their favorites! Now don't get me wrong, this doesn't bother me or anything - it's just sorta weird. Or maybe I'm sort of weird. Who knows?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Card Overdrive

Christmas cards rule, always have, always will. They're a relatively inexpensive way to exchange a psychic high-five with friends and loved-ones you almost never see or talk to on the telephone that's way more personal and corporeal and awesome than email. I love sending cards as much as I love receiving them; I love figuring out who's deserving of one in any given year, gazing at the postmarks, considering the stamp choices, perusing the scrawled greeting inside. To me this is as key an aspect to the holidays as any other, despite the fact that no-one really sends us any cards (here are some whys: my side of the family's not so much on the mailing of cards and never has been, but Alecia's is, so we hear from her relatives a lot more; (most of) my friends are either like, totally busy, don't share my fondness for what one referred to years back as a sorta "bourgie" tradition, don't celebrate a crucial holiday in December, or just plain suck). This post won't descend to the level of all-out, gloves-off bitchfest, though the last part of A Season of Discontent might (if I ever have the balls/time to post it here); really, what I want to understand is, what's up with the tradition of Christmas card giving in the office? Seriously. I mean, what's the relative significance of handing a card to somebody you see five days a week and interact with constantly, even the people you don't really like? It's the polite thing to do, I guess, but it seems so pointless and waistful and naturally the cards are just pretty and the person giving them signs his/her name and puts them in a green or red or white envelope and hands one to you with your name on it and it's like, okay, thanks, I guess, happy holidays. While this happens every year at my job - and it's always women who do this, never guys, it's never occurred to me to get in on this crap - the usual cubicle haul is something like a manageable 3-5 card haul. This year, I've got like 10 effin' cards (so far, three working days remain until Christmas), which is insane, because the company has hired a number of new people and temps over the last 12 months and because the people who in the past didn't hand out cards have suddenly decided it's a wonderful idea. Why, why, why? Who has the time to read every one and figure out where to store them and whether to keep them, if at all? On my shelf sit three that I haven't even opened yet, and I don't know if I will. On the other hand, one of the temps made everybody little sacks of Christmas cookies and food-coloring dyed rice krispie treats and other stuff and handed them out today, which kept her up all night, baking and drinking coffee; that's what I call making an effort, that's what I call special, that's what I call awesome, even if I haven't wanted to eat any of it yet.

Nodin's Top Ten Activities, December 2006

1. Gurgling and laughing, which are sometimes one and the same

2. Drooling

3. Gnawing at pudgy fingers and fists and subsequently slathering same with drool, all the time

4. Catnaping

5. Grunting, though recently this isn't an indicator of a bowel movement, but rather a means of playing with his developing voicebox

6. Pushing buttons or pulling levers on various toys and delighting when these actions elicit sounds or flashing lights

7. Furrowing his brow - this is an eerily adult mannerism of Nodin's - and casting probing, dark-eyed stares deep into the seemy recesses of your bastard mortal soul while attending to the business end of an opaque bottle and hungrily chowing down on 8 ounces of just-add-water-then-shake-to-foamy soy Infamil

8. Snatching eyeglasses off of faces, headbutting chins, and punching people in the nose in an ongoing quest to master his motor functions

9. Wriggling and kicking while in bouncy chair or while being changed (diapers or clothes)

10. Sitting up, whenever possible

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Nodin Watch

Indie Shite is long, long dead - long live its a-long-time-in-comin', cream-of-the-crit-crop successor.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Voguing to Danzig's 2006 Albums Year-in-Review: "Guarenteed to Alienate Damn Near Everybody Breathing"*

1. Various Artists Women Take Back The Noise UBUIBI
2. The Yellow Swans Psychic Secession Load
3. Sightings End Times Fusetron
4. Taylor Deupree Northern 12K
5. The Magic Markers A Panegyric To The Things I Do Not Understand Gulcher
6. Bardo Pond Ticket Crystals All Tomorrow’s Parties
7. Wolf Eyes Human Animal Sub Pop
8. The Dead C. Vain, Erudite and Stupid (Selected Works: 1987-2005) Ba Da Bing
9. Various Artists Less Self is More Self: A Benefit Compilation for Tarantula Hill Ecstatic Peace
1o. Sonic Youth Rather Ripped Geffen

11. Axolotl Way Blank Psych-o-Path
12. Coachwhips Double Death Narnack
13. Diskaholics Live In Japan Vol. 1 Load
14. Tam Tam Ecstatic Peace
15. Psalm One The Death of Frequent Flyer Rhymesayers
16. Be Your Own Pet Be Your Own Pet Ecstatic Peace!/Universal
17. Mission of Burma The Obliterati Matador
18. Stereolab Fab Four Suture Too Pure/Beggars
19. Matmos The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast Matador
20. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti House Arrest Paw Tracks

21. Electric President Electric President Morr Music
22. Bird Show Lightning Ghost Kranky
23. Grizzly Bear Yellow House Warp
24. Ghostface Killah Fishscale Def Jam
25. First Nation First Nation Paw Tracks
26. Vampire Can’t Key Cutter Load
27. Lady Sovereign Public Warning Def Jam
28. Beck The Information Geffen
29. Sonic Youth The Destroyed Room: Rarities and B-Sides Geffen
30. Tortoise and Bonnie Prince Billy The Brave and the Bold Overcoat

31. Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid The Exchange Session Vol. 1 Domino
32. Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid The Exchange Session Vol. 2 Domino
33. Chavez Better Days Will Haunt You Matador
34. The Killers Sam’s Town Island
35. The Strokes First Impressions of Earth RCA
36. Joanna Newsom Ys Drag City
37. Jennifer O'Connor Over the Mountain, Across the Valley, and Back to the Stars Matador
38. Tool 10,000 Days Volcano
39. Espers II Drag City
40. Wolf Eyes with John Wiese Equinox Troniks

41. Pearl Jam Pearl Jam J
42. Matthew Friedberger Winter Women/Holy Ghost Language School 859 Recordings
43. Excepter Alternation 5RC
44. Marble Valley Wild Yams Indikator
45. Islands Return to the Sea Equator
46. Prurient Pleasure Ground Load

47. Beach House Beach House Carpark
48. Monstrous Mother Nature's Slaves Howler

49. Yo La Tengo I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass Matador
50. Various Artists Mitten (State) Transmissions Top Quality Rock & Roll/WHFR 89.3FM
Bonus track, after the fact: 51. Clipse Hell Hath No Fury (Re-Up/Star Trak/Zomba)

*Note: the top 1 through 25 record line-up differs slightly from other published versions of my list (i.e. Jackin' Pop, Baltimore City Paper,, or Pazz & Jop) simply because a few worthy contenders slipped in at the very last minute. If this post actually results in a sales uptick for any of the above artists, I'll eat my hat (without condiments).

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I was just frontin'!

It's been almost a year since I started this blog, but it feels more like a couple of months, which is ridiculous. For 2007 I'll resolve to update more often as long as you resolve to visit this page more often :) What's funny is that I have tons to blog about but somehow no time to blog, or maybe it's that I'm not making enough time to blog, so some of the entries will be just short random thoughts or images of whatever. Before I started blogging I'd see people post pictures of sunsets or street scenes, etc. and I'd be all "that's cheating, that's boring, that's crap!" But now I understand - sometimes a jpeg says more than a screed could, and sometimes you don't even have a screed prepared.

Anyway, lately I've written about a decent religious indie-rock band, a crappy Green Day biography, a shamelessly derivative party-rock trio, and some other stuff nobody cares much about.

Pazz & Jop gets some competition, for obvious reasons. Gonna be a fun December...

Jeff/Thom's band's back and better than ever, check 'em out!

From the bitch’n’whine department: how come, on the coldest bloody day of the year, neither of the gas pumps I had to use this morning could operate independently of my hands? It was 30 degrees out, I hadn’t thought to bring along gloves, and what do you know, the triggers wouldn’t stick and stay in place as I was filling up with the cheap stuff, the result being that my skin almost froze to those icy, icy thin mould-borne strips of steel.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Season of Discontent, Part II: “Let’s Give Peace a Chance,” or “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

So I think I’ve finally figured out my favorite Breeders song. It’s not especially catch, not even in the same league as “Cannonball” and “Iris” and “Summer” and I haven’t heard Title TK at all so maybe I’m full of suet. Anyway, “I Just Wanna Get Along,” that’s the track, and I don’t remember any of the verse lyrics or the hook really or anything else, except that the chorus consists of an exasperated Kim Deal blurting “I just wanna get along” over and over again as though she were stuck in the middle of an endless argument she’d had enough of but couldn’t find any way out of. She sounds tired and deflated and defeated, and lately I can definitely empathize.

It’s funny. I scribbled four pages of pathos on a legal pad two weeks ago in my mom’s living room, when I was supposed to be working on book reviews but got too emotionally overwrought about other stuff. Now this is turning into a running series of soapbox grouses, a way to just sort of unburden myself. I don’t know that I’m feeling any better yet. Maybe I said this elsewhere but sometimes I feel so fucking powerless in the living of my own life that it scares me. Are you there, God? It’s me, Raymond. Can we make some kind of deal?

Enough, enough, enough. Happy Thanksgiving, pass the gravy.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Season of Discontent, Part I

"You think it's easy, but you're wrong." -Pavement, "Zurich is Stained"

(The image, from Twisted Metal II, is a shout-out to Dave Labowitz - great talking to you the other night, dude, we've gotta do that more often!)

So, I dunno it I've really gotten into it here, but being a dad is great, and not as impossible and uncomfortable as I'd expected it beforehand and considered it early on. Back then I was petrified by the thought of holding Nodin and changing his diapers, but 10 weeks or so in I'm pretty sure I've gotten the hang of it - though the lil turtle keeps getting heavier and heavier and more and more mobile, or, maybe that's not the right word, I should probably say...agile? No, that's still the wrong word. Let's say that he twists and propells himself around, even while it my arms, making it necessary to pay close attention and keep a solid grasp of the guy so he doesn't break away and fall or inadvertantly headbutt you in the jaw (which he's done plenty of times but, when he did it this weekend, he actually hit me pretty damn hard for once, hard enough to get my attention, anyway). Nodin's sleep schedule varies - some nights he's out all night, other nights he wakes once or twice or makes noises like he's gonna wake up but then he doesn't, other nights still he's up all the time and his mom and dad are listless zombies all the next day. Dude eats every 2-3 hours, but it seems like every thirty minutes - by the time the formula's been prepared and he's eaten it and dosed off or whatever it's suddenly time to start the routine all over again. Usual amount is 6 ounces of the soy-mix stuff, but sometimes he'll only eat an ounce or two or maybe just a sip, then drift off to dreamland. (which, you know, I have a question for anyone reading this, please don't be shy with your answers: what do you think babies dream about, if they dream? Nodin woke up a few times this past weekend screaming his head off and Alecia said "he probably just had a bad dream" and I said "it's weird to think about that - we don't know what that dream might have been, and we'll never know because he won't remember it!" and she said "you never know.") We've got a bunch of battery-powered toys and contraptions and seats and stuff for him, and he's at the point where he eagerly interacts with the ones that make noises and play dinky kid's song tunes, which is always really amazing to watch, in no small part because it just makes me think about how completely stunned I still am that I'm a dad and he's my son and he's actually out in the breathing, living world with us - that, despite my knowledge, which is everyone's common knowledge and biological fact, of the reproduction process and it's many many demonstrations, everything worked out for us and deposited a smiling, gurgling (sometime screaming), wild-haired, drooling, adorable lump of love in our care. Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve him at all...even though I only see him a few days a week.

Is this, I wonder, how active-duty members of the military feel right now? That sense of homelessnes, of adriftness, of exhaustion, shuttled between the hearth and encampments far distant, with no clear idea when fate will finally see fit to cement them at one end or the other?

Every Monday morning at 4:25 a.m., I awaken in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, wash my face, dress, pack up my car, say goodbye to Alecia and Nodin, and begin the three-hour-or-so drive south to Abingdon, Maryland under veil of frosty darkness. Awaiting me are an avalanche of proofing work, freelance assignments so numerous (I've overbooked myself considerably), traffic jams that seem to have no cause, generally fruitless online job searches conducted in the bustling centre of disrespectful humanity that is the Pikesville Library, and nights spent along on my mon's fold-out sofa. By Friday at 4:30 p.m. I'm on my way back to north, inching along in the creeping twilight. It's unsettling and depressing, this interior sense of desolation and disconnection from people and places, this straining to remain positive that before long some hiring manager in Harrisburg or Camp Hill or Williamsport or State College will happen upon my emailed/snail-mailed/electronically-submitted application to be a technical writer or a mailroom prole or a PR flack and have a eureka moment and hasten to a telephone to breathlessly beg me to come work for him or her. Discouragement thens to set in when once has been job hunting for nearly a year without even the slightest hint of an interview offer - not merely for the central purpose of residing full-time with one's nuclear family, but because the form-letter rejections and negations-of-self-by-electronic-silence hammer home he fact that I'm not getting any fucking younger or more attractive to employers. Far enough removed from my full-tome reporter days that newspapers aren't interested; so invested in my current profession (proofreading, half a decade, in hindsight perhaps at least attempting to climb the corporate latter a wee bit higher might have been beneficial, thanks for asking) that other companies probably think I'm capable of little else. Add to this the fact that publishing/media/etc. jobs are all but nonexistent/hunted-to-extinction in the relevant part of the state and the abject helplessness of this situation becomes clear.

Friday, November 10, 2006

BOO-YAA, Hot Damn, Oh, SNAP: Dems Take Back Congress For First Time Since 1994, Hunter S. Thompson Does Backflips In Grave

It it unseemly to gloat? Sure it is, but who cares - we totally won this time.

Perhaps it's foolish of me to feel this way just a couple days after Election Day, but I'm overcome by a sense of political optimism that hasn't been this strong since, say, October 2004. Nothing much will ultimately change, really, but right now I feel like John Travolta at the end of "Staying Alive," and I imagine a lot of other folks do, too. Rumsfeld's being put out to pasture was just icing on the proverbial cake.

Okay, Pelosi, Reid, et al. - this is our window, or chance to start making America a decent nation again; don't blow it.

Also: BOO!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Recent Stuff I've Written...

Less Self Is More Self comp, Tam, Vampire Can’t, Alix Ohlin, The Yellow Swans (interview), Thom Yorke, Marble Valley (interview), Lonn Friend. There's more, of course, but these pieces I'm proudest of. For other terrific personal creation news, well, see below - more on that to come, soon.

(Also, check out Brett Hickman's in-depth interview with over-sharing Howard Stern Show regular Artie Lange, presented in installments - one, and two.)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Shed Cicada Shells

So mom and dad were right, all those years ago: I should’ve started a journal. My excuse for not doing so? Too busy, other things to attend to, don’t know what I’d write about because nothing ever happens to me. So the milemarkers of my last few decades of life aren’t preciously intimate - a few momentos, an album of photographs, a box or yellowing correspondence (cards, letters, and postcards), my published clippings and those of other people, dog-eared copies of the Elm and the Collegian I managed to hang onto – a physical array of rememberance to match and complement what survives in grey-matter memory.

Which brings us to this post, my second pre-Malia post after claiming that I wouldn’t post anything else until she was wrapped in swaddling clothes and struggling to open her eyes. Often I try to create a mental picture of who I was at previous pivotal times in my life and fail, in large part because I don’t keep a personal record. Impending fatherhood being probably the most significant thing that will ever happen to me, and being that I have this nifty blog that no-one reads, this seems as good a time and place as any to leave an imprint of some sort so that in years to come I can look back with Malia in 10 years time and say “That’s who I was when you can into the world, and that’s what I liked, what I cared about, what I consumed, what I was afraid of, and so forth, and words to that effect.”

Been thinking lately about going back to school, to get a Master’s in English or an Associate’s in Communications, or something. I miss being taught in a formal sense, being forced to learn about thinkers and cultures and systems I wouldn’t necessarily encounter on my own. And I feel behind the curve and damn near unemployable with just a B.A. in English under my battered belt.
For months and months now I’ve been trying to find a job in Harrisburg or State College or thereabouts, because we’re moving to Alecia’s hometown of Selinsgrove at the end of September. While I doubt that I’ll be gainfully employed up there before it’s time to relocate from Maryland, I’m holding out hope for several jobs that I seem to actually be qualified for – assoc. editor for Fly-Fishing Magazine, senior editor for a Penn State alumni mag, one or two others. It’s been frustrating beyond belief to put out feelers and applications and calls and e-mails and more with regard to this and meet with blithe dismissals and general indifference, but someday I’ll look back and laugh about this. My friends and family have been supportive and encouraging and that’s been wonderful, and just what I need now.
Can I just say that Alecia and I watched Running Scared last night, and it was maybe 10x better than expected?
No matter how many times I point out to Alecia that, even at 9-months pregnant, she remains solidly adorable, she doesn’t believe this herself.
The pile of half- or un-read new books is growing unruly. Actually I’ve issued myself a fatwa on the purchase of texts until I’ve gotten caught up, which isn’t likely to happen anytime soon now that I’m actually reviewing them at the rate of one per month. Last few nights I’ve been picking at one of the Chekov short-story collections mom got be for Christmas this year. Dude has some interesting ideas and follibles but he’s way, way too silly and way, way too fond of exclamation marks. Everything’s a joke. Apparently he wrote some plays and his fiction betrays that sort of theatrical voice as a strength. Maybe you had to be there, or maybe something was lost in translation? Only 30-some pages into a book of Foucault’s seminar lectures, the same distance into David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion (thanks Alecia!) – the story where the character’s recounting something that happened in a classroom with nausating detail at the point where he’s hung up on stuff happening outside (minutae upon minutae, exhaustively). Halfway through Octavio Paz’s book about Marcel Duchamp, which I purchased because I wanted to know more about Dada, but Paz just drones on about “Large Glass” and what it means, which is interesting but not what I’d bargained for really. Satisfaction in droves: John Gregory Dunne’s Regards and Donald Barthelme’s Forty Stories, masterworks – regal non-fiction and regally pomo, respectively – that every writer should be forced to visit with (not finished with either yet). Borrowed two thirds of Cormac McCarthy’s border trilogy from the library to prep for a review of his upcoming novel and was floored; Wikipedia was all “he’s so Faulkner” but I call Hemingway. Speaking of uncle Ernie, my dad loaned me a copy of Hem’s newspaper stories that’s long out of print, I dip into it every now and again and a lot of it trumps his fiction hard. Almost done with Eggers’ Why We Are Hungry, finally. The plan is to send it to a friend for her 30th birthday, because somehow it strikes me as the sort of book people need to read around the time they turn 30. Unless I flat out just don’t care for something, I usually don’t pass it along without asking for it back. But Eggers’ book seems like the sort of object that should be passed continuously from 29-33 year-old person to 29-33 year-old person forever, with each recipient reading the book once then re-gifting it or leaving it in a subway station for a stranger to find or something; there isn’t quite enough nourishment there to justify actually owning it and returning to it. In five years, Eggers’ quirky, self-impressed fictions will simply just seem more precocious then they already do, and what limited value there is – something about navigating the transition between being a young adult and an actual adult that I’ll never be able to articulate better because I’m not reading this thing that critically now and, of course, I’ll never read it again – will have passed its sell-by date. Then there’s the stuff I haven’t even cracked: Umberto Eco, Marcus Aurelius, Rousseau. The stuff I need to re-read: Plato, Niethzche, Kyle Andersen, Aristotle, Upton Sinclair. The stuff I need to seek out: Walter Benjamin, George Saunders, John Stuart Mill, John Cage, Tristan Egolf, and too many bloody others.
It’s a blustery, overcast morning with the threat of serious showers looming; said threat has loomed for days now.
It occurs to me that I should have started this a week ago. In a few hours I’ll leave for an OB-GYN appointment where Alecia will see if her doctors are willing to induce pregnancy, and there isn’t time to throughly encapsulate my present state of mind and perform my (demanding) job at the same damn time.
A recurring dream: I am about to begin my senior year at Washington College, though in the back of my mind I know that I’ve long since completed said year and graduated. Thinking about how I can make the Collegian a better features magazine this time around using what I’ve learned in the years since, how I can go about attracting more writers and better represent the student body and such. It’s all so vivid and true to life that I’m certain it’s all really happening but before I can really get down to work the dream has ended.
Presently I’m assisting Doug in his fledgling publishing venture, twentythreebooks; this involves crafting publicity strategies and drawing up media contact lists. We are putting out a short book of political, philosophical poetry by Omar Shapli, ideally by Election Day 2006. An exciting enterprise to be a part of, though not the sort of work I imagined I’d be doing. There’s a certain nobility to championing poetry in this modern age.
Over the past couple years, I’ve come to dislike telephone conversation more and more. Starting to feel the same way about e-mail conversation, at least in terms of communicating matters of actual weight (beyond essential day-to-day exchanges regarding dinner, hellos, freelance particulars, etc.). But all of you have heard me go on about this and now it’s a boring meme, right? So my current preference for letters and postcards need not be restated here.
When one is youthful and immortal and horrible things happen – freak accidents that leave people disabled, car crashes, terrorist strikes, natural disasters – shrugging them off is easy, especially if you didn’t lose anyone you care about. You are still alive, and well, and there will be plenty of time and opportunities for you to go where you wish or accomplish what you want to – no need to rush or fret. The onset of parenthood (and accompanying that, the pre-parental empathy that lends news stories about child abductions and murders and what have you a new weight) drives home the fact that it could all be over tomorrow, anything could happen. Without blathering on too much, let’s just say that for me the time to put up or shut up is nigh, to quit telling myself that someday soon I’m gonna start putting these short stories, screenplays, and essays that have been bouncing around in my mind for almost a decade through a word processor already before life gets me in a full-nelson and I’m unable to. Enough opportunities have been blown already.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

“In-flight Magazine”

We spoke at some length across a transatlantic telephone wire. Within that particular pause I suffered considerably and was handsomely compensated in “character” currency. All was suspiciously still. The desired list began to coalesce in my fading consciousness as a stout, absolute yet slippery, intangible ideal I could neither grasp nor examine as I lounged, irresolute, atop a protruding precipice pointing out over a canyon a-slosh in sandman’s slush. Not a lot of groundwork laid in advance. Life as holding pattern. Oil on wood. Fist on chin. Modifier on noun. Double or nothing, go with the plan, let’s do this thing: get it on. Specters haunt hallowed spaces forever and a sigh. Pachyderms stand out everywhere. Our hands found each other. Penetrating imagery. Brief, declarative sentences. Unpack and re-shelve. When I read you I should want to be you. Tight and sweet. No. Keep it real dumb. Craziness. Traumatized. Dream took place at the height of 1,000 feet, early morning or early evening, I possessed developed telekinetic abilities and propelled myself at a leisurely pace through a sky I could not feel; no fowl in flight, no insects caught in the slipstream, no-one pointing aft at a right angle. We missed each other. We mumbled protracted goodbyes. Gingerly we settled strangling receivers into waiting cradles.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not Quite Primo “Blog Rock” Pipe-Stuffin’ Fodder, Pal

It’s a hackneyed cliche to say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Fortunately, it’s usually true. In this, my final blog post until after Malia’s breathing the same air we all are and crying and screaming and I can post photos and gush about childbirth and fatherhood and related once-in-a-lifetime emotional junk, I leave you fine folks with a random collage of images, large and small and illustrated, unrelated and resolutely not meant to weave any sort of pop-culture visual tapistry of this moment in time or anything like that.

“Let’ careful out there.”

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

An Update of Sorts

1. We've found a place to live in Selinsgrove, a few minutes away from Alecia's parents' house. It's an unsullied, relatively new townhouse at the end of a row of four with the advantage of being very close to the main drag there (11 & 15, as its known) yet set back a street, so we're buffered from the sound debris of mass traffic but can easily get to department stores, the grocery, the mall, gas stations, and so on. Quite ideal. No basement, but three bedrooms and a large, shared backyard. We move house on Sept. 23.

2. I may have a job!

3. Malia could get here any day now, which seems more incredible than it probably should.

4. Matthew Friedberger, God love him, is nearly impossible to understand when you're playing back a taped interview with the man.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Tale of Two Flicks

So far, Clerks II reigns as the summer's best comedy. Of course, the only other comedy I've made it out to see was Talladega Nights, but so what? Clerks II was profane, bust-a-gut funny, poignant, and moving (not to mention a sequel with an actual non-commerical reason for exisiting, unlike Irvine Welsh's Porno, which was a limp, cash-in follow-up to Trainspotting). The cheaply-made original was endearing in its black-and-white stock and awkward direction; the full-color sequel is endearing in its willingness to allow Dante and Randal some sensitive-dude-hey-I-love-you-man lip-biting. Also, there is human-on-donkey sex, a few seconds of Ben Affleck, and extensive gross-out situational and fast-food glutch humor I won't get into here because then you won't be surprised when you actually see it. Critics say by and large "stupid" and "immature" and "Kevin Smith's fanbase will love it." They're right, even though they mean these things in a negative way, which is wrongheaded and misses the point. Nights, on the other hand, made the exact same mistake every movie trailer editor makes these days: the good stuff is given away before the customers can hand over their ticket fare and the marketing-tie-in TV commercials are funnier than most of the movie. Will Ferrell, many have said, redeems his recent losing streak here; this is not true. (There was a preview for an upcoming film featuring Mr. More Cowbell, Queen Latifah, and Dustin Hoffman - in which Ferrell is a novelist's character - that promises to make Nights its bitch. Believe it.) Ferrell and his trusty director/co-writer mostly squander the humor value inherent in the phrase "Will Ferrell NASCAR Movie OMG OMG OMG!" Andy Richter (gay), Molly Shannon (drunk), a cougar (rrroarr!), and Gary Cole (crazy, drunk, shriveled like a prune) all appear here and are the only real reasons to bother with this abomination, effortlessly stealing the show. Even Ali G, pretending to be a gay French Formula I driver and Ricky Bobby nemesis, blows his deal. Ferrell's funniest scenes - aside from the ones where he thinks he's on fire and is running around on a race track trying to put nonexistent flames out and just bellowing like a maniac and the outtakes that run during the end credits (something tells me that the DVD extras will smoke) - come when he's praying to Jesus: little baby Jesus, mind, not the bearded, older Jesus, and the arguments and asides that ensue as a result. Anchorman, all is forgiven!

On a sidenote: does anyone besides Alecia, Doug, and Thom read this thing?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Rubies, etc.

1. The world’s a pretty scary place right now, if you haven’t been watching the news (and I hope you have). North Korea and Iran nuclear frontin’, Hezbollah and Israel firing missiles at each other, and so on. Sure, it isn’t likely to lead to World War III but when destructive weapons are hurtling through the air – however remote and distant – you think about life and the world differently, terrible possibilities bloom in your mind. Like what if someone accidently aims wrong and blows up a throughfare in the wrong country, and disaster spirals from there? When we were walking out of An Inconvenient Truth a few weeks ago – if you haven’t caught it yet, hurry up and do so before it vanishes, it’s the most gripping, sobering greenhouse-effect history lesson you’ll ever see by a former candidate for president of the United States – my dad said something about it being the moral responsibility of people now alive to provide a better world for those as-yet-unborn and the price of failure. And I automatically thought of Malia, who’ll be joining us out here in the next month or so, and realized that I haven’t done much personally to help divert our society from a fossil-fuel based system to one based on hydrogen, water, windmills, turbine power, or whatever. At the end of the movie the filmmakers offered viewers links to visit if we wanted to make a difference; I haven’t visited any of them, and I don’t know when I’ll find the time – there’s simply just too much else to do and focus on right now. Shouldn’t feel guilty about this, but I do. Back in the days when I was single and bored, I could have gone to any number of public protests and played at least a minor part in that world – one of my former philosophy professors was heavily into demonstrating for human rights and other causes and I was on her email forwarding list – but I never did; I just sat in my room and posted on message boards and listened to records and made zines and read Will Self books and missed my friends when I wasn’t writing newspaper stories that didn’t elevate anything besides my employers’ stock prices. Youth is wasted, they say with good reason, on the young.

2. Tonight is the second of five birth classes we’re taking at St. Joe’s Hospital, where we’re headed when Alecia’s water breaks. Each class is set up like a weekly college seminar, in the sense that it lasts for 150 minutes with an intermission. So far, I’ve learned a lot that I didn’t know, about back births, what amniotic fluid actually consists of, breathing exercises, what actually happens to the body during the various and sundry stages of pregnancy (organs shifted and compressed), what a umbilical cord and a placenta actually are, and more. The instructor is this tiny, kind lady who has clearly taught this course hundreds of times and while speaking smiles and doesn’t quite make eye contact with anyone when not focusing on slides shown on the sort of overhead projector the teachers used to use back when I was in middle school and high school – the setup, I think, could make for a fairly hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch.

3. When Doug and his girlfriend, Riss, came over for dinner the weekend before last, they gave me a CD-R titled Malia’s Summer Strum, which is sort of a reply/counterpoint to the Malia’s Amniotic Summer Daydream project I out to some folks. As the name would imply, it’s mostly a collection of strummed tunes by people like David Gray and John Lennon, relaxing and laidback. Once I’ve had a chance to listen to the whole thing a few times I’ll say more about it here.

4. “She’s more than worth her weight in rubies,” or words to that effect, was the theme for the 80th birthday party my paternal grandmother’s church threw for her the weekend before last. For an eight-decade old woman with a litany of health problems, Ruth Cummings is amazingly lucid – we should all hope to have it so together should we live that long. The event was – as every Victory Prayer Chapel event predictably is – a full-on Baptist service that gives way to a dinner, with lots of praising Jesus and testifying and bible readings; on this particular occasion my grandmother’s children (and parishoners) offered impassioned (sometimes funny) speeches about her and my late grandfather, the sort where you listen and are driven to soul-searching and realize how, ultimately, family and the strength family can provide are of incredible value. Most of my relatives turned up, including people I hadn’t seen in three or four or six years like my Aunt Joyce and her daughter, Jennifer, and others who aren’t immediate family and whom I didn’t quite remember. We won’t all be together again in the same room until someone passes away. It’s a cynical thing to say maybe, but it’s true, and I need to make a point to visit Lynhurst Street at least a few more times before we move to Pennsylvania – everyone’s excited about Malia and asked Alecia how she was doing.

It's funny - aspects of Baptist worship gave me a headache when I was a kid - the hollering and people hyperventilating into trashcans and falling out and everybody soul clapping to gospel songs performed by the church band and its choir, the Voices of Jesus - but now that I only encounter this every other year or so I find a strange comfort, it's like stepping back to a simpler
time and place where the future was infinite and still ahead, when the cacophony of religious expression was overwhelming but I knew it'd be over eventually and my mom or my dad would take me home and I'd pop a few headache pills and everything would be wonderful, again.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Summer Is Ready When You Are

(I don’t think I’m ready for summer, really; but I’ve no choice, and neither do you.)

My mother’s baby gift to us was a pack-and-play – like a playpen/bed you can fold-up/disassemble and take with you wherever you go, for newborns – and last night we moved it from the living room into our bedroom, positioned on Alecia’s side of the bed. We moved the red Ikea chair out of the room and shifted the nightstands, bed, and lamps away from the windows to accommodate this tan-colored furniture (that isn’t the proper word surely but I’m having trouble arriving at a better one) – there are three little bears hanging from an attachment for Malia to bat around or just stare at, whenever she gets here.

And we’ve come to crunch time, these crucial last eight weeks where for all intents and purposes our little bundle of joy could enter our lives at any time; this is the configuration our bedroom will be in until we leave the condo for good in late September. Someday I’ll be mercilessly boring Malia with stories about life prior to her ability to retain memories, and I’ll say something like “We didn’t always live in this house – right after you were born, we resided for a time in this condo in Baltimore County” at which time I will present digital photographs as evidence of this and Malia will marvel, as children will (I know I did when my parents told me we lived in D.C. when I was a toddler) at the fact that anything existed prior to their coming into being. When introducing her to my friends, I’ll become accustomed to saying things like “Uncle Bill” or “Aunt Sanjeevani” or “Miss Pearl” other authoritative variations, just as I call my godmothers “Miss Edith” and “Aunt Ena.” When as a youth I did something I wasn’t supposed to do, I was warned “Qui Dow, Raymond” by both parents – a benign but effective threat whose provenance and meaning I forget now. It will tumble unconsciously from my lips at least once in the next several years, I’m sure. The cycle – of what exactly, I can’t say, of life? Of parenthood? -- continues, and I observe it in quiet awe.

Malia has already shown up in a few of my dreams, tiny and pinch-faced, swaddled and cradled in my arms; the recollection of her face is a blur. Which attributes of ours will she have? Will she inherit our worst qualities, our best ones, or a mixture of both? Who will she become? How will she play well with others? Can we protect her from a world that seems to be more and more morally bankrupt? When she enters this world, screaming, naked, tiny fists clenched, will I be able to hold back tears? For years I never believed that I would be a parent – that fatherhood was something I wasn’t meant to experience; thankfully, I was dead wrong.

(Forgive the awkwardness of all of this – I’ve never been much good at writing well when writing about myself.)

And, in other news: We have a second baby registry now, at Toys’R’Us; Jef (er, Thom) discovers that to make it onto Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, a would-be contestant must know too, too much about Barbie’s extended family; Doug Coupland is still a lucky idiot; John Dwyer echoes DMX circa 2000 or so – “Shut ‘em down/Open up shop” – careerwise, sorta; man, I miss Chuck Eddy being at the Village Voice more now than ever; two of my favorite records of 2006 so far are named after a “body of water” (I believe) and a child’s writing instruments; amazing what Google discovers (I think I had this link years ago but lost it); as Doug Mowbray used to say with a cracked grin: “Be leery of Timothy.” (This article actually filled in a great many blanks (didn’t even know they were blanks) for me as I’d no clue Leary was ever a Harvard professor of psychology before fringing out into the countercultural LSD evangelist/guru the public consciousness remembers him as today – also didn’t know dude got pinched, broken out of jail, or shuttled off to other countries to escape prosecution.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

“For tracklist and salutation, please visit...”

Greetings! If you came to Voguing to Danzig for the expressed purpose of finding this message, then you’re in possession of one of the twelve copies of MALIA’S AMNIOTIC SUMMER DAYDREAM in existence. Before I go any further, I’d like to thank my dad for graciously taking the time to burn these – it’s deeply appreciated. This compliation is intended primarily as a tribute to my unborn daughter, even though the subject matter of the twelve (there’s that number again) songs doesn’t necessarily point to childbirth or childhood or fatherhood or anything; there’s no underlying theme or parable to be found (though if you uncover something I didn’t intend, feel free to expound in the comments section). Just some music for you to listen to at your leisure – and a collection for Malia to dip into at whatsever point she finally does become interested in pop or rock or what have you and subsequently determines that dad’s CD/mp3/holographic mind cube earbud stash ain’t cool – a way for me to share something of myself with you at this particular moment in my life. I strongly doubt that everything here is to everyone’s taste, but it’s my sincere hope that I’ve managed to include something you’ll like or love to the point of wanting to learn more or some aspect will engender internal discourse or alter one angle or another for you. Listening to the finished product on the way in to work I realize that the overall tone here is somewhat darker than originally intended; this CD is probably better suited for contemplative evenings at home than for highway driving on sunny days with the windows rolled down and sweat stinging your eyes.

Enjoy – and thanks, as ever and always, for being such a great person/friend/parent/spouse/compadre. You’re eternally phenomenal, but you already knew that.

1) HENRY JACOBS “Guitar Lesson”
2) DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE “Soul Meets Body”
3) MATMOS “Stream and Sequins for Larry Levan”
4) TOM VERLAINE “Meteor Beach”
6) THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS “Gold Lion” (Nick Zinner remix)
7) RADIOINACTIVE “Tarantulas”
8) SUNN O))) “Cursed Realm”
9) THE MINUS 5 “Retrieval of You”
10) THE ESSEX GREEN “Don’t Know Why You Stay”
11) ISLANDS “If”
12) SETH KAUFFMAN “Black Biscuit”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'm Not Aware Of Too Many Things/I Know What I Know If You Know What I Mean

Nick's doubtful 'bout Dipset, I parlay a three-year old trip to South Carolina into a T.I. record review with limited success, Matt Fluxblog gets all Associated Press on a Thom Yorke listening party, and here's a massive, scam-detailing Clevescene cover story by Hoffman that ran the week of his wedding. Here's my first-ever book review for the Baltimore City Paper with more to come soon; I'm quite enjoying the partial shift of critical energies from one medium to the other. (In fact, I need to spend some more quality time with Cellophane as soon as I finish this post.)

Malia, Alecia tells me, is always in motion -- I have the feeling that it'll be difficult to keep up with her once she's up on two legs. That seems a long, long ways off, but then again it feels like it was just yesterday that we found out Malia was en route and now there's a little more than two months to go until she arrives, a little more than three months until we move to Pennsylvania. Still no definite job prospects; at least I've been able to grab plenty of freelance writing. Small victories, small steps.

I have a feeling that my co-workers will be throwing me a baby shower in the very, very near future -- too many whisperings and hints around here today. In case I didn't mention it, we have a registry at Target. (Which isn't a hint unless you want it to be.)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

God Bless America!

Or, if you prefer, When Patriotism Attacks. Nationalism Gone Wild? I dunno, but I get squirmy when people have to go and plaster American flags all over everything -- it's like a passive aggressive ploy or something.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

You’ve Got Me Dead To Certain Rights

Got it too late to review it, and I wouldn’t feel qualified to in any case – their first record came out in the 1980s and I haven’t heard it – but Mission of Burma’s new, second post-reformation record, The Obliterati, is simply too solid and un-fuckwithable to just put it on my short list of 2006’s best CDs without passing comment. It’s just a perfect rock record, all around, adventurous and cluttered and attitude in-jokes galore (see “eating dinner on Matador’s dime” lyric from “Spider’s Web,” which I suspect is about confronting/facing down the machinery of the music industry) and not a moment wasted (unlike 2003’s onOFFon, which was just pretty darn good) – (relatively) new member Bob Weston’s tape manipulation abetting the two-chorded throttle and killer drums of the others, punk urgency and awesome songwriting chops wrestling and driving every song home to the point where I’m listening to this too damned much when there’s mounds of CDs I actually am being paid to review soon all over my desk right now. Sending The Obliterati to Bill this weekend is a necessity for sure.

Monday, May 22, 2006

"Silence Kits"

Q: Have you procured new management?
A: No. I am, however, involved in ongoing discussions with several management consortiums to determine whether they can accommodate my specific needs and if any benefit can be gained by one of them taking me on as a client, whether their profile will be raised, and if so, will said profile be lifted very high, or moderately high. These are important considerations.
Q: What are your needs?
A: Well, I would like to be known – or infamous, say – as the author of an infinite, or maybe near-infinite, as I don’t know that you or I or any one person is capable of anything infinite, in any event, for a just-next-to-infinite number of pamphlets. They’d be more like tracts, actually, but thicker. Like little black books, address books, with fewer pages. Fit nice in back pockets, nice and snug and at hand. Crimson leather covers, gold leaf. Tasteful.
Q: To what purpose?
A: The pamphlets – let’s call them tract-pamphlets, for now – could provide a distraction, or a laugh, or counsel, a diversion from the mundane. Not too much, mind, just a little jolt, like an intellectual Snickers bar one never finishes eating.
Q: What would the content be?
A: I’m not sure yet. Religion, architectural theory, observations about the culture at large, some gardening tips, advice my uncle, a taciturn World War II veteran, imparted to me during our infrequent quail-hunting trips, recipes, art history minutae. I – I shouldn’t be telling you this, we could both be disappeared, but I have a CIA friend who passed along some translations of wiretap transcriptions of phone calls between suspected domestic terrorists, innocent stuff really unless it’s in some complicated code, meaningless, but it’s interesting. There’s one lengthy thing where a little girl is describing to her father – who must have been away on business or something – her horrific, Kafka-esque recurring nightmares, like one where she’s stranded naked in the tundra with only an American flag and it comes to life and starts devouring her. But getting back to my project, you know, I’d throw in a little bit of everything. As you may be aware, I am a blistering Quonset hut of knowledge and wisdom, and I want to share my bounty with the general public. I want to be curled up, waiting, kinetic, and psychoticly brilliant, in warm dungaree pockets worldwide.
Q: What would you call these tract-pamphlets?
A: “Wagner’s Epistles.” Or is that too narcissistic?
Q: No, no, not at all.

Q: Is the contraction dead?
A: Excuse me?
Q: Is the contraction –
A: I heard you, I heard you. I just couldn’t quite believe that you asked me that. What kind of question is that, to ask me? I mean, who do you think I am, Jacques Derrida?
Q: I thought it was a clever question, something unusual, a means of opening a new avenue for this interview, which to this point has been conventional, dull, a retread of your other recent interviews. Don’t you ever get tired of being asked about your films?
A: My films are like my children. Are you a parent?
Q: Yes.
A: Do you ever tire of talking about your children?
Q: No.
A: Well, there you are. There you are.
Q: Derrida is dead, you know.
A: Then you’ll be waiting a long time for your answer, about contractions, about the expiration of grammatical concepts. Why don’t you ask me about the influence my new, fully-stocked wine cellar is having on my present work?
Q: What are your vintages?

"Let's Knoll"

These words trickle, anymore
I’ve husks, not kernels
Pop pop pop pop pop

Corks, weasels, bottled bubbly
Silences molten down
The hatch and cheers,

Everyone: what’s imparted
Here is ballast, uncertain, coded,
Backmasked language

As confined, unassignable
Noise, shakey re-entry or
Nonsense made manifesto

Friday, May 19, 2006

100 Fine Recordings

1. The Amps, Pacer
2. Animal Collective, Sung Tongs
3. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, The Doldrums
4. Autechre, Confield
5. B-52s, Time Capsule
6. Bad Religion, All Ages
7. Beat Happening, Jamboree
8. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
9. Beck, One Foot In The Grave
10. Blast Off Country Style, C’mon and...

11. Blur, Think Tank
12. Boards of Canada, Music Has The Right To Children
13. The Breeders, Last Splash
14. Buena Vista Social Club, s/t
15. Can, Tago Mago
16. The Chemical Brothers, Come With Us
17. The Chemical Brothers, Brothers Gonna Work It Out
18. The Circulatory System, s/t
19. Billy Corgan, TheFutureEmbrace
20. Cub, Betti-Cola

21. Kimya Dawson, I’m Sorry If Sometimes I’m Mean
22. The Dead C, The White House
23. Dead Machines, Futures
24. Aaron Dilloway, Bad Dreams
25. Double Leopards, A Hole is True
26. Eminem, The Slim Shady LP
27. Excepter, Throne
28. Faust, The First Two Albums by Faust
29. The Fiery Furnaces, Gallowsbird’s Bark
30. Foo Fighters, s/t

31. Free Kitten, Nice Ass
32. Fugazi, Red Medicine
33. Fur, Fur
34. Garbage, s/t
35. Garbage, Version 2.0
36. Gate, Golden
37. Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele
38. The Grateful Dead, Live/Dead
39. Green Day, Insomniac
40. Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes

41. Polly Jean Harvey, Rid of Me
42. The Halo Benders, God Don’t Make No Junk
43. Helium, Pirate Prude
44. Hole, Live Through This
45. Jawbreaker, Dear You
46. The Jesus Lizard, Liar
47. Kraftwerk, Minimum-Maximum
48. Lagwagon, Double Plaidinum
49. The Lemonheads, It’s A Shame About Ray
50. Lightning Bolt, Wonderful Rainbow

51. Courtney Love, America’s Sweetheart
52. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
53. Stephen Malkmus, s/t
54. M.I.A., Arular
55. The Microphones, Mount Eerie
56. The Misfits, s/t
57. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
58. Nautical Almanac, Cover the Earth
59. Neutral Milk Hotel, On Avery Island
60. New Order, Substance

61. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
62. Nirvana, Roma (live, night before overdose)
63. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, N**** Please
64. Pavement, Watery, Domestic
65. Pavement, Wowee Zowee
66. Pearl Jam, Vs.
67. Liz Phair, Whitechocolatespaceegg demos
68. R.E.M., Up
69. Radiohead, Amnesiac
70. The Ramones, s/t

71. Lee Ranaldo, Amarillo Ramp
72. Shellac, At Action Park
73. Sightings, Absolutes
74. The Silver Jews, Bright Flight
75. The Silver Jews, The Natural Bridge
76. The Smashing Pumpkins, Adore
77. The Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
78. Graham Smith, Final Battle
79. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle
80. Sonic Youth, Dirty

81. Sonic Youth, Murray Street
82. Sonic Youth, Silver Sessions...
83. Sonic Youth, Sister
84. Sonic Youth, Washing Machine
85. The Strokes, Is This It?
86. Soundgarden, Superunknown
87. Stereolab, Cobra and Phases...
88. The Swell Maps, Jane From Occupied Europe
89. Aoki Takamasa and Tujiko Noriko, 28
90. Tilt, ‘Til It Kills

91. Mary Timony, Mountains
92. Tortoise, TNT
93. Tortoise, Standards
94. The Unicorns, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
95. Various Artists, Pulp Fiction soundtrack
96. Weezer, Pinkerton
97. Kanye West, The College Dropout
98. Wolf Eyes, Slicer
99. The Yellow Swans, Psychic Secession
100. Neil Young, Greatest Hits

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"We Love The Jams/And Jams/Run Free"

(Sonic Youth referenced here for no other reason that I'm lovin' me some Rather Ripped this month -- light and bright and easy and fun.)

Cryptic Warning did not, sadly, make it through their second go in the Emergenza festival the weekend before last, but they gave it an awesome try. The band that followed was a horrible generic emo band where the guitarists all did this thing where they jumped in unison while playing. And I realized with a blinding clarity: emo is the new nu-metal, the inescapable mall rat soundtrack, to the extent that nu-metal is all of a sudden more palpable than emo, a genre so pervasive that I can’t even name more than three whiny bands that fall into the category but can’t get away from no matter how hard I try to escape.

You will piss yourself reading this – I almost did.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Scattering Seeds

1) A stumble down memory lane. This is remembered graffiti from the walls of my college newpaper's office, which were cruelly repainted a few years back. Woefully incomplete, but then again, we're all getting older.

2) I still need a job. Last night I applied for six different positions online (including "business development coordinator" at one job and some sort of environmental lobbyist thing somewhere else_, including one at the SAIC branch in Harrisburg -- to be a subcontract administrator, something I don't think I have the ability to do, but Alecia suggested that it couldn't hurt to give it a go. Can everyone reading this keep their fingers crossed for me until, say, October? I'll pay for the Icy-Hot.

3) Last weekend we went record shopping, and I picked up this record by a new band named Bleeding Kansas based on a blurb in Alternative Press (the first time that magazine's ever caused me to buy anything, probably). Had enough money to get that or AFX's Hanging Bulb (or whatever the title was) and after a few minutes of consideration the fresh won out over an update of a former favorite -- whenever I start to get excited that Richard D. James has something new out I have to check myself and remember that I don't listen to the dude's music anymore, ever, and that it hasn't felt even remotely thrilling to me since college! (well, I heard Drukqs in a store when it came out and twasn't horrible but I never bothered to investigate further) So Bleeding Kansas it was; google 'em and you'll get this, which is the movement they named themselves after. Noble. They sound like Nirvana, if Nirvana had a second guitarist and dug on Jesus Lizard as much as they dug on R.E.M. and Black Flag and the Beatles and the Melvins. Heavy punk-metal with hooks under the BALCO'd guitars and bass and the slammin' drums, the singer's flaying his throat muscles and you can't understand him (the record's titled Dead Under Decor and it's apparently -- I haven't had a chance to really study the liners -- about how bands who are obsessed with fashion are empty suits, wannabe emporers with no clothes) at all. I've never understood why bands like this even bother with lyrics when it's next to impossible to discern what they are. Why not just flat-out scream? Too heavy, I think for my wife, but not heavy enough for my brother-in-law.

4) Asobi Seksu and Serena Maneesh = My Bloody Valentine, 2006. Kevin Shields, take yr time.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cleveland, Belated

There was something oh-so appropriate about cruising the Cleveland, Ohio streets en route to Kevin Hoffman’s wedding reception in a rented silver PT Cruiser with Ghostface Killah’s Fishscale as our soundtrack – cue “L.L. Cool J drives a leased accord” reference from Might Magazine, circa. the late 1990s, no-one will get what I’m saying here but who cares – Bill driving with his girlfriend Jenny riding shotgun, Alecia and I in the back seat, Ol Dirty Bastard barking about the "Brooklyn Zoo" from somewhere beyond the grave. That scene – the whole weekend, for that matter – felt like a perfect intersection of past, present, and future. It takes a life-changing event like this for us old Washington College/Elm/Collegian/drinking buddies to be able to meet up or even really to be able to talk at length, and it ain’t cheap, and time off is hard to come by in the face of life’s relentlessness and harsh realities; it’s difficult to listen to and enjoy hip-hop when your spouse, who doesn’t share your love for some of what the genre has to offer, is sitting next to you, and when asked you can’t explain what’s uplifting or positive about a guy who is sort of glamorizing drug-dealing; it’s odd and false-feeling to hold forth on your present job and life when in a few months everything you’ve said will have been turned over by relocation and a baby. And these aren’t necessarily bad experiences, merely ones that underscore the fact that 1999 is many moons behind us and that the nature of friendship and of self is static, unfixed. I vividly remember Kevin’s sister, Kelly, as a silent, scowling, high-school age punker trailing her brother through the crowd at a Washington, D.C. Sonic Youth show we all attended in the fall of 1995; this past weekend she was a young woman in a nice dress who smiled and served as our usher at the Old Stone Church. Until we were getting ready to leave the reception, I’d never noticed hair on Kevin’s face – a concession to aging his genetics appeared to allow him to avoid – on Saturday, there were finally whiskers. And there he was – matched (finally!) with an uncompromising woman his equal, managing editor at Clevescene at age 29, elated that the deed was done, that all of the planning and fretting was over and done, glowing, sucking on a beer bottle and leaning against the open bar. I’d always known he was capable of taking over the world, and he’s now on the verge of doing just that. And I didn't know that Bill would ever get married back when we were all buying cases of Olde English 40-ouncers, and then at the reception he was babbling about whether or not New Year's Eve's a good time for a wedding.


Earlier in the day, Alecia and I had spent a couple hours at the fabled Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- an amazing place that one really needs an entire day to really appreciate -- and alongside the B-52s' and Duran Duran's and the Rolling Stones' old stage costumes, John Lennon's schoolboy doodlings and postcards and passports, Michael Jackson's sequined white glove encased in glass, and Jon Bon Jovi's motorcycle, among hundreds of other rock artifacts, was a display on grunge, which finally brought home how dead and buried the early 1990s are: Alice In Chains lyrics on notebook paper, a copy of the first issue of Subterranian Pop (which would blossom into the Sub Pop label), old out-of-print vinyl singles, all up on the walls, it's over and done and trivia for a new generation.

Later, as we spent a couple hours ripping on the cheese-horror of Anaconda (Eric Stoltz, Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight working the worst hispanic accent ever) in our beautiful-but-expensive hotel room with Jenny and Bill, I fought to keep up with the conversation and not think about the liklihood that it'd be years until we'd all be able to do something like this again.

All in all, a great weekend that flew by much too quickly. No time to use the weirdly shaped pool at the hotel, but that's no big deal; Cavs were in the playoffs so every other person was in a basketball jersey which was kind of creepy. Thanks to Bill for the burn of the new Tool record I haven't had time to listen to more than once, and for giving us an early ride back to the hotel when we needed to leave the reception.

Alecia can feel Malia kicking a lot more these days; my mom joked that we're got another soccer player on our hands. The pregnancy takes a lot out of Alecia -- it's increasingly difficult for her to bend over, to turn in bed, or to be active for long periods of time -- but she's in good spirits nonetheless. She's gonna be a great mom, and when she talks about Malia at home or while we're rummaging though baby sections in department stores (eventually all baby clothes look alike, don't they, and those racks upon racks of onesies and tiny shorts and shirts and jackets and such blend together into one overpriced forever of fabric that will only be worn once or twice, and then thinking about that you think about how people always say "they grow so fast!" and then it's like Malia's already been in the womb for five and a half months or so and before we know it she'll be out here with us) a glow comes over her and she's somehow a different person than she was before.

Heh heh.

That new Fiery Furnaces record? Don't bother. Really.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Better Late Than Never

A roffle-tastic link I've been meaning to post for a while:

Cam'ron straight-to-video movie sucks, but is probably still worth your dough. I almost burst into maniacal laughter reading this at work, and I have no idea how I could have explained to co-workers why.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dropping Links

Cleveland was a blast! Thanks and congratulations to Kevin and Erin on theirlovely wedding; photos and a more thoughtful commentary will come later in the month (promise).

Only rock-crit geeks will care, but Chuck Eddy was relieved last week of his duties as music editor of the Village Voice. I never had the chance to write for him, but he was kind enough to accept and thumb through my clips and later respond cordially to my pitches and failed on-spec attempts. He ran a diverse section/stable for seven years – every week there were a couple of reviews/features/blogs worth spending time with – and will be missed, at least until he finds gainful employment elsewhere (and he will, believe it). Some conversation about that can be found here.

Amal’s wedding photos can be viewed here, though like me, you may not recognize her at first (i.e. she’s wearing serious makeup and no blue clothing whatsoever).

Hooray for captivating noise: the Yellow Swans, Fat Worm of Error, and Panther Skull are brightening my year right now. Islands are on an altogether different trip, but are equally deserving of everyone’s limited time and resources. Played to death but fathomlessly enjoyable, “You’re Beautiful” is definitely this year’s “You’re Gorgeous.” Played to death but fathomlessly enjoyable but dripping with sap: “Had a Bad Day.”

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Springtime, and the Dying's Easy

I'm a cold-blooded killer, a murderous bastard, an assassin itching to strike. My bodycount this weekend in Selinsgrove is inching into the 30-plus range, and the carcasses are everywhere, crushed and oozing, bent and bruised and broken, in trash sacks and on the ground and behind furniture. Remorse shouldn't be an issue here but I have to admit that at some level I'm concerned that, after all of this willful, vengeful violence, my swift, brutal dispatching of so many clueless victims could swing back to me like a boomerang. Will I suffer karmic reprecussions of some sort, or be eternally confronted in the afterlife by those who met death by my heavy hand?

Hard to say, hard to say.

Pretty as a Picture

No, not this Malia, silly goose.

Malia has Native American roots ("bitter") and Hawaiian ones ("honey"). Research turns up a slew of other definitions -- "peaceful and calm waters" or "perhaps, probably" (Hawaiian); "queen" (South African). All of 'em sound pretty good to me.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

All Up In Your Hard Drive Like A Typhoid PC Virus

(Not an MC Barman lyric; twas the only blog post title I could come up with on short notice. Do you like it? Does it sound flippant yet commanding yet “street” all at once?)

It’s been too long since I posted here, for all of the reasons you’d imagine given recent events. In short: life is expensive and I refuse to be caught without the dough to move, to pay bills, to eat, to buy formula and diapers and so on. Junior will be along, according to Alecia’s OB-GYN, in a little less than five months. Tomorrow I’m accompanying her to the doctor for a check-up, and at that time we’ll learn whether we’re having a Nodin or a Malia. A lot of you have been asking about this and trust me, you’ll know as soon as I do – promise.

Our landlady, Sonya, graciously gave us a “money tree” for good luck and what I guess you’d call a feeding seat this past weekend. (There’s a proper term for this but it escapes me at the moment.) I’ll miss her when we move; she’s been a lot easier and more pleasant to deal with than the myriad. evil landlords (companies) we’ve sparred with over the last half decade or so. We presently have the high chair (that’s it, right?) in our guest room and it’s more tangible proof that everything’s about to change very drastically for us.

Despite the somewhat disparaging tone I took here, I want to thank the Silver Jews for coming to the Ottobar last Wednesday night – finally getting to see David Berman and Co. perform many of the desolate, literate songs I’ve stuck on mix tapes or sung to myself in the car or shower while depressed or in great spirits was a long, long-awaited pleasure (even if having to scribble notes in half-darkness during the show meant I couldn’t enjoy the proceedings as much as I could have otherwise). Thanks to Doug Mowbray for coming along with me, for the world-weary damn-we’re-old-and-relationships-are-HARD-but-rewarding conversation, for the CDs, for helpfully dissecting the finer points of opener Heumann/Bell (I have a feeling I went to school with Dave Heumann’s sister a lifetime ago, but maybe not) even though the part of my review pertaining to them didn’t make it to print. (They were flat-out fantastic and you should support them if possible.) Doug stuck around for a while to get his copy of Actual Air signed by Berman, and was successful – I bugged out cuz I was exhausted and my back ached from crouching down for hours in a space that was too cramped for 6’5 me. Berman wrote “better shit’s coming” on the poetry book which bodes well for humanity, methinks.

Alecia is increasingly tired and sore and itchy and looks forward to this whole pregnancy thing being over and done; increasingly I’m psyched about parenthood and all it entails: Play dates! Car seats! Gerber’s! Baby babble! Reading to the tyke! Ooohing and ahhhing strangers! (Well, not so much that last one...)

Multiple Sclerosis Walk this weekend in Towson! (No rain, please.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Homies Be Bloggin'

Oh yeah. Kevin, Thom (Jef), Pearl, and my wife, Alecia (who manages a band, Cryptic Warning -- they advanced to the next stage in last night's Emergenza band face-off at the Ottobar, congratulations! It was a good time, but I'm totally exhausted today -- four hours in a tiny club full of cigarette smoke, attention-hungry hipsters, and drunken bimbos will do that to you.). Matthew Perpetua, who I’ve known online for almost a decade, runs the ever-thriving, sometimes-maligned Fluxblog mp3 empire.

Seriously, I've felt like a zombie all day today, like I'm sleepwalking through life and work -- two beers, four hours of sleep, and some of the conditions described in the paragraph above were to blame. But I'm glad I went along; I met the CW dudes for the first time, watched them kick up serious metalheaded dust onstage, and some of the other bands were okay too: in particular Odd Girl Out, who reminded me of several 90s riot grrl groups but without the feminist politics (unless I missed them). The singer wasn't great, and looked a lot like Liz Phair, which was kinda weird. Their fans seemed to fit into two categories: 1) friends and possibly relatives of the female, mini-skirted asian-american lead guitarist or 2) out-and-proud lesbians (who can count among their number OGO's drummer and bassist, if haircuts and manner are anything to go by).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Job Hunt

This is your music news section on Donald Barthelme.

As many of you know, Alecia and I are moving to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania after our child is born, and we've spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to find work for me in the closest big cities -- namely, Harrisburg and Bloomsburg; pickings are slim. Does anyone have ideas/suggestions as to what sort of non-editor/non-proofreader/non-reporter jobs someone who has experience with the aforementioned positions might be qualified to do outside of those arenas? I have a couple months to get this going, but damn if time doesn't fly like the dickens. (I'm even considering going into public relations if nothing more preferable materializes.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lazy Monday

Running off the riff raff, George Clooney gave a great Oscar acceptance speech last night, a compelling case made for articles of impeachment.

Also, the obligatory music-related comment: Sunn O)))'s Black One = crunchy, doom-y, best listened to on a car stereo for some reason. (More on for-best-effect music-listening scenarios soon.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006


A week or two back, Alecia went to her OB-GYN for a check-up, and heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. She came home gushing about the experience, the intensity and emotion it brought and how her pregnancy suddenly seemed more real than it had previously. “Just wait til you hear it, Ray,” she said, wide-eyed. “That twipt-twipt sound!” I listened with envy, as it would be a month until the Amazing Ultrasound OB-GYN Visit where we’d see the child in utero via Utrasound technology. Would I come away with the same reaction when I heard that pulse, when I saw that grainy black-and-white real-time image?

Then, last night, Alecia pressed my palm against her stomach, and I felt that heartbeat. Felt it. Not fast, not insistent, but most assuredly present and alive and amazing and real is a way that buying my first-ever baby onesie last week wasn’t quite.

This is really happening, isn’t it?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"One of my men just had an origin."

A couple weeks back, Sanjeevani shot me an email enquiring what “Voguing to Danzig” means, exactly. Neither of us have been able to locate my no doubt eloquent response to her question, so I’ll have to start again from scratch.

I came up with the name a few years ago when I needed a name for a column I’d proposed to write for the Chicagoland-based (bi-annual, then annual, then eventually every-other-year) (maga)zine Tailspins. The first column, about 9-11, ran in the publication’s final issue in 2002 (or was that 2003?); the second one, making unkind light of the pathetic passing of Alice In Chains singer Layne Staley, never ran in part because the zine never came out again and the editor stopped returning my e-mails (Brent Ritzel, if you’re reading this, feel free to fill in the blanks here, man). When I decided to start this blog, I resurrected the moniker.

Think back to Madonna’s black-and-white, 15-year old video clip for “Vogue” – the dance being done there is “voguing.” Glenn Danzig is a lunkhead musician and singer who’s in part responsible for some of the best (early Misfits = life-affirming punk) and worst music commercially available today (Danzig = comically horrible metal). Now you are asked to imagine stocky, shirtless Glenn performing a “dance” probably intended for slim, female fashion models – holding his arms horizontally in front of his face and shifting them to reveal himself occasionally – or better yet, imagine slim fashion models trying to perform the dance to Danzig songs.

“Voguing to Danzig” essentially represents a ridiculous impossibility – I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this blog itself qualifies as the same.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Double-Aught-Five Shadow Ballot Time!


Cam’ron Purple Haze
Double Leopards A Hole Is True: Who'd have thought the simulated sound of being stuck in a blizzard could be so fascinating?
The Kills No Way
Calvin Johnson Before The Dream Faded...
limpbizkit Greatest Hitz
Nautical Almanac Cover the Earth
Sleater-Kinney The Woods: I never thought they'd make a whole album I could stomach. Oh, the wonders of uglified, rough-and-tumble production.
Mary Timony Ex Hex
White Rock Tarpit
Wooden Wand, Harem of the Sundrum & the Witness Figg


50 Cent/The Game “Love It Or Hate It”
Fiona Apple “Extraordinary Machine”/”Get Him Back”
Death Cab for Cutie “Soul Meets Body”: Yes, it's quite possible that I'm secretly a total wimp, but I'm starting to think about buying Plans. A catchy, wistful single is a catchy, wistful single is a catchy, wistful single, y'knowwhatI'msayin'?
Lightning Bolt “Bizarro Bike”
Jennifer Lopez “Get Right”
Juelz Santana “Oh Yes”
System of a Down “Hypnotize”
Rob Thomas “Lonely No More”
Kanye West “Touch the Sky”: It's basically "Encore II" but instead of Jay-Z exhorting the audience to demand moree, more, more, it's Kanye big-upping himself with newcomer Lupe Fiasco tagging along for the festive, horn-driven ride.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Baby Clothes

Alecia bought two baby outfits today, making impending fatherhood seem a little more real to me than it has. Soon, we'll have to start re-arranging the condo to prepare, and I'll need to get insurance paperwork from the HR department at my job...and the quest for name candidates will intensify. Late next month I'll be going along with Alecia to her doctor and I'll get to see "junior," as we call the baby, moving around in there...everyday the reality of this whole experience and change becomes stronger and it gets a little more exciting...and it's a little scary. I hope I can be a great dad, you know?

Now, back to the music...

Welcome, Doug!

He swore he wouldn't start a blog, claiming this particular pot already had too many damn cooks....but now my best (and only) friend from high school has, in fact, gone there.

No Kanye, No Credibility?

Even after voting for College Dropout in my top five records of 2004 -- and still diggin' on it months later -- I couldn't muster any excitement for Kanye West's hotly awaited sequel, which just swept Pazz & Jop and will likely rack up many more awards over the next few months. I didn't even hear Late Registration until late last year, when my mother gave me a copy for Christmas. Dropout's early singles were solid, addictive, great advertisements for copping the product when it dropped -- "All Falls Down," "Slow Jamz," "Through the Wire" -- but Registration's equivalents lacked that fresh, brash charm, or if they had it, it was starting to feel more like arrogance, whining, chipped shoulders no upper echelon of fame could ever fix. The non-stop, 24/7 barrage of press items about the dude didn't help any -- burn-out and overexposure were settling in. Speaking truth to power during a Red Cross telethon? Respect due, man, but would you take a year or two off from making your own records and shoving your conflicted/conscious personna down the world's collective throat? I mean, Registration sounds pretty damned incredible, production-wise, and yet I've had little desire to spend more than a few hours with it; I don't even think I've heard it all the way through yet. And I wonder this is because I can't escape Kanye West, what with him crucified on magazine covers and on the news and in the papers and discussed to death online and the singles cycled ad nauseum on MTV. Maybe it arrived a bit too soon -- if its impact might have been even bigger if it hadn't come out until, say, this month. Think I'm wrong? Really? Then consider that crits shafted Missy Elliott's latest this year in print and in the polls -- in part because they weren't given enough time to really miss her.

Comparing my P&J picks to the top 40 overall results, it's clear that I've drifted further than ever from the critical concensus. This is only depressing when I click on some of my more esoteric favorites and discover that out of nearly 750 voters I'm the only effing person who went ga-ga-ga for a Dead Machines CD or a Liz Phair song...while a majority creamed over Kanye for the second year in a row. If Kanye wins this thing three years in a row I don't know what I'll do.

Meanwhile, Robert Christgau takes on Eminem's career and puts a lot of things into perspective; no other epitaphs are needed.