Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Apologies, and the Venting of Spleen.

To Brandon Soderberg: my bad. I was kinda flippant and dismissive in my last post, when I wrote: “I’d rag on the punctuation and pacing shortcomings but the thing is a blog, after all.” As a proofreader and a writer, I’m overly sensitive to authorial flows, structures, and breaks; also, I don’t visit enough blogs to be totally comfortable with that loose, informal style so many bloggers adopt. It would have been more accurate to say that your writing comes across as conversationally oriented, as if you were hanging out at somebody’s house talking about Devin the Dude’s ouvere, Kanye West’s new single, or what have you. This can be distracting and frustrating for me, because you obviously are a really knowledgable and insightful guy with wide-open ears, and I look forward to seeing what you’re addressing on any given day – but I get tripped up what I’d characterize as a slightly crimped narrative flow. This is my hang-up, not yours, and hopefully this whole apology – which is genuine – hasn’t come off sneering or mean or anything, as it wasn’t intended as such. Incidentally, the piece on the post-mortem mix CD for your late friend Mike was fascinating; the whole idea of putting together something like that in memorium, but also as a means of capturing the emotions emerging from the focal-point event and its aftermath. This is a whole different level of arrangement from what I’ve done, personally, with my compilations, where I’m seeking to capture a mood (or a series of them) while simulaneously sharing music that’s caught my ear; what you did there was to re-tell a tragic story. So I’m wondering if for my next mix I want to go that route - to comb through the shelves and assemble a sort of ode to my son, an ode to friendship, or a breakdown of the last nine difficult months of my life – instead of going with my present tracklist, which will blow minds but doesn’t necessarily say anything.

To Alecia, for downloading a file-sharing program several weeks ago, downloading scads of music files, and in the process inadventantly spyware-infecting the living fuck out of our laptop. The bug-purging pro’s fee is very reasonable, but having to pay it is still an inconvenience; I didn’t know what I was getting into, but if I’d bothered to do a little research we might have avoided this disaster. (Side note: Instead of filing suit against grandmas and college students and toddlers for downloading and dramatizing illegally-obtained mp3 busts in ads, why doesn’t the RIAA simply play up the fact that downloading with mass-user sharing programs is a lot like having as much unprotected sex as one can with as many partners as possible? Imagine the possible metaphorical devices that could be deployed: downloading as Russian Roulette, as drag racing, as drug consumption.)

To the readers of this blog: I don’t update anywhere near as often as I actually intend to. Life’s exhausting, and there’s so much to tackle on any given day (weekday or weekend) that when my lunch hour rolls around I often find myself eating and mindlessly web surfing instead of sharing what’s happening with me or fleshing out my non-publication ideas/opinions and posting ‘em here. Naturally, I can’t promise that the situation will improve in the immediate future; these messages will probably dwindle as complications arise, and ironically, when things improve. I’m getting more and more job interview opportunities (score!) so it seems likely that before long someone will hire me away from SAIC, and I’ll move up to Selinsgrove, PA for good! I’ll be able to spend way more time with Alecia and Nodin and break out of the “living in two states without really living anywhere” rut I’ve been stuck in since last autumn; that will mean, though, that these posts will be a bit scarcer as I adjust to the life I’ve wanted to live and scale down my level of writing/email communication accordingly. As always, thank you all for your ongoing support and advice – you’re awesome!

TOTALLY UNRELATED RANT, ADDRESSED TO A POWERFUL, CHI-TOWN BASED MINOR LABEL THAT WILL REMAIN NAMELESS: It’s all fine and dandy not to send out promos for the long, long, loooooooong awaited fourth album from one of your marquee acts. (Seven years is an eternity, no matter how you slice it.) The singer/guitarist is something of a rapscallion, an iconoclast, an indie-rock hero who led two prior 80s “punk” bands and who has amassed a list of production (sorry, “recording”) credits as long as my arm – both aboveground and below. Album number one was dope; album number two was less so; album number three was a bad joke. Promotion is expensive, yes; so much of what’s shipped out winds up leaked to the internet or in second-hand CD bins that major labels are loathe to play the newspaper/magazine/website hook-up game, and who can blame them? Big-time minors are wising up and sending stuff only to people they know will write it up; small-time minors haven’t followed suit yet because they’re establishing themselves. Despite the fact that any number of great albums randomly arrived in my mailbox without me knowing they were coming – musicians I never would have heard otherwise – I applaud this paradigm shift because it means that musicians and labels and PR people are wasting less money in the long run. It means that there’s a greater likelyhood that employees can keep their jobs, bands can get paid on time, and killer albums can keep dropping. But I’m getting away from this one label and this one band, who are the focus of this rant. Why didn’t you guys just say “we aren’t doing promo for this record” instead of teasing reviewers with a “lower industry discount rate” before turning around and informing us that said rate was almost a slap in the face - $9.79 – and then mentioning that we’re also expected to pay like $5.00 in priority shipping fees? (for a total of almost $15.00) What was the purpose of that, other than to be outright dickish to the people who continue to believe in a band that’s been squandering its potential and faithfully attend its sporadic shows? Why not just say “buy it in the store, morons”? This whole fiasco was likely the aforemention iconoclast’s brainchild, and while the younger, “punk rock” me is amused, the present-day me? Not so much.

An interesting Stay Free-related interview, full of background.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


ITEM! Nodin isn’t quite crawling yet, but he’s begun to sort of propel or launch himself forward while in a crawling position by using his arms. It looks painful, but he’s rough and tough (even if I refuse to acknowledge this and am oft terrified that he’s gonna hurt himself when his rolling adventures bring him into proximity with picture frames, low shelving, or the hard underbelly of a futon). Who’s the infant? Nodin’s the infant, champ.

ITEM! We can’t stop coming up with and tossing out ludicrous Nodin-related nicknames: Node, Nodiego, Nodi, Nodstradamus, Nodiclaus, the Nodester, Nodimunga, Robonode, Nodeopolous, and so forth. Somewhere, Rob Schnieder is filming Deuce Bigalow 3. Probably.

ITEM! On Lil Wayne’s “Cops is Watching” – which is getting mad play on my iPod this month – when he raspily raps “Ya ninjas ain’t loyal!/Ya ninja’s ain’t loyal!” I keep wishing he were actually saying “lawyers” instead of loyal. (Note: Wayne isn’t really saying “ninjas,” which would be pretty funny, as it would imply that his hypothetical criminal rivals are affiliated with the Yakuza.)

ITEM! Bushco cronies be fallin’ like dominoes – Gonzales’ one assistant resigned, Wolfowitz’s on the verge of being forced out at the World Bank. Plus this is effed up, though the NPR story on it was more chilling. Could Rove and Cheney be far behind? Unlikely, but hope springs eternal, etc.

ITEM! Lou Reed’s a cock. Whoops – that isn’t really news!

ITEM! Voguing to Danzig gets to become an uncle this year – not once, but twice! Congrats and best wishes to Sanjeevani and Amal, who are both due this summer/autumn!

ITEM! Music editors Voguing to Danzig is on solid terms with continue to ignore review pitch after bloody review pitch – oh, wait, again, not news in the traditional sense. Nevermind!

ITEM! Anti-New Times/Village Voice Media pricks-in-anonymity lay off Lando when threatened with legal action. The internet sure makes it super easy to rabidly attack people one doesn’t know under a psuedonym, doesn’t it? Disgruntled scaredly-cat haters – sonned!

ITEM! Brandon Soderberg’s hip-hop fixated blog is helping fill the gaping hole left by my company’s totally bogus blocking of http://www.ilxor.com/ recently. I’d rag on the punctuation and pacing shortcomings but the thing is a blog, after all.

ITEM! Links to new Voguing to Danzig-penned nonsense: Air Conditioning, Blonde Redhead, Cloud Cult, Ben Dolnick, El-P, Grails, Nine Inch Nails, Page France, Per Petterson, and Silver Daggers (BCP, PNT)!

ITEM! I’ve got stuff in the current MAGNET and Devil in the Woods magazines, on the slanted shelves of super-ginormous bookstores everywhere, so go buy them! Or maybe just go skim them before putting ‘em back and going home.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Addendum to "Singles Going Steady"

It did run, after all, and here's the link:

Singles Going Steady: Blitzen Trapper, Cornelius, Avey Tare & Kria Brekken

Also: it's heartening to see that Stay Free is still up-and-running, in magazine and blog form. I hadn't thought about ex-Matador Records staffer Carrie McLaren's anti-advertising zine in years until last night, when I was reading Christine Harold's Ourspace for a review and came across a reference to it. An impromptu raid and trundle through my stash of old dead tree media turned up....not a damned thing! No Stay Frees in the whole batch, not even the issue where the cover was parodying Volkswagon's late 1990s rainbow-flower-petal-circle of Bugs (or Beetles, I can never remember which exactly), replacing the cars with handguns.

Also: read Matthew Perpetua’s takedown of the “deluxe edition” of B’Day.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

No Drought?

So rapper Lil Wayne’s new free-to-the-internet mixtape – Da Drought 3 – is supposed to be totally amazing, as Wayne free-associates daffily and quasi-illegally over other people’s tracks (Ciara's "Promise," Clipse’s “Grindin,” Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” etc.) for the length of two cdrs; Julianne Shepherd has a considered examination of the anti-release here, Nick Sylvester an equally interesting followup counter-commentary here. So I guess my question is: if a dynamite free mixtape crashes the internet and no-one can hear it, does it make a sound? I ask this question because I wasted a stoopid ungodly amount of time over the past weekend trying to download and burn this behemoth, with zero success. A number of sketchy sites loaded with porn links, xxx ads, and pop-ups were hosting the album (not to mention getting yours truly paranoid about a spyware infection) but some sort of decoding/torrenting BS was necessary in every case and I couldn’t suss it out; then the file-sharing service I consulted had most of the tracks, but apparently they were corrupted and my burner was all nuh-uh. Ideally, Da Drought 3 could be hosted on a legit server traditionally (ala http://www.archive.org/) where the curious could simply click’n’download one song at a time – but seeing as this whole enterprise (like most of the 1,543,000 mixtapes floating around online and offered for sale on urban street corners) ain’t exactly above board, I can definitely appreciate the importance of guerilla/insurgent style dissemination tactics. But dang, I wanna hear this thing.

What You Need to Know This Month to Avoid Ostracism (with me, anyway, or something)

The phrase “good look” - or its variant “it’s a good look” - has been creeping up everywhere lately as a sort of summary exclamation point in blogs and conversations (i.e. John McCain’s blowing his Repub prez. nom. deal by trying to cater to everyone: “It’s not a good look”); personally, I sorta blame Beyonce’s “Upgrade U” for everybody from scenester crits to my mom throwing it around with impunity. The buck stops here, folks: I am hereby declaring a moritorium on this use of this elitist, arrogant word-construction. Using it makes you sound like a fucking America’s Next Top Model judge, Simon Cowell, or Anna Wintour. So cease and desist! Feel me? -2,000 VOGUES

For Your Consideration...

"featuring Kurt Russell as....Stuntman Mike"

For giggles...this amusing Paul Simms piece from a recent issue of the New Yorker
For soundtracking an aimless stroll around the neighborhood you grew up in on a balmy spring eve...this free, "earth-toned" Madlib DJ set, circa 2001
Dig in, dig it!