Wednesday, June 27, 2007

OH eye oh

what i'm listening to right now: The Colony Room by Sea And Cake

Tommorow night, I'll be on the road to Buckeye State. Amanda's cousin, Nan is getting married up there in Dayton. We'll be hopping into a rented car and driving through the night. Sunday we're gonna head over to Indiana, it'll be another of Amanda's cousin's birthday party (she has 30 first cousins...) So, good times. Well, I don't have too much information to share otherwise. Pictures and probably a bunch of other material once I get back. It's the restaurant's vacation week once I get back from vacation, so I'll be sitting around doin' a whole lot of nothing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Late Night Addendum

what i'm listening to right now: Peek-A-Boo by Daniel Johnston

It's another one of those nights where my body and my mind are disagreeing on bed time. My body's been tucked in, but my mind is restless, staring at the open refrigerator. I'm going to go ahead right here and say this pretty scattershot, and it might get some revising in the morning. So, there are a few things that I just wanted to touch on in addition to the subjects covered today in my blog.

So, this whole Hillary/Celine Dion thing... still, not cool with me. If I had seen this video that she put out in anticipation of the announcement of the song, I would have given her points for the first time in a long time. Well, scratch that, I did give her points for yelling at Wolf Blitzer for the ridiculous nature of the whole "raise your hands if..." hypothetical questioning. But points for putting Wolf Blitzer in his place at this point is like points for getting upset with the tour guide at Monticello for breezing over the whole sex with slaves thing.

So, here's the video in question...

All in all, it's a funny video, pretty brilliant, and nowhere near as bad as the "funny" video that the Edwards campaign put out

But again, Hillary loses any cool points that she could have gained through this great video that her people put together. Any cool points she even got for getting Johnny Sac to make an appearance, any cool points for making Bill Clinton walk like Tony Soprano, all gone. Because she picked a Celine Dion song that was written for an airline commercial.

I will say that she's not all bad. There are issues in which I have HUGE differences with her, and reasons that I can't bring myself to support her. I guess if push were to come to shove, and she got the nomination, I'd have to support her, it's not like I could vote for Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney. Giuliani would probably divorce his Vice President, and Romney would just be biding his time 'till the Angel Moroni came down and filled the Dream Mine with gold and jewels*. He'd probably quit on us after that happened. Oh, I also wouldn't vote for them because they're Republicans. That'd be more of a reason than the other ones.

*Here's an aside about Mormons. They're crazy. They believe stuff like
this. They believe that Jesus came over and hung out with the Sioux and
Cherokee. They think Eden was in Wisconsin. These are things that mainstream
Mormons think about every day while they're riding around on bicycles wearing
white shirts and black ties. Mitt Romney is one of these crazies. Also, they
won't drink caffeine. How productive can these people be if they can't drink
coffee? "I'm sorry, President Putin, we can't get President Romney on the phone,
he's too tired... I'd get him some coffee, but, you know... yeah, I know, it's
this weird made up religion that is like Christianity with even crazier bullshit
tacked on at the end." Imagine that. The end of the world. Because Mitt Romney
wouldn't have a cup of coffee.

So, here's another point I wanted to cover. Over at Amanda's blog, she's seriously bothered by the appearance of our favorite book, Middlesex by Jeffrey Ugenidies on Oprah's book club list. The book is an amazing epic of incest, hermaphrodites, love, life, family and history. It sprawls over the wars between the Greeks and the Turks, immigration to Detroit and the city's growth and decline, the weird sexuality of San Francisco at it's seediest. Essentially, it's a book about America. But, I'm afraid that it would just straight up blow the minds of the average Oprah Book Club reader. The thing that upsets Amanda is that this book that's been so important to her, this book that emotionally devastated her, this book that changed her life, is being commodified by Oprah. She likes Oprah, but not as much as this book.

This brings me to a conversation that we had just yesterday, Sonic Youth are going to release a compilation of their songs as picked out by various celebrities and musicians. The surprising thing about this is that it's going to be released exclusively through Starbucks. Another iconoclastic bastion of something outside of what could still be called the "mainstream". (I kind of feel like going on another tangent here about how mainstream almost doesn't apply anymore. The mainstream has been so diverted by the internet, DVDs, the easy availability of new technologies etc. But that'd take a lot longer than the time I've allotted myself here before I want to try and go back to bed. But it's a good idea for another post.) But these things, Sonic Youth and Middlesex are things that have been personal, in this way that it's not part of this huge consumer culture. At least not to a degree. Sonic Youth are fairly popular to an extent within the constraints of "indie rock" and "alternative" but if I were to ask my mother what she knew about them... But the point is that these things by their nature seem more important to their adoring fans because of the need to go looking for these things. The lack of universality of a thing makes it's personal importance more intense. And when something like this book and this music gets on the shelf of universality, it seems like it's being taken away.

But doesn't this seem a little selfish. Keeping all these great things to ourselves. Wouldn't it be great for some kid to pick up this Sonic Youth comp at Starbucks and have their whole world opened up, like mine was when I first heard Washing Machine when I was a teenager? Wouldn't it be great if all these people read Middlesex and they get so moved, and maybe become a little more tolerant to other cultures, to other lifestyles?

And what's so bad about Starbucks or Oprah. Starbucks treats their employees pretty well. Much better than most corporations I can think of. Sure they put coffee houses out of business. But those are usually the not so good coffee houses. Just look to Hillsborough Street and see how Cup A Joe put that Starbucks out of business. See how Third Place thrives surrounded by at least three (probably more) Starbucks at a mile to two miles away. And Oprah, she's kind of an egomaniac, but she does a lot of stuff that's really great.

I guess an argument could be made that both Starbucks and Oprah are signifiers of the middle of the road. Most Oprah Book Club books are mediocre drivel with inspirational hoo ha. And a lot of the music at Starbucks is mediocre, ranging from Paul McCartney to ad infinitum seasonal compilations with mumbly singer songwriters. Is this the middle of the road trying to co-opt the intellectual, the noise, exceptional? Are we not so dangerous anymore? Is there some band that puts microphones inside of industrial machinery that should be blowing my mind, and I'm just completely missing out on this? Have I lost touch. Or is Oprah getting some touch herself?

Something Of Mine That'll Be In The Hatchet Next Month

Real quickly, I'm just going to go ahead and publish this little piece I wrote for the Hatchet for next month's issue. It's for their "Shows To Watch For" section, about the upcoming Parts & Labor show, which I cannot wait for, and I tried to tone down my fanboy enthusiasm for this band. I ended up editing out a lot of profuse hyperbole, like how they're the band that this century's been waiting for. How they were giants who crush other bands in their distorted Casiotone stride, et al.

Parts & Labor
Cantwell, Gomez & Jordan
July 15th
Local 506
On July 15th, three guys from Brooklyn will be in town, doing their business. Professional face melters, Parts & Labor will be at The Local 506, with local face melting veterans, Cantwell Gomez & Jordan, opening. This will be the loudest show of the year. Parts & Labor were recently guests on the NPR rock critic talk show, Sound Opinions. The day before they showed up at the radio station to record some songs live for the show, a memo was passed around the offices there, warning of the extreme volume of the next day’s recording session.
Parts & Labor's new album Mapmaker on Jagjaguwar is the antithesis of indie rock's late fascination with lush soundscapes and string sections. Mapmaker brings to mind the SST hardcore bands that created indie rock, the likes of Husker Du & The Minutemen. Singer Dan Friel sounds like Husker frontman, Bob Mould, and the band covers Minutemen’s "King Of The Hill" at the end of their new album. It's a huge record, huge in the sense of Daydream Nation or Zen Arcade, bringing melodies under their distorted Casio keyboards and guitars. Parts & Labor remember what made the best noise rock so great, the anthems that howled under the buzz of the feedback and screwdrivers in the guitar strings.

Steven, This Is Further Proof Of My Being Correct On This Subject!

what i'm listening to right now: everybody's down by no-age

***there's an update to this story at the bottom***

So, Hillary just threw out any chance that she had at becoming President of the United States Of America. Her campaign song, you know, the one that she got all of her supporters involved in picking out? Here it is, click the link, I dare you. I dare you to listen to a Celine Dion song, and think "presidential". What a joke. Not that anyone else's official campaign song is gold, far from it, cliched late period U2 songs, John Mellencamp et al. But damn, Celine Dion. I can't remember exactly how many times I heard "It's A Beautiful Day" at that Kerry/Edwards rally I went to in 2004, but it was more than five at least. Imagine the Canadian Skeletor warbling ad infinitum at Hillary rallies. Jesus.

Completely. Out. Of. Touch.

update: via Talking Points Memo

Apparently, this Celine Dion song started out as a song played in the background of an Air Canada commercial. More details here.

And here's the commercial in question:

Saturday, June 16, 2007


There's little I can say about this. This is Mike Gravel. You wouldn't know it from looking at him, but he's running for president in 2008. Known mostly for screaming at Obama and other actual contenders for the office, here, Gravel is just... confounding.

Gravel for President of Twin Peaks, 2008.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Onion Rings. It All Ended With Onion Rings.

Last night was the end of the Sopranos. If you haven't seen the final episode and don't want to find out how it ended, I'd stop reading.... now. Okay, great, so now that everyone else is out of the picture, let's talk about what happened, and how it was a brilliant ending. That'd be a point of contention, right there. Last night I was alone with that opinion. Everyone else in the room threw up their hands, and felt that they'd been had. Immediate comparisons to the end of Seinfeld were brought up. Coincidentally, I think the end of Seinfeld was equally brilliant. The point being that there is no finality. No one goes on to anything, no big marriage, no new president, no extensive death of everyone montage, no hugs, just the best onion rings in New Jersey. It carried out the what to me, was the best part of The Sopranos, the reality of it. Through the whole series, there wasn't a hip new song, Tony's ringer was the Monday Night Football dunh dunh dunh duhh.

It was life as normal, as normal as it could be while resolving a hit that's been put on you by the New York families, as normal as it could be while blowing out the brains of Phil Leotardo, and then having his SUV pop his head into bits after his dead body fell into the track of the tire of the car in neutral. It was as normal as it's always been.

This season was about being confronted with reality. The reality of relationships, the reality of the family and when it falls short of your expectations. Meadow leaving med school for law school, A.J.'s depression, Paulie Walnuts' lack of ambition, Bobby's not wanting to hear about his wife's weird past, Christopher's addiction... When confronted with concrete evidence of their impossibility as parents, Tony and Carmella just give A.J. something to shut him up for a while, caving in to his whining. When confronted with the fact that psychoanalysts aren't saints, Dr. Melfi turns inwards and lashes out at Tony.

The general consensus of EVERYONE I talked to was that Tony was going to die last night. I wonder what their underlying motivation was for this. Was it national morbidity? Was it the feeling that he deserved it? He had killed Christopher with his bare hands, he'd blown his cousin's face off. Tony was a douchebag. Was that it? Or was it fatigue? The Sopranos had been on forever. Six and half seasons, with a couple of years of hiatuses. Was it just time for him to die?

The ending of course flew in the face of everyone's predictions. Maybe in spite of them? Maybe in the theory that a Sopranos movie or mini-series in the future would be viable? Meadow as a mob lawyer, A.J. spiraling out of control on drugs and directing pornos? Tony, stricken with diabetes and bed-ridden, a figurehead with the family both the true one and the figurative one destroying itself. Or maybe, as I feel, just a brilliant ending, like the end of Seinfeld. An ending in the tradition of the show, no spectaculars, no 3-D glasses.

The Seinfeld ending was one of the most reviled endings of all time. I'm not sure what people were expecting. What show were they watching? There wasn't any momentum towards anything, it was a show about nothing, and everyone loved it for that, why would they expect anything short of what happened? The four main characters got called out for what self centered people they could be, and ended up in jail for it. Maybe everyone hated it so much because it reflected on them. That they'd laughed or related to everything that Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine did, and when it was turned around and seen as what they did TO people, it was showing the mirror to the guy who woke up out of his car wreck coma. Or, maybe, it was just another episode about nothing. Seinfeld was certainly a popular television show, but it was also subversive, and the final episode it's most subversive. I think the ending will get more traction for it's greatness in the post Curb Your Enthusiasm landscape of television. I see the last episode of Seinfeld as a lost episode of Curb.

For The Sopranos, it all ended with onion rings, with lots of tension, like a cat pawing at mouse caught in the corner, there's that guy at the counter over there, why is Meadow having so much trouble with parking her stupid car? Shit! There's only a minute left! They wouldn't kill him in front of his family! No, they wouldn't. But, damn, those are some good onion rings.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I Needed A Nail In My Foot Like I Needed A Nail In My Head

So, I've been distracted from writing that big piece for the Hatchet I was talking about in my last post. Birthdays, working, slacking, slacking, taking pictures in demolition areas, stabbing myself in the foot with a rusty nail...

So, yesterday, Dan, Tyler, and myself went to the future sight of North Hills Mall's expansion, a former apartment complex on the other side of Six Forks Rd. We took pictures in the rather smelly, half abandoned remaining rooms of the one and a quarter structures left standing. It was a mix of creepy, "I bet homeless guys have been sleeping here" dread and just plain ol' sadness, like the doll in the wreckage, or the couch that was left behind on the third floor.

At the end of our little trip there, I stepped on a rusty nail. Thankfully, I had a tetanus shot a couple of years ago, so I'm golden, but damn, this shit hurts. I'm pretty sure if I was wearing a different pair of shoes, the nail would have gone all the way through my foot. So, here's some pictures, and a link to the web album with the rest of the pictures.

Here are the rest of the pictures on my Picasa web album