"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman
Thursday, June 17, 2004
venture capitalist alert
do this for me, will you?: finance an album of tom waits covering the songs of warren zevon. how cool would that be?
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Scott-san's double-shot mix disk came today, and, ladies & gentlemen, the man rocks to a level that i can only dream of reaching. i have insider information that indicates some of you may receive the consolidated, high-pressure edition of the mix. i can only warn all y'all: you will be annoying your neighbors.
as long as we're in the mix: i've thrown together some trax for jules and, as usual, there were a few near-misses in the burn process. not technical near-misses, just playlists that didn't quite hit the target i'd set. there are two or three of these laying around, containing contributions by hiatt, waits, the jayhawks, chuck prophet, patty larkin, and a few surprises. if you're interested in dumpster diving through my discard pile, leave me a comment.
place your bets on whether or not i get to see the kids this weekend.
oldest brother, who has a parkinsons-like condition thanks to a drug/drug interaction, is now on the waiting list to get into the mayo clinic later this summer. for the faithful, keep him and his in your prayers, please. ditto for our dad, who just signed up for a clinical trial to see if it helps the condition in his circulatory system that, at his age, could lead to deafness and/or blindness. he's currently on steroids, which have turned the world's-most-patient-man into the incredible hulk with a snapping turtle on his gonads. if you've never experienced the 'roids rages from which some steroid patients (and everyone around them) suffer, count your blessings.
i can just imagine dad, a eucharistic minister, losing it at church. 'Hey Father! How 'bout shutting up a little early? There's a game on in an hour, you know."
i made barbecued baby back ribs this past weekend for the first time. the good news is that they were very good. the bad news is that the ribs blew my food budget for the week, so it's been a choice of peanut butter or hot dogs for the past three days. now that the hot dogs are gone, tomorrow's menu will feature (a) peanut butter on palm, or (b) dirt.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
hey, you! out of the gene pool!
to the pinhead in front of me on the sagitos parkway this morning: thanks for tossing your empty water bottle out the window, you polluting asswipe.
your family must be so proud.
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Friday, June 11, 2004
it's been a week of 10 and 12-hour days at work. wednesday the temperatures here on long island (pronounced "lawn GUY-land") hit 87 degrees. It will surely get hotter, but it was the warmest it's been all year, and it hit a lot of people like a a big wet slobbery dog bursting through the door. so when i got home i did what any good pale white yankee would do: i sat barefoot on my front stoop, drank jamacain beer, and watched the traffic go by while the sun went down.
i have a fairly green view from my stoop. not farmland, but big lawns & woods. as the sun and the beer diminished in the west (the beer was in my left hand), i noted that the primary difference between suffolk county, where i currently reside, and virginia, where i spent an awfullotof weekends the past six years, is in the farm equipment. in virginia, farms have farm equipment. real farm equipment, driven home from the john deer dealership at 5 mph by grampa in "ought-eight" and rusting lovingly to pieces ever since. from my stoop i can see my neighbor's luxury tractor. the hubcaps on that vehicle cost more than my first car.
the only other place i've ever spent considerable time is thirty miles west, in nassau county. the most noticeable differences between nassau and suffolk counties is (1) the noise and (2) the bugs. in nassau, you hear churchbells in the distance; in suffolk you hear trains. there is probably profound meaning in that difference (we'd rather stray than pray?), but i wasn't feeling very profound wednesday evening, and things haven't changed since. the bug thing is more obvious. in nassau there are two types of bugs - ants and spiders. all kinds of ants, all kinds of spiders. the occaisional fly. end of bug classification schema. in suffolk we have bugs modelled after navy stealth aircraft. you don't hear them, you don't see them. it's just a sudden BAM and a stinging sensation and blammo there's a welt the size of an orange on your arm.
i have permission from the protagonist of the following anecdote to retell it. Mr. P worked for Large Company, Inc. some years ago, during which the company would host an annual Vegas Night to raise money for charity. These evenings typically featured musical entertainment by acts brokered by the Where Are They Now talent agency (a subsidiary of I-Thought-You-Were-Dead Enterprises, LLC). This particular occasion featured the rock/jazz/soul sounds of Blood, Sweat & Tears. For those who are too young (or those who just don't give a damn), BS&T produced three blockbuster albums between 1969 and 1971, and then imploded, losing vocalist David Clayton-Thomas (who himself had replaced founder Al Kooper). The band moved through the years producing drek that suggested a creature that didn't realize it was dead and headless. Clayton-Thomas returned to the fold a few years later, but the group had lost its spark.
Being a music aficionado, Mr. P nevertheless seated himself second-row center to enjoy the show. Well into a heavily gospel-infused number, Clayton-Thomas decided it was audience participation time, and urged the employees and guests of Large Company, Inc., to join him in hand-clapping, arm-waving, feelin'-the-spirit gestures. Unfortunately, BST's performance wasn't up to conveying the spirit to the entire audience; Mr. P. sat second-row center, arms folded, hands blatantly unwaving.
At which point Clayton-Thomas stared at Mr. P., extended his hand to point stiffly at his unmoving audience member, and declared, "You, sir! You are going to HELL!"
At perhaps Clayton-Thomas was right. After all, Mr. P and I are co-workers.
Monday, June 07, 2004
dancing about architecture, #2
in 1980 i purchased pat metheny's as falls wichita, so falls wichita falls. the album was a first for me on many levels: the first metheny album; the first album on the ECM label (but definitely not the last); the first 'jazz' album i owned. to call this album 'jazz' stretches the definition, though. not new age, not traditional jazz, not yet the worldly virtuoso showcases that he would later record, this record melded metheny's guitar tones with mays' synths and nana vasconcelos's muted percussion into an impressionistic soundscape. the title track, encompassing all of side one (remember vinyl?), painted a vast plain over which a looming spring storm gathered, scattering stray winds, and, at the 12:46 mark, burst into a warm shower of sparkling notes, fading away again a minute later. moments later metheny reads off the seconds on a clock as mays again paints with muted pastels, bringing the song to a gentle close amidst the sounds of children playing.
ozark is as exhilirating as the title track is serene, mays' piano and metheny's guitar capturing the crispness of mountain air on a bright, blue day. this is the song that first introduced me to metheny, as WLIR on long island was still liberal enough to mix in some jazz and fusion alongside the allman brothers and led zeppelin. ozark is a four minute drive along a cool mountain road.
jazz great bill evans died during the period in which metheny recorded this album; september 15th is dedicated to him, and it lovingly captures the sensitivity that characterized evans' most moving performances.
'it's for you' and estupenda graca end the album gracefully, featuring vasconcelos' vocals on both songs. these songs hinted at the direction metheny's music would take in the future. other albums, from american garage to letter from home, would be just as excellent, but this would be his last album to feature such a broad range of moods. it remains my favorite of his considerable output.
thanks for listening.
Saturday, June 05, 2004
live from new york, it's [a crappy] saturday night!
Friday, June 04, 2004
dancing about architecture, #1
i've spent the last four thursday nights at a bar that's within spitting distance of the term "dive." it's been several years since i've willingly placed myself in an establishment where the napkins got carried away on six legs. admittedly, these thursday-night ventures were to a tavern with decidedly cleaner environs; but there was no mistaking this bar for a meat market, nor was there a likely chance of any trend-setters dropping in anytime soon, even to go slumming.
so why was i there?
i went to see the band magic elf. magic elf is a trio that play a breed of instrumental progressive fusion that send fans of the dixie dregs, king crimson, and rush into joyful convulsions. guitarist carl roa is equally at home playing beck or bach, and has a tone of such excitement and emotion normally seen in blues musicians. drummer dave miranda is a master of time changes, and his animated performance is simply fun to behold. bassist joe ferlito gives chris squire a run for the money.
over the course of four weeks, the band displayed songwriting skills and musicianship on par with steve morse, joe satriani, steve vai, and the like. joined by special guest joe nardulli on guitar, the foursome decimated jeff beck's freeway jam with enough decibels to rattle the ice in our glasses.
there were, i think, six of us in the audience on any given night.
these guys will never see the billboard top 50.
and isn't that a damned shame?
the issue i have with popular music is that it's so, well, popular. do we, who are not marketing executives, need to see the billboard or rolling stone top 100 lists? what do they mean, or matter, to the listener? by definition, popular music will make its way into our lives by its very nature, whether we want it to or not. radio and tv stations catering to the least common denominator will provide avril lavigne and slipknot ad nauseum. why should i, as a consumer, care what britney's ratings are on the charts, unless i want to be sure that i'm purchasing what everyone else is purchasing so that i can be part of the denominator in "least common denominator"?
what we need is a bottom 50 chart. something that let's us know about music of quality that we might not find out about through mass media. music that displays originality or talent exclusive of marketing interests. music that, in and of its own self, might enrich our lives through the qualities characteristic of those aspects of culture that we call 'art'.
best kept secrets.
welcome to dancing about architecture.
these are my hundreds of desert island discs.
these are the musicians and recordings that act as the antidote to the crumbs on the breakfast table at your hotel.
these are the cds whose charms soothed the savage breast, thereby saving the life of that guy in front of me on the parkway.
these are the tales of woe from i, who have a stunning bass player living in the barn behind his house, whilst michael jackson's fans let him get away with the unspeakable.
this is not vh-1 babylon.
this is for the audioadventurous.
this is your host at the UN buffet saying, 'try this, i think you'll like it'.
no promises. only opportunities.
ones you won't find on the top 50.
i'm not a musician, so i can't comment on the technical expertise of the music. on the fourth thursday, opener joe nardulli commented that he was playing with 'more soul than technique,' which struck me as funny, because his fingers had become a blur during several solos.
i'm not a critic, because i don't have any criteria by which i judge music, other than (1) i like it, and (2) it keeps me interested long enough to decide on item (1).
i won't claim to be as far-reaching as john schaefer, or to have any backstage dirt like allan jones. i'm not a tenth as cultured as james jolly.
but, by god, do i love music.
so scroll back up. click the links. download some tunage. buy some good music.
so i'm eastbound on the southern state parkway last night when i pass one of those lighted "commuter information" billboards they have up to tell you about accidents and stuff, and the sign reads "Traffic Moving Well to Cross Island Parkway," which worried me, because the CIP was about ten miles west of me at that point.