Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dear Mr. Fantasy

Traffic song covered by Big Sugar (90s-era Canadian rockers).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gemma Ray

Sultry blues from England.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mummy was a robot

Sovie-era illustration.

See other images.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas spirit gone bad . . . very bad

Audio: Patton Oswalt. Song: Christmas Shoes. Christian rock band: New Song. Animation: ??

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

Jack White listened to all those old blues album, but he still ended up sounding like Jimmy Page. That guitar, though, is a some kind of plastic, mail-order special from Montgomery Ward. Mean and dirty.

This is someone's old video of a 2002 street show in New York.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ten Years Gone

Just saw the documentary, "It Might Get Loud," featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White -- yep, all guitarists. Really like Jack White, but Jimmy Page is still amazing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Magnolia Electric Co.

Jason Molina (Magnolia) has been on my permanent rotation for weeks now. He's often compared to Neil Young. I'd say he's even more melancholic, and more midwestern (without all that California dreamin' shit). Magnolia's on the Secretly Canadian label in Bloomington, IN.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters

This is Robert Calvert, who was Hawkwind, which was Inner City Unit -- or something like that. In any case, tripped out, space age, anti-war stuff.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009


A duo that has become popular for their "Videosongs." This one is a little more straightforward.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The liberty of surrender

Part of a blog post by the writer Caleb Crain.

Marriage is Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell standing side by side in the closing scene of His Girl Friday, nattering on with the same jollity when handcuffed to each other as when not handcuffed. Marriage is indifference to handcuffs. There are always opportunities to escape. The strange discovery that makes marriage possible is that one has the liberty not to—the liberty to make the same choice, day after day—and that one happens to want to make a consistent choice. It is a paradox, at least. Will one happen to want to make the same choice forever? Maybe not. Separation and divorce are always possible, in our world, and maybe they give marriage its poignancy. The possibility of separation proves that no two people stay chained to each other unless they want to. It even seems to be the case that people who want to stay chained to each other sometimes can't manage to. It is at any rate an error to think that marriage is a surrender of liberty. It is an exercise of it.


Deeper funk.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Wiseguys

There's a sound effect in this track that reminds me of a carnival ride, a crude swaying back and forth.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Billy Bragg / Lisa Miller

Wonderful cover of "Reason to Believe."

Friday, October 9, 2009

I love Nancy Pelosi

In acid language and flinty body language, she seems constantly to express my own feelings about Congressional Republicans: fuck 'em.

Exhibit 1. A clip on the Daily Show last night shows her raising dismissive eyebrows when Harry Reid assures the press that the Republican leadership will support the President on Afghanistan. Such expressive eyebrows.

Exhibit 2. Taking on General "I eat the hearts of squirrels" McChrystal on the war. How dare she, the Republicans bayed. Her response, in a word: hey, motherfuckers, bring it on.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

From my new favorite blog, mimi smartypants:


I worked from home one day this week and got to witness a girl-child throwing a major fit in Target. It was EPIC. And the mom was CHILLLLLL. Seriously, I didn’t even need to feel sympathy because she was just totally going about her Target business, with her other kid (a toddler) in the cart’s basket, while the shrieking kid shrieked so loud you could hear her all over the store, and then (later) in the parking garage, and I could even hear her as they drove out behind me, with my car windows rolled up and my music on. Awesome Target Mom, you are a Zen master, or you have the good meds, or maybe this happens a lot and you are just used to it. Regardless, I salute you.

Yes, indeed. We've had many of these moments with LB. The worst part is that everyone has to look, but we've certainly been given the opportunity to work at our chill skillz.

Flaming Lips - Worm Mountain

From their new album, "Embryonic," my favorite Oklahomans. The video is some kind of homemade Tesla Coil [shrug].

Friday, October 2, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009


"Electrotango" from Uruguay and Argentina. AO and I just saw them live. A deep and captivating musical experience.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009


Doing a cover of The Cure's "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep."

Spanking is stupid

LA Times reports on a new study.

Being spanked as a child is linked to having a lower IQ, according to a study presented today at the International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in San Diego.

Straus studied 806 children ages 2 to 4 and 704 ages 5 to 9. Both groups were retested four years later. How often parents spanked influenced IQ score. "The more spanking, the slower the development of the child's mental ability," Straus said in a news release. "But even small amounts of spanking made a difference."

Straus and his colleagues looked at corporal punishment practices in 32 countries by surveying 17,404 university students. The analysis found a lower average IQ in nations in which spanking was more prevalent. The strongest link between corporal punishment and IQ was for those whose parents continued to use corporal punishment even when they were teenagers.

How would spanking impact intelligence? Straus suggests that the chronic stress created by regular spanking creates post-traumatic stress symptoms in children. PTSD is linked to lower IQ. Economic status also underlies both spanking practices and IQ, Straus said, a leading researcher on corporal punishment.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Maggot Brain

"We are just a biological speculation."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Anti-socialist purity pledge

I, ________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls. Also.

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

Social Security
State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
US Postal Service
Roads and Highways
Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
The US Railway System
Public Subways and Metro Systems
Public Bus and Lightrail Systems
Rest Areas on Highways
All Government-Funded Local/State Projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009 federal senate appropriations)
Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)
Public and State Universities and Colleges
Public Primary and Secondary Schools
Sesame Street
Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children
Public Museums
Public Parks and Beaches
State and National Parks
Public Zoos
Unemployment Insurance
Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services
Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or Federal Government (pretty much all of them)
Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)
Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions)
Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD's ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking
Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies
Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies
If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care

I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:

Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
The government-operated Statue of Liberty
The Grand Canyon
The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC
I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.

I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.

I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.

I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.

Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.

Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.


_____________ _________________________

Signed Printed Name/Town and State


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Danger Doom

Collaboration between Danger Mouse and MF Doom.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For the boys

Toy tattoo gun.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Road - I'm Trying

"I'm trying . . . to forget the past." In that kind of mood. Dissertation is finally coming to end - if I work hard enough this week.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"You Lie"

This is Joe Wilson from South Carolina. Not a common occurrence when the President is addressing a joint session of Congress, but a sign of the times. The crazy is coming to seem normal. I think we should let the South secede this time.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mmmm . . . laptops in space

Zero gravity and computing power. Thumbs up, for sure.

Aboard the Shuttle, which is just over the eastern tip of North America as I post this.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Is it time to pull the Obama sticker off the car? Caving on health care, out-maneuvered by lunatics who are now gaining in tracking polls, and doubling down in Afghanistan. I knew there would be compromises, but it's even worse when the new administration and democrats continue to be so flat-footed and mealy-mouthed. People around here have been going door-to-door for "Organizing for America" in support of the public option. I get emails from OFA telling me to get "active" in support of change. And yet elected democrats are allowing a handful of LaRouchers and Birchers to dominate the debate. Fucking man up, Mr. President.

Zappa - bootleg tape - El Paso

"Apostrophe." A real jam.

Little Louis Band

John Lee Hooker song.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hüsker Dü

It should come as no surprise that some of the earliest (1979) and speediest punk was created by a couple of gay dudes. Bob Mould's flying V guitar completes the picture.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Paul Westerberg (The Replacements)

Played this song to death, back in the day.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The The - Love Is Stronger than Death

The The (and Matt Johnson) have been around since the late 1970s. I know them best from their album, "Hanky Panky," covering a handful of Hank Williams' songs. This nugget from Wikipedia is classic:
In November 1977, Matt Johnson placed an advertisement in the NME 1977, asking for 'Bass/lead guitarist into Velvets/Syd Barrett'. Johnson later placed a second advert in the NME, stating his new influences as 'The Residents/Throbbing Gristle'.
Big ambitions, indeed. This clip is suitably poppy for the first day of the semester.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Planet Caravan

Emma Russack covering Black Sabbath. Not much to see in the video - the live version won't embed - but well worth it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Song about school, "Baggy Trousers." Funny story: AO attended the same primary school in London as these guys had a few years earlier. She claims that an early album had a picture of the nearby Tube stop on the cover. Six degrees, man, six degrees.

The flying saxophonist is a big hit with the kids.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Other Lives (Kunek)

Doing a Leonard Cohen song.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Husky Rescue

Ambient-pop from Helsinki.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

PJ Harvey & Thom Yorke

Radiohead's Yorke helping Harvey sing her song "This Mess We're In."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm serious

Anyone who opposes health care reform and a public option/single payer should pledge to forego Medicare and Social Security.

And why aren't Democrats out there letting EVERYONE know that these very popular programs were brought to you by Democrats!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Digital Refugee

I haven't really been keeping up with the Denial of Service attacks on Twitter and Facebook, except to note that Twitter fared worse in the event. But apparently it was a politically motivated attack by Russia to silence one blogger. One blogger! From Andrew Sullivan:

The Thursday outage on Twitter and Facebook that left millions without access was the result of a cyber-attack against a political blogger from the Republic of Georgia. The blogger, who goes by the name "CYXYMU," accuses the Russian government of trying to silence him. FP's Evgeny Morozov has been tracking CYXYMU's campaign of dissent for many months now, dubbing him the first "digital refugee."

It's a smart strateg by Russia. These platforms are probably perfectly happy to remove individual troublemakers, which in turn threatens the whole ideal of free speech on the internet. It also suggests that these services have become something much more than trivial social networking.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Legendary groove band, with Eric Burdon of the Animals. This is one for the archives.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Car Seat

fail owned pwned pictures

Nashville Pussy

Continuing our informal series, "Girls with Guitars," here's some absolutely facemelting Southern hard rock from Atlanta. This clip was filmed in Paris, of all places.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

more Old Crow Medicine Show

I know that not all of their songs are about drugs, but every one I seem to be listening to these days addresses the attractions and torments of drug use. It's a high percentage of drug laments. This song is high on my playlist, mostly because of the slow banjo licks. Its cadence is almost like a pedal steel in a more "country" song.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bumper sticker

Seen today on a shiny ess-you-vee: "The Internet Will Make You Stupid"

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ray Lamontagne

Folky version of the brilliant Gnarls Barkley song.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Icky Thump

Live version by the White Stripes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nikki Talley

Just back from Asheville. Here's some local talent -- Nikki Talley -- doing a Dolly Parton cover.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Missouri's Woodstock - The Ozark Music Festival

With all the hype about Woodstock's anniversary, my good neighbors in the heartland have made a little press about their big hippie party. Until today, I hadn't known about the Ozark Music Festival.

Click for larger version.

Link to other B&W photos.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Zero 7

"You're My Flame." This is dedicated to AO today, for weathering a week when I was laid low by my "minor" procedure.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Originally by The Korgies (1980). The Beck version also used recently by Joss Wheedon in the last episode Dollhouse. (Dollhouse is pretty brilliant, like "Eternal Sunshine," but it doesn't get there until half way through the season. On its face, the premise is not very appealing.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

White Supremacists

The reason why southern white men (I'm talking to you Sen. Sessions) think that Sonia Sotomayor is going to rule in favor of latinos and minorities against the interests of white people is because this is how they (all the white men) would (and do) rule. I remember not quite understanding while growing up why white people were so paranoid about minorities in positions of power, and I guess it's taken me this long to understand: they only comprehend their own power through tribal (i.e., white) allegiance. The irony here is that a beneficiary of the meritocracy like Sotomayor is more willing than even white men to uphold the status quo. I suppose it is this, the likelihood that she actually believes in the rule of law (and it's profound effect on her own opportunities) rather than in an elite of wealthy corporate titans (I'm talking to you Justice Roberts), that makes her so threatening. I suppose that other recipient of the meritocracy, Justice Thomas, is the distorted exception to this rule.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Elective surgery

You betcha. Feeling a bit sore today, but a good excuse to be still. This clip is VERY funny.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


The Spanish singer/songwriter.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why you should pay attention in English class

Sarah Palin's resignation speech parsed by Ned Sublette (via boing boing):

[W]hat Roland Barthes would have called the pleasure of the text has to be savored in full to draw out its pure nuttiness. It's hard to know what to appreciate more: the all-caps prepositions; the sentence fragments that begin the fifth and sixth paragraphs, the run-on sentences, the frequent exclamation points!, the quotation from her parents' refrigerator magnet, the basketball analogy, the proposed logic of quitting so as not to be a quitter, or the grammatically incorrect final sentence framing the misattributed punchline, which was actually said not by General Douglas MacArthur but by General Oliver P. Smith. I especially like the capital O of "Outside" in "Outside special interests," which reminds us that the world consists of two parts: Alaska, and Outside.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Saigon Hookers

Happy the fourth.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Grates

Australian pop.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Like this painting from pop artist Joe Heaps.

Always love the trucks, so many trucks. And it's a Flying J truckstop (see the sign upper left). I've been to at least five or six of their locations in the midwest, and we've discovered that the variety of the buffet helps get the kids to eat something when we're on the road. Bonus detail: AO used a recording of the weird shower announcements for a performance piece in art school.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Transformers as avant-garde art movie

Hilarious review of the latest Transformers movie at sci-fi site io9:

Critical consensus on Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen is overwhelmingly negative. But the critics are wrong. Michael Bay used a squillion dollars and a hundred supercomputers' worth of CG for a brilliant art movie about the illusory nature of plot.

Since the days of Un Chien Andalou and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, filmmakers have reached beyond meaning. But with this summer's biggest, loudest movie, Michael Bay takes us all the way inside Caligari's cabinet.

It's an assault on the senses, a barrage of crazy imagery. Imagine that you went back in time to the late 1960s and found Terry Gilliam, fresh from doing his weird low-fi collage/animations for Monty Python. You proceeded to inject Gilliam with so many steroids his penis shrank to the size of a hair follicle, and you smushed a dozen tabs of LSD under his tongue. And then you gave him the GDP of a few sub-Saharan countries. Gilliam might have made a movie not unlike this one.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eric Bibb (with Brian Kramer)

I saw Bibb live last week. With just a guitar he riveted the audience with great skills, but also a weird kind of self-awareness and communication.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Big Brother crowd-sourcing

From NYT's The Lede:

Update | 5:31 p.m. A reader, Jon, writes to say that “a friend in Iran that I have been in touch with via Skype (which seems to work very well)” told him that a specific Web site,, is being used by the Iranian government to identify protesters by crowd-sourcing. The Lede has been unable to get the site to load to confirm this (and the site may be under attack from supporters of the protest movement), but the information passed on by the reader suggests that Iranians are being asked to study photographs of protesters taken at demonstrations and then turn them in to the authorities.

Later: A reader points out that is back up and is in fact running at least one page of photographs taken at protests, with the faces of 25 protesters circled, and an appeal for information on these people.

Also in passing, many of the blogs have been critical, mostly for good reason, of the mainstream cable outlets. They are reading the same thing as the blogs, but not doing the same due diligence that we expect of journalists. Today, it seems like CNN was played by the Iranian government. CNN made headlines everywhere with an interview with a woman describing a "bloody massacre" at a demo in front of the parliament building. Apparently, later reports suggest that it was bad and tense, and one person may have been killed, but not the bloodbath described in CNN's report. The Iranian government is using headlines like this to keep people off the street. Like the website above, it's intimidation.

US would also suppress demos

I had been thinking about this fact over the weekend. Juan Cole, today:

US politicians are no longer in a position to lecture other countries about their human rights. The kind of unlicensed, city-wide demonstrations being held in Tehran last week would not be allowed to be held in the United States. Senator John McCain led the charge against Obama for not having sufficiently intervened in Iran. At the Republican National Committee convention in St. Paul, 250 protesters were arrested shortly before John McCain took the podium. Most were innocent activists and even journalists. Amy Goodman and her staff were assaulted. In New York in 2004, 'protest zones' were assigned, and 1800 protesters were arrested, who have now been awarded civil damages by the courts. Spontaneous, city-wide demonstrations outside designated 'protest zones' would be illegal in New York City, apparently. In fact, the Republican National Committee has undertaken to pay for the cost of any lawsuits by wronged protesters, which many observers fear will make the police more aggressive, since they will know that their municipal authorities will not have to pay for civil damages.

It is important to remember that the US itself was moved by Bush and McCain toward a 'Homeland Security' national security state that is intolerant of public protest and throws the word 'terrorist' around about dissidents.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Face of Fascism

Best aggregating live blogs I've been reading are Huffington Post, NYT's The Lede, and Andrew Sullivan. If you've looked at any of the grainy videos coming out today of the street skirmishes you may have wondered why there were so many fires in the streets, usually fueled by cardboard. It's to dissipate the tear gas.

I'm just in awe of the people who are confronting armed security forces.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Revolution against Media

Lefty journalist Al Giordano:

Finally, let me also explain why this reporter, who has long focused exclusively on events in this hemisphere, is so interested and captivated by the events in Iran, and writing about them here.

Ever since I penned The Medium Is the Middleman: For a Revolution Against Media, I’ve been waiting for this moment, which I predicted, twelve years ago, would come: a great day when the corporate media got pushed out of the way by authentic media from below. What is occurring worldwide, with the Iranian crisis as catalyst, is the emergence of the very kind of media from below that the human race - particularly the working class and the poor - so desperately needs.

Following these events – including the fast-developing advances in communications strategies and tactics and the efforts from above to censor and cut those communications – provides a gigantic global teach-in and workshop (much like during the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela) on how it is done. As a journalist, I have always followed the stories that help me to learn something new and important to me. And every hour, I’m learning a new set of tricks from these brave communicators in Iran and around the world: methods and techniques that will serve us in this hemisphere, soon enough, too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Clay Shirky's take on Twitter and the Uprising

I'm planning on teaching Shirky's book, "Here Comes Everybody," this fall. Here's part of his comment on the use of social networking tools and social action in Iran:

I'm always a little reticent to draw lessons from things still unfolding, but it seems pretty clear that ... this is it. The big one. This is the first revolution that has been catapulted onto a global stage and transformed by social media. I've been thinking a lot about the Chicago demonstrations of 1968 where they chanted 'the whole world is watching.' Really, that wasn't true then. But this time it's true ... and people throughout the world are not only listening but responding. They're engaging with individual participants, they're passing on their messages to their friends, and they're even providing detailed instructions to enable web proxies allowing Internet access that the authorities can't immediately censor. That kind of participation is really extraordinary.

Traditional media operates as source of information not as a means of coordination. It can't do more than make us sympathize. Twitter makes us empathize. It makes us part of it. Even if it's just retweeting, you're aiding the goal that dissidents have always sought: the awareness that the ouside world is paying attention.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009


File this under pop music I like.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Julie Peel

A cover of The Cure's A Night Like This.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

'Allah O Akbar' from the rooftops

I've poked around a bit for news from Iran. Something's going on, but it's hard to know how widespread the protests might be. This compelling bit appears on HuffPost.

6:12 PM ET -- "Deafening." From a reader: "My next door neighbor is an Iranian immigrant who came here in 1977. He just received a SAT phone call from his brother in Tehran who reports that the rooftops of nighttime Tehran are filled with people shouting 'Allah O Akbar' in protest of the government and election results. The last time he remembers this happening is in 1979 during the Revolution. Says the sound of tens of thousands on the rooftops is deafening right now." It's almost four in the morning in Iran.

Morton Valence

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do You Need to Go Pee-Pee?

Reminds me of someone I live with.

Viva Voce

Married duo from Portland. This clip from Seattle's Bumbershoot features an awesome, shredding guitar solo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dengue Fever

From a new documentary of the band's trip through Cambodia. The soundtrack features banned Cambodian rock songs from the 1960s and 70s.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Caustic Resin

From Boise, ID.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Genesis (1973), really old Genesis.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Originally first wave British punk, still kicking it - literally.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Finally caught up with a piece, "Hellhole," in a recent New Yorker on solitary confinement. We now know a lot about the isolation used at Gitmo, and the disciplinary use of "solitary" in U.S. prisons is common knowledge, but the article highlights how much more the U.S. has come to rely on solitary confinement. Like the outcomes for "enhanced interrogation," those in solitary don't learn their lesson or become more forthcoming. Instead, they literally lose their minds.
Craig Haney, a psychology professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, received rare permission to study a hundred randomly selected inmates at California’s Pelican Bay supermax, and noted a number of phenomena. First, after months or years of complete isolation, many prisoners “begin to lose the ability to initiate behavior of any kind—to organize their own lives around activity and purpose,” he writes. “Chronic apathy, lethargy, depression, and despair often result. . . . In extreme cases, prisoners may literally stop behaving,” becoming essentially catatonic.

Second, almost ninety per cent of these prisoners had difficulties with “irrational anger,” compared with just three per cent of the general population. Haney attributed this to the extreme restriction, the totality of control, and the extended absence of any opportunity for happiness or joy. Many prisoners in solitary become consumed with revenge fantasies.

Isolation only exacerbates discipline problems, leading to psychosis rather than changed behavior. As far back as 1890 isolation in the U.S. was deemed cruel and unusual punishment, and only in the last 20 years has its use increased beyond what any other country would even consider. The British, who have a long history of running prisons, including the incarceration of Irish political prisoners, have come up with a completely different solution.
So the British decided to give their most dangerous prisoners more control, rather than less. They reduced isolation and offered them opportunities for work, education, and special programming to increase social ties and skills. The prisoners were housed in small, stable units of fewer than ten people in individual cells, to avoid conditions of social chaos and unpredictability. In these reformed “Close Supervision Centres,” prisoners could receive mental-health treatment and earn rights for more exercise, more phone calls, “contact visits,” and even access to cooking facilities. They were allowed to air grievances. And the government set up an independent body of inspectors to track the results and enable adjustments based on the data.

The results have been impressive. The use of long-term isolation in England is now negligible. In all of England, there are now fewer prisoners in “extreme custody” than there are in the state of Maine. And the other countries of Europe have, with a similar focus on small units and violence prevention, achieved a similar outcome.

Of course, the American attitude is that prisoners need to be "punished," but if the goal is to peacefully house convicts then it seems much more sensible to try a different policy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

K. D. Lang

Covering Neil Young.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Too much access to information?

This morning I was looking for a nearby site for us to camp this weekend. While making the reservation, I went to a Google satellite image of the state park to identify the best available site (spacious, good trees, away from the road). Weird and too obsessive, I think. But if I have access to this information, how can I not avail myself?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California has the worst bubble

Assessing the bubble through housing price-to-wage ratio locates the worst disparities in one state: "Six regions - all in California - posted ratios of 15 of greater: Salinas, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, Napa, and San Luis Obispo." Other high ratios were in L.A., San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, and Riverside, California.

I've lived in three of these regions -- Santa Cruz, Napa, and San Francisco -- when property prices were already prohibitory. It makes the midwest, where I now reside, a great relief.

Covering Elton John

Another from My Morning Jacket.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The mythology of working-class labor

Lance Mannion on how class has shaped gender values. He's addressing larger debates about retraining former rust belt workers for so-called "emotional" sorts of labor.
This will be hard, but it shouldn't be. Men have worked as essentially shop keepers and store clerks for a lot longer than they have worked on assembly lines. There have been waiters forever. Lawyers are the world's second oldest profession. Teaching was a male-only profession for centuries. The idea that men are and ought to be unreflective, grunting, two-fisted louts good with their hands but not so much with their hearts and their heads is a class thing not a gender thing and it is imposed upon working class men by a system that needs them to be beasts of burden.

Men who reject certain values and behaviors as "sissy" or "girlie" are rejecting success, and don't think their bosses aren't grateful.

But the flip-side of the stereotype, that women are better at emotional labor, is also useful to bosses, because it often works out in practice to mean that women are more deferential generally, not just to customers but to their bosses. They don't speak up, they don't question, they don't assert themselves, and they don't fight back, not if they are real women in the way that men who accept and live by their stereotypes are real men.

Elliott Smith

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Morning Jacket

Like Bonnie Prince Billy, MMJ is from Louisville (thanks Dad). Faint echos of Pink Floyd in the lead guitar's central riff.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Mondays

Used to have this song on cassette. Yes, that long ago.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I approve

I don't usually like such lists, but the Underwire blog at picked five albums for blasting into space. This would be close to my own list, if I were to undertake such a task. I'm most surprised by the DJ Shadow, which I don't see as being as visible on the radar (DJ Shadow, by the way, started in college radio at UC Davis). These are all favorites of my mine, reflecting a range of pop music that swings from late behop and trip hop to punk, shoegaze and prog rock. I must like "space" music!

Pixies, Doolittle
If Korpa’s going to nostalgically rifle through his record crates, he might as well pick what is arguably the best ’80s album from a group that many artists, from that decade and those that came after, consider to be the best band of the era. Stacked with short, sharp pop shocks, Doolittle starts fast with the surrealist anthem “Debaser” and doesn’t let up until the western noir of “Silver,” before crashing to a close with “Gouge Away.” It’s a bracing blast, especially if you need to stay awake in space. The enviro head-trip “Monkey Gone to Heaven” alone might be worth the ride.

My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
Speaking of the late ’80s and early ’90s, this seminal effort — and band — inspired the term “shoegaze,” a misnomer for mesmerizing rock music that pushes the envelope. Whether it’s the straight-ahead fuzz of “When You Sleep” or the underwater distortion of the serenade “Sometimes,” My Bloody Valentine’s last full-length record is well worth the extra fuel need to get it beyond Earth’s atmosphere. To hear it in space, to get redundant, would be out of this world.

Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon
A no-brainer; it’s all there in the title. But it’s also there in the suggestive grooves: the kinetic synths of “On the Run,” the grinding rock of “Time” and “Money,” the ethereal gospel of “The Great Gig in the Sky.” You can’t go wrong. There are even a couple tunes about going insane, for those who succumb to space madness.

DJ Shadow, Entroducing
If you can find a more stone-cold set of instrumentals made for interstellar travel, do share. Entroducing is the first musical effort built entirely of samples, which means it’s the perfect sonic soundtrack for boldly going where only a few have gone before. If you want to get culture, pop and otherwise, DJ Shadow’s stunning debut is a go-to spacewalk. The beat palette is deeper than a black hole, and everything from Altered States to Twin Peaks gets mashed into the turntables. You can even train on Earth: Load it up, close your eyes and let it flow. You never know what you might see.

Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool
Jazz and space go hand in hand: Voyager’s Golden Record featured Louis Armstrong’s “Melancholy Blues,” among other standouts. But which jazz works best for astronauts? Charles Mingus seems a shoo-in, but his combo’s eruptions might prove too challenging for a weightless environment. Coltrane, Parker, Sun Ra … where to turn? Perhaps stick with Miles Davis’ classic Birth of the Cool until everyone can agree on something. These legendary sessions marked bebop’s evolution into the ’50s, and inspired a whole new school of cool. Its breezy hypnotics are perfect for the hypoxia of space.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


We should all believe Pelosi

This should go without saying. It's no secret that the CIA has misled, bamboozled, and engaged in domestic psy-ops for its own advantage (see "Bay of Pigs" or "Iran-Contra"). Pelosi is a political operator, but she's speaking truth to power here. And I hope she's able to swat down the politically motivated calls for her resignation.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Go Go's

A was playing the Go Go's for the boys tonight. A blast from HER past.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Listening to Dark Night of the Soul, a new album of a collaboration between Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse. It's a downloaded copy. Apparently, EMI refused to distribute it (the album features many guest singers, which may complicate rights issues), so DM will be selling blank CD-Rs, with the implicit invitation to download it. So I downloaded it. Here's Sparklehorse on their own.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Star Wars + San Francisco

Sinister, eerie, and beautiful.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On not needing to know

Matt Taibbi on agnosticism.

As for the actual argument, it’s the same old stuff religious apologists have been croaking out since the days of Bertrand Russell — namely that because science is inadequate to explain the mysteries of existence, faith must be necessary. Life would be meaningless without religion, therefore we must have religion.

But this sort of thinking is exactly what most agnostics find ridiculous about religion and religious people, who seem incapable of looking at the world unless it’s through the prism of some kind of belief system. They seem to think that if one doesn’t believe in God, one must believe in something else, because to live without answers would be intolerable. And maybe that’s true of the humorless Richard Dawkins, who does seem actually to have tried to turn atheism into a kind of religion unto itself. But there are plenty of other people who are simply comfortable not knowing the answers. It always seemed weird to me that this quality of not needing an explanation and just being cool with what few answers we have inspires such verbose indignation in people like Eagleton and Fish. They seem determined to prove that the quality of not believing in heaven and hell and burning bushes and saints is a rigid dogma all unto itself, as though it required a concerted intellectual effort to disbelieve in a God who thinks gays (Leviticus 20:13) or people who work on Sunday (Exodus 35:2) should be put to death. They’ll tie themselves into knots arguing this, and they’ll probably never stop. It’s really strange.

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's come to this

Given my goals for the summer, this article in the New York Times caught my "attention."
“Multitasking is a myth. . . . You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.

Attention is a finite resource.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


With the governor of Maine's signature today creating marriage equality there, gay marriage is now legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont (and pending in DC and New Hampshire?). It's gratifying that most (or all?) of these now are acts of legislation rather than court rulings.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another Handsome Family

Video might as well be blank, but I like the song (and the audio is good).

Monday, May 4, 2009


Covering Ray Davies.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dirty Projectors

Nu-folk from Brooklyn.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fiat - Send us diesels

I've driven Fiats in Europe and, while they aren't the most glamorous cars, they are fun to drive and many of them (like most cars in Europe) feature small, high-revving diesel engines. I'm optimistic about the merger between Chrysler and Fiat. And I'm hoping they plan to sell economical (under 2.0 L) diesel cars in the states. I'm sick of VW being the only option for a small diesel in the U.S.

Growing up, my family did have one of the last Fiats imported to the states, a Brava (I think) in the early eighties. It had its problems, but like our current Subaru it was tight and handled well.

The Decemberists - More from Hazards of Love

I really like the queen's songs on this album, with a touch of classic rock in them and a wonderful female vocalist. Here's another one.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Decemberists

From the new release, a "Victorian" concept album. See a full analysis of its narrative here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jimmy & The Boys

New wave glam from Australia, covering The Kinks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Handsome Family

Alt-country husband and wife duo, from Albuquerque via Chicago. There's a touch of the gothic in their stuff (the video, however, is uncharacteristic).

Behind every great man . . . a stimulant?

From Christopher Buckley's profile of his father (William F. Buckley, famous conservative) and mother in Sunday's NYT:

I looked at the blister pack of Ritalin, which Pup took for low blood pressure and energy. “How many Rits did we take yesterday?”

(Fully annoyed.) “What does Rit have to do with not sleeping?”

I still can’t say whether this stunner was denial or a “Firing Line”-quality countermove. I had made the (pretty obvious) point to Pup — 50 times over recent years? — that Ritalin, which acted on him as a stimulant, was no means to a good night’s sleep, especially if you took your final one of the day at dinnertime and washed it down with coffee.

WTF? This is a man in his eighties still taking speed. I must be naive, because I find this a little shocking, both because I keep imagining Buckely rocking arrogantly back in his Firing Line chair while high on dexidrine or some other speedy substance and that a dying man would continue the habit -- and it is a habit (an addiction) if you can't stop taking something in anticipation of sleep. It seems wrong, somehow, like an athlete using performance enhancing drugs. It's hard not to jump to conclusions. Buckley was a prolific, influential man, I can only assume, thanks to some substantial chemical help.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Roxy Music on Sound Opinions

I haven't been listening much to the Sound Opinions podcast, produced by two Chicago music critics. But I tuned into their show on rock and the literary (Rock Lit 101). Their first example, Bryan Ferry -- one of my heroes. From Roxy Music's second album, "In Every Dream Home a Heartache." And after all the moody lyrics, the song rocks.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where's my trust fund?

According to a new Pew study, class in the U.S. matters a lot.

The truly amazing thing to me is that parental income isn't just crucial in getting to college, and getting through college -- its effects linger on, basically, in perpetuity. One of the most remarkable findings from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project is that a child from a family in the top income quintile who does not get a college degree is more likely to wind up in the top income quintile himself than a child from a family in the bottom income quintile who does get a college degree...

Bajofondo Tango Club

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cold Coffee

Prog rock from Uruguay.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Big boy is very excited about Earth Day. He's been trying to do his best to be environmentally conscious, like turning off running water. And all week he's wanted to avoid disposable containers and bags in his lunch. The Daily Show just spoofed all the saccharine kid propaganda for Earth Day, but it's certainly made an impression on BB.

Lauryn Hill

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My new T-Shirt says

Open Veins of Latin America

The book that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave Obama this past week is "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent" by Eduardo Galeano. This is a classic leftist text on the colonialization of Latin America. In a recent Facebook quiz, I listed Galeano's popular history trilogy "Memory of Fire" as my absolute favorite nonfiction book. Reading Galeano in my early twenties convinced me that there was a legitimate reason why Marxism could be such a powerful force for analysis and an inspiration for change. (I read Galeano not long after Reagan was working to bring down the Sandinistas and funding the Contra forces in El Salvador.) I later studied Marxism in college, but in many ways Galeano's histories still make the most sense. Whatever one thinks of Chavez, his gesture is a powerful (and admirable) recognition of the power of books.

Joni Mitchell

Saturday, April 18, 2009

St. Vincent

Beatles cover.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Being Unemployed, the Latest Way to "Go Galt"

Amongst all the illogic of the teabagging right wing is this piece arguing that the recession is due to a multitude of Americans going Galt. To "go Galt" is to follow the self-described talented individualists of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," who go "on strike" to protest collectivism and government intervention. It's just sheer lunacy to reinterpret a sharp uptick in unemployment (and the lost tax receipts thereof) as the self-willed decisions of so many former workers.

As has been said in other venues more articulate than mine, I wish all the narcissistic objectivists would go Galt, and inflct their greed and selfishness on someone else.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Literal shit

Shit has become the theme of the last day or so. Yesterday morning, I replaced the wax ring in the toilet outlet on the floor. (Lift toilet off, replace ring, etc.) The toilet has been seeping and creating a sewery, mildew ordor. I gagged for a few moments while scraping some compacted shit out of the outlet.

In the course of a hard night, during which Little Boy refused to sleep, at some point I stepped in some shit on the bathroom rug. I think it was a shit vomit (it's hard to tell when you've stepped in it) by the dog, who likes to eat cat shit outside and his own.

So this morning, even though everything outside was soggy from an inch or so of rain, I went out to clean up whatever shit might be in the yard. Soaked, soft shit, and lots of it. Experienced some bag malfunctions and ended up with shit on my hands. Note to self: try to clean up after the dog more frequently.

And then there's the shit smell in LB's room, and the rank ammonia order of the diaper pail. And my own colitis enemas and suppositories.

I guess I should just embrace the shit, from wherever it might come.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Lately on boing boing, experimental new wave group originally from the Bay Area (and first recorded for The Residents' Ralph Records).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Teabagger Party

I know this is everywhere, but it's just too deliciously clueless that Republicans everywhere are self-identifying as Teabaggers. Top three definitions from Urban Dictionary, which usually has a special insouciance.
1. teabagger
1) one who carries large bags of packaged tea for shipment. 2) a man that squats on top of a womens face and lowers his genitals into her mouth during sex, known as "teabagging" 3) one who has a job or talent that is low in social status 4) a person who is unaware that they have said or done something foolish, childlike, noobish, lame, or inconvenient. 5) also see "fagbag", "lamer", "noob"

2. Teabagger
One who slaps another person in the face with their nad sack.

3. teabagger
Any guy who drives a Ford Explorer "Sport" (the two door model).
This espescially applies to Explorer Sport drivers with bicycle racks mounted on top of their vehichles.

Ford Explorers?