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?

Webb Wilder

"Swampedelic" from Nashville.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bob Dylan on Dreams of My Father

BD: I’d read his book and it intrigued me.

BF: Audacity of Hope?

BD: No it was called Dreams of My Father.

BF: What struck you about him?

BD: Well, a number of things. He’s got an interesting background. He’s like a fictional character, but he’s real. First off, his mother was a Kansas girl. Never lived in Kansas though, but with deep roots. You know, like Kansas bloody Kansas. John Brown the insurrectionist. Jesse James and Quantrill. Bushwhackers, Guerillas. Wizard of Oz Kansas. I think Barack has Jefferson Davis back there in his ancestry someplace. And then his father. An African intellectual. Bantu, Masai, Griot type heritage - cattle raiders, lion killers. I mean it’s just so incongruous that these two people would meet and fall in love. You kind of get past that though. And then you’re into his story. Like an odyssey except in reverse.

BF: In what way?

BD: First of all, Barack is born in Hawaii. Most of us think of Hawaii as paradise – so I guess you could say that he was born in paradise.

BF: And he was thrown out of the garden.

BD: Not exactly. His mom married some other guy named Lolo and then took Barack to Indonesia to live. Barack went to both a Muslim school and a Catholic school. His mom used to get up at 4:00 in the morning and teach him book lessons three hours before he even went to school. And then she would go to work. That tells you the type of woman she was. That’s just in the beginning of the story.

BF: What else did you find compelling about him?

BD: Well, mainly his take on things. His writing style hits you on more than one level. It makes you feel and think at the same time and that is hard to do. He says profoundly outrageous things. He’s looking at a shrunken head inside of a glass case in some museum with a bunch of other people and he’s wondering if any of these people realize that they could be looking at one of their ancestors.


Morcheeba - Trigger Hippie

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nouvelle Vague

Sex Pistols song.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Persistence of Star Wars

Emily Bazelon has an article up on Slate about the role of Star Wars in young boys' lives. Mostly it's about letting her youngest boy (who was then three) watch alongside her oldest, and the trauma that persisted for months afterward. I'd agree that Star Wars is too violent for a toddler, but it's remarkable how many parents let their young kids watch it - at least the original trilogy, which must seem more tame to most people. Big Boy has seen small snippets, but even at seven years old he refuses to watch the whole movie. He knows his limits.

Nonetheless, their absorption of the Star Wars mythology is impressive. Little Boy, through just a few comic books and his older brother, knows more at two about Star Wars than I do. The marketing Leviathan that is Lucas Arts is frightening. Here is how Bazelon characterizes the phenomenon.

We banished Luke and Obi-Wan for Dora and Bob the Builder. But we couldn't wring the Star Wars characters out of our children's lives. Long after the actual memory of the film faded, Eli and Simon talked and played in George Lucas' world. When we refused to buy them toy light sabers, their baby sitter rolled up newspapers into sturdy cones. The kids crayoned them green, purple, and yellow and bashed each other over the head, not quite Jedi-like. With their friends, they dissected the business of Jabba the Hutt and the furriness of Ewoks, never mind that they appear in later movies that my kids have never seen. Driving a carpool a couple of months ago, I listened while someone else's 6-year-old held forth about the intricacies of the plot in the prequel films in more detail than he could have described his home. My kids fell silent out of awe. Then our current baby sitter took pity on them and gave them a Star Wars Fandex. Eli read the whole thing, card by card, and Simon somehow absorbed by osmosis facts such as Emperor Palpatine's other name (Darth Sidious).

Kraak & Smaak

Friday, April 3, 2009

Frumpy (Inga Rumpf)

Krautrock, deep cut. Awesome Hammond organ.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009