Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Laura Marling - Night after Night

From new album, "A Creature I Don't Know."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Ecstasy of Influence

I cannot express enough joy about Lethem's "ecstatic" inversion of Harold Bloom's tired reassertion of genius through the psychodrama of the "anxiety" of influence. To create is to remix.

For teachers of writing, threading the needle between learning to be influenced and plagiarism is the key. For teachers of literature, knocking down the notion of originality is absolutely essential to freeing students' interpretive creativity.

"Any text is woven entirely with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages, which cut across it through and through in a vast stereophony. The citations that go to make up a text are anonymous, untraceable, and yet already read; they are quotations without inverted commas. The kernel, the soul—let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances—is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are secondhand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral caliber and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. Neurological study has lately shown that memory, imagination, and consciousness itself is stitched, quilted, pastiched. If we cut-and-paste our selves, might we not forgive it of our artworks? 
"Artists and writers—and our advocates, our guilds and agents—too often subscribe to implicit claims of originality that do injury to these truths. And we too often, as hucksters and bean counters in the tiny enterprises of our selves, act to spite the gift portion of our privileged roles. People live differently who treat a portion of their wealth as a gift. If we devalue and obscure the gift-economy function of our art practices, we turn our works into nothing more than advertisements for themselves. We may console ourselves that our lust for subsidiary rights in virtual perpetuity is some heroic counter to rapacious corporate interests. But the truth is that with artists pulling on one side and corporations pulling on the other, the loser is the collective public imagination from which we were nourished in the first place, and whose existence as the ultimate repository of our offerings makes the work worth doing in the first place."
From Lethem's original essay for Harper's, "The Ecstacy of Influence: A Plagiarism" (Feb. 2007)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band

A spirited vibe for the holiday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Love" from Colour Haze

In the spirit of the season, I give you a jam from one of Germany's oldest hardcore stoner bands, now melodically mellowing some with age.  In the name of love.  Peace to all.

My ambivalence toward Christopher Hitchens (RIP)

I'm cribbing from Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic, but a few quotes pretty much sum up my own impressions.

 Katha Pollitt (The Nation):
What I saw was that drinking made him angry and combative and bullying, often toward people who were way out of his league--elderly guests on the Nation cruise, interns (especially female interns). Drinking didn't make him a better writer either--that's another myth. Christopher was such a practiced hand, with a style that was so patented, so integrally an expression of his personality, he was so sure he was right about whatever the subject, he could meet his deadlines even when he was totally sozzled. But those passages of pointless linguistic pirouetting? The arguments that don't track if you look beneath the bravura phrasing? Forgive the cliché: that was the booze talking. And so, I'm betting, were the cruder manifestations of his famously pugilistic nature.

James Fallows (The Atlantic):
I wouldn't have expected Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld to ask themselves hard questions, in public, about their cocksureness in making what proved to be erroneous and very consequential claims. I would expect leading intellectuals to do so.
Dan Fox (
He should know better than to write a half-assed column about why women aren't funny. I think somewhere deep down he probably did know when he was wrong about many issues, but was so committed to winning a debate that it didn't matter. And this is serious business, you know? You can't just go around smearing an entire gender or defending a haphazard war based on a philosophy that isn't even popular in the GOP anymore because you're drunk and you want to challenge yourself intellectually.  
I'd long admired Hitchens for taking unpopular positions and for his rhetorical power, but, really, he became little more than bluster toward the end.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Black Mountain - Roller Coaster

Black Mountain - Set Us Free

Is there a pattern: Most active neo-psych scene right now is Canadian; Nu-folk in the UK? This clip from Vancouver's Black Mountain.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas "Stefon" style (SNL)

“If you’re looking to get festive with your family, I’ve got the perfect place for you. New York’s hottest club is “Hey!” Built from the bucket list of a dying pervert, this Battery Park bitch parade is now managed by overweight game show host, Fat Sayjak,” Stefon gushed. “And this place has everything: tweakers, skeevies, Spud Webb, a child… and a Russian guy who runs on a treadmill in a Cosby sweater…The bouncer is a bulldog who looks like Wilford Brimley and the password is dia-beetus!”

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kinks - I'm Not Like Everybody Else

Theme song for job search season. It's a perilous maxim.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

JJ Grey & Mofro - Dew Drops

Mofro from the same swampy soul, front porch blues region of Florida as Tom Petty.

JJ Grey & Mofro - Everything Good Is Bad

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What the heck -- let's watch an ad

Australian PSA.  Wait for the surprise ending.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Class struggle is symbolized in spatial struggle

Josh Marshall at TPM is concerned that the highly visible confrontations with the police (pepper spray at UC Davis being only the most recent) shifts the conversation, the meme, away from income inequality and economic corruption. But I think these struggles over physical space help us symbolize the more abstract features of our current problems.

Admittedly, the confrontations with the police shift the immediate focus of Occcupy protests away from income inequality and banking corruption. Personally, I'm pleased to see such nonviolent courage and the attention it's receiving. But the shifting meme might only be tangential, rather than a replacement of the original issue. These events are shocking and getting some coverage because they reveal the mostly obscured paramilitarization of the police and the arrogance of post-9/11 authority. But I would argue that the confrontations also expose the seams of inequity in the struggle over public space. With increasing inequity comes shrinking access to public space, and I think being able to occupy physical space has been an issue in most social and political movements. Controlling institutional space, on campuses and in cities, coincides with many other kinds of authority, including the ability to defraud the general population through unfair loans, corrupt trading, and manipulated elections. Even in an age of increasing virtuality, physical space can still figuratively and literally play out the drama of class struggle, for want of a better term, and these symbolic struggles enable us to give meaning to, or symbolize, the more abstract and shadowy inequities that are reshaping and determining the political process. The very fact that there has been a number of authoritarian responses suggests that the 1%, the oligarchy, whatever you want to call it, is invested in the symbolism of control over physical public space as much as the brilliant tactics of the Occupiers are so far.

In short, we all need ways of symbolizing difficult and abstract economic and political inequities, and the struggle over public space may be a way of articulating what's gone so wrong in our political and economic institutions.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Phoebe Killdeer & the Short Straws - The Fade Out Line

#OWS day of action, Nov. 17, police riot once again

The significance of police violence can not be underestimated.  Intimidation, inflicting pain, creating fear.  It's becoming hard not to exaggerate the goals of the police here.  One sign is that that they are targeting the Press.  Another is the quick willingness to hurt and threaten.  

Full face shot of pepper spray.

Source: Mother Jones

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ben Howard - Black Flies

Just can't stay out of the UK nu-folk groove lately.  Howard's first album, "Every Kingdom," was released last month.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Laura Marling - No Hope in the Air

Part of a group of UK folk musicians affiliated with "Communion," an organization founded by the band Mumford and Sons.  "Peggy Sue", who I posted last month, is also associated with Communion.

Penn State: Redefining "to Tailgate" so you don't have to

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Radiohead - Pyramid Song

More nostalgia.  Music: Radiohead.  Film: "Wings of Desire"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lucy Rose - Place

Rose recently contributed vocals to Bombay Bicycle Club, only now touring on her own.

Sonic Youth - Superstar

Sonic Youth covering The Carpenters.  Inspired to post after today's Fresh Air, which featured an interview with Richard Carpenter.  He "doesn't like the cover."

Weird interview, though.  Terri Gross confessed that she once thought The Carpenters were corny, and Richard was not at all amused.  Come on, dude, this song debuted the same year as "Stairway to Heaven."  Still, I can't hear "Rainy Days and Mondays" without getting chills (probably because I saw Todd Haynes' barbie doll bio-pic at some point, but the whole pop sensibility of The Carpenters is haunting to one degree or another).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hungry Ghosts - The Man Who Refused to Kill

Deep cut from Australia.  Post rock.  Ambient.  Minimalist neo-retro.   Not sure what to call it.  Perhaps "cinematic" would cover the its primary emotional effect.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Regina Spektor - Consequence of Sounds

A student pointed me toward Spektor, originally part of the "anti-folk" scene in NYC. Love the lyrics of the song. Ani DiFranco comes to mind, but I think Spektor has become a lot more commercially successful.
"And we keep on paying those freaks on the TV,
Who claim they will save us but want to enslave us.
And sweating like demons they scream through our speakers
But we leave the sound on 'cause silence is harder.
And no one's the killer and no one's the martyr
The world that has made us can no longer contain us
And profits are silent then rotting away 'cause

The consequence of sounds."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tallest Man on Earth - Walk the Line

Folk phenom Kristian Matsson. Not a Johnny Cash cover.

Aloe Blacc - I Need a Dollar

As the song for the opening credits of HBO's "How to Make It in America," it seems to have become the most notable thing about the new show. Have not watched it yet myself.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Warpaint - Billie Holliday

All-female neo-psych band from Los Angeles has been on the programs of many of the major festivals this last year. Here they do something more akin to the dream-pop of Cat Power. Pitchfork points out that this song "borrows" from Mary Wells' "My Guy."

Friday, October 28, 2011

City & Colour - Sometimes (I Wish)

Canadian Dallas Green. Neo-emo? Post-emo? No matter, the voice, tats, and little neck kerchief work just fine.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My favorite sign

So Andrew Sullivan claims that OWS needs more finesse.  This sign, and many like it, speak clearly and wryly, especially to the young who will be sustaining the whole thing.

Right Here All Over #OWC

Right Here All Over (Occupy Wall St.) from Alex Mallis on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's simple: Capitalism must be regulated

Michael Lewis on Fresh Air today: The market "has become an engine of unfairness." Lewis claims that the banks of Wall Street can no longer assess the risk of even their own investments. It's not only a big swindle, it's simply out of control and unable to rein itself in.

And the political enabling (by both parties) has become pathological:
Government exists, apparently, only to serve the needs of the market. We are constantly told how the market needs this, or the market needs that, and how we have to personally massage the frightened egos of every last fucking investment house, wealthy person, corporate powerhouse and so on lest they take away our precious bubbling economy from us. We'll shut down government, or threaten to, on a seemingly regular basis now in ongoing attempts to gain some trivial new advantage for the investor class, or to snip away just a bit more from everybody else. -- "Hunter," Daily Kos

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No books, no f**k

I am married to the person who brought me into her home late one night and showed me her books.  Seriously.  "Books" is not a euphemism. Books are cool! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More NYPD brutality

Certainly there's some distortion seeing things through the lens of a phone, but this video looks like the footage from Iran after their election when the state police moved into protest crowds, like thugs.  It's the supervisors, the white shirts, who are the worst.

Police Riot

The New York Times coverage of the Occupy Wallstreet protests is explicitly dismissive and belittling.  The comments there tell a different story.
"I saw what happened today on 12th Street between University and Fifth Ave. It was a Police Riot. It was traumatic and horrific the way the Police treated American citizens. It was a crime. 
I witnessed what a police state is like today. I will never look at law enforcement the same way again. I saw NYPD act like common thugs. I saw them beat people; I saw them mace young girls who were standing against a wall doing nothing that could be described as threatening. It is emotional disturbing that this could occur in the US, much less New York City. It was personally traumatic to watch this type of Police state tactics carried out by a large metropolitan police force that is ethnically and gender deserve. 
Today, NYC looked like Selma, Alabama of the 1960's."

The paramilitary state in action

Occupy Wallstreet protests.  A small group of young woman are already subdued by orange netting ("kettled"), then gratuitously pepper sprayed.  It's pure intimidation.  Don't EVER protest against your corporate overlords again!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011


This band's name reportedly came from a song title by the German, krautrock band "Can."  I've heard of them (Austin-based), but don't remember looking them up before.

Dum Dum Girls

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chemlab - Vera Blue

Coldwave, electro-industrial from D.C.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Industrial Dance

Cybergoth friends at annual Amphi (Dark Music) Fest.

The Birthday Masscre

Gothy synthrock and industrial.  From Toronto.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Trampled by Turtles

A very dark love song.

Dino Valenti - Children of the Sun

Stage name of Chester (Chet) William Powers, Jr., an American singer-songwriter and a member of the rock group Quicksilver Messenger Service. Also known as the songwriter Jesse Oris Farrow.  This is an unexpected and somewhat quirky treat.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Gov't Mule, with Grace Potter

Our house has a soft spot for Fleetwood Mac, including this song, "Gold Dust Woman." Really impressive version.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chantel McGregor - Sloe Gin

One more from Chantel. Literally goose bumps at about 5:15 when she hitches into the solo.

Chantel McGregor - Daydream

Young UK phenom covering Robin Trower. She does some wonderful covers of Jimi Hendrix (following the path of the late blues guy Stevie Ray Vaughn), but nice to see Trower being covered. Girl can play guitar!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Professor Elemental - Fighting Trousers

Victorian-inspired rap, in the form of a letter! Key line: "I . . . don't like your tweed, sir."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sam Butler & Clarence Fountain

From a tribute album for John Martyn, "Johnny Boy Would Love This."

Kafka's Resort (Wisconsin)

Traditional circle of cabins by the lake, with a name bearing the weight of modernism.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Charlie Sheen finds a home (sort of) with the Juggalos

The Juggalos are having their annual gathering right now in S. Illinois, somewhere near where I drove through the state today. I passed through a lot of formerly prosperous towns over the last week, and I suppose the founders' hometown (The Insane Clown Posse is from Detroit) is the ultimate in midwest decay. Middle America's outlaws.

TMZ is reporting that Charlie Sheen is their new hero, but I think all this video from yesterday proves is that he's embraced something that is even more out of control than himself. Although he's clearly more popular with this crowd than Tia Tequila was last year -- she fielded some feces during her appearance. It's got to be a D-list kind of gig: it's hot, humid, buggy, and populated by a lot of "not much left to lose."

What I want to know is what crazy form of irony and subversion does the chant of "winning, winning, winning" take here?

Bonus content: Some photos from 2009 by Derek Erdman via boingboing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Black Ryder - Let It Go

Sweet, exquisite noise, from Australia.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Words of the day

6. Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish)
A word that would aptly describe the prevailing fashion trend among American men under 40, it means "one who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers."

15. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, "grief bacon."

From a list of words that don't have an English equivalent.

Dead Meadow - Greensky Greenlake

Friday, July 29, 2011


Neo-pysch from Philadelphia. Warning: video contains images of dancing hippies.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Morning Jacket - "Slow Tune"

From recent album, Circuital, at this year's Bonnaroo Festival.

Better audio and video here, but I like the crowd effect in this one.

New Winnie the Pooh movie, reviewed by Gawker

In this grim gonzo sex "horrorcore" movie, a gluttonous, perpetually pantsless bear roams the countryside stealing food. He's joined by a suicidal donkey with a horrifying tail injury and a raving mad psychopathic tiger. The tale gets more horrifying when they come into contact with a little human boy and involve him in their sick games. There's a whole honey bukkake scene and I'm pretty sure Piglet murders Kanga or Roo. Just terrible. (Wide)

A little something for everyone? I'm pretty sure Hundred Acre "horrorcore" is going to work out better, for our kids at least, than seeing the sex, violence, and fatalism promulgated by the new Harry Potter feature.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Marriage Vows (with poetry from Rilke, Auden, Robert Graves)

For an unrelated reason I came upon our marriage vows from 1999. I think they've really stood the test of time (I find myself thinking, "wow, we were really smart back then" -- and young and kind of serious). This sort of service is not for everyone. It was outside (rural California). It was short. And we wrote the script entirely ourselves; well, I guess we "adapted" it ourselves. It's a good thing we were prepared, though. Our hired minister had suffered an injury and apparently performed the service completely whacked-out on pain meds. In any case, 13 years and two kids later I share the vows with the Internets.

Music plays while guests are seated

John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” begins
Parents enter and seat themselves
Celebrant enters

Best Man/two Maids of Honor enter
Entrance of Georgette and George together (Coltrane song should be at about 6 minutes)

Coltrane song ends, at which point Georgette and George should be in front of the Celebrant – music muted, Coltrane continues

Celebrant welcomes guests
Welcome should include the lines:
“You that love Lovers,
this is your home. Welcome!” [13th century Sufi mystic poem]

With this ceremony George and Georgette seek a public affirmation and wish to share it with those most important to them and their families. Guests are invited to share their commitment as more than spectators: to help Georgette and George affirm their love and support their marriage.

Brief narrative: [redacted]

Each time they travel and camp together, they make another momentous decision. While sitting in the desert in Arizona, they decided to set up house together. On another week-long wilderness trip to Pictured Rocks in Michigan, the idea of marriage began to evolve. They expect to go camping again soon.

Discourse on marriage
[Celebrant will announce round-robin reading of Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Discourse on Marriage,” including wedding party and celebrant]

(Best Man):
Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and wills of two people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness – a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new danger for both.

(Maid of Honor):
The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of the fullest freedom and development.

(Maid of Honor):
But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

That is why this too must be the criterion for rejection or choice: whether you are willing to stand guard over someone else’s solitude, and whether you are able to set this same person at the gate of your own depths.

Brief statement (blessing) from each parent

Declaration of Consent
[Bride and Groom will first face each other to say lines adapted from W.H. Auden’s “In Sickness and in Health”]
Georgette: Rejoice, dear love, in Love’s peremptory word;
All chance, all love, by logic, you and I,
Exist by grace of the Absurd
George: beloved, pray
That Love, to Whom necessity is play,
Do what we must yet cannot do alone
And lay your solitude beside my own.
Georgette: That this round O of faithfulness we swear
May never whither to an empty nought
Nor petrify into a square
George: Love, permit
Temptations always to endanger it.
Preserve us from presumption and delay;
O hold us to the voluntary way.

Celebrant should then ask Georgette and George to face him and use the following traditional interrogation:

George, will you have this woman to be your wife, to live together in the state of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and be faithful to her, as long as you both shall live?

Answer: I will

Georgette, will you have this man to be your husband, to live together in the state of marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and be faithful to him, as long as you both shall live?

Answer: I will

Before vows begin, celebrant should include language like the following:
Marriage begins in the giving of words. We cannot join ourselves to one another without giving our word. And this is an unconditional giving, for in joining ourselves to one another we join ourselves to the future and the unknown. [Celebrant will prompt their lines]

George: In marrying you, I promise to go wherever you may want to go, since my trust in you continues to grow more than I ever thought possible; I promise to never stop talking, to be present whenever I am needed, and to always strive to create with you a companionship rooted in equality, honesty, and love.

Georgette: In marrying you, I promise to love you and to let that love evolve, to share my life with you as we continue to grow and change, to encourage your development and independence as you encourage mine, to talk and always keep talking, to continue to create a relationship based on communication, trust, and love.

Exchange of Rings
Celebrant can begin this section by describing the importance of the bond symbolized by the rings. Both rings are carved with parallel lines, signifying the parallel lives that Georgette and George are bonding together. With the carved parallel lines Georgette and George symbolize and acknowledge the yearning for an infinite universality in the idea of marriage. As symbols the rings will be a reminder of their desire to refashion and reaffirm their commitment to that ideal daily.

[lines adapted from Robert Graves’ “Everywhere is Here”]

George: By this exchange of eyes, this encirclement

Georgette: You of me, I of you, together we join

Pronounce as “wife and husband” [please avoid “man and wife”]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Frog Brigade (Les Claypool/Primus)

Pigs. Some different, but really just pigs. And perhaps better than Pink Floyd's original.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grim City - Time to Fly

Neo psych-prog from Lithuania (traces of Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sleepy Sun - The Chain

Happy Father's day! Some UC, Santa Cruz alums covering Fleetwood Mac.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

KT Tunstall

Jackson 5 cover.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tune-Yards - Powa

Heard this on NPR's Studio 360. Pretty awesome stuff.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kaiser Chiefs - Little Shocks

From Kaiser Chiefs' latest album, which curiously contains songs with titles from some old British novels: "Child of the Jago," Arthur Morrison (1906); "Coming Up for Air," George Orwell (1939). Not sure if this is intentional. Moreover, they are apparently using some sort of socia media friendly form of selling it, but I didn't look any further into it. I do like the retro sound, though.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Design

Yes, it's a new blogger template, changed in order to standardize a wider width for YouTube embeds. I haven't had time to consider whether format and font is really what I'd like, but I am happy with the wider posting field.



Solo project of Black Moth Super Rainbow.

Black Moth Super Rainbow

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ashley Cleveland - When This World Comes to an End

Apocalypse never sounded so good. Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Royal Thunder

A hardcore Grace Slick from Georgia.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011


90's "shoegaze."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Radio Moscow

Hard blues from Ames, Iowa.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Girl Talk

Latest from mashup/sample artist Girl Talk. (Black Sabbath's War Pigs, Shuggie Otis's Strawberry Letter 23, the Ramones-there's lots to like.) Video is fan produced.