One of the very first posts here on crabwalk.com was about the untimely death of Alice Trillin, wife and muse to “New Yorker” writer Calvin Trillin. Alice died of heart failure on September 11, 2001. (Rough day all around.)
Calvin Trillin is my hero. He was the first adult writer I ever connected with: at age nine, when for some reason, I had a subscription to The Nation — I was dorky far beyond my years — and I got to catch the last few of his “Uncivil Liberties” columns. I remember requesting With All Disrespect via interlibrary loan in the late 1980s and loving his kind, bemused voice. Later, I got to know his harder-edged journalism for “The New Yorker” — collected, for instance, in American Stories. When I was a freshman at Yale, I read Remembering Denny like it held the secrets of the universe. Just the other day, I was telling an editor about my idea for a series of international stories modeled on Calvin’s “U.S. Journal” series in the 1970s. In my opinion, there isn’t a finer writer in America, in genres as diverse as humor, new journalism, memoir, food writing, and fiction. I wanted to have his career.
I’m surprised I’ve never posted here about my dinner with Calvin, back in 1994. I guess it’s good not all of my stories have been shared with the Internet yet.
When I was in college, I honestly fantasized about marrying one of daughters, Sarah or Abigail, just because I wanted to sneak into his wonderful Trillin family tableaus.
In other words, I have a serious case of hero worship.
I mention all this to point you toward the March 27 “New Yorker,” where Calvin writes a beautiful piece about Alice. It’s just gorgeous — three different people have pointed me to it, and they’ve all said something along the lines of: “That’s the kind of marriage I want to have.” It’s not online, but the web is busy talking about it. Go hunt it down; it’s worth it.
31 March 2006 |
I completely agree with this guy. I was a Mets for no particular reason in the early-to-mid-1980s too, and I absolutely think the Spider-Man shorts on The Electric Company were the reason. I remember that “Let’s Go Mets!” thought bubble precisely.
And is there anyone my age who doesn’t remember the soft-shoe silhouettes? “Tr, ip — trip!” (Parody here.)
Electric Company DVDs and other stuff here, although the blog is disappointing.
Fun Facts: Steve Gustafson, bassist and cofounder of 10,000 Maniacs, was a member of the Short Circus band on the show. Tom Whedon, the show’s chief writer, is the father of Buffy czar Joss Whedon. (I know several readers of this site will be happy to learn that.)
31 March 2006 |
Public service announcement: Blackalicious’ “The Craft” kicks ass. So bouncy! Perfect workout music.
“Powers” and “My Pen & Pad” are available as MP3s from their site, and you can stream “Your Move” and “Rhythm Sticks” from their Myspace page. And as for my favorite tracks, here are samples of “World of Vibrations” and the awe-inspiring “Side to Side.”
(I was on a train not too long ago when “Side to Side” came on my iPod. I literally could not stop dancing in my seat.)
The backing tracks are all quite simple, actually — they’re just wound up so tight you worry a stray bass thump might bust loose from your headphones and coil around you boa-constrictor style. And Gift of Gab, that man can rap something fierce.
Here’s a video of some Japanese kids dancing to an earlier Blackalicious track, the uniquely geeky “Chemical Calisthenics.”
Note: This video is not, in fact, a Blackalicious video despite being labeled as such. But it is awesome nonetheless.
This has been a public service announcement.
30 March 2006 |
A strange man who believes that Interstates 10 and 12 in south Louisiana should be rerouted to make my hometown of Rayne I-12’s terminus. It’s part of his grand “Louisiana Shuffle” plan. Dude has planned out all the exits on his fantasy freeway, down to which ones are cloverleafs and which are “folded diamonds.”
Well, if he wants the crabwalk.com endorsement of his plans, he now officially has it. More jobs for Rayne!
30 March 2006 |
Final, conclusive proof of life on Mars!
Were I a teacher, I’d be showing my students stuff like this all the time. Just to mess with ‘em.
29 March 2006 |
Scroll down here for videos of reclusive soul “star” Darondo on public access circa 1984.
28 March 2006 |
It’s always so enjoyable when D Magazine — the official mag of Dallas’ rich white folk — tries to talk to people outside its socioeconomic bubble.
Here in Dallas we’ve had a couple of days of protests by Hispanic students who oppose various proposed immigration policies. (And who want to get a day off from school, one imagines.) So D sends someone named Rod Davis to cover the protests.
Anyway, he files this report. Including this paragraph:
Enrique Esquivel, an 18-year-old senior at Skyline, said he’d come about 12:45 on early release schedule, so wasn’t playing hooky. “Half the school left,” he said. “Some of them walked. All that way. But it was too far for me. We came in a car.” Ditto his friends, Adrian Escobar, 19, and Mi Chorizo, 17, both also seniors. “We came to show support,” said Enrique.
Needless to say, there are no Mi Chorizos enrolled at Skyline. “Mi chorizo” is Spanish for “my sausage.” Rod got smoked by the Latino version of Heywood Jablome.
28 March 2006 |
William Poundstone on “anatomical revenge” movies. Including the line: “[P]art of the Rockefeller and Ford fortunes bought a big black rubber phallus.”
28 March 2006 |
Cleaning out the “to blog” emails in my inbox:
“The next explanation for American superiority is a healthy indifference to first sons. Bloom and Van Reenen report that the practice of handing a family firm down from father to oldest son is five times more common in France and Britain than in the United States. Not surprisingly, this anti-meritocratic practice does not always produce good managers. So even though the best European companies are managed roughly as well as the best American ones, there’s a fat tail of second-rate firms in Europe that’s absent in the United States.”
The various versions of the gay-pride rainbow flag. Kinda sad the “hot pink” stripe went away because of fabric-shortage issues.
Poor, stupid Ron Wayne.
Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury: An Examination of Masculinity and Stardom in Contemporary Society.
Video of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. I’d always known Django was the first great guitarist of the 20th century; I had no idea that he had basically two fingers to work with. (He doesn’t really get going until the second half of the video.)
Also, remember that King Chango is not the same as King Django.
27 March 2006 |
The Replacements cover Chuck Berry and Hank Williams, September 1981. Dudes rocked. (The whole concert is here.)
And because I’m such a nice guy, I stripped the audio from those videos and converted the whole shebang to MP3. So just go here to download the entire show. (It’s about 45 megs.)
27 March 2006 |
Washington Post photo editor on his paper’s photographic coverage of last year’s hurricane: “Our Katrina coverage really sucked.”
Seems like a blunt fella.
24 March 2006 |
The Jumping Frenchman of Maine Disorder. So good to hear my distant cousins have inspired a syndrome.
23 March 2006 |
How to make a secret hollow book.
I tried this a half-dozen times when I was a kid, during a couple-year window when I thought I’d be a spy when I grew up. There’s a book somewhere in the kids section of the Rayne public library that’s sort of a kid’s guide to being a spy. I checked it out about 300 times. Couldn’t find it a couple of years ago when I tried hunting it down.
(It was awesome. And even vaguely transgressive, with stuff on how to hide things from your parents, how to use a mail drop on a vacant lot, etc. It sort of explains my weird interest in the products of Paladin Press around sixth grade and a later [purely theoretical] interest in phreaking. That all kind of freaked out my grandma, although not as much as when I requested The Anarchist Cookbook via interlibrary loan around eighth grade. That got me a talking-to.)
23 March 2006 |
Things to observe from this Daily Show clip from November 2003:
- How much the show’s production values, from the set to the chyrons, have professionalized;
- How much Jon Stewart has solidified his anchorial voice and distanced himself from the brasher Craig Kilborn style;
- How funny it is to watch Stephen Colbert completely lose his shit.
22 March 2006 |
Is it just me, or has The Diane Rehm Show on NPR gotten infinitely more insufferable in the last year or so? I used to listen to it every day during my 10-minute commute to work, but now I can’t stand it. They seem to have traded in the smart people they used to interview for political hacks, blindly repeating talking points from both sides. Even the callers seem to have gotten stupider.
Then again, maybe it’s a reflection of the fact I am getting to work a little earlier these days and, instead of catching the start of the book-centric 10 o’clock hour, I’m hearing the 9 o’clock hour run out of steam.
22 March 2006 |
Who would have thought that The Dana Carvey Show would end up being the most prodigious wellspring of contemporary comedic talent? Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Robert Smigel, Charlie Kaufman, and Dave Chappelle were all staff writers there. That’s a lot of talent for a show that wasn’t particularly well received.
21 March 2006 |
Great audio of a suburban Chicago preacher warning his flock about Satanism On The March, circa 1989. (You can tell because of the reference to the Cubs-Giants playoff series.) Man, with all the havoc these Satanists were causing, it’s just amazing nothing ever ended up getting proven in court, eh?
Wikipedia on the Satanism scare of the 1980s and moral panic more broadly.
A novel plot I give to you, for free: A mid-’80s group of kids who start faking Satanic incidents around their town to create the anti-Satanic hubbub. Until things get out of hand…
20 March 2006 |
Proof there is point-shaving in college basketball. Well, you can decide whether it’s proof or not, but it’s a pretty strong statistical case. Basically, he found that heavy favorites (12 points or more) tend to underperform by a few points, which he reads as an indication that players are purposefully playing poorly for stretches to get the final margin under the Vegas line.
There’s an alternate theory the author doesn’t deal with. Teams that are heavily favored are also more likely to pull their starters with several minutes to go and play their (not as good) bench players. Typically (although not always), the losing team will keep its starters in a longer period of time, which would have the effect of lowering the margin of victory. In a close game, the starters would never get similarly pulled.
But that’s the rub with this sort of “forensic economics” (his term); it’s great at finding broad trends in the data but not so good at determining whether or not they apply in any individual case. It’s all macro, not micro. Which makes it perfect for the sort of pop-economics analysis that has gotten so popular these days (viz Freakonomics, Gladwell, etc.) — it’s a high-brow comfort food for yuppies. (And I don’t mean that as an insult.)
The most amazing thing in the paper for me was just how accurate the Vegas line really is. It’s designed to maximize profits for the casinos, so a perfect result would be if favorites beat the line exactly 50 percent of the time. Well, over 44,120 games studied from 1989 to the present, favorites beat the line exactly…50.01 percent of the time. Those guys in Vegas know what they’re doing.
20 March 2006 |
Proof I am still gainfully employed: My column from today’s paper.
20 March 2006 |
Now that’s how you file for an election. The 2006 rematch for Newark mayor — between 70-year-old incumbent and vaguely corrupt Sharpe James and young Cory Booker, who was my T.A. for a polisci class in college. (They ran against each other in 2002, a race that was the subject of the documentary Street Fight.)
The election — filled with all sorts of racial invective last time, despite both candidates being black — will no doubt be entertaining to watch again. James’ petition filing — for which he stripped down to a tanktop and shades and looked like he’d be spending the afternoon sunning on a stoop — is part of the class code he used in ‘02, in which his side accused Booker of not being “black enough” because he was an Ivy grad and Rhodes Scholar. (That was when James’ people weren’t accusing Booker of being controlled by “the Jews.”)
The NYT is even hosting a blog on the campaign — treatment I doubt the Times would give, say, mayoral elections in Passaic or Paterson. They link to video of the filing.
17 March 2006 |
This year’s edition (MP3) of Bruce Sterling’s traditional end-of-SXSW talk. Thought-provoking as always, although you can skip over about 30% in the middle when he goes off on spime.
16 March 2006 |
A find: Here’s video of that famous moment I mentioned a while back, a drunk (one hopes) Serge Gainsbourg telling Whitney Houston “I want to fuck you” live on French TV in 1986. (The famous quote is a little less than halfway in.) How this disgusting homunculus managed to seduce half of the most beautiful women of Europe — well, there’s got to be a dating self-help book somewhere in it.
Also: The video for “Lemon Incest,” the, um, incest-themed song he sang with his 13-year-old daughter (!) Charlotte.
15 March 2006 |
To continue a burgeoning tradition here on crabwalk.com, here’s the fourth installment of Who Dat Drummer?, the regular feature in which, after attending an indie-rock concert, I interpret the appearance of the bands’ drummers via pop-culture references.
Last night, saw the great Belle & Sebastian at the Grenada. My view of the drummer was blocked for pretty much the entire show by bassist (and birthday boy) Bob Kildea, so apologies in advance if my visual referencing is less incisive than usual.
And a bonus installment of Who Dat Guitarist & Second Songwriter?:
Alas, got there too late to see the New Pornographers. It is a strict crabwalk.com policy that Who Dat Drummer? is not a game to be played with any percussionist who the author has not personally seen in a concert environment, so Kurt Dahle is safe.
15 March 2006 |
Here’s my film from 20x2 Monday night. It’s about a 10 meg file, and for some reason it takes a long while to download — you might want to open it in another window or tab.
As I did last time when I did 20x2, here’s a quick summary of how I did it (less complex than last time):
- The film was shot (poorly!) with a Sony GL2 camcorder. (At $2,000 list, it isn’t mine, of course; it’s a Dallas Morning News camera, leant to me by our Pulitzer photo genius David Leeson.) I’ve never really shot video before, and that’s fairly obvious at times. Particularly with my inability to get good sound. And with all the other people I shot whose footage was just too bad to include.)
- The locations: The bookstore is the Half Price Books flagship store on Northwest Highway. The Mexican restaurant is the Lakewood location of La Calle Doce (seafood dishes highly recommended). The woman on the bench was sitting outside the George Allen courthouse downtown, messing with some legal papers. The Internet inventor was in an East Dallas pet store (name forgotten). Everyone else was shot in and around the Dallas Morning News building.
- Assemblage: All done in iMovie. With assists from ScreenRecord (which recorded the Terminal sessions), Google Image Search (for all the screengrabs between shots), Quicktime Pro (for cutting down clips), and iPhoto (for imports to iMovie).
14 March 2006 |
Also, just saw Lyle Lovett and his (very cute, very young) girlfriend. I feel like I’m officially a Texan now.
12 March 2006 |
For the record, Maria Menounos is stupid hot. She was down here doing a standup (presumably for the film festival, but she was standing among us interactive types).
(Have I mentioned that I’m here at SXSW for the Interactive festival? Well, I am. I haven’t been in Austin for a full year, which is downright criminal for someone who lives in Dallas.)
Anyway, this year’s festival is crazy. Rumor has it that attendance is double what it was last year, and it feels like it. Registration Saturday morning traditionally takes about five minutes; this year there was a line extending across two floors and it took a full 50 minutes to get my badge. (Which features a photo of me from some past festival, giving me a chance to relive my beardless past lives.)
I’m happy for the organizers, particularly after persistent rumors in the last couple of years that Interactive might some day be canceled if numbers didn’t improve, but I think The Return Of The Boom makes SXSW a little less pleasant for folks like me — web hobbyists with no real business connection to the industry. Lots of panels on funding models and entrepreneurship and the business/tech-skills-to-make-money sides of things, less on the social-ramifications stuff. Totally understandable, of course — I’m hardly SXSW’s target customer — but unfortunate.
It appears the organizers have tried to fill that social-ramification void by grabbing onto the Gladwellian School of Yuppie Self-Help — that school of thought, driven by Malcolm Gladwell, that aims to convince college-educated people they can understand the world through five anecdotes, a couple of scientific studies, and an overarching theme. Gladwell spoke at SXSW last year, but this year there are two of his journalistic heirs on the program: Dan Gilbert and James Surowiecki.
Surowiecki gave what I’m sure is his standard stump speech on “The Wisdom of Crowds,” which argues that groups of people are collectively smarter than their smartest individuals. (Except, of course, when they’re not.) Gilbert is angling for a bigger market; his book blurbs him as a cross between Gladwell and David Sedaris, which is of course porn for bookstore owners. Despite his professorial background, his schtick is more stand-up than anything else; his basic point is that people make logical errors and do a bad job of predicting the future. He’s a lively writer, from the first 40 pages I read, but his presentation was sloppy, including a few basic errors that undercut his credibility (with me, at least).
Anyway, it’s been a good weekend to catch up with my Austin homies and my blogfriends from around the world. Special props to Lucian for giving me a place to crash.
Finally, those of you in town may be want to drop in at 20x2 Monday night. (At Tambaleo, 302 Bowie Street, 7 p.m.) I’ll be one of the 20 speakers. Well, I’ll actually be showing a two-minute short film, so the only speaking of mine you’ll hear is a half-second sound effect repeated several times. I’ll post the film here after the talk.
12 March 2006 |
The list of Pulitzer finalists is out. (Well, sort of — it’s an unofficial, leaked list. The finalists aren’t officially announced until the winners are.)
Here, for no particular reason, are my picks:
- Commentary: Kristof (I think judges will think Chris Rose’s New Orleans stuff too “soft”)
Investigative: WaPo (Abramoff)
- National: NYT (wiretapping), although San Diego could sneak in
- Public Service: WaPo (secret prisons), although the Times-Picayune should be a finalist here
- International: LAT (Muslims in Europe)
- Explanatory: Miami Herald (and sort of a second Pulitzer for my ex-colleague Mike Sallah, who edited the package)
- Breaking News: Times-Picayune
Those are all the reporting categories — I make no guesses on cartooning and photography, except to say that the DMN is a finalist in Spot News Photography for our Katrina work and I think we’ll take it.
09 March 2006 |
An interview with the jury foreman in the Greg Haidl gang-rape trial in Orange County. (Search “haidl” to find my other posts on this case.) Of particular note is the detailing of the harassment the rape victim faced from the rapists’ legal team.
09 March 2006 |
Let me join the journalists who are rooting for McClatchy to buy Knight Ridder (if it must be bought). McClatchy’s a good, family-controlled newspaper company that runs a bunch of not-huge but journalistically solid papers (Raleigh, Minneapolis, and Sacramento being the biggest). (It actually reminds me a bit of the two good, family-controlled newspaper companies I’ve worked for, in Toledo and Dallas.)
Knight Ridder used to have a similar reputation in the industry, but that’s soured a bit in recent years (although they still publish some fine papers that employ some fine friends of mine.) In any event, McClatchy would be leagues better than the other apparent candidate for the company, a joint effort of Gannett and MediaNews, neither of which is…well, you never know when I might want a job with them, so I’ll be quiet.
09 March 2006 |
Aw, Adam, you shouldn’t have.
In related news, I can’t believe I didn’t post the terrific news that DMN photog Barbara Davidson was just named the national Photographer of the Year. Barbara’s awesome. She won in part for the great photos she took for my stories in Nigeria last spring, in particular the piece on the Catholic faith-healer Ejike Mbaka.
Quoth one of the contest judges: “It is one of the freshest stories I observed in the entire contest…This photographer has done a wonderful job capturing moments that are very intimate. There’s a wonderful sense of light and composition.”
You can see a bunch of her great photos, including more than a dozen from Nigeria, here.
08 March 2006 |
I can finally reveal what that good news was I posted about a while back. I won a first place in this year’s National Awards for Education Reporting.
Funnily enough, I won in the opinion-writing category. I’m not supposed to have opinions. I write a column about once a month, but since I’m a straight-arrow reporter the rest of the year, my columns are supposed to have perspectives, not opinions. Oh, well. Anyway, I won for these columns about bad writing, why the football coach is always a history teacher, the public school edge, fake homeschoolers, and kids on the testing bubble.
Congrats to all the other DMNers and ex-DMNers who also won. My colleagues Pete Slover, Tawnell Hobbs, and Kent Fischer (plus ex-colleague Jessica Leeder, now at The Toronto Star) won second place in the investigative-reporting category for their great work uncovering sketchy financial dealings in Dallas schools. Ex-DMNer Manya Brachear (Chicago Tribune) took second in breaking-news reporting, and ex-DMNer Laura Heinauer (now in Austin) took second in best series.
08 March 2006 |
Celia Farber is confused. Maybe she thinks all those folks in Africa just took Ayds.
08 March 2006 |
How magazines lie to girls.
Australia dodged a bullet.
I was unaware of the existence of Uncyclopedia, a parody of Wikipedia (although it’s actually hosted by Wikia, the company founded by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. I particularly like their entry on John Seigenthaler, who famously disputed the accuracy of his Wikipedia entry.
I found YourGMap useful a few months back when I was househunting. Said search has since been abandoned.
What Josh listens to.
Two old white guys whose music from the ’60s and ’70s shows up sampled in a lot of hip-hop: Monty Stark and Galt MacDermot. Stark’s “Comrades” is fun, and “Dreams” is the source of a great lyric previously referenced here: “I might have been a parrot / A gay Brazilian parrot / If someone hadn’t wakened me and / Pulled me out of bed.” MacDermot is most famous for “Hair.”
08 March 2006 |
Went to the local used-book megaplex a week ago and found a copy of Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa, a 1971 travel book by a man named Ed Buryn. (The book should not be confused with Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, the very fine book by Friend of Crabwalk Rolf Potts.) Ed Buryn seems like a fairly strange fellow; at least judging by Google hits (a paltry 568), he has been largely forgotten. But his book — a hippie-fied guide to a groovy continental tour — has some gems. For instance:
- Under the heading “Availability of Dope”: “In Poland I met a soldier and his girl in a bar one night and got to talking (in rudimentary words and sign language) about grass, which they’d never heard of before. He said he’d like to try it sometime. By an odd coincidence, about then I happened to find a few joints in my stash. So we retired to his girl’s house, whose father (an army sergeant) was already asleep.
“To make a long story short, she wouldn’t try it, but he and I got ripped. Soon he got sick from too much vodka beforehand and started to moan. His girl immediately freaked out and woke her father, who drowsily listened to her tattling about how I’d messed her cat with my ‘funny cigarettes.’
“I could only speak a few words of the language to try to quiet her down, keep the sergeant from calling the cops and reassure the soldier he was not going crazy — all while I was totally stoned. The sergeant finally concluded we were all pie-eyed drunk (he had never heard of grass either), shrugged his daughter off and went to bed. Be careful who you stone!”
(Buryn tells this story as an example of why Eastern Europeans “frequently haven’t even heard of [drugs]…if they have, they tend to put them down as capitalist decadence.”)
- Buryn on why traveling women should always bring enough birth-control pills to last the trip: “If you’re absolutely certain you’ll remain chaste no matter what happens, then you’re too uptight. Life is strange…anything can happen, even the best of things. Be tolerant enough to allow them to happen.”
The “Sex and Romance” is divided up into two parts: “Part I: Sex, or How to Get Laid” and “Part II: Romance, or How to Find Love.” You will not be surprised to find that Part I is aimed at men and Part II is aimed at women. (Sexual revolution, schmexual revolution!)
To sum up his advice to men: You’ll have a hard time scoring with Euro women because American men are “coarse, neurotic, materialistic and superficial” in the Euro stereotype. Which is a shame because Euro women “are more likely to be sexually liberated,” “will go to bed sooner and enjoy it more,” and “are confident of their femininity and sexuality, sophisticated and sensitive.” Best option, according to Buryn: Go after American chicks, who are easy when they’re on the road. “Like you, they are eager to spice their European adventure with the salt of sex, and the resultant action is heavy.” (Italics his.)
His advice for women: You can snag a man with no problem, but you may need to buy him dinner. “European lovers are traditionally impoverished, and need their meals and expenses paid to keep up their strength. There is a large informal army of gigolos stationed throughout Europe, looking for American women to service, usually in hopes of making a little spare change as well.” But that’s not a bad thing, Buryn says! “Part of the excitement of travel and vagabonding is unquestionably a sexual excitement, so don’t try to repress it out of existence. As a free person in Europe, you will know the heady sensation of being stared at, appreciated, desired. Dig it.”
But Buryn argues that American women shouldn’t become so focused on their “dark-eyed Lotharios” that they ignore their horny American male counterparts. “These are the cream of our society, so don’t short-change our own out of mere cultural prejudice. Love an American; they’re clean.”
Ed Buryn is apparently still around, and has been noted for his tarot-card creations.
06 March 2006 |
So I went to the opening of the new Apple Store in Dallas on Saturday morning. Didn’t camp out or anything; just drove up around 9:55 for the 10 a.m. opening.
On the (not very long) drive over, I was thinking that there might not be the legendary lines and hubbub around this opening that there have been historically. An Apple Store is a lovely thing for Mac fans who have historically felt isolated in a sea of PC users. But Dallas already has two Apple Stores, one of them less than five minutes’ drive from the new location.
After all, there’s nothing really special about a new Apple Store. They sell the same stuff as everywhere else. So while I was angling to get one of the t-shirts they give out at grand openings, I wasn’t expecting to see many other people.
Um, I was extremely wrong. What a sea of people! I left my crowd-estimating skills in the car, but it was certainly into the several hundreds of people waiting in line — a line that extended the length of that section of the mall and looped around. I couldn’t even see the store from where I was through all the people.
There was no way I was going to stand in line, but I took out my cell phone, turned on its camera, and snapped a pic of the line from a distance. And not two seconds later, a thug security guard comes up to me and gets in my face. “Who are you with? What news organization are you with?”
Huh? I mean, normally I have a good answer to that one. But in this case, I wasn’t with any news organization. I was a guy going to the Apple Store and taking a crappy picture with his crappy phone.
Anyway, I was sternly ordered to never take a photo in the NorthPark mall again. God forbid that NorthPark get good PR for hosting a big event. I turned around and left.
06 March 2006 |
You work five years for a newspaper, and what do you get? A green “marble” paperweight clock. Yay.
03 March 2006 |
Quantum mechanics explained, using salad, steak, and a puppy.
It’s stuff like this that reminds me I’m not as smart as I sometimes think I am.
03 March 2006 |
Desert Bus sounds awesome. Be sure to listen to the MP3 of Penn Jillette describing the game. Special guest appearance by Lou Reed talking about eating the sun.
02 March 2006 |
An unfortunate fact of Internet life is that links, no matter how clever, sometimes expire. (You take the good, you take the bad. You take them both and there you have: The Facts of Internet Life.)
I get emails every few months from people who come across this post from 2002, in which I linked to video of the Osmonds rocking out on the BBC in 1972. (I was covering an Osmonds concert while in Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics. That ended up being this story.) Unfortunately, the BBC took the video down some years ago.
But now I can proudly present: the Osmonds playing “Crazy Horses,” probably their biggest hit and part of their early-’70s dalliance with Black Sabbath guitar.
And you know what? It kind of rocks. I mean, if you look past the the outfits and the hair and the teeth. And if you get rid of the lead singer Alan O., who is cosmically bad. And kill the lyrics. And I never thought I’d say this, but that song could use some more Donny, who isn’t a bad little rock bassist.
And, as a bonus, here’s a photo from the Osmonds show I covered four years ago, taken by the most excellent Damon Winter, who is both probably the best photographer I’ve ever met and the only man I know who guarded Tim Duncan in a high school basketball game.
02 March 2006 |
Mr. Saturnhead, a blog in which the author, Ed Park, performs acts of close literary analysis upon the primitivist comic strip he drew (?) for his college newspaper. (Which happens to be my former college newspaper.) “Those stiff, wooden-looking hands in the final panel look like they’ve escaped from the Museum of American Folk Art.”
Ed is now a senior editor at The Village Voice. His regular blog is over here.
Mr. Saturnhead, sadly, is no competition for the greatest comic in college newspaper history, the inimitably puerile “Wide Gauge” by Ken Moon. Ken’s scanned in a few old strips at his site — check them out. The day-after-Valentine’s one is particularly great in its puerility.
02 March 2006 |
I will someday rise above my recent obsession with cute French girl singers of the 1960s. But today isn’t that day!
If you’re interested in that Serge-fueled musical era, let me direct you to:
1. Spiked Candy, an Australian MP3 blog focusing on catchy psych-pop, largely although not completely French; she posts a lot of rare live videos to YouTube, including several of my dear France Gall;
2. Filles Sourires, whose subtitle should tip you off: “Girls. Singing In French. Making Me Sigh. Any questions?”; he features a lot of more recent French pop; and
3. The Yé-yé Girl Scene, a remarkably thorough guide to the French ’60s scene, which I must admit I had no idea was called yé-yé. (The name comes from the Beatlesy pop they were emulating: “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.”)
Also, there’s a new English-language compilation of covers of Serge Gainsbourg songs. I think it’s not out here yet (and may only be available via import), but it’s got All Today’s Indie Stars. Well, actually more like 1996’s stars: Jarvis Cocker, Michael Stipe, Tricky, Placebo, Cat Power, Portishead. Plus some newer faces, like Franz Ferdinand and Feist.
I’m not a big Cat Power fan, but I love that she and honorary White Stripe Karen Elson have tackled Serge’s most famous track — “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus,” which was banned across Europe for featuring Jane Birkin faking an orgasm and lyrics like “I come and I go, in between your kidneys.” MP3 of the new girl-on-girl version here (which stupidly translates the title as “I love you…me either” instead of “neither”; video of the original version here.
01 March 2006 |
A Year In Pictures Following The Break-Up. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Follow his advice and start at the beginning — it’s strangely addictive.
The author, a Chicago improv guy named Arnie, has a nice voice. He gets mawkish and wallows a bit — but then calls himself on his mawkishness and wallowing. It’s really about how people try to match up our post-breakup emotions with what we think are the expectations of post-breakup emotions.
It does get a little less interesting as time marches on and he gets over his ex. But by then, you’re hooked into the characters.
01 March 2006 |
Video of Joy Division playing “She’s Lost Control” live on some TV show, September 15, 1979. It’s so strange seeing Ian Curtis in the flesh; for those of us born too late to hear him in his day, he’s long passed into Legend status.
While the Byrds and Gang of Four pop up most often as the prime influences for R.E.M., it’s amazing how much Michael Stipe borrowed from Curtis. The mumbled vocal style of early records like Murmur, for instance. The heavy-lidded, short-focal-length stare at the mike stand. And, most obviously, the angular, elbows-out dance/flail that both did during instrumental breaks. Call it the Robot Spaz. (Curtis was epileptic and had occasional seizures on stage. This wasn’t one of them.) Seriously, Stipe circa 1981 looked like a carbon copy of Curtis here.
(I tried searching for some video that shows early Stipe in full flail, but came up short. Instead I offer you this pretty rare video of the great “Wolves, Lower” from the Chronic Town EP. It shows some classic Stipe flailing, but he never cuts all the way loose. You actually see more of it in the Losing My Religion video, even though it’s a good decade later. The elbows start to come out about halfway through.)
A bonus Joy Division MP3: Transmission, live at Paris’ Les Bains Douches, December 18, 1979.
01 March 2006 |