Saturday, October 27, 2007

For the fifth year or so in a row, I've stumbled completely by accident into a Halloween parade. I'm pretty sure I've had the same tired squint splashed across my face every time I've done it, too. This morning wasn't much different, other than the allergy attack I was having (in addition to spreading the rign of fire across southern California, the Santa Ana winds also bear spores pregnant with allergens, making the Santa Anas the perfect weapon.

Overheard a conversation in the bar the other night supposing that maybe terrorists lit the fires. ugh.

Fell asleep on the couch watching Battlestar Galactica (SHUT UP) last night, and I woke up this morning with a head like a mucus-filled piƱata. It's just how my day shouldn't have started.
Anyway, I'm off to work with literally hundreds of children and senior citizens for eleven hours. Hear me now and believe me later, I will be needing a drink late tonight. Consider mailing one to me.

Go here and download a fucking great Halloween mix compiled by a man who knows.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A U.S. MGR-1 "Honest John" missile with cutaway portion of warhead revealing M139 Sarin Gas bomblets, circa 1960.

Yes, that Sarin.

The fires are fucking out of control, and plumes of smoke trail upwards from nearby towns. The sky is backlit at night and hazy during the day. I'm told that the power might be going in and out as the fires get closer and closer. Fuckin' fantastic, that is. It's starting to look like end of the world poems, and I can only sit and enjoy the light as entire towns nearby go up in smoke.

"Rick Santorum has been the most courageous and outspoken public figure in
America alerting all of us to the true nature of the enemy we face," said
David Horowitz, founder of the Freedom Center, and organizer of
"Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," which includes events at over 100 schools
across America.

All the burning bridges that have fallen after me

The theme song to "Kelly's Heroes" is stuck in my head and I can't get it out. It's driving me nuts. But it's a really good song in that weird 70s feelgoodery sort of way. Did I put that on a mix? I remember finding it at some point, but haven't heard it in some time. I will find it tonight and it will go on a mix I aim to complete by friday. Then we shall all rejoice, and drink from wooden bowls the life of the earth.

I just wrote a letter to Jay Rockefeller calling him a whore and now I'm going to listen to Spacemen 3 as loud as I can to cleanse my aural palate and grant me fury.

New word of the day: Frass. Means insect poop. Right now there is a lot of it in the office next door to mine.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

in 1995 I saw a movie with my best friend and another guy after eating some mushrooms. As usual, we hadn't anticipated the effects of what we'd taken, and we certainly hadn't anticipated the effect this movie would have on the three of us. I remember leaving the theater and trying to convince Sean to drive his car off a cliff because nothing mattered anymore. I remember driving home through a rainstorm and seeing waves creep up over the hood of the car. I remember thinking we wouldn't survive the night.
Now, 12 years later I'm sitting here watching 12 Monkeys, a movie I've owned for years but haven't had the courage to watch until now. I'd be lying if I felt completely at ease, or comfortable with this movie. I can't tell you for sure if this is some weird, lingering psychic aftermath from that night. But this feels as ominous and Cassandriatic as it did when I first saw it. I've had the chance to think this over and over again, and it should be kid's stuff to me, especially considering the state of mind I've been in lately. But I still feel the same dread I'd always imagined. Time still messes up for me.
Reading now and recalling it (along with 7even, another terrifying flick) was filmed in Philly and that I know intimately the places it was filmed doesn't help a goddamned thing. ugh. It is amazing to see the Brad Pitt role again, though. I forgot how dedicated he was here.

The Go! Team was incredible. I was trying to think of a reference point earlier for a guy at the bar, and instead of using the term "cheerleader rock" (a term which I've previously applied and now see as futile) I realized that they are the Peanuts of rock. Completely sincere and excited. I danced my ass off tonight. I'm still trying to figure out a way to force them into everyone's daily lives. It may take awhile. I apologize for the lack of jungle tales, though. I am all too curious to talk to Ricky about the new Cat Power show in the meantime. Love all 4 of you.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Slept in today after a late night of reading and Fido. It's a nice day, so I went for a walk, and made nice with the teenagers posturing on the corner with clove cigarettes. They liked my t-shirt, which has a Japanese ad for Kidsbeer. Last weekend, one of these very kids called me a faggot from a moving SUV window.
In the record store, there were about 20 copies of Radiohead's In Rainbows in the used section. I'm not even remotely sure how that's legal. I guess selling used mp3s is just the same as used CDs.
Anyway, I picked up some milk and albums and came back home to make myself two eggs, over easy, a pot of coffee, and some toast. Miller's Crossing is on. So I'm gonna watch this, eat my breakfast, and go for another walk before heading to Pomona to see the Go! Team tonight. I've barely listened to the new record since it came out, and I'm hoping that will make tonight even more pleasant.
Then, tonight, in the vacant glow of early morning, I will drink many beers and regale you with jungle tales.

Friday, October 19, 2007

How fucking adorable is this? It's painful. It hurts me, the cuteness of this picture.
If this doesn't excite you then you are a terrible person.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Schlubba Ho-Tep

I know how easy it is to write off the fat Elvis. I mean, the whole era remains a caricature of a caricature that leaves a taste in your mouth not unlike fair food. Funnel Cake and buttered popcorn. Hot sausage. and sure, the whole production comes across about as greasy as the aforementioned heart-destroyers. It's hard not to picture Elvis, half-exhausted on the edge of the stage, a chicken leg in one hand and his flying eagle jumpsuit unbuttoned far below even the decency laws of Vegas should be allowing. The one time sex symbol and idol to millions reduced to crooning Neil diamond songs. and of course the Memphis Mafia. Redneck enforcers of the King's will, or at least his reputation. Slamming methamphetamines into their bodies and laying meaty paws all over the already-pawed ladies of Vegas*
Well, first of all fuck you, I happen to enjoy some of Mr. Diamond's repertoire. Second, don't be so quick to dismiss the fat bastard. It's not like this happened overnight. People seem quicker to dismiss late-era Elvis than the movie star Elvis, which is fucking preposterous. Elvis starred in 31 motion pictures, and with a few exceptions, they're not even fit for Mystery Science Theatre standards (though that would be entertaining). Jesus, have you ever seen Double Trouble? or Kissin' Cousins? blech. The movies are what ruined Elvis. And though the '68 comeback special is what is generally seen as his glorious return to the stage, and that's true. He was terrified and convinced that his audience had given up seeing Elvis apply himself to anything ever again.
But it was here, in Vegas, that he really had to prove himself. It's easy to suck in your gut and put on a show for 90 minutes. But twice a night? for several years? Karate kickin'? Bloated, drug-addled, schlubby. These all apply. But to say he wasn't working hard, or to say that his band wasn't among the greatest working at the time is just stupid.
James Burton. D.J. Fontana. shit, even Scotty Moore pops up on disc 4. Anyways, yeah, it's cheesy and over-the-top. Yes, it's ridiculous and spangled and decadent and the precursor to pretty much everything there is to hate about Las Vegas. But that doesn't mean it's not a great show. So make yourself a corn dog. Dip it in powdered sugar, and enjoy the spectacle for what it's worth.

Download 4 discs of it here.

yeah, you just wasted this time reading what is essentially a link to someone else's website and upload. You see what I did there? But it is worth listening to I promise. I suggest downloading Discs 1 and 3 in the very least.

*with apologies to guys like Red West, who I still think were true friends to Elvis and standup guys in spite of it all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In a van...

I’ve been listening to this song on repeat since I woke up this morning, and it’s one of those songs that I grew up loving, put on the first 20 mixes that I ever made, got burnt out on, and then sort of forced myself to forget about for the better part of a decade. I was brushing my teeth at 1 this morning and this came on my headphones and though I was exhausted, I had to stay up and listen to this at a skull-crushing volume. And I pretty much have been since.

It’s so easy to forget how versatile Neil can be, even over the course of the same song. Up until I was 13 or so I though Neil Young only played predominantly acoustic folk rock. Then I stumbled across the second side of Live Rust (recorded 3 months after I was born) and had my mind just blown out of my asshole. Because I’m not sure I’d ever heard a guitar like that, except for maybe my brother’s punk records.

I think I learned then and there that there’s a difference between playing a guitar loud or fast and playing a guitar hard. And this was definitely the latter. It sounded like he was playing it with a fist, fer chrissakes. I don’t know how he wasn’t stopping to change strings every 15 seconds because it sounds sometimes like he is raining blows down on that thing.

And “Down By the River” was always my favorite example of that. It’s not often that Neil is credited with being a great guitarist, and that’s understandable, considering his playing style is hardly flashy or nimble. But then neither is most of Pete Townsend’s, and he seems to do alright. But that isn’t to take away from what he can do with it.

Lots of hack music rags love to describe how people like Clapton or Hendrix “wield” their guitars. They fuckin’ love it. And I never understood that. Because it just didn’t seem right to me. Those guys massaged and coaxed their instruments. It’s people like Phelps Collins or even Greg Ginn that wield their guitars, that use them like a tool and not a precision instrument. Neil Young fucking wields his guitar. Over the course of this song he uses it to the same effect that one would use a rusted putty knife, a rubber mallet, and a chainsaw. And unlike many others that have tried, it works in a way that that sounds completely natural. Those solos don’t require the most talent, but that never meant they were easy to play. If played loud enough, they can be even exhausting to listen to. And just picturing Neil stamping his foot on that weird way that he does makes it even more tiring. Goddamn, it’s great. That’s all I really got today, but I just felt like sharing since I’ll never be able to find a place for something like this on a mix again. It just doesn’t fit with anyone else’s music.

“Down By the River” – Neil Young

Live in Massachusetts, 1986

and since I've been listening to the new Steve Earle a bit lately (which has a verson of Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole" which will serve as the theme song for season 5 of The Wire), here's my favorite song off that.

"Steve's Hammer" (for Pete)
buy Washington Square Serenade here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

You're number 37, have a look

It's a turdish fall day here. It's actually the closest I think I'll get to having a fall out here, since the skies are gray, it's a little chilly, and the sycamore outside my office window is one of the only trees in the area that I've seen changing colors. I'm trying to make the most of it (hellooo Arab Strap, Microphones) and keep a gloomy demeanor. So yeah, there's that.

It's strange, thinking about it, but I only have one friend within 900 miles of here. Who I happened to live with, work in the same building as, and am married to. It serves as sort of an insulation from everything else around here, and I'm wondering if after awhile this hinders both of us from making new friends or even being able to tolerate a lot of people we normally would. Have I always been this picky about the people I hung around with? Probably not, judging by some of the acquaintances I've made in my lifetime. Is Southern California (or at least this town) actually that loathsome that likeable, interesting people are that hard to come by? Doubtful.

I don't remember knowing so many overly dramatic people than I've met here, though. This probably isn't true. Most of the discussions I encounter outside our home seem to be about failed relationships (both platonic and romantic), inter-office politics, smug dissections of other lifestyles/beliefs, and in-depth talks about botanic nomenclature.

I can't tell you how sick I am of all of these things. And it's not that I feel like I have anything much more interesting to talk about, but there's gotta be more than that. No wonder a guy can get to feeling dejected.

Anyways I shouldn't complain here, it's not your fault. It's not theirs, or ours. It's not mine. Blame the patch of Autumn I just stumbled across this morning.

Mata Hari was executed 90 years ago today. Huh.

Racism in Switzerland?

Things I currently want to disappear, at least for a little while:
Ambient music
Democratic Party Leadership
Bullshit non-binding resolutions
Dane Cook
Baseball in general

Friday, October 12, 2007

Now Listening:

Rebetika is essentially the outsider music from the early 1920s to the late 1950s in Greece. It's the music of drug addicts and prisoners and lovers. Not surprisingly, then, it gets a lot of comparisons to American blues. It was actually banished by the far-right and censorship-happy Metaxas regime. However, also much like American blues, the genre was cleaned up sold to the upper class and eventually nationalized.
I can't speak a word of Greek. I can barely spell most of the Greek foods I like. But this music is really interesting and in some cases heartbreaking. I'm sure I'll sneak some on the next mix I throw together, whenever that might be.

I'm also reading some stuff on the breaking of tradition in the practices of Zoroastrianism. It's... a lot more interesting than it sounds.

Also, Trader Joe's sells scotch here. Someone help me wrap my head around this.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


I've been looking through these pictures of suddenly abandoned homes I came across on English Russia. They're amazing. It's too easy to imagine a context in which someone would rush out the door of their apartment, leaving for good with their highly personal belongings strewn out across their floor. I imagine fear of toxic gas, of nuclear holocaust. Fear of mob reprisal and torch-wielding mobs. Fear of secret police and instant death. I imagine crying children leaving behind filthy, beloved stuffed animals and prized television sets left in haste.
But the sad reality of it is that these places were probably left in fine order with everything where it was supposed to be. The apparent havoc left by scavengers and drug addicts, looking for expired medicine and Nazi gold.
When I was a sophomore in high school there was an abandoned house that some friends of mine had found. There were newspapers dating back to 1986 stacked up just inside the front door. The closets still had sweaters, the pantry still had dry goods.
There was also a fully stocked bar in the basement. I remember we found some sort of board game that basically consisted of a vinyl football field and a stack of cards that we somehow had turned into a drinking game. We would line up four shots of whatever we'd come across (this was the first and only time that I ever would drink banana schnapps) and somehow counted them as downs and field progression.
I went outside to smoke a cigarette (I still am filled with a small pride that I respected the abandoned home enough not to fill it with smoke) and walked smack into a police officer. I was 16 and pretty drunk. It was the second time I was ever arrested.
This is how I live now. It's 11:30 on a Saturday night and I'm looking at crap on the internet and telling high school stories to nobody in particular. We went to a nearby shopping center today and came very close to dying in a car crash on the way home. Fucking California drivers.

Watching: The Science of Sleep. It's so filled with whimsy that I just want to blink myself out of existence.

Reading: The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman. I'm pain in-the-ass late on this, but it's the most impressive graphic novel I've read in a very long time. It's put together from a graphic design standpoint and can at times be an utterly exhaustive read. In a good way. I can't recommend this enough.
I got Warren Ellis' book in the mail on friday, and expect to read it in one giant sitting. Perhaps I'll write something on it late.r

Wednesday, October 03, 2007