Tuesday, August 30, 2005
How come every local news report has to have the local spin of the hurricane? "How will it affect our weather?" or local people trapped type of coverage. Are we so self-absorbed that we cannot comprehend human tragedy and suffering without it directly relating to ourselves? This is why I can't stand the local news in the United States (I'm assuming that elsewhere it's better, but who cares - here it stinks). They are not worried about the news just the ratings, and all their stories are designed to grab ratings.
If you do decide to watch the local news - you will surely see stories about the gas prices and the spike. (Again, we must do stories on how it affects everyone else). I am disgusted with speculation and profiteering. The stories say that the oil companies are "worried"; this is corporate speak for "time to make more money". Nothing sells like crisis and fear especially in corporate America. The cost of gas that is currently at your gas station shouldn't cost anymore than it did yesterday but yet the cost did go up drastically overnight as if it is pumped directly from New Orleans . I'm sure there is a relationship, but for gas that will get to our pumps in a month. Of course this is true about all of gas prices ever since 9/11. The oil companies have found the best marketing tool ever.
All this takes away though from what everyone in the affected area is experiencing. The man to the left is not upset at the loss of life in the south - no he's angry at the loss of dollars in his account. (I love seeing the pictures of the angry stock traders in their $1,000 suits until I realize that their only recourse to replace the money lost this week is to screw the normal person).
How about this? If the extra money that is being charged this week finds its way to the people that have lost their lives, homes, possessions, or jobs - I won't complain. Something tells me that isn't going to happen.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
by Michael Crowley
Post date: 08.24.05
Issue date: 09.05.05
ince the dawn of rock, there have been individuals, usually young men, of argumentative tendencies who have lorded their encyclopedic musical knowledge over others." So states the introduction of the recent Rock Snob's Dictionary, compiled by David Kamp and Steven Daly. I like to believe I'm not the insufferable dweeb suggested by this definition. Certainly, much of the dictionary's obscure trivia (former Television bassist Richard Hell is now a novelist; Norwegian death metal stars actually murder one another) is news to me. But I do place an unusual, perhaps irrational, value on rock music. I take considerable pride in my huge collection and carefully refined taste. And I consider bad rock taste--or, worse, no rock taste at all--clear evidence of a fallow soul. I am, in other words, a certified Rock Snob. But I fear that Rock Snobs are in grave danger. We are being ruined by the iPod.
While the term "Rock Snob" has a pejorative ring, the label also implies real social advantages. The Rock Snob presides as a musical wise man to whom friends and relatives turn for opinions and recommendations; he can judiciously distribute access to various rare and exotic prizes in his collection. "Oh my God, where did you find this?" are a Rock Snob's favorite words to hear. His highest calling is the creation of lovingly compiled mix CDs designed to dazzle their recipients with a blend of erudition, obscurity, and pure melodic dolomite. Recently, I unearthed a little-known cover of the gentle Gram Parsons country classic "Hickory Wind," bellowed out by Bob Mould and Vic Chestnutt, which moved two different friends to tears. It was Rock Snob bliss.
In some ways, then, the iPod revolution is a Rock Snob's dream. Now, nearly all rock music is easily and almost instantly attainable, either via our friends' computers or through online file-sharing networks. "Music swapping" on a mass scale allows my music collection to grow larger and faster than I'd ever imagined. And I can now summon any rare track from the online ether.
But there's a dark side to the iPod era. Snobbery subsists on exclusivity. And the ownership of a huge and eclectic music collection has become ordinary. Thanks to the iPod, and digital music generally, anyone can milk various friends, acquaintances, and the Internet to quickly build a glorious 10,000-song collection. Adding insult to injury, this process often comes directly at the Rock Snob's expense. We are suddenly plagued by musical parasites. For instance, a friend of middling taste recently leeched 700 songs from my computer. He offered his own library in return, but it wasn't much. Never mind my vague sense that he should pay me some money. In Rock Snob terms, I was a Boston Brahmin and he was a Beverly Hillbilly--one who certainly hadn't earned that highly obscure album of AC/DC songs performed as tender acoustic ballads but was sure to go bragging to all his friends about it. Even worse was the girlfriend to whom I gave an iPod. She promptly plugged it into my computer and was soon holding in her hand a duplicate version of my 5,000-song library--a library that had taken some 20 years, thousands of dollars, and about as many hours to accumulate. She'd downloaded it all within five minutes. And, a few months later, she was gone, taking my intimate musical DNA with her.
I'm not alone in these frustrations. "Even for a recovering Rock Snob, such as myself," Steven Daly told me, "it's a little disturbing to hear a civilian music fan boast that he has the complete set of Trojan reggae box-sets on his iPod sitting alongside 9,000 other tracks that he probably neither needs nor deserves." It's true: Even if music leeches don't fully appreciate, or even listen to, some of the gems they so effortlessly acquire, we resent them anyway. One friend even confessed to me in an e-mail that "I have been known to strip the iTunes song information off mix CDs just to keep the Knowledge secret."
But resistance is futile. Even the Rock Snob's habitat, the record shop, is under siege. Say farewell to places like Championship Vinyl, the archetypal record store featured in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. "The shop smells of stale smoke, damp, and plastic dust-covers, and it's narrow and dingy and overcrowded, partly because that's what I wanted--this is what record shops should look like," explains Hornby's proprietor, Rob. Like great used bookstores, the Championship Vinyls of the world are destinations where the browsing and people-watching is half the fun. (A certain kind of young man will forever cling to the fantasy of meeting his soul mate as they simultaneously reach for the same early-era Superchunk disc.) Equally gratifying is the hunt for elusive albums in a store's musty bins, a quest that demands time, persistence, and cunning, and whose serendipitous payoffs are nearly as rewarding as the music itself. Speaking of book-collecting, the philosopher Walter Benjamin spoke of "the thrill of acquisition." But, when everything's instantly available online, the thrill is gone.
Benjamin also savored the physical element of building a collection--gazing at his trophies, reminiscing about where he acquired them, unfurling memories from his ownership. "The most profound enchantment for the collector is the locking of individual items within a magic circle in which they are fixed," he said. But there's nothing magic about a formless digital file. I even find myself nostalgic for the tape-trading culture of Grateful Dead fans--generally scorned in the Rock Snob world--who used to drive for hours in their VW vans to swap bootleg concert tapes. My older brother still has a set of bootleg tapes he copied from a friend some 20 years ago during a California bike trip. Having survived global travels from Thailand to Mexico, the tapes have acquired an almost totemic quality in his mind. I feel the same way about certain old CDs, whose cases have become pleasantly scuffed and weathered during travels through multiple dorm rooms and city apartments but still smile out at me from their shelves like old friends. Soon our collections will be all ones and zeroes stored deep in hard drives, instantly transferable and completely unsatisfying as possessions. And we Rock Snobs will have become as obsolete as CDs themselves.Michael Crowley is a senior editor at TNR.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
It's about time that baseball address the serious backroom milk chugging going on in its league.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Bob Mould - Body of Song (3 out 5) Kind of an incomplete CD for me. Some of the songs work well, where too many fall flat. Some of the songs are just too produced. That said - still some killer songs. (emusic)
John Doe - Forever Hasn't Happened Yet (3.5 stars) I'm not familiar with Doe's work from X so forgive me. This CD was a pleasant surprise. Lots of great guest appearances (Neko Case and Kristin Hersh among others). Bluesy and rocking. (emusic)
Juliana Hatfield - Made In China (TBD) Just got this one. (emusic)
Laura Cantrall - Humming by the Flowered Vine (1 star) I'm still trying to give this one more of a chance. But I keep falling asleep. (emusic)
Martha Wainwright - Martha Wainwright (TBD) So far so good (iTunes)
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (2 stars) - Well it's not horrible...
New Pornographers - Twin Cinema (5 stars) - This could change as I just got this yesterday. But it's one of those rare cds that hits it right away. I have yet to hear a bad song and most are just fucking awesome. (emusic)
Surfjan Stevens - Illinoise (4 stars) - Another rating that could change. I need to sit and listen to this one. But I'm very impressed so far. (emusic)
Sundayrunners - Sundayrunners (3.5 stars) - I want to give it more, but I need to listen more. They remind me of Turin Brakes. The songs are very catchy - I hope not too much so. Ask me again in a month.
The Von Bondies - Lack of Communication (4 stars) - So much better than the White Stripes. Maybe that's why Jack White kicked lead singer Jason Stollsteimer's ass. Fun, old school, bluesy rock. (emusic)
As you can see, a very good month for eMusic. The New Pornographers, Surfjan Stevens, and Von Bondies cds would be worth signing up for. If you click the banner to the left and do so, I get paid. No pressure, but I haven't bought shoes in weeks.
Of course we elect the village idiot as president if we listen respect and listen to the court jester.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
(Apply these comments to the death penalty)
What made me decide to write this at this point was a recent article about a woman who is being sued by the RIAA for downloads made through her ISP account. The woman states that neither her nor her children set up the KaZaA account through which songs were being shared but rather by a visiting friend . The RIAA has a policy that regardless of the transgressor, it is the owner of the ISP that is responsible – and this policy is apparently no questions asked. They basically bully these people into submission even though they don't have a case. Aren't there bigger problems in this world to deal with other than people stealing copies of R. Kelley's Trapped in the Closet?
Since the RIAA’s position on digital music is so extreme at times they’ve essentially made everyone Robin Hood to their Sheriff of Nottingham. (Before you start thinking yourself as Robin Hood – taking music to fill your $300 iPod does not make you Robin Hood, it makes you a thief). It wasn’t until recently that the RIAA even agreed that it is legal to copy CD’s that you’ve purchased to your own digital devices. It is near impossible to comply to the rules so why not just ignore them all together?
The labels aren’t any better. A bunch of fat, rich, men who complain about the money that they aren’t making – even though they continue to make money, just not enough of it. The labels eventual solution will be to copy-protect everything (as they did with the Foo-Fighters recent cd). This only treats the actual buyer as a criminal.
The good thing is that the longer the RIAA fights against technology - the more irrelavent they become. Every week there's something new more advanced. The more unreasonable they are, the more they are ignored.
Isn't it about time the RIAA and the labels decide to figure out a way to actually co-exist with technology?
Monday, August 22, 2005
- Is it weird for a 29 year-old man to be so wrapped into a 12 year-old character? I mean, once I learned how old he was, I started to think he was less funny and more creepy.
- How is this show 30 minutes long? At about 4 minutes, I'm wondering if a another episode of Hogan Knows Best is on VH1.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
I have to say that I am a bit annoyed that it seems as if original producer Jon Brion was thrown under the bus by Apple. For all the work he did on this album and the previous cd - he deserves more loyalty. Anyway, she tends to be a bit freaky.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
My post about stealing music has led to a lot of conversation and what I'm realizing is that I'm the only one that really believes I should pay for music. What's worse is that it's to the point where I look silly for buying music. My post was really about the ethics and morality of the issue as opposed to any belief that the theft is justified because the music industry on a whole is unsympathetic (they are).
The woman I sit next to at work said "ethics are so 90's". Our sense of morality and ethics are so flexible as to serve no true purpose. Everything can be explained away so that we can sleep at night.
What is scary is where we will be 5, 10, 20 years from now?
Sunday, August 07, 2005
I do think that the ability to listen to a cd prior to purchasing is a great thing, so if copying is done for that reason, awesome. But too many people never purchase a cd - ever. Some are proud of this. If you chose to do this, that's cool - but don't fool yourself into saying you're fighting the establishment or some other bullshit argument; it's theft, pure and simple.
At this same congressional hearing Baltimore Oriole first baseman Rafael Palmeiro defiantly told congress that he had never taken performance enhancing drugs "period". The same media and baseball fans pointed to Palmeiro's testimony as a shining example of what McGwire should have said. This past week Palmeiro was suspended when steriods were found in his system. I'm pretty sure that Palmeiro didn't come up with the idea to take steroids all of a sudden in the past month at the age of 40. It is likely that he lied to us in March. Big surprise.
I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Our culture is one that prefers and expects a good lie when cornered. My girlfriend always says it's basically the idea of "respect me enough to lie to me". This is wrong. If someone decides that to avoid lying, it's best to not speak at all, we should respect that decision.
I have no proof that Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling, and Rafael Palmeiro didn't lie on that day in March, but I know for a fact that Mark McGwire didn't. While McGwire didn't deserve praise for what he did, at least he deserved our respect.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The bonus disc is entitled Cinemascope -- A Sampler of Incidental Music Recorded for the Screen in Stereo.
1. Down By The Riverside
3. Girls Go
4. Harry Called
5. Pool Ballet
8. Nice Turkey
Tracks 1,6, and 9 from the film "The Comedians of Comedy"
Tracks 2,3,7,8, and 10 from th film "Melvin Goes to Dinner"
Tracks 4 and 5 from the film "The Anniversary Party"
Michael Penn's light, heavy rock
By Scott Galupo
August 2, 2005
Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947
The first scene in "Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947," Michael Penn's sketch of a concept album, is of a G.I. returning home from World War II, weary, defeated and dislocated: "I'm the walking wounded/I'd say it to your face/but I can't find my place," Mr. Penn sings in "Walter Reed," named for the famous Army hospital (soon to go on the chopping block in the next round of military base closures).
The soldier's lament might as well be Mr. Penn's, though to a far less life-threatening extent. The singer-songwriter is both a one-hit wonder ("No Myth," from 1989's "March") and, for a small but devoted following, a continual favorite and an industry veteran. Yet this brother of a famous actor (Sean) and husband of a more successful singer-songwriter (Aimee Mann) has had trouble staying on his feet in the music business, trading blows with a major label that, he said, refused to free him from a contract while also prohibiting him from putting out new music.
Taking a page out of Miss Mann's do-it-yourself playbook, Mr. Penn formed his own imprint, Mimeograph Records, for the release of "Mr. Hollywood," his first LP in five years. It's a typically crafty and modestly successful work from Mr. Penn, who continues in the vein of Beatles pop-rock and Dylan-style intellectualism.
Don't let the "concept album" bugaboo scare you: Most of the songs here are personal meditations or story-song narratives; politics and history are kept abstractly on the margins. For instance, it takes some effort to trace the steps of the song "18 September," a minute-and-a-half of aquatic noise and engine hum. A scan of Mr. Penn's breezy liner notes and a Google search reveals Sept. 18 as the date of the passage of the National Security Act and the formation of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947. That task having been completed, it takes a left-leaning disposition to take this for something ominous.
Mr. Penn sees 1947 as a very important year for all sorts of cultural-historical reasons, some of them sinister. There's the partitioning of Palestine, the double-super-secret mind-control experiments of Project Paperclip and the Hollywood blacklist, which ensnared Mr. Penn's father, the actor-director Leo Penn.
On a lighter note, Mr. Penn pays tribute to the invention of the transistor radio in another brief instrumental, "The Transistor," a bright, tense piece of string music that Mr. Penn may have pocketed from one of his movie scores. The final concept-y interlude, "The Television Set Waltz," heralds the arrival of TV broadcasting on the West Coast.
Basically, the Smithsonian stuff has nothing to do with the meat of the album -- yearning, literate folk-pop tunes such as "Pretending," "A Bad Sign," "O.K." and "(P.S.) Millionaire" and thumping, mid-tempo rock fare such as "Room 712, the Apache" and "On Automatic," on which the customarily distressed Mr. Penn allows that "things are looking up in the meantime."
The latter song is a sweet reward to the listener, who, if he's a fan of Mr. Penn's, has had to wait half a decade for 10 proper pop songs littered loosely inside a schema that tries to blend popular history with conspiratorial gravity.
"Mr. Hollywood" is either the most subtly intelligent work of 2005 or the sign of a singer-songwriter with too much time on his hands.