Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 10.28.02

The Cowboy Bebop obsession continues. I cannot figure out who told me bad things about this show now, but it seemed to be in the non-Web world as well as a few written pieces. It now seems like slagging Cowboy Bebop isn’t much different from slagging the Beatles, except without the credible argument that the Beatles have overstayed their welcome. It goes beyond an affection for anime, as it’s just done well, regardless of its cartoon origins. Many of the shots seem to be homages to classic film scenes, yet it’s a rare moment when it’s beaten over one’s head. It’s also hard to ignore how quietly the characters are developed, without momentous declarative epiphanies. It’s nice to see something written well enough to walk the line to the perpetual static of remaining true to stereotype, and bombastic transformation.

We went to a Damien Youth show on Saturday night, at Augustine’s bar in Hammond. It was a full band, rather than the solo show that i’ve grown used to. This lineup has only played together a handful of times before, and they sounded like one of the best lineups he’s had. I have yet to learn each of their whole names, but soundwise, they came off as a glammish Stooges. The setlist was a familiar one, with quite a few songs drawn from the Strange Machine and Featherbox bands, but it is one of the first times that the whole band has played together. The only complaint that i had is that they had too many slow numbers in their setlist. These slow songs have plenty of power, as they often explode, but they don’t have the immediacy to grab an audience that has never seen them before. I don’t know. Perhaps i’m just jaded as i’m quite familiar with most of those songs. I would not use the reaction of the Augustine’s audience as an accurate gauge, as that’s throwing pearls before swine in any case. However, the only song that grabbed the uncoverted was “I Hate You”, and Damien has more than enough concise ragers that would suit this particular band’s seeming strengths.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 10.25.02

There’s something psychically sick with Baton Rouge right now. First there was the connection of Hatfield (who is almost certainly a patsy for a larger conspiracy) and LSU to the anthrax mailings, then the discovery of a serial killer in our midst, and now the sniper in Maryland having roots in Baton Rouge…. it’s spooky. Lou & i feel weird living in this spiritual sewer….

Music is not my main interest these past couple of days. I’ve only been making comp CDs without actually listening to them. The main focus is downloading episodes of Cowboy Bebop, as Lou discovered the proper codec to get the .avi files to play. I’m now obsessed with this series, as until now, i’ve only heard reluctant priase for it… but it beats most anime i’ve seen. Many of the complaints have been over the jarring soundtrack, which i believe is its strongest feature.

Anyway, it’s a brilliant piece of distraction to insulate myself myself from the bad news everywhere lately.

So Senator Wellstone is dead… He was murdered. Don’t give me shit about bad weather and icy wings. This is too strange, too convenient, too cliched… I’m not going to sit around waiting for a respectful time for making such comments. We need to look for the real evidence right now. Indymedia is flying off the handle too, with its interpretation of Wolf Blitzer’s nuances, without any real evidence, but i believe them. It’s a knowing from the pit of my stomach. Coincidences are a myth. Even if it it could be proved conclusively that it was merely icie on the wings, i don’t feel that the certain Republican elements would not indulge in black magic. That’s how paranoid i feel right now.

Yes, it all sounds crazy, but the inevitability of it all, with the whole world hurdling into the abyss at the hands of a a few power-mad men, has me scared shitless.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 10.23.02

Shit. Where i once though “Losing My Edge” was quite an amusing novelty, it’s turning into a curse. In reading that Vice magazine thread on ILM, i had to shake off the chuckles to realize that i don’t think i’ve ever consciously laid eyes upon the zine, meaning i can have no opinion on the matter. I hate not having an opinion, semi-informed or not.

The Pitchfork eulogy for Elephant 6 made me sadder than i would have thought. The news was self-evident, and their lo-fi retro-pop has been in retreat for a few years now. The disintegration of two-thirds of the core bands didn’t help. They have actually been on my mind often lately, as i was throwing together a lazy comp to make up for most of my collection being on vinyl, and because some people i work with went to school in Ruston. When they complain about how redneck and backwards Ruston is, i insist that’s where many of the Elephant 6 guys were from, and i no longer go off on a bitter rampage about Mangum and some girl i used to know. I’m rather proud of them now actually, despite some of the critical savaging they get now, as the practical utopian community that they envisioned is something they actually pulled off in Orange Twin, while comparable contemporaries that i knew fell apart early on. The only mystery that remains is just how so many Southerners could manage to sound so nasal….

Incidentally, i’ll continue to buy the records of the continuing efforts, while shaking my head and continuing to dismiss much of them like the obsessive dork that i am. Without that imprint though, it will be so much easier to lump in most E6 stuff in with bands liek the Minus 5 and

Forgot to mention that i really did give up on the O. Henry 2002 Prizes and traded it in for the new Umberto Eco Baudolino. It’s a pretty amusing, in that shifting, vaguely dishonest narrative Eco seems to like playing with. However, it also feels like he’s treading water. I don’t know that much about Prester John, the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades, and Grail lore, but the stuff Eco’s touching upon seems to be the obvious stuff, as it all seems overly familiar, not as alien and obscure as it should. However, i don’t have a clue where the book is going just yet, so it’s still a fun read.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 10.22.02

There’s just so little time to write now.

Some crap radio show was on KLSU last night. The DJ was playing the sorts of songs that only get played in a barroom, strident boozy confessionals that are too much of a stew to embrace any style or genre. These are the kind of songs that one actually winces at thinking of the singer writing, because there’s not a note that seems to come from inspiration, only a dim rote memory of how a song is supposed to be constructed. Please don’t imagine the Shaggs… it’s nothing so deleriously misguided. It’s the sheer workmanlike effort of a song, the plywood cutout facsimile of songcraft, borne of desperation to fill a set with an original effort or two, when covers are all that can suffice. Why would anyone want to play this embarrassmnet on the radio though?

Although it would be nice to look at the bright side, insisting that if Dubya doesn’t attack North Korea for working upon developing nuclear weapons then he isn’t totally power mad or that if Saddam submits to stringent weapons inspections, then Dubya accepts this as a “regime change” but of course, it’s all bullshit. It only confirms suspicions that his words and justifications mean nothing.

Ari was telling the truth for once that time that he was tossing off snotty one-liners about the price of a bullet. All of this pretense of moderation and reason, of resolving this manufactured conflict without a war is simply a game to pick off straggling policy makers of the nation on the U.N. Security Council, the ones that want to give the U.S. what it wants without admitting that war is inevitable. Under Dubya, war is inevitable. He’ll promise anything until he gets the approval he wants to shore up appearances. I will not believe anything other than “regime change” is war.

This absurd declaration about the phenomenal differences between North Korea and Iraq is no less brazen. Minefields are kept up between North and South Korea allegedly because if they were removed, North Korea would come pouring over the border…. at least by U.S. insistence. It doesn’t help that North Korea kidnaps Japanese citizens. As for the nonsense about the nation of Iraq killing its own people, look to the regular stories of malnutrition and starvation from North Korea. They didn’t even have to get any chemical weapons from the United States to do it, and the people wind up just as dead as if they were gassed…. just more slowly.

This motherfucker Bush needs impeachment and removal from office (one he should never have been allowed to seize in the first place.) He has no moral compass, yet because his lies do not fit comfortably into the context of a Jerry Springer show (ahem… Clinton,) no one knows how to snap back and tell this smirking, shit-eating slime to talk to the hand, that it’s time for him to take his trailer off the cinder blocks and mosey on down the road.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 10.18.02

In reading Plastic, i ran across this stupid little comment, concerning the student protestors who stormed MTV’s TRL to protest the war upon Iraq… “Who but white, middle-class, college graduate boomers continue to hold on to the fantasy that rock music is by its very nature political, rebellious, and iconoclastic?” Actually, quite a few people, you fat, potato-chip-eating American. Your cynicism does not assure that anyone believes that you have a big brain or a big cock.

I do agree that any program from the ’60s or ’70s would have thrown the guys out, but there’s a reason why so many flagwaving, pseudo-patriotic songs are fluttering about the airwaves…. because music (note not just ROCK music) still packs a punch. Although it’s amusing to insist that MTV is innately musical, this feels like a good thing to me, and i don’t think it’s a failure. The very fact that the protestors were thrown off the air underlines real rebellion, with that jackass Durst right there being upstaged, with nothing to say. It’s perfect. MTV can do more by being exactly what it is, the Dick Clark American Bandstand that it is in case a real wildfire of protest gets started, a perfect strawman of conformity to be knocked down.

Damn. This isa perfect opportunity for those talentless hacks Blink-182. They can become bigger revolutionary icons that Rage Against the Machine could ever hope to be. Zach de la Rocha would stew over that one. I cannot wait….

The new Magnet has pleasantly surprised me. I had no idea that power pop was still “in”. The article is more characterictic of Mojo, but is a welcome piece. The only drawback i’ve found to the feature is the weird models that they have dressed in skinny ties. Magent really hired a model to dress as a power pop icon?

There are stil memories of people getting quite annoyed at what was perceived as a piss-poor stab at their shoegazer article, but Magnet seems to be on a roll. It sucks that they are only printed six times per year, considering that dozens of other new zines are beginning to crowd them out on the bookshelves.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 10.16.02

Trying to get caught up with the blogs that i normally read. It’s turning out to be less of a chore than i thought, as many of them went semi-dormant around the same time i did.

Finally downloaded that band My Computer. The reviews have been stellar. Those reviews are highly optimistic. What i hear is a laptop version of Godley & Creme, their post 10CC work. I actually like some Godley & Creme, but it’s wankery experimentalism at its extremes… My Computer is of the same ilk. It’s not terrible music, but it is sterile. Every so often brilliant little moments of production and style flare up, but then i recoil in distaste, like if one is marvelling at a cute little robot, and it licks you, leaving a trail of smelly saliva. No, it doesn’t feel like a clever, intentional thing or an imprint of organic creation. It’s just not my sort of thing.

If you must find it yourself, look for the album name Vulnerabilia, as My Computer is one of the best download proof names anyone could think of, to baffle any searches.

One of the many things that i wanted to have a kneejerk reation to in the past few weeks, but just couldn’t be bothered was that idiotic unfunny humor column that had the audience boo the Buzzcocks offstage for saying things about Dubya. My immediate reaction was not to beielve anything. Now Alex has pointed out the article that shows that the Buzzcocks never said a damned thing, but it was Blink-182. The columnist still stands by the fact that someone was booed offstage for shouting against Dubya, but the Buzzcocks continue to say that there really wasn’t much of a reaction at all, which sounds more accurate as apathy is the overwhelming attitude.

The weird thing is that I now have something i can identify with about Blink-182, a band i have no respect for musically. Whatever they might have really said is bound to be something childish and pointlessly obscene, but they probably dislike him for a reason, and it might very well be a good one. Then again, it’s Blink-182, and who really wants those muttonheads on their side? Wolfowitz or Blink-182? Sheesh….

The new Delgados album seems pretty nice. The Delgados have been one of those bands that i’ve never fully embraced for unknown reasons. Steve Boone tried to get me into them, then Paul and Lou sent me tapes of them, but nothing ever grabbed me. It seemed wispier than it needed to be. Admittedly, this Hate album is so heavily orchestrated that it verges on MOR pop, and i wonder if this is what the Corrs would sound like if they went indie (with “The Drowning Years” as my example, even if it makes sense to no one else.) Anyway, the song that i’m into this morning is “Woke from Dreaming”…. which has a children’s choir and doesn’t make me want to puke, but still doesn’t beat Smog’s “No Dancing” by a longshot.

Also downloaded a Super Furry Animals show from this fall. It doesn’t seem to have any of those new songs that they said that they were going to tour. Damn it.

While Lou & i have scored “free” tickets to Calexico in November, and hope to see Wilco as well… it just occurred to me that a friend’s wedding is right about that time. Whoops.

Neither Mojo or Fortean Times ever appeared this past month. My heart is broken.

Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher 10.15.02

Sheesh. While the job took a lot of the time, as it’s been 60 to 75 hours per week at the bookstore, as opposed to the more normal 50 per week at the lab, the real reason why i took the break was because i was just spending too much time on the computer. Music has also been weeded out of my life by sheer accident, but it’s beginning to creep back in.

Friday Stereolab came on KLSU, and it made me think of how long it has been since i’ve put that band on intentionally, instead of the usual happy accident of running across their music. We were on campus while i waited in the truck, and it became clear how collegiate that music is for me. It’s probably obvious to many that it’s academic, even a wee bit pretentious in its intellectualism, i forgot all that. The first time i was exposed to the band made me excited of the possibilities of rock. Yeah, it wasn’t even that new to me…. Damien had been in some mad phase of playing Brasil ’66 at the time, a cycle unrelated to music fashion, as he redigests his records at some alien pace that ususually remains out of step with current trends. I was ignorant of that side of Krautrock, as i only knew Amon Duul 2 and Can intimately, and nothing i understood about those bands at that time pointed to Stereolab until later. It still sticks in my mind as the music of students though. It’s portal music, guiding a listener to other stuff, rather than being an end unto itself. It’s homework to be deciphered and digested before moving on. Listening to Stereolab for me is like going through old biology and chemistry noterbooks. It’s useful for shining up mnemonic devices and sweet nostalgia, but i still don’t plan on throwing on a Stereolab album just for fun.

But new stuff….

I’ve been handing out CDs to my coworkers, Velvet Underground and Belle & Sebastian to one, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (by his request) and the Liars (at my insistence) to another. People are already seeming to become jealous that i’m handing out CDs at random to people, almost as gifts to select favorite employees. It’s really that I’m passing out music to those i’ll know who will appreciate it, and not let the discs gather dust on someone who just likes freebies. I’m a little surprised that neither of these guys have any knowledge of any of the websites that i regularly read, even though they know the music, styles, and artists.

Oh, i meant to write about new stuff. I haven’t found anything. I’ve realized that i’ve become so gluttonous that i’ve lost sight of what i loved most…. whatever that is. In talking to these guys at work, i figure out that i know far, far more than they do…. and it doesn’t make me feel superior in the least. I’ve drained out all of the joy of discovery by fufilling every whim immediately. Even bands that i am less than familiar with that one guy brought up, i already owned the music, having it squirreled away in various cubbyholes for future dry spells. It feels like the only way out of this whole is to do penance, sharing what i already have with those without the overwhelming urge for instant musical gratification.

The only thing i have left right now seems to be to react to what others write….

The Freaky Trigger Pop Focus is the first thing that pops to mind. (and yeah, it bugs me that most of these songs are quite old in terms of pop. My few responses were abandoned on that PalmPilot many months ago…. why is this thing so late?) It still has lots of nice little pithy comments, some insightful, but some scores that just baffle me. Only the write-in votes explain the weird skew…. with people who’d give 10s to Sloan and the New Romantics (both bands i like, but….) and then Cake and Phantom Planet (what the fuck?!) seemingly poisoning the well….. anyway…. my surprises…

  • Mystikal is way too low.
  • Sopie Ellis-Bextor is way too high.
  • While i can understand Josh’s hatred for the White Stripes, i missed all prior manifestations of it. It’s kinda funny. I wish that he’d unleash it more.
  • Tom’s simultaneous affection for Nickelback and hatred for the Hives is absolutely baffling. Nickelback is dullest of the dull, and even though i now feel that i’m over the Hives, that single is still the backing component for “Lisa’s Got the Hives”
  • the Wilco “War on War” write-in is misguided, but it certainly is funny.
  • More people should have been forced to write about Eminem. He must miss the attention. Poor bastard.
  • I didn’t realize that Pink was that unpopular. I’ve gone off “Get This Party Started” a bit too, but there seems to be an age bias thing going on there, and if one wants to listen to lots of pop, then age bias gets one nowhere.
  • Comparing No Doubt’s “Hey Baby” to the Soup Dragons tickled me for some reason. It’s better than the rating it received though.
  • The guy who mentioned Babasonicos on a write-in has perked my interest with his comparison to the SFA, but i’m still undecided as to whether i like it myself. Part of me wants to slag it, even though i hear the SFA references as well…. it might actually be too funky for me. (The AMG entry references Depeche Mode, which is a bad thing to me, but Ned wrote it, so it’s a less disturbing reference somehow.)
  • It’s a relief to see Will Young at the bottom. At least i can demonstrate to Lou that my download of it was a true experiment, and show that it actually was on the ballot. Her inspections of my music downloads tripled after she found that on the harddrive, worried that i downloaded it without any prompting whatsoever.
  • It’s also nice to see Ashanti at the bottom.

That Coupland book. I finished that a couple of weeks ago. It was good enough, in its way. While lately i feel betrayed by overly downbeat endings, the nearly ecstatic happy ending in this one was a bit much. He still writes in that same smartass voice, with clever little one-liners that no normal person would be able to throw out so readily, particularly most of his protagonists, one of whom is supposed to be a housewife with a largely unfufilled life. It still bothers me that he hasn’t found a way to make on voice different from another, as they all reach that same level of detached irony.

Summerland was an easy read, but work hindered the flow. It may be a kid’s adventure story, with dreams realized and a dreamworld unfolded, but the vocabulary is not toned down at all. The blending of old Germanic myth with Native American, all of it steeped in baseball, was a bit unique. The problem? I don’t give a damn about watching baseball. The whole conceit of baseball being a meditation of the pace of a summer day is a most pretty one, but i’d rather spend my time watching clouds drift by than swatting around a ball with a bat.

Now reading the O. Henry Prize 2002 collection, and am appalled by the number one prize winner, because while the editor mentions something about it evoking the voice of Ray Bradbury, it’s done like a bad Bradbury ripoff, thus i’m not sure if i want to finish this book.

Politics. I’m disgusted right now. For awhile, despite abandoning this webpage, i was still writing Congress members, about one issue or another. The rush to war had me burned up in righteous opposition…. and nothing happened. The best voice we had in the Senate against this absurd war on Iraq is an ex-Klansman! (and he might not even be an ex-member….. just lower profile than he was.) The best hope now is that the United Nations refuses to approve the attack, and that’s only a moral victory, not a concrete one.

I’m truly expecting the draft to be reinstituted in the coming year.

Incidentally, the radiation lab is still pestering me. I had a phone call today from my former supervisor, asking for some paper that i was supposed to sign before i left that job, but took with me instead. Some i actually should sign, but most of them are nonsense…. agreements to absolve them of all responsibility in any kind of lawsuit that might arise from them giving me bad references or anything else they damned well please. Considering that they abused my rights at every opportunity that presents itself, there’s no way that i’m not signing anything other than the standard release from insurance.