changing the map doesn’t change the landscape

Google has taken it upon itself to restore New Orleans to its pre-Katrina glory in Google Maps. The problem with this is that New Orleans is not remotely close to that state, and may never be again. New Orleans and the surrounding area are still incredibly devastated. There is no practical use for the old satellite photos except for nostalgia. Google only responds to the change enigmatically:

Ohazama, the Google product manager, said he “personally” was not asked by city or state officials to change the imagery but he added Google receives many requests from users and governments to update and change its imagery.

The locals deny knowledge of any such request. Want to bet the Bush administration had something to do with the requests?

I’m demanding that the maps be changed back obviously. You can email Google too if you give a damn.

Get your shit together, Google. Don’t play political games with information like this. It’s bad enough that you buddy up with the Chinese government. Don’t sell out over Katrina as well.

lazy reading at end of March 2007

Since i abandoned Vellum, it seems that i have completed only one book, Observatory Mansion by Edward Carey, only to discover as the further into the book i went, the more certain i was that i’d read it before after all. Bill mentioned the book to me recently, but was puzzled when i jumped at it, as he said that i turned him onto it at the first place, when we used to work in the Baton Rouge bookstore. Even with the blogs and journals, my memory is pretty fucked.

Still have at top of TBR pile…. The Master & Margarita as well as Against the Grain. I even loaned one to a friend, who devoured the whole thing in a night, then kept it for a few weeks, and then absentmindedly returned it. I barely even noticed the book’s absence.

What the hell have i been doing? I dunno… i haven’t even been reading comic books recently.

faves of 2006

There should not be too many surprises here. For the most part, 2006 would have been a bust for me, even if i had been on top of things. There were more than enough good albums, perhaps great ones, but in paring down the lists, it was never an overwhelming task. I knocked off a bunch of old favorite artists because they were too pedestrian. In fact, the reason why it’s nearly April before i got around to this is because 2007 seems far more interesting.

  • The Knife. Silent Shout. It seems that i had the album all year, and ignored it. Too techno. Then i stumbled across the video for “We Share Our Mother’s Health” and realized just how fucking creepy it really was. If it made me feel bad, then it was great.
  • Liars. Drum’s Not Dead. The great disappointment over They Were Wrong, So We Drowned was not shared by me, as i cannot recall ever being very excited about the band. I have copies of their earlier work, but they never made too great of an impression, as i don’t remember listening to them much. This album though… fucking brilliant, and not what i would have expected from them. It seems more related to the Microphones than to the aggressive noise rock that i remembered them initially aligned with. I was wrong though. They were supposed to be “dance-punk.” Curious. I’m only now beginning to delve into it, but it might wind up being my favorite overall in the longterm. I have to come back to this in posts, if i can get my shit together.
  • Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. The Letting Go. Come on. That’s a gimme for me.
  • Tom Waits. Orphans. It shouldn’t count though, as i really did have most of these songs already, even if the majority were allegedly “unreleased.”
  • TV on the Radio. Return to Cookie Mountain. One of the few records i actually heard from 2006 completely in 2006. I was utterly ambivalent to it until i saw them at ACL, and was converted. They still seem kinda overrated, but i can fill in what’s missing with my memory of that performance. As a free-standing artifact, i’m still not as warm to the album. It’s a souvenier more than a real choice.
  • Yo La Tengo. I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass. For some reason or another, i wrote off Yo La Tengo, deciding that they were not worth my time, not a priority. Um, that’s bullshit. I kinda love Yo La Tengo. The casual dismissal comes from them being a handy Go To critic’s fave, and i wanna rebel against that easy pigeonhole.
  • Blood Brothers. Young Machetes. It’s hard to believe that not a single soul voted for this album on Jackin’ Pop. Sure, it could be easy for someone with taste to hate it, but not a single proponent? It’s glammish. I do like me some glam. It’s arty. I sure do like me some art-rock.
  • Television Personalities. My Dark Places. Poor bastard. The album makes me distinctly uncomfortable, more than any arch techno-pop or occult noise rock.
  • Tussle. Telescope Mind. It comes off the strength of Elephants, which i think that i downloaded from 20 Jazz-Funk Greats. I rigged that song up in the old iPod, with some other mp3 blog downloads, but wound up playing this one over and over. Now i have the whole album, and while it is not the dark, rumble of “Elephants” it’s nicely funky, full of basslines than can be rubbery, watery, elastic… and drumbeats that still thump great through my car’s blown speakers…. good stuff.
  • On second thought (…more like tenth thought, as i have been overthinking this post for days…) i like 2006 an awful lot. I’m not done with this list yet either.

    I’m Nervous

    Iran holding those British soldiers may be turning into a crisis. I am in no way comfortable with (or capable of) even a half-hearted attempt at analysis of this situation, but I will say that things like this:

    “The incident in 2004 was less tense, there were fewer gathering clouds, so they may well be held for longer,” said Alex Bigham, of the Foreign Policy Center. “There are probably also internal political battles in Iran over what to do next.”

    Some hardline groups in Iran suggest the case could be a bargaining chip in its nuclear and other rows with the West, exposing what analysts said were divisions with more moderate voices who want to build bridges abroad, not exacerbate tension.

    In Iran, a crowd of hardline students chanting “Death to Britain” gathered on Tuesday on the shoreline close to where the Britons were captured and demanded firm action against the sailors, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

    make me nervous.

    I hope we don’t see a general conflagration in the Middle East.

    what would not have been on my 2006 list…

    …if i had been even remotely informed. I feel remotely informed now. My tastes are still idiosyncratic, but at least i’ve now heard enough. I have a long way to go before catching up, and am fully aware that 2007 is slipping away.

    I’m looking at the Jackin’ Pop and Pitchfork lists to refresh my memory. Lemme get some stuff outta the way…

  • i still have not heard Ghostface Killah’s Fishscale although i want to. It probably wouldn’t make much of a difference, as while i would probably like it, i’d cycle through it in a few weeks and neglect it.
  • The popularity of the Hold Steady baffles me. One day i might regret my apathy, but they bore me shitless. I read critics i respect talking about their intelligent, hyperliterate lyrics, and i am unmoved. I never was a fan of Lifter Puller, but honestly, i have not consciously heard them. I certainly never bought an album, and don’t think that i’ve downloaded any. They just seem like a well-publicized bar band to me, utterly pedestrian.
  • Clipse. Didn’t care for it too much. Too grim. Maybe this can be something to revisit with watching the sewer pipes.
  • Neko Case. I won’t listen to Neko Case right now because i’m being a contrarian. She might be fantastic, but all of the fanboy writing i read about her alleged sexiness turns me off. I like women in rock, but i get tired of the press baggage that comes with their music. I have not heard her latest record, although i did enjoy the New Pornographers at ACL last fall.
  • The same goes for Cat Power. It weirds me out to hear friends in their freshman year of college raving about her, when i still think of her as an associate of Bill Callahan. Plus, all of that Memphis stuff, no matter how good, seems too tasteful. It’s a Hornbyesque fantasy. However, she sounded nice in the too few minutes i caught at ACL… a pattern is emerging.
  • The Decemberists. No. Absolutely not. I have all of the albums. I enjoy the Colbert Report guitar challenge. I turned on a surprising number of slightly dorky English majors onto them. On the other hand, they (at least Meloy himself) are so sickeningly precious & pretentious that i can no longer stomach them even as a guilty pleasure. This is very much related to Bill’s obsessive hatred of McSweeney’s.
  • Hot Chip. The Warning. Maybe. I’m just not convinced. I’m pop sympathetic, but it leaves me cold. Remixes of theirs seem cool, but the album is just not my cup of tea.
  • Grizzly Bear. Yellow House. Some of the new generation of indie kids that i’ve met in Hammond adore this band, so i have given them more chances than anything else that i’m initially disliked. It’s not bad. It just leaves me in a torpor. Are they one of those crypto Christian bands? …as that would explain some things… Borefest Sufjan Stevens is huge in certain circles in Hammond.
  • Justin Timberlake. I downloaded a single song, ignoring the obvious fact that it was a remix. I was crazy for it. Lo, and it was the one Diplo did, using LCD Soundsystem’s “Someone Great.” I have no opinion yet, but i love Sound of Silver.
  • Now onto what my favorites of 2006 are today.

    iPods & sewer pipes

    Staring at video of pipes is causing me to listening to music differently just as much as the new iPod is affecting me. A few weeks ago, when i knew for certain that i had the new job, i bought one of the 80 GB monsters, as i probably already mentioned. (The friend that got me hired warned me that without music, i was going to go batshit insane with boredom.) The new iPod left me with a single minded obsession of tagging my mp3s comprehensively, and reacquiring the stuff lost in the Great Hard Drive Crashes…. and yeah, this has affected my devotion to the blog. Even if i am still keeping up with the news, when i got home from work, all i could do was making sure that i knew what i was listening to later. With the old iPod, it was nice to load an unfamiliar album or two to acquaint myself with, then fill the rest of the 4 GBs with comfortably familiar music.

    With the new one though, i just dump anything on there, whole albums of stuff that i am only passingly familiar with, and set it on shuffle. Yeah, it’s simple, but that’s just been outside my established behavior. I just couldn’t relinquish control of a playlist to a computer. I had imagined that i was going to be carefully assembling dozens or hundreds of playlists, for every possible mood or situation, a new Golden Age of the Mix. No. I surrender. At some point, i accumulated more music that i want to be able to assess. It never felt comfortable ranking and classifying all of this music. It should have been obvious that this would be a natural experience for me when i never developed a rational system for shelving my CDs and albums, but i clung on, with my listening being narrowed by whatever rose to the top of the stacks. Bands that i haven’t thought of in ages are popping up, and i curse myself for months of laziness.

    Damn… the purpose of this post was to address the nature of the job itself changing my listening. As i read online, the shorter the song, the better. My attention span has been awful for the past year or two, and punk turned into the ideal music for my spastic fits on the computer. (Wire turned into the the Perfect Band.) Now i’m supposed to focus, and it’s not as impossible as i feared. It was easy enough to hypnotize myself back into passivity with some Spacemen 3 and Mingus, but it’s getting odder. Stuff like Lightning Bolt and Black Dice has turned into the soundtrack for staring at sewer pipe. I used to use that stuff as a palate cleanser if i had been listening to too much melodic stuff, and my brain had turned to cotton candy, or after hours at the bookstore, just to annoy or amuse my coworkers, but now i’m finding that it’s easy to rewire myself to listen to this stuff for hours at a time. It’s hypnotic, and speeds the time, but jarring enough to keep me from trancing out too much….

    …which brings me to the new Panda Bear album. That can wait though.