Sunday, March 27, 2005


I had a lot of fun with the entry below, but honestly, I must bow to the vastly superior comic genius behind this.

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


What's on Terri Schiavo's iPod?

Dean Martin, “Let Me Go, Lover”
The Beach Boys, “Busy Doin’ Nothin’”
Pink Floyd, “Comfortably Numb”
Simon & Garfunkel, “I Am A Rock”
Otis Rush, “My Love Will Never Die”
The Mothers Of Invention, “Call Any Vegetable”
Starz, “Pull The Plug”
The Smiths, “Girlfriend In A Coma”
The Tubes, “Don’t Want To Wait Anymore”
The Delgados, “Pull The Wires From The Walls”
X, "When Our Love Passed Out On The Couch"
“Food, Glorious Food” (from the Oliver soundtrack)
Danzig, “Can’t Speak”
The Supremes, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”
Gary Numan, “My Dying Machine”
Michael Jackson, “Leave Me Alone”
Temple Of The Dog, “Hunger Strike”
Joy Division, “She’s Lost Control”
Metallica, "One"
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, "Round & Round (It Won't Be Long)"
Motörhead, "Dancing On Your Grave"
Rollins Band, "Starve"
Biz Markie, "Get Retarded"
Harry Nilsson, "Everybody's Talkin' At Me"
Nirvana, “I Hate Myself And Want To Die”
The Auteurs, “I’m A Rich Man’s Toy”
Suicidal Tendencies, “Institutionalized”
Kate Bush, “Pull Out The Pin”
Radiohead, “In Limbo”
The Ramones, “Bad Brain”
Belle and Sebastian, “Sleep The Clock Around”
Townes Van Zandt, “Waitin’ Around To Die”
Bobby Brown, “My Prerogative”
His Name Is Alive, “Sitting Still Moving Still Staring”
Tori Amos, “Silent All These Years”
Gino Vanelli, “Living Inside Myself”
They Might Be Giants, “I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die”
Bob Marley, “Get Up, Stand Up”
Bob Seger, "Tryin' To Live My Life Without You"

Monday, March 21, 2005


This made me laugh. Which was a nice break from wanting to shove Tom Delay into a wood chipper.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I've decided to conduct a major purge of my CD collection. Being a music critic, I get tons of CDs in the mail (a dozen arrived just yesterday), and those unsolicited offerings usually make up most of what I take to the used CD store, when I go, which is about once a month. But that leaves big piles of stuff that I buy and am disappointed with, or buy and enjoy for awhile and then don't listen to for a year and a half, because I'm too busy listening to things I get paid to listen get the picture. They stack up, getting in the way, making it difficult to dust or find what I'm really looking for that minute, and I never quite get around to figuring out which ones are keepers and which ones are dross. (Actually, what happens is I know which ones are keepers and which ones are dross, I just don't have time to do anything about it.)

The thing is, though, now that I actually have a decent-sized computer (iMac G5 with a 250GB hard drive), I can get rid of the physical CDs, while still having the music around to stuff into my iPod, or burn to DVDs. (Local man discovers technology. Film at eleven.)

So anyhow, a major purge is underway. I'm in the process of ripping every CD I own to my hard drive. Once I do that, I'm gonna wind up selling about half of 'em - that should be a thousand discs, or somewhere in that range. (I know, that seems paltry, like I should turn in my rock-critic card for not owning enough stuff, but I've been purging regularly for years. If I'd held onto every CD, record or cassette that ever passed through my hands and ears, I would be buried under a mountain of plastic, aluminum and cardboard, never to be seen again.)

The toughest stuff to get rid of, naturally, is the out-of-print stuff. Even though all my Last Exit CDs are already stored on my hard drive and in my iPod, I can't look at them without thinking "I should hold onto these - they're out of print." Once you've produced a cultural artifact yourself (and especially once that cultural artifact has, itself, gone out of print), you feel a little twinge when disposing of someone else's no-longer-available labor of love. This is especially true if you're the only person you know who cares about that band. You feel like you're personally letting them down by refusing to (potentially) be the one guy in the world who still has a battered-but-plays-fine copy of their album somewhere in a dusty plastic crate in the basement or the corner of the bedroom. But it's time to cut the apron strings. One day I'll want to listen to Main again. But right now, I can use the storage space for something else, and I can definitely use the few buck I'll get for selling all the various Firmament volumes. Never mind the untapped reservoirs of cash that lie within my overlapping, redundant Miles Davis collection (both the American and Japanese versions of Agharta and Pangaea, the American and Japanese versions of Miles In Tokyo, the American and German versions of Miles In Berlin, A Tribute To Jack Johnson even though I have the 5-CD box, etc., etc.).

Yes, it's time to purge.

So I can afford to buy more discs, of course. I'll probably start by picking up all the Wayne Shorter albums on Blue Note.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


What's up with the Village Voice and metal lately?

I've published a few (okay, five) favorable reviews of metal albums in their music section over the last two years or so, but it's been months since I've gotten them to take anything. It seems like they've always got space to let George Smith talk shit about the music, though.

Here's the thing: printing Smith's crotchety, pointless urps is a waste of space (and the Voice music section is prime real estate in rockgeekland, and believe me, the editor knows it) and a waste of the reader's time. The guy barely addresses the music, as the above review indicates - he prefers to talk about cover art, or criticize press release copy or other zines' takes on metal, or whatever. And when he does actually render a judgment, he's dead wrong. Two of the best metal releases of the last 12-18 months, High On Fire's Blessed Black Wings and Pig Destroyer's Terrifyer, have borne the full fury of Smith scorn. (The PD review is semi-favorable, but in typically Voice-y smarmy fashion.)

Now, it could be averred that this is welcome contrarianism, counteracting the excessive praise these records have received in other venues. But that argument would be bullshit (and not just because the PD disc barely got written up anywhere). Good is good, and saying something sucks just to be different is the mark of an asshole, not an iconoclast. (Granted, Smith may actually not think these are good records. In that case, he's just cloth-eared, and should give up writing about music - apparently, he's also big into information technology or something, so maybe he should stick to writing about that, in similarly snarky and off-topic manner, and see how far it gets him.)

What's interesting about this trend at the Voice is that it comes at the same time that The Wire, for which I also write, far more frequently, is taking a much more pro-metal attitude. In their February issue, they published Edwin Pouncey's "Subterranean Metal Primer," which, while heavy on Southern Lord and related titles, was still an impressive effort, and in the March issue, the same Pouncey reviews High On Fire's album, understanding it far better than George Smith ever could. And I've got a major metal-related piece coming up in the April issue.

Of course, the presence of Smith is not the only thing wrong with the Voice music section. Its recent two weeks of team coverage of the hilariously (and depressingly, at the same time) overrated M.I.A. is another case in point. They're just way too besotted with themselves, and their presence in the rock-geek blogosphere/critics-talking-to-critics/critics-writing-for-critics community to ever emerge from their own asses. I guess I'll stick to writing for venues that allow for positive metal coverage that actually (shock!) engages the music on its own terms, and leave the Voice to George Smith.

Monday, March 07, 2005


So apparently, the usual easily-baiteds are all pissed off about Matt Taibbi's latest piece in the New York Press, "The 52 Funniest Things About The Upcoming Death Of The Pope."

The NYP isn't half as bad-ass as it thinks it is (they lose a lot of points, week in and week out, for publishing Russ Smith's ridiculous, thoughtless column), but this piece is actually pretty funny. Some of the list items, the ones pretending to mimic the Pope's postmortem, in-coffin thoughts, remind me of Beckett's The Unnamable. Which is pretty goddamn funny itself.

The thing of it is, the very gratuitousness of it is what makes it hilarious. There's absolutely no reason in the world to attack the Pope. I mean, sure, the Catholic Church's reprehensible stances on contraception and homosexuality and its coddling of kiddy-raping priests are plenty fucked up. But there's no point because no one in power gives a shit. Nobody's gonna really take on the Church, because these batshit crazy kiddy-raping, brainwashing retrograde fuckers have too much power - and most people have already been zombiefied into believing in the Invisible Bully In The Sky, and don't wanna risk pissing off said bully's Earthly Messenger or his minions.

And speaking of pissed-off minions, the statement from Crazy Bill Donohue of the Catholic League that I linked to above is surprisingly moderate, for him. I guess when he's alone in his office, typing, he's more rational than when the lights of a TV crew shine in his eyes. Whenever he's on Scarborough Country talking to Squinty McDeadInternUnderMyDesk about Hollywood's anal-sex-loving Jews or whatever, he's much more foam-flecked and hilarious. This, from the first blog that came up when I Googled "Taibbi Pope," is much more what I expect from Catholics in 2005.

I think Donohue and Taibbi should have a sock fight - but Donohue's sock should be filled with flour and sawdust, and Taibbi's should be filled with quarters.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Saw 45 minutes or so of Interpol, and maybe 10 minutes of Blonde Redhead, at Radio City Music Hall last night. Blonde Redhead were, I'd been told, a lame ripoff of Sonic Youth. They weren't; at least, not the song or two I heard. What I heard/saw was a lame ripoff of Sigur Ros. Arriving slightly late has definite perks sometimes.

Interpol were not the most exciting band I've ever seen. In fact, they might be the least exciting band I've ever seen. With the exception of the guitarist (whose name I can't recall), they basically stood in their chosen spots for the entire set. The bassist occasionally walked a step or two toward the drum riser, then back to his position near the keyboardist. The vocalist, who didn't even have the decency to sport a snazzy suit like his bandmates (he was wearing a crappy gray V-neck sweater over a white button-down shirt, like some college asshole), stayed within two steps of his microphone at all times. Entertainment was mostly provided by the strobe lights, which were so over-the-top that the venue actually posted warning signs in the lobby.

I like Interpol's music. Both their albums are really good, and the second isn't just a rehash of the first - it's more upbeat, and complex, and in almost every way an improvement on an already strong core concept. But live, they just don't have what it takes. The songs (which, again, I like a lot) sounded like rough mixes of the albums, and there was no stage patter or real interaction between band and audience. I would have even settled for some old-school-hardcore-style "little jump, little jump, big jump" unison action from the guitarist and bassist. Shit, even Sum 41 can manage that.

The crowd was also annoying. The whole reason for going to shows at Radio City Music Hall, particularly shows by boring bands, is that the sound system's really good, and the chairs are really comfortable. So sit the fuck down and enjoy the music, right? Nope. All the skinny assholes in their retro early 80s hipster garb, and their girlfriends with their shapeless rumps wedged into ironically too-tight low-cut jeans (the better to show off standard-issue above-the-ass tattoos), were on their feet, enraptured, throughout, as though anything Interpol was doing onstage deserved anything more than a golf clap in response. I figured the 250- or 300-pound dude directly in front of me wouldn't be able to stay on his feet for very long, so I sat behind him, waiting for him to get tired and sit back down, but he didn't. So, a few times, I was required to elevate myself just to make sure that yeah, the band was still on stage and yeah, they were still doing their Hall of Presidents thing.

I'm probably making it sound like I had a worse time than I did. The songs were good, the sound was good, I bought a T-shirt, I'm glad I went. But I like Interpol's music way more than I like their fans, and I'm gonna stick to listening to the albums from now on - they won't be getting $98 out of me for two concert tickets again.