Friday, November 30, 2012

Another Friday Music Post

Once again, Friday comes to rescue this humble blog from inactivity. Well, not complete inactivity, if you are interested in 1860s small clothes, but still... Maybe December will offer more time than I have had lately - or more inspiration... Until the holidays rear up once more, that is... so it goes.

So today it's back, once more, to the ol' shuffle, to see what fate has in store for us:

1. The Attack - Magic in the Air [rather cool bit of 60s brit pop, off another Mojo collection - those things are a pretty nice source for some of the more obscure corners of the musical past...]
2. Naked City - Batman
3. Times New Viking - No Time, No Hope [in which a brand of 60s brit pop and American garage is revived for the 21st century, to good effect...]
4. Sonny Sharrock - The Past Adventures of Zydeco Honey Cup
5. Edith Piaf - Polichinelle
6. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Love Comes in Spurts
7. The Raconteurs - Yellow Sun
8. Waterboys - The Big Music
9. U2 - I Fall Down
10. Iron & Wine - Flightless Bird, American Mouth

That, overall, is a particularly neat playlist... So for Video? We can start with a video made for Batman, giving you your John Zorn fix for the day:

And in a different direction - here's a longer piece, very young Waterboys live on German TV - with The Big Music in the middle there...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Drawers in the Civil War

Today in Civil War remembrance, via Lawyers, Guns & Money, comes this - a discussion of underwear in the Civil War. Unlike Mr. Loomis, at LGM, I quite like reading about battles and tactics and generals and the like, and arguing about them when I get the chance - but I admit, that stuff can be rather trivial. Sometimes the things that look trivial - guns and ammo and trains and hats and machines of every stripe - really aren't: and underwear certainly counts. It's easier to track down information on the kinds of rifles people used, or the hats they wore, than the kind of drawers they wore - but it's all just about as interesting. And important - look at some of the things you might learn from that article: how underwear was made, what it consisted of, things like that - but also,standards of hygiene; how much a private got paid and how much women were paid for sewing piecework; 19th century laundry techniques - and a reminder about the gendered division of labor there; how to kill lice... It's fascinating stuff....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks for Friday Music

Another Friday - Thanksgiving week is usually a complicated one, and this one has been no exception. Started last weekend moving stuff from one storage unit to another - a story in itself. (How does U-Haul survive, without knowing how to cash checks properly?) And then vacation, and all the usual temptations to sleep all day and play games all night... And some food shopping and food prep and all the rest, until the happy day arrives and you eat yourself into a coma and then sleep for 12 hours. Unless you have a retail job, and have to get up to be at work at midnight to cater to the stupidest ritual the country knows... that ain't me, thank god.

And so this Friday, what shall we do for music? Well - thank you songs are always in order....

1. ABBA - Thank you for the Music
2. Big Star - Thank You Friends
3. Fairport Convention - Now Be Thankful
4. George Harrison - Thanks for the Pepperoni
5. Mogwai - Thank You Space Expert
6. Neil Diamond - Thank The Lord for the Nighttime
7. Sam & Dave - I Thank You
8. DM Stith - Thanksgiving Moon
9. Soft Machine - Thank You Pierrot Lumiere
10. Xiu Xiu - Thanks Japan!

And video: Sam and Dave is certainly indicated:

And Fairport Convention, live:

And of course, a cat, thankful for that piece of string.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Songs

Well, Friday again... another odd week, full of distractions and anticipations that have kept me from writing anything here. What can you do. Next week is Thanksgiving - coming this early I think is confusing me... All these excuses.

What's left is iTunes and its shuffle and 10 songs for all to ponder:

1. Rocket from the Tombs - Amphetamine [from Rocket Redux, Cheetah singing...]
2. Liars - No Barrier Fun
3. Liars - Pure Unevil [randomizer fail!]
4. Bishop Allen - News from Your Bed
5. The Who - Substiitute (BBC Sessions version)
6. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - What Must Be Done
7. Mercury Rev - Secret for a Song
8. White Heaven - Out [featuring Michio Kurihara, guitar hero]
9. Bruce Springsteen - Growin' Up
10. Little Feat - I've Been the One

Start with Wilco, reworking chunks of Amphetamine (rather like Peter Laughner reworked big chunks of Heroin in the first place):

And you can't go wrong with Bruce - a buddy of mine had a bootleg of grownin' up back in the early 80s that we wore out, for good reasons. Here's a 1980 version...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Armistice Day Poem

As of this February, with the death of Florence Green, there are no more surviving veterans from the Great War. Still - I think it is best to honor the general in the particular - and honor all veterans by remembering the end of this war. It's a good date for it - WWI is more or less impossible to see as anything but disaster - no one wanted it, no one benefited by it - and nothing was resolved by it, its ending spawning another, bigger war between worse governments, 20 years along. No one is tempted to romanticize it, and forget that the fundamental fact of war is that it is hell.

I will turn to Ezra Pound, to provide additional commentary on the war - this from Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, written just after the war...


These fought, in any case,
and some believing, pro domo, in any case . . .
Some quick to arm,
some for adventure,
some from fear of weakness,
some from fear of censure,
some for love of slaughter, in imagination,
learning later . . .

some in fear, learning love of slaughter;
Died some "pro patria, non dulce non et decor". .

walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving
came home, home to a lie,
home to many deceits,
home to old lies and new infamy;

usury age-old and age-thick
and liars in public places.

Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
Young blood and high blood,
Fair cheeks, and fine bodies;

fortitude as never before

frankness as never before,
disillusions as never told in the old days,
hysterias, trench confessions,
laughter out of dead bellies.


There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization,

Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth's lid,

For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Music Friday With New Scott Walker

Randomly selected.... though a nice day for the singer songwriters, especially some of our more adventurous singer songwriters...

1. Matthew Sweet - Baltimore [doing his best Big Star impersonation]
2. Sleater-Kinney - #1 Must Have
3. Grinderman - Kitchenette
4. The Strokes - 15 Minutes
5. Jacques Brel - J'Arrive
6. Gordon Lightfoot - Cotton Jenny
7. Matching Mole - Signed Curtain ["this is the first verse..."]
8. Fleet Foxes - Heard them Stirring
9. Nick Cave & Bad Seeds - Let the Bells Ring
10. Bill Frisell - Billy the Kind: Mexican Dance and Finale

Video? let's start somewhere else - the first track off the new Scott Walker record, due out in December - oh happy day!

And - how about a cover (John Wesley Harding and Rick Moody) of Matching Mole? "Lyrical complexity"... (less a joke than you think, though; lots of sting in the tail here.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


I admit, last night was an anxious one. Even with the polls pretty clear about who was going to win, there is a reason we hold elections and don't just let Nate Silver and David Brooks decide who will be the next president in the New York Times cafeteria (or wherever they might meet.) And watching the results come in in some of the states, the likes of Virginia, with the rural places reporting first and the big urban centers coming in last - is a recipe for worry....

But it worked out in the end. And seems to have worked out more or less exactly as predicted. Maybe a state here or there might skew a bit off from the polls, but basically, the predictions were dead on. It's a relief. I will add - I actually felt a twinge of sympathy for Romney and company last night, the much mocked Karl Rove even: everyone started calling Ohio with Romney within a couple thousand votes - I was watching MSNBC and they were hammering the Romney people and Rove himself for refusing to concede, but I don't know why they should. Sure, everyone can see where it will end up - but it hasn't gotten there yet - let the votes be counted... Elections are, in fact, decided by the voters, not by the TV anchors; campaigns shouldn't be run for the convenience of the networks. The fact that you could have called the election the night before, and gotten it exactly right doesn't change that...

All right. This is not a time for long policy statements and so on - just a quick note. My main feeling when this one ended was relief - none of the elation and sense of history that surrounded the 2008 election. But watching it, especially toward the end, as the senate races wrapped up and Warren and Duckworth and Murphy won, McCaskill, Kaine, Angus King (even) - Baldwin (which might have been the last one I saw before I went to bed) - it felt as if, in a small, modest way, you could see the country getting better. Little things - I think it was Murphy in Connecticut, leading off his victory speech with a simple statement that health care is a right. At some point, good liberal policies should become conventional wisdom - should move into the realm of things that are taken for granted. And just - the fact of talking about health care (for example) as a right, not as a hope - changes the country for the better.

So - it is a relief, and, in a lot of ways, a sign, even more than the 08 election, that we might actually have a chance to get back on track. It's a little bit more like an election on the policies, a little less the plain rejection of a miserable failure that 2008 was.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Week

I haven't written much about politics here in a while... I haven't written much of anything here lately, but still. I went through this the last time I managed a political post - the political discourse has not grown more edifying in the last three months... I will be happy when this thing is over, providing the Democrats win. I will be very happy to never see another New Hampshire political ad or photoshopped political ad on Facebook again...

That last was a joke. The countries Tumblrs won't shut down on Wednesday - I have seen 4 years of photoshopped bullshit from my tea party cousins, and expect to see another 4 years of it. If the election is close, I expect they will finally, and permanently outnumber cat pictures on Facebook. I despair. I know I am a hypocrite on this subject, for I am as inclined to "like" the Democratic pictures as argue or mock the Republican ones - but... At some point, you ought to be able to say what you want, and say it in words - so far, that seems to favor the lefties... scratch a tea partier, and you get - more Fox News catch phrases and - fantasy... That might be selection bias, for me - my lefty friends might be a bit more literate than my righty friends - but I don't think that's all there is.

There is no point in pretending the sides are equal. The Republicans have not offered any kind of political program with any value to the country in a long time. Their stated policies are all just ways to strip the nation for the benefit of the rich. (Here's Robert Reich on the subject.) Since 2008, they have done nothing to try to fix the economy - they have devoted themselves to stopping Obama from doing anything to fix the economy, and succeeded enough that they have been able to run on the idea that Obama hasn't fixed the economy. It is striking - every issue that comes up, every problem where there are a range of possible ways to deal with the issue, you find that the Democrats basically cover that range, and the Republicans chant slogans and vote to stop whatever comes along. Health care reform? all the debate was on the left (or "left" - the democratic party, I mean, an awful lot of which is not "left" by any real measure) - the GOP just campaigned against whatever was proposed. The economy? the republicans have nothing except cutting taxes, pretending to care about the deficit, and periodically trying to sabotage the whole affair... democrats, as usual, cover the whole range of potentially useful options, from full on Keynsianism to serious efforts to address the debt and deficit. ("Serious" in this instance means, methods that might actually reduce the debt and deficit - I don't mean to imply they would do the economy any good.) Foreign policy? Obama has basically just assumed the Republican positions on this, though this administration has been competent, unlike the last one... I don't see much from the Republicans except criticism for getting involved in Libya and more criticism for not getting involved in Syria. Lots of howling to bomb Iran, though if Obama actually did bomb Iran, they would change sides in a hell of a hurry.

No. There is nothing on the right, no reason to vote Republican at all, even for most of the people I know who are Republicans - at least the ones who have been Republicans all their lives. The most confusing part of the crap I see on Facebook (particularly) is how many of the people posting it will get nothing whatsoever from the GOP. I don't have a lot of rich friends or relatives. And the better off they are, the more liberal they tend to be - though I don't think any of us are at a point where a Romney president would help us, personally. But to look at the people who are pretty marginal, economically, but are enthusiastically Republican anyway - confuses me. I don't know why they vote the way they do - I don't know what they think they are going to get from it. And - I am completely certain they can't explain how Romney is going to fix the economy where Obama failed.

So here we are. All right. One more day. The signs look good, for the most part - Obama is ahead in almost all the important swing states... though you can see already, the Republicans will do all they can to keep the vote down, to make things muddy, and - maybe not openly steal the election - but - guide it in the direction they want... We'll see. I do trust the democrats a bit more these days to fight to the last ditch for every vote - which they did not do in 2000, to the country's sorrow... But... The truth is - I am less afraid of Romney winning than of losing the House and Senate. In the highly unlikely instance of Romney winning and the democrats taking congress - I think we might learn just exactly how unprincipled old Willard is. I don't think he has ever uttered a word in public he meant, maybe not that he believed, except maybe "vote for me" - if he had to deal with congress - who knows... That is not likely, of course: if he wins, the GOP will probably also win the House at least - and unless the democrats adopt the same None Shall Pass attitude the GOP have had the past few years, we could be in for a bad stretch. But... Again - the polls point the other way. Hope hope hope....

But I will end on the opposite of hope. In my darker moments, I think that the 2010 elections were the end of democracy in America. No electorate that understood the economic issues or the politics of the time would have voted in a huge Republican landslide just then - and the republicans who took over were completely committed to nothing more than getting a republican elected president in 2012. Thing have not improved, and even if we win tomorrow, I don't think things are likely to change. The disrouce has not grown more elevated....

So - all right. I will stop. I will vote. We shall see.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Friday Ten, Late Night Edition

Friday is almost over, but there is still time for a random ten! It has been an all too eventful week - hurricane Sandy (not too bad up here), Ezra Pound - plus a funeral, for a friend's mother... eventful. But I think I should post something before I go to bed... habits are good to stick to.

1. Spirit - Animal Zoo (nice start, one of my all time favorites...)
2. Modest Mouse - Lounge
3. Tool - The Pot
4. Keiji Haino - See That My Grave is Kept Clean
5. Wake Ooloo - Age of Reason
6. Devendra Banhart - Carmencita
7. PJ Harvey & John Parish - The Chair
8. Ohio Players - Alone
9. Richard & Linda Thomson - Jet Plane in a Rocking Chair
10. Ghost - Holy High

All right - I am too lazy to look for video tonight - so here's a picture of a tree that didn't come down during the hurricane - though it was certainly shedding branches thorough...