Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Random Music Post

Here we go - ten, random songs, off the iPod:

1. Pretenders - Stop Your Sobbing
2. Damon and Naomi - Ueno Station
3. At the Drive In - Lopsided
4. Xiu Xiu - Yellow Raspberry
5. Built to Spill - Wherever You Go
6. Wanda Jackson - Hard Deaded Woman
7. Nirvana - In Bloom
8. The Kinks - Love me til the Sun Shines
9. Audioslave - Gasoline
10. AC/DC - Let me put my Love into You

And today - the Pretenders on YouTube:

The Great White Satan of the North

Sorry for the politics, but - the world is starting to resemble a Michael Moore movie. And not the good ones: U.S. Arms Great Lake Boats! Treaty of 1814 no longer applies! We all know where this is leading:

(Via Interrobang.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Evil that Men Do

I haven't been posting about the big torture bill before the senate. I am hard-pressed to come up with anything constructive to say. I see (via Glenn Greenwald) it has passed - 65-34 even. That's 12 democrats voting for it. The earlier vote on Arlen Specter's amendment to strike section 6 (which suspends habeas corpus) was closer - I'm not sure what logic led those who voted for the amendment to end up voting for the bill. Greenwald runs through some of the more agregious offenders: Specter claiming the bill sent us back 900 years, then voting for it anyway - that sort of thing.

It's a thoroughly depressing situation. There's lots of grumbling about the democrats, who, while most voted against it, have not exactly acted like they were all that exercised, really. Are they worried about being called soft on terror? What the fuck is that? How can you not have an answer to that? How can you be so pathetic you don't slap that shit down on contact? What does this have to do with fighting terrorism? What the hell is the point of fighting terrorism if you aren't willing to stand up for what your country is supposed to be about? No secret courts - every man can face his accuser and knows the chareges against him - basic stuff. And as for the torture parts of the bill (eliminating appeals to the Geneva convention, say) - why don't democrats insist on calling this what it is? Call this the Permission to our Enemies to Torture American Soldiers act of 2006. Because if the laws don't apply to us, they don't apply to them either.

Anyway: this does simplify things in one respect: any politician who voted for this has, or should have, forever lost any right to appeal to morality, ethics, the scriptures, the western tradition, decency, common sense, the law, or, indeed, any justification for anything except naked self-interest. (Not that self-interest or cynical utilitarianism justifies this - torture doesn't work and will cause the country more harm than it could ever save; stripping civil rights always comes around the bite the people who do the stripping - if you pass laws assuming that you will always be the ones enforcing them, you are in for a nasty surprise in a year or so.) They start quoting scripture, you can say, with 100% assurance that they are only pretending to morality for their own narrow partisan gain. They are hypocrites. This will no longer be a matter of opinion, it will have been demonstrated. Hell, you can use it on your friends - religious nut A starts bloviating about stem cell research or pharmacist rights to deny emergency contraception or how gay marriage is against god's word, you can ask them: what do you think of the Military Commissions Act of 2006? for or against? if they say for - you can, in all good conscious, tell them they can fuck themselves. If they are your friends, I suppose, you can phrase it more politely ("whatever dude") - but you don't have to consider their opinions worth a thing.

I don't know. The fact that the democrats are allowing the republicans to pretend supporting this shit somehow makes them tougher on defense - mind-boggling. The cfact that either party (let alone both) think supporting this bullshit will get them more votes than fighting it - mind-boggling. The fact that none of them seems willing to stake their campaign on convincing the public that this has to be repealed at all costs - not so mind boggling, but boy, I would like to see some of that.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

25 years

Andy Horbal is hosting a poll: what is the best American fiction film of the last 25 years?

His inspiration is this New York Times poll asking writers, critics and the like to vote for the best American fiction of the last 25 years. He asks: what are the five best films of the last 25 years? I do love my lists, though oddly I haven't posted all that many on this humble blog, but this is one I don't think I can resist. I'm tempted to take on the NYT category as well, and maybe veen the best American records too. (Not to mention all the films, books, records one might find outside the US. But that will have to be another post.) I will hazard the film poll:

1. Blue Velvet
2. Rushmore
3. Do the Right Thing
4. Brazil (is that considered American? maybe not.)
5. Full Metal Jacket

And if I can't have Brazil - I'll take, well - either Mulholland Drive, To Sleep With Anger, or This is Spinal Tap. That comes so close to being a top ten, I'll add 2 and do it: Donnie Darko and Dead Man.

Go vote at Andy's, but if you wanna argue here, go for it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


This Film is Not Yet Rated - Kirby Dick taking on the MPAA. The film is split into two main devices: first, interviews, mostly with filmmakers who had run ins with the raters, augmented by various experts, and the whole thing sprinkled with damning footage of Jack Valenti and his like... And second, he hires private investigators to track down who the raters are. The interviews, on the whole, are what you would expect - a parade of indie filmmakers mostly, lots of women, lots of gay and lesbian films, sighing about their mistreatment. They run through a litany of atrocities that earned the NC-17 - Maria Bello's pubic hair; puppet brown showers; the word "felching". It's a story we've heard before - it's almost a commonplace - sex is rated more harshly than violence; gay sex more than straight sex; women's pleasure more than men's. Studio films get the benefit of the doubt - indie films get the high hand. It's a commonoplace because it's basically true - the case against the ratings board is often painfully simple to make.

But there's a more interesting argument being made in the film. The fact is, the ratings system usually works fine. (Not that anyone admits it in the film.) The system only really breaks in two places. The first is in the way NC-17 is handled. Newspapers won't advertise - Walmart and Blockbuster and the like won't carry.... This is bad - probably a bigger problem then the ratings are - but it's not quite Jack Valenti's fault. Maybe the MPAA could pressure newspaper and stores and exhibitors to show NC-17 films, I don't know. They should, at least, try to account for this problem. The second place the system breaks is at the edges. The fact is, nobody would have much room to complain if Nine Songs had gotten an NC-17. But at the edges - the second or two of pubic hair, the length of a woman's orgasm, the number of thrusts in a sex scene - balanced against questions like sex vs. violence, gay vs. straight, reality vs. fiction (one case study is the rating debate over Gunner Palace, a documentary about the Iraq war) - it gets very messy.

But even this - for all the talk about the actual decisions made by the raters, the real outrage, and the consistent point Dick is getting at, is the secrecy of the whole process. That is the point of tracking down the raters and naming them on film. That is the most viable suggestion being brought forward. This process should be overt. Raters should be accountable, there should be standards. As one of the interviewees says - we worry about government censors, but governments are accountable. Government boards are subject to judicial review. The MPAA should be subject to the same scrutiny. That's Dick's point, and I can't argue with it.

Murder by Numbers: speaking of IFC and documentaries, they've been running this consideration of the serial killer movie, directed by Mike Hodges (of all people.) It's surprisingly good. It's talking heads and film clips, but the talking heads - the likes of Gary Indiana, Amy Taubin, Mark Seltzer - are compelling, informative, and thought provoking, talking about the roots of the serial killer character, the history of the genre, the connections between serial killers and technology. That is the general argument, advanced by the commentary - that the serial killer is an idea inseparable from modern technology, the technology of film, of modern assembly line manufacturing and so on. The case is presented well, and it makes sense. A very interesting film.

Science of Sleep: Michel Gondry's new film, and the best film of the year, so far. I knew it would be pretty quickly - Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Stephane, a young artist with a French mother and a (recently deceased) Mexican father. He comes to Paris at the beginning of the film - riding in a cab. He gets out and goes to the door of his house, and the camera stays in the cab, as the car drives around the corner. I can't quite explain what's so wonderful about that, but it's something Gondry's films are full of, little details, that feel like you're just sticking your head around the corner to see something irrelevant. I can't explain it now. But I love it.

The film, anyway. Stephane goes to work, at a printer's. His mother promised him a creative job designing calendars - in fact, he's hired as a typesetter. His coworkers are sex and ski obsessed oddballs - though it makes them very useful in the upcoming dream sequences. His mother ignores him. Then a girl, Stephanie, played by Charlotte Gainsbourgh, moves in across the hall. She's cute. She has a cuter friend that Stephane thinks he wants to date. But Stephanie's also creative, whimsical, she makes things with her hands, just like Stephane. And so things move toward romance....

But not directly. There's the style, after all. The film starts with Stephane's dreams, and stays with them throughout - it stays inside his head. And he is not good at separating dreams from not-dreams. Or what is happening from what he wants or fears to be happening. And this gives Gondry the license to play - to create gorgeous, playful animations, low-tech, literalist (if time reverses, the film reverses - easy enough) animations and tricks. To further blur the dream/not-dream line, though, the things in his dreams also exist in the world - he is an artist, and he specializes in the kinds of things we see in the dreams: arts and crafts special effects, animated and refigured toys, disasters as kitsch art, songs played on the broken keys of a piano... So we go back and forth as easily as he does between reality and dreams (and between the represented dream and the representing film of the dream (etc.)).

That isn't always helpful, not the characters in the film. They don't know how to act, exactly - at any given moment, are they dreaming or not? There are times that Stephane starts to come off as just a bit too willfully nutty - it starts to slip into an annoying romantic comedy cliche, the man-child fuckup saved (or not) by a more grounded woman. Those moments don't last - or we are reminded that the film is completely subjective - we are in Stephane's head, all the time. (This is a lot like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is also completely located inside the lead character's head.) These are not, quite, films about damaged boys being saved by motherly girls - they are films about about damaged boys thinking girls (who are apt to be as damaged as the boys) are going to save them. But even this is too small an idea for the film. There's more. Running through the film are references to Stephane's parents, especially his father's recent death (which never quite gets blamed for his troubles, but is still there, to be dealt with) - though increasingly to his mother's relationship to his father, and Stephane. And their relationship starts to invade Stephane and Stephanie's. "You never finish anything" he tells Stephanie - the same thing he said about his mother (though he probably got it from his father). In essence, then, his story is their story - the film blends them, as it blends reality and dream, film and story, and presumably Gondry's own stories and the stories told. It earns its depths.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Randomness Again

To hold us over another day til I can work up a more substantial music review post: new records from Pere Ubu! Yo La Tengo! TV on the Radio! Mars Volta! my last trip to the record store was a happy one. I shall have to comment, one of these days.

For now though:

1. REM - Undertow
2. The White Stripes - Forever for Her (if over for me)
3. Flying Burrito Brothers - Wild Horses
4. Captain Beefheart - Steal Softly Through Snow
5. Rolling Stones - Midnight Rambler (live)
6. Matthew Sweet - Don't go
7. Carter Family - This is like Heaven to Me
8. George Michael - Father Figure [That's a sequence you arewn't likely to see very often]
9. Jimi Hendrix - Third Stone From the Sun
10. Devo - Jocko Homo

Worth noting there are 2 "*****" songs on that sampling, and a "****" - and that was before realizing I hadn't rated most of the songs on the LP referenced in the subtitle of this happy blog. Good luck figuring out which songs got those gaudy ratings.

Though it makes today's video choice obvious:

Friday, September 15, 2006

Music Friday, Randomized

Yes, it's time for another Friday Random Ten! made it with three hours to spare, even.

1. Pogues - Sickbed of Cuchulan
2. Ghost - Images of April
3. Radiohead - Idioteque
4. Mission of Burma - Let Yourself Go
5. Deerhoof - After me the Deluge
6. Eric Dolphy - Eclipse
7. Feelies - For Now
8. REM - Man on the Moon
9. Pere Ubu - Codex
10. Asian Dub Foundation - Digital Underclass

And for video enjoyment, howsabout Andy goofin' on Elvis?

And Shane and the boys on TV, ending up in a serious time space anomoly:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Movie Catchup

It's a posting frenzy! what's this, 4 in 3 days? ANyway, here's a roundup of films, most in brief, but a couple expanded.

Talledega Nights - finally got around to seeing it, and very happy I did. Will Farrell as a Nascar driver.

La Moustache - a neat little French mind-bender about a man who shaves the mustache he's had for after 15 years - or did he? Starring Vincent Lindon and the ever magnificent Emmanuelle Devos, sleek and intriguingly made. It makes explicit something about fiction, and especially about film - that there is no necessity that what happens next in a story needs to proceed logically from what happened before. In a film, the only rule is the flow of images - everything can change from shot to shot, and it will be assimilated into the story. It's a very intersting movie.

Half Nelson - good solid indie drama about a young white guy (Ryan Gosling) teaching at a mostly black brooklyn school. He is a fine teacher - popular, funny, challenging - but otherwise, he is a fuckup - a dope fiend and an asshole. He interacts with a dope dealer (Anthony Mackie, who's damned good), who is, in his personal life, together and responsible - and with an 8th grade girl (Shareeka Epps) who watches them both, and thinks about her life. Gosling's teaching is based on dialectics and the film is too - the tension between good teacher and fuckup, between Mackie's loyalty to his friends, his general decency to people - and the fact that he is a dope dealer, who wants to recruit a 13 year old girl into it. The irony of the mother who works, but works so much she loses her daughter, and so on. That's the biggest problem - that the film slips from dialectics to irony too often, and it's a preachy irony... But it is, basically, what Crash wanted to be, and does it right. Twisting cliches, turning scenes inside out - it's a nice piece of work.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles - a strange case: Zhang Yimou film coming out (which is good, the benefits of being Zhang Yimou, I guess) with almost no fanfare at all (which is bad: the disadvantage of making more than one kind of film, maybe). This is in Zhang's neorealist soap opera mode, like the Story of Qiu Ju or Not One Less or The Road Home - this follows the same general shape, someone stubborn marches off across the miles to do something sentimental. Comic relief and officious pricks are encountered and overcome, and then help the hero reach his goal. Tears are shed on screen; the music swells: tears may be shed in the audience. This one has an old Japanese guy (Ken Takakura) filming folk opera for his dying son. Comic peasants, annoying officials and cute kids appear on cue. These films (Zhang is a major perpetrator, though world cinema seems overrun with them) are as predictable and efficient as a Ramones song, and in the right hands work as well as a Ramones song. Zhang knows his business, though he can't seem to help throwing in the string section, which has the same effect here it would have in a Ramones song. That's all I can really say against him: his eye, his sense of pacing, putting together a film, getting acting from pros and amateurs and everything in between, are all outstanding. Sometimes his films feel like he is trying to hide the soap opera material until it's time for the tears to flow - this time, he seems a bit more willing to acknowledge the contrivance of the whole thing. He seems constitutionally incapable of telling a story straight - in place of the layers of plot and narration in his recent martial arts epics, he comes at this one through a host of images of translation. Translators themselves (Takakura has a girl guide who is a real translator; a village guide who knows a smattering of Japanese and English - she leaves, but the man stays to help him, but can't translate - he writes things down then calls the girl...) - plus video, letters, voiceovers, and all the doubles, masks and mirrors you could ask for. Takakura wants to connect to his son through opera - the opera itself is a mask that frees the emotions - he is Japanese in China, dependent on translators, who need to translate for one another - he wants to film the opera, and makes videos arguing his case to the officials. When he gets close to what he wants he decides to effect a reunion between an opera singer and his son, a transparent mirror of his own desired reunion with his own son. I hope I'm not spoiling too much to say it works, though it requires more mediation. And oh yeah - technology: cel phones, with and without without signals, video, opera, digital cameras, Chinese banners, etc., all serve as communication devices.... Doubles and substitutes and compensations abound...

Something Like Happiness - one of two films I caught from the Boston Museum of Fine Art's new Czech film series. The other is Lunacy, the latest film by legendary animator and director, Jan Svankmajer. Judging from these two films, and the posters for the ones I didn't see, this was almost a Pavel Liska film festival - he stars in Lunacy, is the second lead in Something Like Happiness, and seemed to be in all the other films as well. Who is he? An actor, bearing an uncany resemblance, in looks and sometimes performance, to Matthieu Amalric - a bit of a sad sack, who still comes off cooler than anyone around him... In Something Like Happiness he is opposite an actress named Tatiana Vilhelmov√°, who bears a certain resemblance to the young Holly Hunter - they play childhood friends (more than friends, when they were children) trying, as adults, to get along in a nasty looking town somewhere in Bohemia. He is living in the family manse - in fact, a crumbling farm house next to a factory; she lives with her parents, works at a supermarket, and waits for her boyfriend in America to call. They both get sucked into the disaster one of their friends, a single woman with 2 children, has made of her life... The film works, intermittantly - there are some wonderful scenes, drunkenness around Christmas - some moments when Liska and Vilhelmova are together - but there's also a lot of melodrama, some of it quite improbably - and a kind of slogging confusion about a lot of it. It does not add up to more than the sum of its parts - the parts are often wonedrful; overall, it's a somewhat tedious soap opera.

Lunacy, meanwhile, is a somewhat disjointed gloss on Poe and DeSade, but full of dark humor and some striking imagery - and funny, clever animation (meat, brains, tongues, crawling into skulls and the like...) Quite fun.

Finally - one of the local theaters is running an Almodovar retrospective - I finally saw Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown, wonderful high camp melodrama - a great delight.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Beams Not Falling

What's odd is, looking for links for that 9/11 rant, I found this post at the Poorman's site - and thinking, what is he on, posting three cool no wave videos, and then pissing about it? I can do better: look! DNA! or, going abroad, we can find something really abrasive - Keiji Haino! And then, among the search results for Keiji Haino - we get the best thing I have ever seen on YouTube: someone has compiled train and car shots from Yasujiro Ozu's career. Dunno where Haino fits with that, but I'll take it.

Oh god.

9/12 Rant

Writing about the 9/11 anniversary is very difficult - I do not want to politicize it. Yet - it is well and truly politicized already. Nothing gets gained by unilateral disarmament here. So I held off a day - but now, you get the rant.

The attacks themselves were devastating - they put the fear of god into me, personally, and into most of us. But I have to bring out that Hammett quote again: we adjust to beams falling - and we adjust to beams not falling. Even the day of the attacks, I remember thinking, in the back of my mind, I will not always feel this way. The fear will pass. We get over devastation; we deal with consequences and move on.

Or not. The problem is that this attack happened while we were governed by a fool, who is surrounded by villains, who saw the attacks as an opportunity for a series of power grabs, at home and abroad. In doing so, they have seriously undermined our position in the world - and seriously undermined the strength and stability of our political system. And this villainy has warped what happened on 9/11/2001 - there is no way to talk about the attacks without talking about what they were used to justify, and how badly things have gone since. Most of the villainy - the war in Iraq, the attacks on the constitution, on international law - has nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks themselves. 9/11 led directly to the invasion of Afghanistan (which seems inevitable and right, though it has turned into a failure, almost as much as Iraq); it led to some pretty unwholesome laws (the Patriot Act, notably.) Otherwise though, most of what has happened - Iraq, our use of torture, secret prisons, Bush's claims of unlimited executive powers - had no direct relationship to 9/11 - it was used as an excuse, as emotional blackmail.

Politically - we have entered a dark period in our history, and one that is completely unnecessary. Terrorism, hitting us, is a bad thing - but it is a small thing, that can be controlled, if we take it seriously. Terrorists can't do anything to undermine our "way of life" (a thing that get bandied about quite a bit in these times.) They can kill us, cost us money, but they can't challenge the foundations of our society. (Unlike, say, Germany and Japan in WWII; or the USSR during the cold war.) If we are going to undermine our freedom, we have to do it ourselves. To our shame, we have. And undermined our international prestige, our reputation for being good guys, not to mention our reputation for invincibility. Our policies over the last five years have revealed our weakness, lack of seriousness, unwillingness to take risks or accept consequences for anything we consider valuable. The invasion of Iraq stands as a crowning example - the only explanation anyone can come up with that makes sense is that we wanted, simply, to make an example of them: we wanted to hurt someone real bad, so everyone else would cower before us. And to do that, we picked someone no one liked, someone who could not threaten us in any way - Iraq. And yep, we beat the shit out of them (their army at least): but then what? Once in there we couldn't walk away - and what has happened since - increasing violence, chaos, the whole thing hanging on the edge from civil war with god knows what consequences - was pretty damned predictable.

All of it, furthermore, not just unrelated to the "war on terror" (an idiotic phrase: christ, it's embarrassing to have to type it), but significantly counterproductive to the war on terror. Taking men and material out of Afghanistan (where Al Qaeda was still lurking, even after our invasion) to go after Iraq - and create more ill will than we could dream of, as well as killing thousands of Americans and Iraqis. It is vile.

And going back to 9/11: there was never much to be said about the attacks. They were an act of raw cruelty, for nothing - our mistake was probably to take the political pretensions of the terrorists seriously. It wasn't a meaningful attack - it said nothing about us as a country, other than that we're big. (Which makes calling the day "Patriot Day" doubly annoying - it wasn't about the US as a country. It was about the US as a target.) It had no meaning - what meaning it had (political or otherwise) came later. What we did about it, and how we explained it.... The right likes to make fun of the left for worrying about "why they hate us so" - but they are just as eager to explain it, to make the attackers seem coherent and serious. All that talk about how they hate our freedoms, all the dire warnings against radical Islam, or Islamism, or Islamic fascism - or just plain Islam, Arabs, whatever - is blather, self-inflation, making our enemy seem important, Important - World Historically Important. We had to make it meaningful: to find political motivations for the attacks, whether by wringing our hands about how awfully we’ve treated the world, or by imagining Bin Laden as a Supervillain in his Secret Bin Laden Cave, secretly infiltrating Your Neighborhood in the person of Mexicans and the Arabs who own the Red Apple on the corner. Rather than accept that a gang of thugs attacked us in the hopes of provoking a response they could use to enhance their own political ambitions, the right insists on inventing an enemy that will make them feel stronger for fighting. But by not treating them as the gangsters they are, by treating their political claims as if they had some validity - as if Bin Laden represented someone other than himself - we've done more harm, in the political* sense, than the attacks could.

And a big part of this is keeping the pain of 9/11 raw. We have to live in fear: they thrive on it. They need it - the GOP has made hash of the country - they need 9/11 and fear of terrorism (You thought Snakes on a Plane was scary - imagine the sequel! Shampoo on a Plane! Arghhhh!) as an emotional excuse to stay in power. It's all they have left. They are bound to ride it hard.

* In the literal sense too: Invading Iraq has killed a lot more people - none of whom on either side bear any responsibility for the 9/11 attacks - than the attacks did.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I feel as if I should write something about the 5th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It is not easy - the problem is that I cannot separate the attacks from the things that have happened because of the attacks. But it is important to separate them. What happened, in all its evil immediacy, deserves to be remembered, the dead mourned, the survivors celebrated. It is important to keep politics out of it - at least at a distance from it. The infamy should not be erased, and politics tends to do that.

I still don't have much to say about the attacks. We probably don't need to say much. The anniversary should be marked - lower flags, take that moment of silence (as suggested in the otherwise rather embarrassing proclamation of today as "Patriot Day" [there's so much wrong with this - the name - can't they even come up with a name that's not taken?]) - mourn the dead, celebrate the survivors. And then get back to whatever we were doing. The attacks were devastating - but humans get over devastation. We adjust to beams falling; we adjust to beams not falling. That's less comfort than it should be while things are bad - but it is important to remember it. We - human beings, as individuals, communities, as all of us - absorb damage and move on.

Unfortunately, we also make political hay out of suffering. But I'll wait until tomorrow to get too far into that...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Weekend Top Ten, then

Not much more to say at the moment. So here's a regular feature to tide us over.

1. Thelonious Monk - Nice Work if You Can Get It
2. Warren Zevon - Lawyers Guns and Money
3. The Blue Aeroplanes - Big Sky [off a Mojo bonus disk - who are they?]
4. Joy Division - Day of the Lords
5. Nico with Cale and Reed at Bataclan - No One is There
6. Funkadelic - P.E. Squad/Doo Doo Chasers (instrumental)
7. Red Crayola - Free Form Freak Out
8. The Band - When I Paint my Masterpiece
9. Asian Dub Foudation - Assassin
10. Television - See No Evil (live)

Since we live in a video age: howzabout some Monk? didn't find video of the song appearing above, but a substitute seems fair.

If you absolutely must have Gerswhin, though, will the Sun City Girls do?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gone and Missed (old and new)

I am not sure how I missed this news: the death of Arthur Lee, August 3. I did though. I suppose it wasn't covered all that widely outside the music press, and I read more movie news, on a day by day basis. Music news I tend to get from Mojo, which is where I saw this, a month after the fact. I had seen the stories that he was very ill...

I can't say he was all that central to my conception of music - I discovered Love late, in the last 4-5 years, and it wasn't an exactly earth shattering discovery. I liked them - good, brilliantly crafted pop songs, like a lot of the music I liked. (Beatles, Beach Boys, the Byrds.)... But for a while, the last few months before I got my iPod, I was obsessed with Love, and stuck one of their songs on every compilation CD I made. (For a while there was banging them out 3 a week.) Which is one of the things that makes Love more significant to me than they might seem - their versatility was, even by the heady standards of the High Hippy 60s, damned impressive. Sweet pretty folk pop (though always with an edge), garage rock, early Pink Floyd style experimental folk (though always with that edge: "they're locking them up today, they're throwing away the key. I wonder who it'll be tomorrow, you or me") - guitar freakouts. And even more than the Beatles, maybe even more than the Who at the best - all in the same song. This one, notably:


(I was going to add something about Steve Irwin, but Lee got the better of me. There is some temptation to snark about Irwin - all that crocodile hunter crap, the way he built a persona on monkeying around with big mean animals. But I won't. I can't say I was too surprised to see that headline - I'm not too surprised when mountain climbers or race car drivers meet their end in the pursuit of their careers. It's actually more susprizing when someone living a dangerous lifestyle lasts past the dangers - see Mr. Lee, above, or Syd Barrett. There's frankly not much difference, when you think about it: wrestling crocodiles - wrestling acid. Arthur Lee (and Syd) made the world a better place. And I suppose Steve Irwin did too.)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Random Ten, Next Day Edition

Another quick list:

1. Sleater-Kinney - Wilderness
2. Minutemen - Storm in My House
3. The Who - Long Live Rock (from BBC sessions)
4. Jay Farrar - Damaged Son
5. The Byrds - Mr. Spaceman
6. Grateful Dead - Mountains of the Moon
7. Minutemen - Joy Jam [repetition? probably the least surprising repeaters on the iPod, since I think they are the champions in terms of pure song titles]
8. Velvet Underground - Murder Mystery
9. Velvet Underground - European Son [back to back velvets? though they're well represented on their too]
10.Radiohead - Pyramid Song